Having a Blog Positioning Statement Could Make You A Better Storyteller

 

We’re all aware of how important it is to make our blogs stand out from the crowd, but we may not know how. Gary Bembridge‘s job as a global marketer for big brands like Unilver and Johnson & Johnson has led him to think about marketing his blog differently, and in this guest post he shares an exercise he thinks can help every blogger articulate what makes their blogs unique.


During TBEX in Girona one of the actions that a number of speakers proposed was for travel bloggers to focus more on storytelling, and in finding a distinctive voice as a writer. Since the conference I have been looking for practical ways to help bloggers like myself turn that aspiration into a reality. This article offers one approach that I think could help.

Have a blog positioning statement.

I believe if you start by generating a “blog positioning statement” you will:

  • Find it easier to find the angle to make every travel story you write unique, consistent and true to your expertise.
  • Find you can better position and communicate your blog to tourist boards and travel brands when looking for them to support and involve you in their activities.

Learn from how major companies position and market their brands.

I have been in brand marketing for over 30 years at major multi-nationals like Unilever and Johnson & Johnson. I believe that if travel bloggers used some of the tools that are used by major companies to guide their brand, it could help them ensure they have a very focused and distinctive blog in the cluttered travel blogging space. The “blog positioning statement” is one such tool.

Travel bloggers need to have a clear target that they are writing for. They need to offer their readers something that brings a clear proposition in the cluttered travel blogging environment. They also need to have a travel blog that is distinctive and unique from all the other travel blogs to ensure people keep coming back to devour their content.

These are all the same principles that major brands have to have to in order to succeed. They all have a “brand positioning statement” to help them identify and focus. I think travel bloggers should have one, too.

4 steps in generating your blog positioning statement

To get a blog positioning statement there are four things that you need to define for your blog. What you are about, who you are for, what you offer, and what makes you different.

To help illustrate each of these, I will give an example of what the massive anti-age brand Olay Regenerist is likely to be. Then I will give an example for my blog TipsForTravellers.com and what I think it would be for NomadicMatt.com. This site is usually listed as one of the top travel blogs based on a compilation of traffic scores.

Before you start on your blog, try it on blogs you admire.

Try and do the exercise for at least one of the travel blogs that you admire before doing it for your blog. You are likely to find that it is fairly easy to do the exercise for successful blogs. They have become successful by being very focused, and it will be clear what they are trying to do. You will also usually find that they will have expressed what they are about clearly in their “About” pages on their site, summarised it for their search engine results and often use it in a tagline for their blog.

Step 1: “I Am The Blog Of”

In no more than a handful of words describe what your blog is about. The fewer the better.

Imagine there is a room of 1000 people interested in travel. You have lost your voice, and all you are able to do is hold up a sign that says what your blog is about. The sign needs to be clear enough to attract the attention of everyone that will be interested in what you cover in your blog. It has to be so motivating that they will get up and follow you into another room to hear more about your content.

You only have room on the sign for at most 5 or 6 words. What would that sign say for your blog?

Here is the brand example:

  • Olay Regenerist is the brand of: High performance anti-age skincare.

The travel blog examples:

  • Tips For Travellers is the blog about: Luxurious travel experiences.
  • Nomadic Matt is the blog about: Travelling better, cheaper, longer.

Take a look at the examples above. I think they all do the following:

  • Clearly tell people what they will be getting if they come to the blog.
  • Are short and memorable.
  • Could be used as a sub-title for the blog as shorthand to summarise the whole blog.
Step 2: “I Am The Blog For”

In a sentence describe who your blog is for. Think attitudes and desires, not age, sex and other statistics.

Imagine you are now with the people that followed you into your room. If they were to describe themselves in a sentence, what do you think they would say? Who do you want them to be?

Brand example:

  • Olay Regenerist is for: Women who want visible anti-age improvements, without having to resort to procedures or surgery.

Blog examples:

  • Tips For Travellers is for: Travellers who have the budget to indulge in a luxurious travel experience, and are seeking inspiration and recommendations. They are interested in the hottest and must-see and do, rather than the unusual, off-the-beaten track and uncharted.
  • Nomadic Matt is for: Travellers nervous about travelling for the first time or taking that first big trip, and those heading somewhere who have absolutely no idea where to start.

