Product Rep Blogs Done Well: I Dig Hardware

The I Dig Hardware blog wastes no time letting you know what it's about. The top of the first page proudly proclaims:
Following the tone set by the title, the blog's style is very informal. The layout is simple, using a pre-made template with minimal customization; this keeps focus on the blog's content, instead of high-tech bells and whistles. The language is very personal, like a conversation with a colleague rather than the business or textbook style adopted by many corporate blogs.

Which makes sense because this is not a corporate blog; it's personal.

Lori Greene, AHC/CDC, CCPR started the blog when she was basically the New England product rep for Ingersoll Rand. But it was not a company project; she started it on her own as an evening hobby with three stated goals:
  1. Keep her name in front of New England architects
  2. Gather all the building code information she had collected over the years in a single site
  3. Make learning about hardware less painful
A fourth goal has since emerged, increasing awareness of new fire door codes. 

The blog has developed a very active community of commentators, and high daily readership. Lori reports that some people have even set it as the home page on their web browsers, and is picked up as a monthly column in Doors & Hardware magazine

Not bad for a night time hobby.

Why this works
The first key to Lori's success is that she started with clearly stated goals in mind. As the blog has grown, reoccurring topics have emerged (such as "Wordless Wednesday" where pictures of interesting doors speak for themselves...mostly). In the early days of a blog, deciding what to post can be very intimidating, so having goals helps you identify good topics and give structure to the blog.

The informal, personal style is also a major strength. Developing relationships with architects is still the best way to get specified, and the conversational tone does more to foster a relationship. If the blog felt like a constant sales pitch, or used very dry "professional" communication, it would not make that same personal connection. Especially for this topic. The original title of the blog was "I Hate Hardware", a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement that many architects do not understand, are scared of, and get intimidated by hardware. The informality defuses the subject, making it more accessible.

Which is not to say all blogs need to be this informal; many great blogs benefit from creating an "expert" or "consultant" tone. The key is to decide what tone will resonate most with your audience, and what you will be most comfortable writing. 

The blog is also very multimedia. Almost every post has a picture or video; given that many architects are visual learners and thinkers, relying solely on text would be a mistake. Especially given the perceived complexity of the subject. It also makes the page more visually interesting, and provides other avenues for readers to find your site by following links from YouTube or photo-sharing sites.