February 20, 2007

using blogs to boost the bottom line:


[Today I'm speaking at the Online Traffic Optimisation conference in London. Here are my notes:]

So you want to use blogs to boost your bottom line. Here are some thoughts, in no particular order:

1. The First Rule of Blogging: "Blogs don't write themselves." Be prepared to fail. Blogging is a work in progress. Blogging is experimentation. Blogging is more about "The Porous Membrane" than direct selling.

2. Read Robert Scoble's "Corporate Weblog Manifesto". Most of it is dead on. Also worth a read is the book, "Naked Conversations", which Robert wrote with Shel Israel.

3. Read Seth Godin's blog. Every day. Just shut up and do it.

4. Ditto for Jeff Jarvis.

5. Ditto for Kathy Sierra.

6. Ditto for Guy Kawasaki.

7. Ditto for Doc Searls.

8. Ditto for The Cluetrain.

9. Ditto for Steve Rubel.

10. Blogs are a good way to make something happen indirectly. I proved this to myself once and for all with the work I did with Stormhoek, a small vineyard in South Africa.

11. Passion. Authority. Continuity. Without those three, you have nothing.

12. English Cut, a blog I started with Savile Row tailor, Thomas Mahon is often cited as my first big blog marketing breakthrough. A couple of months ago I gave a list of eight reasons why it had worked so well. Here are three of them:

Continuity. He kept at it. He didn't expect the blog to transform his fortunes overnight. As I'm fond of saying, "Blogs don't write themselves". Based on our experience, if you want blogs to transform your business, I'd say give yourself at least a year.

Focus. It was always about the suits. It was never about what he had for breakfast, Technorati rank or frothy gossip about other bloggers.

Thomas spoke in his own voice. Thomas is a straightforward, affable fellow, and the voice on the blog is the same as the voice you meet in real life. He never tried to misrepresent himself on his blog, nor try to create some over-glamorized image of his profession. He just told it like it is. And people responded well to that. As he once put it, "We're so lucky we don't have to create the brand out of thin air. We just tell the truth and the brand builds itself."

13. Love, respect, trust and goodwill are the main currencies. Cash will only get you so far.

14. A lot of marketing people seem to be hoping for a proven blogging method that is (A) invented by somebody else, (B) easy to replicate, (C) easy to implement, and (D) easy to sell to their boss. Good luck.

Posted by hugh macleod at February 20, 2007 3:22 PM | TrackBack

Cartoon is fab. Gran couldn't read it while I blew snot out my nose when I read it as she babbled on :)

Posted by: Charles Edward Frith at February 21, 2007 11:52 AM


A great post suitable for framing. One of your best--really.

After years of reading your blog daily, you have inspired me to finally start my own blog. Like you, I am also a refugee from the sick and twisted world of advertising. Thanks for the inspiration.


Posted by: keith at February 21, 2007 12:02 PM

Ditto (Keith's message).

Posted by: Michelle at February 21, 2007 5:06 PM

Well said Hugh!

I read over Robert Scoble's Corporate Weblog Manifesto and it sounded great. It takes a certain kind of company that will support what he puts forth -- I could imagine terror in the hearts and eyes of many execs I used to consult with if their folks were telling the unadulterated truth. But that, of course, is what is needed.

I like that you always include "love" as an ingredient to good blogging. It works like no other emotion to keep me centered on what my readers need, are afraid of or want support with. When you feel an emotional connection with readers and think about how what you write impacts their heart, not just their mind, the writing is not just better, it is more fun.

Glad to see you back and a bit rested from your whirlwind trip. Don't put off your vacation too long -- you need a bit of respite to keep your creativity flowing. :)

All the best,

Posted by: Pamela Slim at February 21, 2007 6:57 PM

I wanted to blog about this post, but I had nothing to add...well said!

Posted by: Scott Randolph at February 21, 2007 9:50 PM

After about a year of reading your blog daily I finally managed to get hold of a bottle of Stormhoek when back in the Uk this weekend (can't get it in Madrid) - a 6 quid Shiraz from Threshers and damn it was good. Won't be buying any more French stuff when I am back in the uk from now on!

Back to the post, "Blogs are a good way to make something happen indirectly." - quite right, my Spain blog has led to work with Fodors and Lonely Planet and meeting all sorts of interesting people - I would easily go as far as to say that my blogs and podcasts have changed my life, but it took a LOT of hard work. As you say, these things don't write/record themselves.

Posted by: Ben at February 21, 2007 10:42 PM

Hugh I think the great service you do all bloggers is the bit about being true to what you see and feel. Be aware of the readers but never pander to them. Blogs are just more personnel.

Posted by: David Brain at February 22, 2007 1:32 AM

Good blogs do need continuity. It's a good point to stress out since bloggers are not motivated to write everyday. Keeping it up to date is nice in order to be active in the blogging community

Posted by: Pamela at February 22, 2007 3:16 PM


FYI, your link to Guy Kawasaki's blog is broken, it should be http://blog.guykawasaki.com/

Posted by: Jeff at February 22, 2007 5:07 PM

I disagree. About half the bloggers you list are simply people who succeeded otherwise and walked into blogging with immediate success because of their previous successes. They write horrible blogs and people read and link to them solely to pander to their success.

Posted by: Randy Charles Morin at February 22, 2007 11:08 PM

"blogs don't write themselves", he says while neglecting to update for 2 days

seriously though-thanks for this

Posted by: dee at February 23, 2007 7:44 AM

You're welcome, Dee ;-)

Yeah... the last 2 days have been crazy. I'm moving into a new flat this week, plus the job...


Posted by: hugh macleod at February 23, 2007 8:30 AM

Hello Hugh,

I wanted to translate your cartoons and some of the text into French but you are so prolific, I had to give up the idea.
However, I will probably translate some of these great posts or a summary and point to your blog when I launch mine in two weeks finally (cross fingers).
Great job again and good luck for the move


Posted by: tk at February 23, 2007 8:56 AM

Started my day with your post, thanks, my day is good already. Dear Hugh, always the right words!

Good day,

Posted by: nabila at February 23, 2007 9:57 AM

Robert Scoble appears to come off as a friend not just a blogger - impressive and intimate writing style :-)

Posted by: Ny Nj at February 24, 2007 7:12 AM

Hey, how did the Online Traffic Optimisation conference go?

btw, your 'notes' act as guidelines to new bloggers like me. Thx.

Posted by: Saurabh Kulkarni at February 24, 2007 1:36 PM

I just gave you a shout out on my new blog, and I am always glad to see posts like this where you give what should be nigh-invaluable information out for free. Rising tide and boats and all that, I assume.

Posted by: John at February 26, 2007 9:43 PM

Anything to boost your Blogs bottom line. It sounds like you need a targeted audience, and lots of traffic. Where and how much, that comes with experience.

Posted by: Gray at February 27, 2007 10:57 PM

Good blogs do need continuity. It's a good point to stress out since bloggers are not motivated to write everyday. Keeping it up to date is nice in order to be active in the blogging community

Posted by: Martin at July 11, 2007 4:39 PM