Take a look at the examples above. I think they all do the following:

  • Describe what the target for your blog is thinking and wants from travelling.
  • They help the blogger to write for that desire, attitude and expectation, which is easier than writing to a factual demographic like men aged 18 to 24 from the USA.
  • Will help PR agencies and brands understand the type of audience and content you have and are seeking. Most brands target consumers based on attitudes as well as the demographics and so you talking their language too.
Step 3: “I Am Providing”

Describe in a sentence more detail about what your blog is providing to your readers. This is the scope of your blog and the content on it.

Brand example:

  • Olay provides: Dramatically younger looking skin without drastic measures.

Blog examples:

  • Tips For Travellers provides: Inspiration, advice and tips about luxurious travel experiences including destinations, transportation, accommodation, attractions and journeys that you can read, listen to or watch.
  • Nomadic Matt provides: The most up-to-date travel information, tips and advice designed to keep people motivated to travel and help them to travel cheaper, better, and longer.
Step 4: “I Am Different Because”

What do you do that no-one else does? What are you offering travellers that is unique?

It is important to be clear on how you are different from the many other blogs or information sources that travellers could turn to. The best way to get to the heart of what is unique about what you do is to try and describe it by starting your sentence with any of these phrases:

  • “Only I…”
  • “Unlike other travel blogs in my niche, I…”
  • “I am different from other travel blogs because…”

Brand example:

  • Olay Regenerist is different because: It is the only anti-age cream formulated with our exclusive amino-peptide complex.

Blog examples:

  • Tips For Travellers is different because: It draws on over 20 years of global travel experiences from the 2-3 times a month I have been visiting destinations all over the world (for my global marketing job and for vacations).
  • Nomadic Matt is different because: Gives information, advice and tips Matt learnt since starting his travels in 2006 on how to travel long term without a lot of money, without being tied down to a job, and without being rich.
Summary of the travel blog examples

Tips For Travellers is the blog about luxurious travel experiences for travellers who have the budget to indulge in a luxurious travel experience, and are seeking inspiration and recommendations. They are interested in the hottest and must-see and do, rather than the unusual, off-the-beaten track and uncharted. It provides travel inspiration, advice and tips on luxurious travel experiences including destinations, transportation, accommodation, attractions and journeys that you can read, listen to or watch, and is different because it draws on over 20 years of global travel experiences from the 2-3 times a month I have been visiting destinations all over the world (for my global marketing job and for vacations).

Nomadic Matt is the blog about travelling better, cheaper, longer for travellers nervous about travelling for the first time or taking that first big trip, and those heading somewhere and have absolutely no idea where to start. It provides the most up-to-date travel information, tips, advice designed to keep people motivated to travel and help them to travel cheaper, better, and longer, and is different because it has information, advice and tips Matt has learnt since starting his travels in 2006 on how to travel long term without a lot of money, without being tied down to a job and without being be rich.

Wrap-up and action

I believe that having a blog positioning statement will help you focus and ensure you can generate consistent and differentiated stories and content for your blog. It will also help you as you pitch your blog to partners. It works for brands in major companies, and is worth giving it a go.

If you try and develop a blog positioning, why not post it in the comments of this article to help other bloggers as they develop and work on theirs?


Gary Bembridge grew up in Zimbabwe, and has been London based since 1987. He has been travelling every month of every year for the last 20 years thanks to his job as a global marketer for Unilever, Johnson & Johnson and now a global brand consultant. He launched Tips For Travellers in 2005 with a podcast and blog to share learning on how to get the most out of every destination he has visited.

24 thoughts on “Having a Blog Positioning Statement Could Make You A Better Storyteller”

    1. Beverly. Thanks for that. It is really hard, brands take ages to crack it. But once done it is really helpful (for most people). Amazing though how hard it is to boil it down into a few key ideas…. if you are like me I kept trying to leave in things I like rather than what my blog should be about. Look forward to seeing your outcome.

