Should You Blog About Products You Don't Sell?

think differently about social media marketing
Sometimes, going against your long held beliefs can be helpful.
The relationships between you, my technical sales representative and industrial distributor friends, and your principals can be convoluted. Manufacturers prefer that you not handle products considered competitive with theirs, but it is inevitable that some overlap will come into play. As a work-around solution, it is common for a rep to handle only a portion of a manufacturer's product line. There are a number of other possible scenarios that may leave you authorized to sell less than the entire product mix. This creates something of a challenge when designing your website, but even more so when selecting topics for frequent blog articles.

Some blog posts come pretty close to being product advertisements, and close is generally acceptable. I keep these points in mind when I write about a product.

  • Keep promotional speech minimized (preferably missing entirely)
  • Tie the product to an industry practice
  • Focus on technical aspects of a product or process
  • Relay how it may be different
  • Show how it can deliver benefits or improvements to the reader's work or process

Working toward these goals helps maintain your post as a useful and interesting piece. The goal is to provide value for the reader, netting benefit to the writer as a result of the reader's fulfillment.

You want your company to be noticed, discovered, found by individuals with common interests, since these are the people you will do business with in one form or another. If getting noticed or discovered is your goal...
Does it make sense to blog about things you do not sell, but are related to your business?
Of course it does! Remember, your goal with your social media portals is not to sell products, it is to "sell" your organization, by increasing subscribers and reinforcing their positive impressions. The more subjects you cover, with keywords for search engines to find, the better. It is useful to keep in mind that your potential customers have professional interests beyond your company's product offering. This takes a conscious effort. It is easy to myopically blog away about the products shown on the company website, and that's not entirely without merit. But there is more to write about. Being the source of interesting and useful information, being the "go-to place" for news or updates on a subject, adds tremendous social media value to your company. Here are some guidelines and ideas to consider.

  • Avoid blogging about competitors directly, but be mindful of their concepts and approaches to solving customer challenges. You may be able to write about the generic concept without mentioning the competitor by name. Compare and contrast your company's approach to a similar issue.
  • It can be productive to blog about facets or products of a brand that are unavailable for you to sell. For example, blog about a company's flow meters, even though you only handle their level controls. As long as you do not handle a competitive flow meter, getting the brand name out there can still be positive for you through links back to your site.
  • Write about legislative and regulatory current events. There is a continuing flood of this information being released by federal, state, and local jurisdictions. Keeping up with it is difficult for your customers. Your position as an information source can yield positive benefits through followers and subscribers.
  • For industrial settings, cyber security and safety are looming issues with universal impact. Find good sources of information and share them through your social media.
  • Share an original viewpoint from someone in your company. It does not have to be the CEO. People that work in cubicles, people that turn wrenches, may have some very interesting and valuable things to say. I recommend you work an article such as this as an interview. Getting people to talk to you is generally much easier than getting them to write for you.
  • Go completely off topic once in a while. If you have something to share that would be of interest to your industry or audience, but may not be directly related to your company's business line, publish it. This should be an infrequent event, to avoid having your blog appear unfocused.
  • Write about things you do not sell, but are used by your potential customers. Your article can be non-partisan and provide insight not usually delivered by those that sell the particular product.
I think you see it now. The purpose of your writing is to serve the reader. If you serve the reader well, the reader will read another article or click on one of your links, increasing their recognition of your organization. That is your goal.

Follow, comment, reach out to me with your questions. I can be contacted directly at CMS4i by putting @TomO in the message section. At CMS4i, we help small companies build their brand and web presence, so contact us anytime.