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?
- Olay Regenerist is for: Women who want visible anti-age improvements, without having to resort to procedures or surgery.
- 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.
- Olay provides: Dramatically younger looking skin without drastic measures.
- 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…”
- Olay Regenerist is different because: It is the only anti-age cream formulated with our exclusive amino-peptide complex.
- 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.