Before we touch on the mechanics of a business blog, identify a few best blogging practices, and explore how to get started blogging, there´s a bigger, more important question to address – Why should you care about business blogs in the first place?
Business blogs are part of a web strategy to aid selling or supporting something. Companies as large as GM to as small as mine have embraced blogging as an effective tool of business growth because they build and hold an audience of prospective and existing customers. Blogs build community by delivering timely and ongoing information with the ability to interact with your audience. And blogs are a terrific platform for viral marketing, taking your message to people and places otherwise unknown or unreachable though other marketing means.
If you can attract and hold the attention of prospective and existing customers, you increase your opportunity to grow your revenue by getting more new customers, increasing the value of your average sale, and getting more repeat business.
A short and personal story on the power of a business blog"?¦
For three years I experimented with varying forms of traditional web presence — standard About Us, Services, and Solutions pages to promote and build my business. We played with direct mail, creative landing pages, e-zines, etc. We combined strategies of email marketing, paper newsletters, flyers, postcards, and print advertising in an effort to capture, hold, and advance relationships with customers. We wanted community — a following of interested parties that interacted and promoted ideas of business growth. I was personally haunted with the belief that nurturing a community, giving and sharing information to build revenue (our business), would create business opportunities otherwise unknown.
Our three year results were modest. We could generate traffic to our website, hold an audience for a short time, and then slowly watch the audience disappear. We launched many lead generation campaigns in 6-8 week cycles that proved effect in getting people to our website however, we couldn´t hold an audience on our site over time. Our search engine optimization efforts were expensive, slow, and met with mixed results at best. Both e-zine and paper newsletters were slow to produce, often untimely in the information they imparted, and failed to create interaction with our audience.
The basic problem in keeping our audience was static and slowly delivered content. Once you read a traditional website — landing page, About Us, Services, Solutions, etc. — why would you ever want to come back? A traditional website is going to read the same tomorrow and the day after"?¦our content wouldn´t change a bit until a new lead generation campaign started and an associated landing page was produced with fresh information. Our printed information had similar shortcomings – slow, untimely, and lacking interaction.
My infatuation with the concept of community led me to investigate blogs as a tool to communicate with prospective and existing customers. I started reading business blogs, became intrigued, and decided to give them a try.
On Wednesday, December 8, 2004, 2:55PM, I went public with an experiment. Starting with no web presence whatsoever — no established domain name, web-site or promotion — I opened a business blog with the intention to attracted and retain an audience; to build community. Basically, I took my intellectual property — thoughts, experience, insight, and opinion on revenue generation – and used a blog to put it into the public domain. The plan was to exercise a strategy of preeminence, using a blog as the tool to reach as many people as possible. Could blogs be used to build community?
That first month, December 2004, I had a total of 171 visits to my site. March 2005 I had a total of 13,118 monthly visits — that´s an increase of 7,600% visits a month in less than 4 full months! Today, I average nearly 600 visits a day and the average visitor returns to my site approximately 5 times a month"?¦and the traffic continues to grow each week!
In March 2005 my site won an award, was picked-up by AllBusiness.com for publication in their vast network, and last Wednesday the story of my blog and business was told in the business section of two northern California newspapers. As a direct result of this experiment, I have new business opportunities from as nearby as three blocks from my office to as far away as New York City.
A business blog has helped my business tremendously and in a very short period of time. It´s brought me new business and opportunities, greatly expanded my target audience, and exposed my business to levels of awareness throughout the country that is otherwise unobtainable. Combined with a strategy of preeminence, business blogs are the most effective marketing tool I have ever experienced.
The success I´ve enjoyed as a result of blogging can be enjoyed by nearly everyone and every business. Most any business or professional can similarly benefit from blogging — lawyer, accountant, personal services, consultant, retailer, wholesaler, realtor, brokerage, restaurateur, etc"?¦.the list is near endless and crosses most every business-to-consumer and business-to-business endeavor you can imagine.
That´s why you should care about business blogs.