Let’s just come out and admit it: most company blogs are horrible. Either they are never updated (I resemble that remark), or they read like press releases, in that dry, official tone of corporate PR that no one reads because it’s not actually meant to be read.
So, when you find a company blog that’s entertaining and informative, co-written by several people in a company who, as a group, post two-three times each week, who aren’t afraid to be real people in their blog posts: well, it’s beyond refreshing. It’s stunning. The Hilltop Landscape Architects and Contractors have a company blog like that. In less than four months (their current WordPress-based website launched in January, 2011), blogging has become central to their marketing efforts, and their website traffic is on a definite upward slope.
I have first-hand knowledge of The Hilltop as a customer (if you live in New Mexico and need landscaping, you should contact them). They are also my client. I designed and built their website and I work with them on an ongoing basis as a blog coach. I would love to be able to take credit for the quality of their blog, but I do little more than encourage them and make an occasional edit for clarity. I can tell you not all of the bloggers at The Hilltop were just waiting for an opportunity to write an occasional blog post. But they do it, and even (sometimes) find themselves enjoying it. And they are producing a body of work that is beginning to add up to a resource for people with various landscape issues.
Recent blog posts have dealt with practical matters such as windbreaks, dog-friendly landscaping, weed control, the dangers of topping trees, and landscaping methods for reducing danger from wildfires. There have also been posts on subjects such as sensory gardens, New Mexico blooming plants, and the importance of focal points in landscape design. And then there was the infamous April 1 blog post. This kind of variety (and I’ve only scratched the surface) makes The Hilltop’s blog both an information resource and a source of entertainment.
How do they do it? It starts with a commitment from the owner, Jim Forrester. The Hilltop has never had a marketing department; they’ve never needed one because the continual growth in Albuquerque and other cities in New Mexico kept them busy and growing. In the last couple of years, things have gotten a lot more competitive. Jim knew they had to do something to market the company’s services, but he found the idea of spending money on traditional marketing less than appealing. When he and I talked about how inbound marketing techniques could be used to gain business, he liked the idea. More importantly, he committed his time and his people’s time to make it happen. Among the eight Hilltop staffers who blog (including Jim), blogging is part of their job.
Once a week (recently every two weeks, because spring is their busiest season), we meet for an hour to discuss upcoming and potential blog posts and talk about such things as how to get backlinks, how to promote their blog posts, what to do when the blogging well runs dry, and other things related to blogging. There is usually a fair amount of laughing and carrying on; someone looking in the window might conclude there was no useful work being done. But they’d be wrong.
Take a look at The HIlltop’s blog. Read a few posts and then come back here and tell me what you think.