Biz Blog Profile Series: RESCUE! BugBlog

03/22/2005

Biz Blog Profile is a behind the scene look at how corporations, non profits and higher education institutions are using blogs to support their marketing goals.
Bug_blog_rescue_3
Biz Blog Profile: RESCUE! BugBlog

Stephanie Cates, Director of Marketing and Communications, is the author and originator of a most unique blog about bugs. Yup, you read it right…bugs. But for Stephanie's company, Sterling International, manufacturer of pest control products, a bug blog made perfect sense. Posts integrate tips about pest control and interesting bug tidbits with insights into company culture and the right dash of Stephanie's personality. 

About Sterling International

Sterling International is a privately-owned company which manufactures and markets RESCUE! Pest Control Products, a small line of non-pesticide, environmentally responsible traps for yellowjackets, flies and Japanese beetles. Products are sold at major retailers such as Home Depot, Lowe's, Wal-Mart, Ace Hardware and True Value Hardware.

Why Sterling International is Blogging

The main reason is to create a sense of community around our company and our products.

How Blogs Fit Into Sterling International's Marketing Strategy

We have long believed in advertising directly to the end user of our product, rather than focusing on the retail trade. Even when our products were new and distribution was not widespread, we wanted the consumer to know us and put pressure on the retailers by asking them to carry our product.

Blogs allow us to continue our dialogue directly with the consumer on a more personal level than advertising could ever accomplish.

Blogging also fits with our branding tagline: "Making pest control smarter." The more information we provide to the reader that is related to our pest control niche, the more it reinforces 'smarter'.

Selling-in to Management

My boss was not entirely up to speed on blogs, especially blogs for business, so I first needed to explain the concept to him. I talked about how blogs are becoming more credible as sources of news and information, and that many bloggers and readers of blogs are the 'early adopters' and  'influentials' that we want to reach.

I then went through a list of some outcomes that we would seek to accomplish from having a blog:

-Creating a sense of community
-Helping readers see us as a company of 'real' people
-Keeping our web site fresh and dynamic
-Solidifying our position as leaders in our field
-Achieving higher search engine rankings
-Staying out in front of any news about us
-Helping launch new products

Listing some possible blog topics helped him to see how it would be used. The fact that a trusted, long-time employee (me!) would be doing the blogging definitely helped allay fears about maintaining appropriateness in the blog and keeping sensitive company information private.

Finally, to the question of whether to allow comments to be posted, I helped him see that it shows that we stand behind our products.

How
Sterling International is Marketing RESCUE! BugBlog

We have links to the blog on our home page and all over the interior pages of our web site. In the interest of sharing helpful information, we are linking prolifically to web sites and other blogs. We posted our blog to Ping-o-matic. In time, we will also spend time commenting on other blogs to increase awareness of ours.

Lessons Learned

Building traffic, and therefore gaining tangible results from the blog, takes time. Content that comes across as promotional, rather than consumer-oriented, is not well-received.

Future Direction

We hope to gain enough of a following on our blog to get quality customer feedback and, when we have a new product to introduce, create 'buzz' around it before the official launch.

Stephanie Cates on Blogs

One of the things we've learned in talking to our customers over the years is that people are fascinated with bugs, and therefore they like to talk about them. They have many questions, such as how the weather will affect them this year. They usually have a personal story relating to getting stung, or discovering a nest on their property, or having a family gathering ruined by a bug invasion, and so there is an emotional component to their curiosity.

So it was easy to realize when considering a corporate blog that we have plenty of content for a blog in which people would take interest, and that would not appear too promotional. It's all about getting closer to our customers and gaining their trust.

I'm excited to have a new tool in my marketing toolbox, and blogging is a tool that so far I have found easy to implement and enjoyable to use. It's a great fit for us.

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Comments

I never thought I would see a blog devoted to bugs, but I guess there is a market for everything! I do completely agree with your quote that blogs create a much more personal experience for the marketer with their market. You aren't just pushing a product, you are talking about it and they feel as if you are talking to them! Enjoyable article!

Evan

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Posted by: ns7fc on Mar 16, 2007 7:18:32 AM

that's really a fantastic post ! added to my favourite blogs list.. I have been reading your blog last couple of weeks and enjoy every bit. Thanks.

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