  1. Wonderful tips, Gary! It looks easy when an expert shows how to do a good positionning statement. I wil definitely try to do it for my blog -and maybe post the result to hear your feedback.
    Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Thanks for stating a blog positioning statement so succinctly! Here goes:
    HouseSittingTravel is a blog of budget travel through house sitting.
    HouseSittingTravel is a blog for travelers in search of alternative and budget lodging as a way to see more, do more. They are looking for inspiration and guidance for becoming house sitters.
    I am providing information that surrounds a house sitting lifestyle, from travel tips, stories, how-to succeed in getting the best assignments, cooking with foods around the world, and how to make money while traveling.
    I am different because I am a baby boomer with a lifetime of experience not only in travel, but from living in a commune, being a manufacturing business owner, designer, and writer. My blogs are a direct peek into my philosophy of life, social politics, sense of adventure, and my experience as an international house sitter.
    I wish you happy and safe travels!
    ~Josie

  3. “Exploring Elements is the blog about how to enjoy adventure sports while traveling overland. It is for adventure sports enthusiasts who want to know about the best gear, events and locations to enjoy their pursuits. It provides unbiased gear reviews, stories from the road and quality overland and adventure sports event coverage. It is different because it is rooted in Bryon’s deep understanding and vast outdoor industry knowledge from over 11 yrs of experience as well as his current travels and adventures living the overland lifestyle.”

    I like the idea of building the elevator speach into one concise little package like this. Thanks for breaking it down into an easy to digest 4 step process. Any and all feedback is greatly appreciated. -Bryon

    1. Bryon. Wow, That was really sharp and concise. Really clear about what your blog is. A test was it got me heading over to the blog to check it out… though I am more the lay out and lazy type to be honest! But a great example of boiling what you are about. Let me know how you use it and if it helps.

  4. Excellent advice and concrete ideas, Gary. Thanks for sharing this helpful information for writers and bloggers. I will evaluate our web site (TravelAndWords.com) and our Twitter posts @northwestwriter with your specific positioning ideas and how-tos! It all counts for encouraging readers to browse, linger awhile, and comment about your quality content:) Thank you again, we’ll share your post, and info about TBEX June ’13 Toronto with writer colleagues here in the Pacific Northwest. Happy travels, Myrna O., Chair, Travel & Words March ’13 in Seaside, Oregon.

    1. Myrna. Thanks. I have checked out your site that I had not come across before. Really interesting. Look forward to any thoughts you have as you try this out. Hopefully meet you at TBEX Toronto. I so enjoyed Girona (1st time I had been) that booked tickets and flights straight afterwards!)

  5. Hi Gary, Thank you so much for breaking it down and providing such useful examples. This is what I’ve come up with for my blog based on your advice:

    Julie Dawn Fox in Portugal is full of insider tips about living and travelling in Portugal. It’s designed for people who want to explore the quirkier, off-the-beaten track side of Portugal and find out about its culture and lifestyle. Julie’s blog provides travel tips and ideas, details of unusual events, stories of living and travelling in Portugal and advice for travellers and expats to enable them to follow in her footsteps or avoid similar mistakes. It’s different because it’s based on Julie’s personal experiences and explorations of Portugal where she’s been living since 2007.

    What do you think?

  6. Gary, this is a fantastic and incredibly helpful post. I printed it out and brought it along on my trip last weekend and began to work on my statement over dinner. After recently re-branding my site, I’ve really been looking for a snappy way to explain my blog and your suggestions have me thinking about it in a whole new way. Thank you for your help!

  7. Ah! And here’s our statement:
    Trails & Travel is the blog about travel on the cheap for baby boomers who are looking for easy, inexpensive adventures. It provides inspiration, tips, and advice about travel experiences that our readers can easily do themselves, and is different because John & Sandy have learned, after more than 10,000 miles of travel on foot and by bicycle, how to connect people with authentic experiences.

  8. Thanks so much, Gary for this timely advice! I’m in the process of creating my blog called Traveling with Purpose. I’ve been setting up the foundations of the site and hope to go live within the next week or so. I have blogged for fun for years at http://touristoflife.me/, but was all over the place in regard to topics and very sporadic in posting frequency. I’m now devoting full time hours on the new blog and these suggestions will really help me to focus on the core of traveling with purpose…learning, helping and growing through meaningful travel. Thanks so much!

    1. I was like you too. I started my blog for myself and to document things about my travels, and found it was too unfocused eventually as I started to get more serious about it. Please keep me posted on how it develops, either on this post or drop me a line too.

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