5 Things I've Learned From Training Corporate Bloggers
This is a modified post posted from my October 2007 archives. Very little of it has changed, despite the growth of social media. That's a point of pride for me. Tactics and platforms come and go, but good strategies always work.
Franki and I run a Blogger Boot Camp, and we've held several dozen personalized classes training all kinds of folks the ins and outs of blogging and social media. What I have taken away from those classes?
Select your Clients Carefully
Blogger Training has been the most difficult sale I've ever made. It's not closing the sale - that's the easy part. The hard part is determining who would make a good blogger and who wouldn't. If you build someone a website, you get to walk away when done. If you train a blogger, you're with them for life. Maybe not on a contractual basis, but blogging is about building networks, and the only way to be successful is to have your students (clients) be successful. Each success brings you a valuable ally (and SEO resource). Each failure points to the conclusion that your training isn't all it's cracked up to be. With that in mind, here are my top five observations about training corporate bloggers.
1) Look for curiousity.
If they aren't passionate about learning, don't sell them a training package.
2) Look for basic internet skills.
It's difficult to teach the intricacies of social networking if they don't know what hyperlinks and address bars are. If you do find yourself with internet-challenged individuals, take the time to work on their overall knowledge. It's worth it to them, and helps them fit into online communities later without embarrassment.
3) Always charge full price.
When I first started, I let clients accept projects that weren't at full price. Very few of those people are blogging today. The problem is simply one of time and interest. If you gave them a watered down program to fit within their budget, they rarely learned enough to generate the benefits you sold them on.
4) Respect your client.
It's their time and their money, but clients have a business to run and jobs to do. Your job as their trainer is to work blogging into their day. Leave them with the discipline to use blogging to magnify their efforts and improve their results without turning them into full-time bloggers. To do that, you have to understand and respect how they work.
5) No one fails at blogging until they give up.
If you have done a good job planning and executing a blog strategy, you will be successful. The only failures I have seen are people who have given up, and they tend to give up immediately. If I can get you writing for three months, you'll generate benefits, and stick with it from them on. That's something to be proud of, and should be part of your sales pitch. Blogging is a long-term marketing strategy, not a short term PR or sales fix.
Clearly, social media is more than blogging, but that wasn't so obvious four years ago. MySpace ruled for traffic, but was tough for marketing, and Facebook and Twitter were blips. YouTube was still private. Podcasts were still considered the next big thing, and there were many arguments about whether podcasts would replace blogging as the social medium of choice.
That was back when I was on the AdAge 150, before the agencies started pouring resources into it to pitch themselves as social friendly. Good times, good times.
Today, picking a client for me is more about understanding my limitations than understanding theirs. There is always something I can do, from content to policy to training to list-building. The question is whether it makes sense for them, at this moment, to use me. Should they be hiring a sales consultant or buying a software or working on their email list prior to engaging me? Do they need to solve internal product delivery issues before launching? Are they interested in learning, or just checking off a to-do list that includes, "hire social media marketing consultant?"
In our sixth year of business, we look at each project as a challenge. As in, will it challenge us? Will it really help the client, or is it just something to do between holidays? Time is short, and no amount of dollar compensation makes up for time lost to doing something that's on a checklist.
Select your clients. If you don't have the clients you want, redouble your sales efforts. You'll be doing yourself, and your clients a favor.