So you’ve decided you really need to find out more about this whole blog phenomenon to try and decide if your business really needs a blog or not. (Hint: It does.) But you say learning all that new blogging stuff is a bit overwhelming?
How can you make informed decisions when you don’t even understand what those bloggers are talking about?
Well today is a good day for you because we’re here to help at SuccessCREEations. Welcome to Business Blogging 101 where we’ll try to explain some of the basics about blogging so that you can feel more comfortable entering the conversation.
This series is not meant to be the final word on anything, but like those 101 level courses in college we’ll just be introducing the various topics and point you to some additional resources so you can bring yourself up to speed as quickly and painlessly as possible.
So lets get started with today’s lesson!
Is a Blog Right for Your Business?
This is the sixth post in our series explaining the basics of business blogging called Business Blogging 101. Please be sure to read through the rest of the posts in the series to gain a better understanding of what business blogging is all about.
So now that you have a basic understanding of what a blog is and how some of it works, you may be wondering if a blog is really something that would help your business. Today we are going to look at some ideas to help you decide if business blogging is a good fit you.
First lets look at some of the benefits that a good blog can provide for your business.
Search Engine Friendly – The first advantage that most folks pick up on right away is that blogs are inherently search engine friendly. This is because the search engines favor web sites which have lots of pages and have new content added to them on a regular basis. Well every time a new post is added to a blog, it is stored as its own separate web page automatically. And as you are updating your blog with new entries on a regular basis, you are adding that fresh new content that the search engines crave.
Because business blogs tend to be relatively narrowly focussed on a specific topic, they also naturally produce content that is rich in key words specific to your business. This tends to make blogs more attractive to search engines for those key words.
Also, because links to other sites are so simple to add to blogs, they tend to be interlaced with them more so than traditional web sites. Most search engines factor in links from other web sites and give more weight to sites which are linked from other sites they already link highly. It is a case of a rising tide raising all boats in the harbor.
Build Customer Trust – A blog can provide a window into the personality of a business. Because the writing on blogs tends to be more informal by nature than traditional web sites, blogs have a tendency to inspire more customer trust. This is something that is good to note: Save your company boilerplate for your traditional web site. Treat that site as your company brochure – the place where you send folks to get general information about your business.
Your blog should definitely be a little more casual and conversational. A blog that reads like a series of press releases is not likely to get much traffic.
Because blogs are more casual, and they offer a chance at dialog through their comments, they have a tendency to be seen by customers as an honest picture of the business. Most customers realize that if folks have a bad experience at the business, they could come to the blog and leave a comment about it. That additional level of transparency builds trust in customers.
That transparency cuts both ways too. When customers have an outstanding experience a the business they are likely to leave a comment about that too. And there is no better advertising for a business than a wholly satisfied customer.
Market Awareness – A blog can be a finger on the pulse of the marketplace for your business. By paying attention to what customers are saying in your comments, and by keeping an eye on what other businesses in your niche are saying using RSS and Feeds you can get a better feel for what is really going on in your market.
Also blogs can offer opportunities to float ideas to prospective customers to allow you to get some feedback to factor into your decision making process when contemplating some change at your business.
By encouraging conversation and an exchange of ideas you are compiling more information to allow you to make better, more informed decisions about your business.
Commitment – The challenge here is to remember that blogging is a low cost, long term strategy for your business. Too many businesses start a blog with the best of intentions, have several posts right at the beginning, but then taper of to the point where they are barely posting once a month.
If a business doesn’t have a good understanding of how a blog is part of their overall business strategy then it is hard to commit to regular posts that will truly benefit their bottom line in the long run.
The good news is that when the business does decide to re-commit to the blog everything they’ve done in the past is still their waiting on them. They just have that much better a foundation to start building on again.
Focus – For a business it can be a challenge to focus tightly on their niche. It is easy to get internally focussed and loose site of the customers and what else is going on in the niche.
If the business owner is the primary (or only) blogger, it can be easy to get distracted by the demands of keeping the business up and running and loose track of the blog all together. Earlier in this series we talked about ideas that can help you out if you feel like you don’t have time to blog.
Prioritizing – It can be easy to get distracted from keeping your blog updated regularly. I sometimes struggle with loosing sight of my priority with writing new posts.
I was the kid that took 20 minutes to look up a word in the dictionary because I’d find so many other interesting words along the way. There are times when I have to stay away from my feed reader and do some writing so that I am properly prioritizing my own blog.
Yes you want to keep track of what is going on in your niche. But your first priority for your limited blogging time should be with adding new posts to your own blog and interacting with any commenters.
Businesses Especially Suited For Blogging
Customer Trust – If you have a business that can benefit from gaining customer trust, it is ideally suited for a blog. Because of their more casual, conversational nature blogs are an ideal avenue for building customer trust. If educating your customers is part of your selling process, a blog can streamline that process and allow you to educate more folks in less time.
Here is a partial list of some businesses that are trust based and can particularly benefit from blogging. In reality the list is endless.
Professionals – Lawyers, Specialist Doctors, Accountants, Chiropractors, Real Estate Agents, Consultants, Banking, Mortgage Brokers, Financial Advisors
Service – Photographers, Auto Mechanics, Cleaners, Yard Care
Tourism – Hotels, Restaurants, Attractions, Tour Package Providers, Travel Agents
Entertainment – Clubs, Shows, Restaurants, Movie Houses, Theaters, Symphonies, Musicians, Artists
Retail – Specialty Stores, Gift Shops, Clothing Stores, Candy Shops, Car Dealerships
Poor Reputation – Does your business have a less than stellar reputation in your market? Are you a victim of one or two high profile service failures? Are you making some changes and want to get the word out?
A blog can be a very cost effective way to help improve the market’s perception of your business over time. Because of the more transparent nature of blogs, whatever poor perceptions there may be about your business can be addressed in a manner that will rebuild that trust your customers may have lost.
A blog gives your business a voice in the market that will influence the conversations about your business. If you fall into this category, you would want to be sure you subscribe to a Google Blog Search and a Technorati Tag Search of your business name so that you are aware of what folks are saying about your business and have an opportunity to respond.
This is a good idea even if you don’t have a poor reputation. And remember, if nothing comes up in either of these searches for your business name, that means that no one is talking about your business. And that’s not good for business either!
New Business – If you are just starting out, a blog is a very good option for you because it is such good value. You get a whole lot of return for very little money spent. When starting a new venture build in a blog strategy right from the start and you will see huge dividends.
Struggling Business – Struggling businesses tend to also be in a cash strapped position. That makes them ideally suited for adding a blogging strategy because blogs are so cost effective for all the reasons we’ve already discussed. If your business is struggling, you should definitely take a look at your blogging options.
How Do You Get Started?
If you’ve weighed out all the factors and have a good idea that your business could probably benefit from a business blogging strategy, I’d love to get together and talk about ways to get started. Just go to my Contact Page (there’s also a link to the contact page near the top of every page here). Fill out the form, hit submit and I’ll get back with you shortly.
There are many potential pitfalls with business blogging and we are here to help you avoid them.