Something to blog about

Ask Clyde Miles whether you should advertise your product on TV, and he’d probably tell you to ditch the commercial and air your own show instead.

“You have to have this mindset of, ‘Let’s create our own media,’” says the chief strategist at Optiem, a Web marketing agency with 35 employees. “How can we develop our own content and get it out there?”

The answer: with cheap and increasingly accessible social media. A blog can build your brand by opening a conversation with your customers, stopping short of a sales pitch to provide valuable content that they can use.

But, Miles says, “You have to find a context first before you know the content.”

In other words, you’re not writing about the product or service you provide but about how it helps your customers.

“So if you make widgets, what is the compelling thing, what is the essence of widgets?” says Miles, whose company grew 40 percent last year. “If that widget makes someone’s life better in this way, then start writing toward that versus just, ‘Hey, buy our widgets.’”

Your industry and brand positioning are good indicators of that essence. If you know the need you fill for customers, you know the direction of your blog.

“If you’re Sherwin-Williams, yeah, you’re a paint business, but it’s not really about paint,” he says. “What Sherwin-Williams is about is decorating my house, so obviously they’re going to develop content around decorating.”