Content marketing has, to some degree, taken over search engine optimization as a way for companies to drive traffic to their websites. Write educational articles that provide real value and others will forward the information to their friends, all with hope that the holy grail of online marketing occurs and that the article goes viral.
The vehicle that many companies and people use to post their information online is a blog. Blogs are real-time online Web logs, or "diaries," on just about any topic imaginable. Platforms like WordPress make it easy for anyone to create a blog, and content management tools like Brandpoint Hub and automation systems like Homescape Pro make it easy for companies to produce and distribute content like never before. Of course social media sites allow anyone to summarize and share blog content on a global scale.
It's estimated that there are more than 150 million blogs. To attract attention, companies and individuals use their blogs to share inside information about future products, new ideas, industry research, personal insights, and more.
Because you'll often find information in a blog post that you might not find on a company web site or in traditional media, searching blogs is a great source of sales intelligence and competitive research.
Google used to have a very powerful blog search engine, but in 2014, they discontinued the public service. The good news is YouGotBlogs.com came online in 2015, and it is designed to specifically search blogs and blog posts. In addition, because of its multi-field form, there is less of a need to use complex Boolean logic in your search than you might with a typical search engine.
Type in the name of a company, or even a person, that you're interested in learning about; if you receive too many results, re-enter your search but this time add more keywords related to what you desire, e.g., marketing, sales, etc. Note that the default "All" tab will show results from across the Web. Click the "Blog Posts" tab to limit your results to blogs and/or blog posts that contain your search terms. Click the "Relevancy" tab to sort by relevancy to your terms, or by post date.
One note of caution: Although the majority of blogs are written by industry experts, remember that anybody can write about or comment on anything online, so what you read in a blog might not necessarily be true. Don't assume the information you read in a blog post is factual. Verify it via other sources and when meeting with a prospect or client, don't quote blog content as fact; rather, use it to ask better questions.
In a sales call, reference a blog post from the company, or that mentions the company. Or share information found on a competitor's blog, or trends from an industry blog. Spending just a few minutes reading a relevant blog post prior to a meeting can help you differentiate from your competition who most likely is going to "wing it."
As most blogs provide an RSS feed, you can even subscribe to a blog and "automate" your learning meaning that every time the blog you follow is updated, you'll receive the article via your RSS reader and/or email.