How to sell stuff on your B2B blog without being annoying

I’m hoping by now the “selling is bad” phase of the social media mantra is passe and we can all freely embrace our inner capitalist.  Right?Earlier this week I wrote about a growing trend toward sponsored posts and outright selling on blogs.  Frankly I think this defeats the community-building aspect of a blog. Why read it when you know the author is taking money to pimp stuff? I personally think this is a trend that will run its course.  One day, sponsors will figure out nobody is reading the blog when it is obviously nothing more than an advertisement. People will self-Tivo.

However, I think there are some appropriate and customer-friendly ways to sell things on a blog. I’m going to focus on the tricky world of B2B …

  1. Feature blog-only special offers and discounts — This can also build readership if you can condition customers and prospects to look to the blog site for exclusive deals.
  2. Post product ads somewhere on your blog — This doesn’t have to be in your face and ugly. For example SAP routinely offers ads for their training programs on their blog. Why not? That’s a smart thing to do and also helpful.
  3. Involve sales in the blog chats and comments — Why not use the engagement in the comment section of the blog to let your sales folks build connections?
  4. Give away something away that requires an opt-in — Many blogs feature product samples, or eBooks that allow the site to collect info for the company CRM.
  5. Add a feature for customers to opt-in for specials and eNewsletter — Do you have other communication touch points customers might like to know about it? An opt-in for newsletters creates a sales lead.
  6. Write blog topics that feature helpful uses for your products and services that encourage people to buy more stuff.  That’s what we want them to do. “Grow”  … remember?

Any other ideas?  Have you seen any great best practices out there?

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