I am creating a blog for our startup, and imagine the blog would be a great place to post on product news, product tips, and our companies attitudes to various technologies and events that are related to us.
However, I am hoping to have many articles that are are helpful to our target users but not related to our product directly - except that they show that we care about our customers.
Where is the best place to put these? The company blog? Industry web sites (which would give us credibility and drive traffic to us)? OR my personal (but currently defunct) blog?
One advantage to blog content that is not necessarily product related is that it gives you a chance to be both "human" and an expert in front of potential customers.
People like to do business with people they know, like and trust (sorry for the cliche). Posting helpful information builds trust. Responding to comments shows you are really there and human.
Use your blog categories to separate company-related news and product-related information from articles. And make use of an "About Us" section to let people know something more personal about you.
Finally, create good content. Everybody markets. Not everyone does so with good content.
Create sub domains for each "channel" and develop a reputation for your brand around the expertise in each of those verticals. You might set developers.company.com to evangelize the work your business might be doing with open source software or R&D; this is completely parallel to your core product & service but helps define the brand as having expertise behind the core business.
If you use a platform like WordPress MU (instead of just WordPress) this is very easy to do. MU creates a multi-blog platform with a uniform template and management across multiple sub domains. Set up, set up MU as you would WordPress then recognize that the only difference is a distinct section in the upper left of your admin dashboard to manage the "blogs" separately from each blog.
You are using WordPress aren't you? ;)
If the articles are helpful to your target users but not directly related to your product, put them on your company blog. You want your company blog to be more than just a PR/marketing machine for your company. Put all the useful and informative content there as possible. Then link to/promote it from all the other industry sites where you're a member. Potential customers will trust you much more when they see advice and helpful information that is not trying to sell them on your company. And, as a result you'll get more links to your blog, which takes care of credibility.