Getting down to the business of blogging
Along with the plethora of social media available for use by savvy firms with a switched-on marketing strategy, there is also another way to make a company stand out from the crowd and that is to get involved in the business of blogging.
In fact, many experts would agree that it is one of the top ways a company can build a constant dialogue with its customers, gaining meaningful feedback which can help it stay ahead of competitors.
To this end, blogging is increasingly being seen as one of the most valuable tools businesses can use to market products and services, and build fruitful and long-lasting relationships with customers, clients and suppliers.
However, this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of advantages that a regular blog can bring. Writing regularly online helps to position a company as an expert or thought leader within its field.
It often inspires confidence as customers who read it regularly will begin to view the company as a reliable source of information and thus be more inclined towards purchasing its products or services.
It also enables a company to keep its eye on the ball and in touch with the latest trends within its sector and respond quickly or indeed lead the charge when something new happens.
A regular, well-written blog also provides a firm with the perfect platform to tell its brand story and offers a place where the company can illuminate its strategies and policies.
It can also help to generate more traffic to a company website through the ubiquitous use of Search Engine Optimisation or SEO to the uninitiated.
Search engines, such a Google, place content higher up its search rankings if the content is enriched with the right keywords for a particular subject or industry, which in turn means it will be easier for readers to find the originating company and potentially bring it more customers.
Actually, latest figures have recently shown that 60 percent of businesses who blog regularly end up with a bigger customer base proving that blogging is indeed great for improving sales.
Having established a considerable list of advantages to business blogging the next step is actually setting one up. For this a company will need to look around for someone who a) can write, and b) have a passion for the business.
In many ways the writing skills are a secondary consideration as in order to engage readers the author should really be someone who loves what they are writing about, so having a passion for the business is probably way more important.
Some companies engage the services of professional writers who ghost write articles for them, but the pitfall here could be that the finished articles may lose out on the passion and verve of someone who is part of the business and above all understands it.
Posting regular articles is also of paramount importance. It doesn’t have to be done every day, but nor is it a good idea to start a blog one day and then not update for the next six months. Making a commitment to post weekly or bi-monthly is much more likely to draw a regular readership.
Content is king
Then, of course, there is the tricky business of deciding what to write about, although this is probably not as difficult as it seems.
The blog is an ideal platform for talking with authority about your business and its industry sector. It is here the blogger can discuss any new developments within the company/industry, what its strategies and objectives are, and any relevant issues.
It can also be used to highlight any new trends or help a company to react to them quickly online, thus boosting the company’s own reputation for knowing what’s what within the business.
However, business bloggers should steer away from the boring and mundane such as focusing completely on the business and its products. Readers are immediately turned off by anything they deem to be blatant advertising.
All good stories are about people and this rings true for the business blog. It is, therefore, totally acceptable to talk about customers, clients, suppliers or even competitors in the blog. Most big companies search for their names and products online and blogging about them might just get your business noticed.
Last, but not least, make sure readers have the facility to be able to join in the conversation the blog has started, by ensuring there is a comments box. It is a sure fire way of encouraging the debate and receiving feedback, which ultimately can help the business to grow in the right way for its customers.
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”