I’m not a big fan of blogging about blogs. But in the context of local marketing I do see some value in using a blog to help a business connect with their local market. So, in this post I am going to break my “no blogging about blogs” rule (just this once).
Now, I’m not suggesting every small business could or should blog. Nor am I suggesting they rely heavily on a blog to deliver their message because a blog is simply not designed to do that sort of heavy lifting.
But, I do see a very real value for many businesses in using a blog to reach out to current and potential customers.
One of the things I love about small, locally owned businesses is that they have personality. They have character. They are unique because they reflect the values and the personality of their owner or owners.
In fact, this personality and unique-ness (is that really a word?) can be a strength for a local business. Example: Yesterday I was talking with the owner of a gift store in my hometown. She has a knack for remembering what people buy on their various shopping visits (even when her customers don’t remember).
Her customers like the fact that she remembers not only them but also what they have bought. It helps create a bond with them that makes the customers feel special and keeps them coming back regularly.
Now, think of blogs. They embody the idea of someone connecting with others, in a very personal way. The power of blogs is that they offer an opportunity for a person to share part of themselves with other people.
They remind me what we used to find in small town newspapers, you know, the local columnist who every week would ramble on about this or that. Over time we feel like we know them. They become familiar to us much more so than their counterparts who write the stories and the editorials.
(A few years ago I met a long-time columnist for our daily paper. I had been reading his columns for years so when we met I already felt like I knew him. And, in person he was very much like the person I had come to know through his columns. )
So, maybe blogs are simply a way for us to enjoy that experience of a bygone era of small town “gossip columnists” but with a couple twists. One, is that anyone can write a blog as well as read one. And two, the “small town” community is now global.
(Much smarter people than I will blog about and talk about the implications of those two factors. For now, I’m happy merely talking about how this wonderful phenomenon can be used by a local business wanting to reach a local audience.)
Any business that has information their customers would find useful and that can be filtered through the personal wit and wisdom of the owner, could benefit from a blog.
Professionals are an obvious example because their customers often require a lot of information before they choose to do business with them.
But what about a retail business, like a gift shop or a restaurant? If the owner blogged weekly about new products, new menu items, new ways of doing things, and what’s happening at the business, it could be a good way to connect with their customers.
I see them blogging with the same voice they would use if they were chatting with someone and talking about what’s going on at the store or restaurant. Sort of a “gossip column” for the business.
If it’s entertaining, honest and clearly not advertising then it could work. Plus it offers their customers a way to engage and respond. It encourages two way interaction in a way that is neither invasive nor risky.
My wife and I eat out a lot. Our favorite restaurants are those where we know the owners (or managers) and they know us. We have developed a relationship and we enjoy combining that relationship with our dining experience.
So, could a blog help local business owners connect with more people in their community? Could it help them develop more of these relationships and therefore help the business to better meet its marketing goals?
I think so.
Time will tell so I’ll probably talk about this again later as a follow-up. In the meantime, I’d like to hear your thoughts. Please let me know what you think.