Lewis Green wrote a fantastic post, called Where's the Beef in Blogging?, check it out when you get the opportunity.
When I was going to college, one of the papers and analysis I did was on cocaine addiction. I apologize ahead of time for not providing credit for my sources, but here's the just of it. The successful addict kicks their habit on average in their ninth year of recovery. Ninth year! In other words, put up a rehabilitation center today, and you won't recoup the benefits for nine years.
The problem? Politicians are voted in every 4 years. The conundrum is that if a metropolitan area has a huge problem with cocaine, crimes follow… theft, fights, murders, etc. Hardcore politicians are voted in to ‘fix' the problem. But they really need nine years to fix it, don't they? Hmmm. They only have 4 years.
So the solution changes from recovery to incarceration. Successful politicians don't actually assist in improving the recovery rates of the cocaine user, they simply get as many of them off the street as they can before the next election. They really don't have any choice. The constituents demand results. As a result, our prisons are full of drug abusers that will continue to be released, incarcerated, released, incarcerated, etc.
In the long run, the cost of incarceration dwarfs the cost of a recovery center. When you take a look at the annual budget on the “War on Drugs” in the United States, though, you'll find that the budget for recovery is barely a spec in the entire budget. There's no end, nor is there any hope unless science can somehow step in and shorten the recovery cycle.
What in the world does cocaine have to do with blogging?
Blogging as a marketing strategy is simply that, a strategy. Blogging is not an event. Each post is connected to the last and leads to the next. A single blog entry won't get you anywhere, but thousands of them will absolutely begin to create a community of readers and a very clear image of your knowledge, experience, and personality. They will also raise awareness to your brand and personality, authority, and search engine ranking.
So… where's the ROI on that?
You need to provide ROI for your marketing dollars, correct? You've got 10 blogs on your corporate website, spending hours of 10 executives each week to write them and an IT staff to support them. That's a lot of money on that line item, isn't it? And after a year, what do you have to show for it? Do you have more business? Do you have more profit?
Here is where the problem raises its ugly head. The budgeting cycle for the year has ended and you don't have anything to show for it. Not a single one of your new clients can be pointed to as coming from your blog. This stuff just doesn't work! It's all Web 2.0 hype! We don't blog and we get more customers. We buy banner ads and they do better than our blog.
Sure they do.
The problem with the ads are that they don't build your reputation. They don't allow your prospects or customers to have a conversation with you. They don't assist in search engine optimization. They don't result in word of mouth marketing. They don't assist in customer retention.
So rather than treat your relationships and your recovery with care over the long-run, you have to make the choice to throw it in jail. Your marketing program becomes the revolving door of a prison… ads purchased, mediocre results, ads purchased, mediocre results, on and on and on.
It's up to you. The issue is truly strategic. If you're willing to put aside time and resources to build your online presence and authority (and you have the talent to pull it off), you will see the results. Your brand will strengthen, your phone will ring, and you'll find yourself surrounded by an irreplaceable network of customers, readers, fans, friends and resources. You'll find your websites getting much more attention.
A colleague of mine who is starting their own business online implementing blogging technologies said to me at lunch, “Everywhere we look for information on blogging, we see your name Doug!”. It's really not the case at all. I am not an A-List blogger and my name isn't everywhere. However, it stands out when they see it because they know me.
So what's your return on investment, Doug?
I've been blogging for less than a year and have had half a dozen more engagements with industry professionals, I've had a couple A-listers visit my site and comment on it, I've had an editor read a book I'm writing (he gave me some great advice!), I've been interviewed on local television and news, I've been offered a partnership in a business, and I've made countless friends. Do I have more money in my pocket? Probably not… but it's coming.
I would be willing to work on this another 9 years, but trust me, I won't have to. The results will be here soon. A couple weeks ago, I had a wonderful lunch with the CEO of Bitwise Solutions and he asked me the question, “Where's the ROI?”
The ROI is coming, I said. I compared my blogging engagement to going to college. When you start college and invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in an education, you don't stop each quarter or year and ask where the ROI is. You know it's coming because you're building your authority, credibility, experience and education.
I'm looking forward to my graduation. I don't know when it's coming, but it will be here before you know it.