I hope the headline has captured you and left you wanting more. When you read this post, please keep in mind that I'm not attempting to discredit the internationally known author and speaker involved...rather I'm trying to make some observations about the fit of blogging into marketing tactics for any business.
I recently participated on a panel discussion and presentation on heavy equipment GPS monitoring and tracking at the American Rental Association show in Atlanta. My session immediately followed one on Guerrilla Marketing for the Rental Industry presented by Orvel Ray Wilson. Mr. Wilson has authored many books and his "hit hard and hit fast and be different" approach is awesome. His company is called the Guerrilla Group and I recommend you explore what his company could do for your business. His seminar was by far the best I saw, full of energy, humor, and valuable marketing advice.
The equipment rental industry is somewhat old school...but the perfect playing field to stand out and be different right? Mr. Wilson's discussion had included only a mention of email marketing...but had zero mention of social media or blogging. Anytime someone stands in front of me and ignores something that I believe to be incredibly powerful, I feel obligated to discover the big "why".
I approached and asked the question below and I'm paraphrasing the best I can recall based on notes taken immediately afterward.
Doug: "I didn't hear you mention anything about blogging during your discussion, what role do you believe it plays in the guerrilla marketing equation?"
Mr. Wilson: "Ahhhh blogging...well I don't blog...basically because I have a life...(chuckling)...I mean there's a million blogs out there and there's a lot of garbage. You have to know how to write...write editorial copy...and write well....(he got busy and began doing some other tasks).
Doug: "Interesting...I really wanted to see your take since blogging is a powerful tool for some."
Mr. Wilson was busy cleaning up his laptop, etc. from his speaking session and was interacting with many of the A/V staff so I stopped asking questions and tried to take in what I'd just heard. Of course, the first thing that fired off in my brain was, "This is going to be a good post for discussion among my readers".
So I'll leave you with a few observations and questions that are still resonating in my travel fogged head.
- The belief that blogging is something for only good copy writers is a serious miscalculation. Blogging exposes the writer's true voice and reveals their style, tone, and method doing business very often. Anyone that reads my blog "already knows me". They know my positions, my pauses, my emphasis and my passions. Many of my top 10 marketing blogger friends around the U.S. often use "real language" to communicate their vision/passion/point. Editorial blogging is typically as boring as "mainstream media"...you know the media that folks are paying less attention to. Although many bloggers write well and with clarity, others destroy the English language and its grammar and do just dandy. Should everyone blog? I'm sure there are reasons why some shouldn't...but one of those reasons should not purely be the editorial quality of the writing. Should everyone read blogs or have searches automated to see what folks are saying about them? Yes. In fact, Mike McLaughlin who wrote Guerrilla Marketing for Consultants, blogged on this same topic a while ago. Interesting. Mike says, "If the purpose of a business blog is to reach your targeted audience, it’s best to know someone out there would want to read your stuff. Any one of us could rattle off a number of industries where blogs are still an oddity, not a fixture." No and Yes. How would I have ever known that finding a certain part number for an internal air card on my Dell laptop could help so many people around the world? Well...it happened, because I blogged on it. I had absolutely no idea that anyone would find that valuable...but they did, by the boat load. In the heavy equipment rental space, I bet there are few blogs if any. If yours was the first and you blogged with even a modicum of skill in tagging or linking, you'd be found. Trust me. Why must the only value in your blog come from your direct industry? I've achieved higher search engine rankings and first page results on many key topics that I blog about often like customer service and relocation. In many cases, my more popular blog entries show up well ahead of the company's intended marketing message. Old school business models may benefit from a blog more than more high tech businesses. There's more cutting edge technology and marketing taking place in some seemingly old school segments than one would imagine. GPS technologies and telematics are taking this industry by storm and allowing equipment rental companies to provide an unparalleled level of service. I'd bet that within 90 days, I could place higher than most when searching for "equipment rental" if I put my blogging efforts toward it.
- The belief that blogging is relegated to those that don't "have a life", is putting it lightly...ignorant. AUTHOR'S NOTE: I received a phone call from someone that knows Mr. Wilson suggesting that his comment about "not having a life" was likely geared towards his own personal schedule...meaning that "He'd not have a life if he were to try and blog". I have updated my post to reflect that I can see this point of view. I had been quite fair that the comment was probably just a passing commentary lacking much context, but the rest of my post stands on its own and I hope the larger point is still the overriding one) I'm pretty sure that Mr. Wilson's comment wasn't meant as a direct derogatory commentary on me, Seth Godin, Brad Feld, Tom Peters, Mark Cuban, and Guy Kawasaki. Likely it was a humorous off the cuff remark that we all make from time to time. I could list a thousand other blogs written by not so known names but the point holds. We have a life. In fact, we've taken on blogging as a means to communicate in an unfiltered way with our customers, potential customers, and casual observers. We're using our real mojo and experiences in the life-business ecosystem to provide value for others. We've all simply put a priority on understanding a new technology and new media platform. It's the platform that our future employees are very familiar with. It's the platform that can bring thousands of visitors scrambling to see what you think about the business trends and emerging issues. Undoubtedly, this post will reach Mr. Wilson because of linking and tagging, and will probably be forwarded to him by a blogger with a life.
- At the very least, interpret "blogging" as maintaining automated blog searches and tag searches to find out what people are saying about you when you're sleeping. Nothing is more powerful than receiving an unsolicited "Thanks" or "Ooops" from the CEO of a company because they were paying attention. If you're paying attention you have a serious competitive advantage vs. those who aren't. Leverage that and odds are, you'll do better than "the rest". Period.
The essence of guerrilla marketing for me is doing what isn't normally done, doing it cheap(er), doing it different. Blogging is the pinnacle of cheap, different, and REAL. It's worth an hour long workshop to understand the basics. Then, if the CEO can't seem to put a coherent thought together, then find someone in the organization who can or hire someone.
I think next year, you'll see a seminar by Doug called, "Social Media and the Heavy Equipment Rental Industry: How To Get A Life Through Blogging!". I invite your commentary.