Why Your Business Needs a Blog/ June 23, 2014
If you don’t already have a blog for your brand, you’re behind the times.
Go to any major company’s website and take a look at their page links. All top companies and brands have at least 1 blog…though most of them aren’t living up to their potential.
Here’s the thing:
You need a blog to keep up in today’s marketplace, but having a good blog will do much more than just welcome your business to the 21st century.
Most business blogs, frankly, suck.
But this is great news for you!
Since most of the blogging world is one big mass of mediocrity, putting forth the little bit of effort to produce a high quality blog pays off – you’ll get all the usual benefits of an average blog, PLUS you’ll stand out from your competitors and establish your business as the leading source for information in your industry.
What would your bottom line look like if yours was the first name that came to mind when someone was in the market for your types of products and services?
If you could make your brand synonymous with your widget, much in the same way that we think “Kleenex” instead of “tissue,” would it be worth the little bit of extra effort to develop a sound blogging strategy?
Think about that while you read on.
Even an average blog is better than no blog at all, but the readers of this website are rarely average.
Whether you’re a massive online business, or just a single physical store with a basic website, your blogging strategy will pad your bottom line.
Bring new people to your website – and keep them coming back again and again. One of the primary benefits of having a blog attached to your website is that people come to your website to read it.
Yeah, that’s pretty obvious, but it’s a big deal. The internet is very big and very crowded, and people simply don’t go to new websites very often.
Most users go to the same few sites over and over, and a good blog gives you the chance to be part of that regular rotation.
Make sure your content is geared towards the right people, and you’ll have a slew of potential customers checking in with your website monthly, weekly…maybe even daily!
While you’re at it, why not “steal” some of your competitors’ traffic? If you’ve built some good search engine optimization habits, many of your visitors will be people that actually logged on looking for one of your competitors’ websites or blogs, but found you by accident.
You’re not actually ‘stealing’ anything, since a customer is perfectly capable of visiting both your website and theirs, but if you’ve got a blog that prospective clients find valuable, those new readers will visit competing websites less in favor of checking yours more. It’s called competition for a reason, right?
Along with good SEO habits, you can attract your competitor’s traffic by mentioning those competing businesses in your blog posts: say nice things about them, maybe even give them a little bit of free advertising, and when they share YOUR blog posts with their audience, they’ve just introduced their customers to you.
This might sound counterintuitive, and it goes against most corporate philosophies to *gasp* say nice things about the competition, but this works crazy well.
It’s that stuffy corporate philosophy that makes most business blogs stink, so don’t make the same mistakes they’re making.
Hints for using blogs to generate traffic:
- Remember – the more content you have, and the more regularly you post, the more of the right people will find your website and keep coming back.
- SEO is a habit, not a one-time project. The effects compound over time, so keep up with it to see astounding results that continue to build up as your website grows.
- Write for the right people. One of the most common mistakes even professional bloggers make is not knowing and addressing the correct audience. Know who you want to attract, and write to them. Don’t worry about trying to appeal to “everyone” – there’s no such thing.
- Don’t hire a blogger to update your strategy, and then shackle them with the same arcane rules that you’re trying to update. Change is scary, but if you want to stand out from the crowd and dominate your industry, you’re going to have to do things a little differently.
You’re building a relationship with two-way communication, not just talking and hoping someone listens.
You go to a networking event full of potential customers and competing business owners.
You want your marketing message to reach as many people as possible, so you stand in the center of the room and start yelling about your company. Since you spent so much time working on it, your message is great: you’re using value propositions and leading with benefits, and you’re confident that anyone who hears what you’ve got to say is going to be positively exuberant about your brand.
Meanwhile, every other business owner in the room also wants to spread their message to as many people as possible…
Within minutes, there are 20 other competitors standing around the room, all shouting. Everyone tries to yell louder than the next guy in an effort to be heard. Some try scrambling on top of tables and chairs so that their voice carries farther. Others move around the room and shout directly into potential customers’ ears.
Sure, your company is awesome, and your script is well thought out and compelling…
But you’re still standing around shouting in a crowded room.
That’s what most marketing is like today.
Expensive television commercials are the equivalent of standing on a chair and shouting.
Facebook ads are like walking right up to a person and screaming into their ear.
Everyone is competing to have louder, brighter, flashier, funnier, whatever-er commercials and radio ads and marketing emails and banner ads, but it’s all just a bunch of yelling at prospects and hoping that someone hears.
Now, imagine this:
In that same room, you decide that standing around and trying to out-shout the others isn’t working for you. Instead, you strike up a conversation with a couple of people standing nearby.
Those people are so grateful that you’re not yelling at them, they step aside where they can hear you better. They tell you who they are, what they want, what they like and why.
You’ve given them the ultimate compliment: you listened to them, so now they’re willing to listen to you.
Other people in the room start to notice that your corner of the room looks much more appealing than standing amidst all that noise, so they come over and join the conversation. They want products and services, but they don’t want to be yelled at.
When you offer the chance for two-way conversation, you’re building a relationship with your customers and prospects, while most people are still shouting in a crowded room and hoping somebody hears them.
That relationship you can achieve through blogging cultivates customer loyalty, referrals, and a devoted fanbase for your brand.
On top of that, blogs give your potential customers the ability to tell you what they want and don’t want.
Most companies quake at the thought of opening up to easy, public customer feedback. After all, there’s a chance that your clients might complain or express their dissatisfaction.
Having consumers that talk to you is a rarity in most industries, and every piece of feedback is valuable. Positive feedback strengthens your image, and negative feedback gives you the chance to prove that you care about the customer experience.
The way you handle negative reviews and complaints does more to define your brand than any amount of testimonials and praise you can publish.
In the modern marketplace, consumers don’t expect perfection, but they do expect responsive customer service. Build yourself a reputation for handling mishaps with dignity, grace, and care, and you’ve set yourself up for years of success.
Instead of being an anonymous corporate entity, your blog makes you human to your readers.
Americans naturally distrust big business, but love business owners.
Let your customers see some personality to take your brand to a new level of notoriety. An authentic voice, written like a human is talking instead of some boring dude in a suit – you know, the one with a checklist and a pie chart – is key to your blogging success.
Nobody likes anonymous spreadsheet guy, but they do like a blog that lets them see the humanity behind the corporate logo. It’s about person-to-person contact, not yet another marketing email.
Your business now has a meaningful voice, so participate in the global discussion.
Since your blog humanizes your brand, your voice now has more weight. When you talk, people are much more likely to listen.
That means that you’ve got authority and influence, and when you chime in and contribute to the collective conversation on social media, on forums, or in any kind of public setting, you matter. That’s a powerful advantage if you use it properly.
Plus, your customers get to know your brand in a way that feels safe.
Your blog is a marketing tool, but you’re not going to use it for marketing messages.
Oh my gosh.
I know I just blew somebody’s mind.
Look, you can have awesome marketing emails and landing pages and sales letters, but your blog isn’t for that. Yes, you can make product announcements or promote special events, and you can link to product pages on your website from time to time, but don’t try to sell people things from your blog.
When was the last time you read your junk mail for fun?
The magic of your blog is that it’s NOT a selling environment. Readers flock to your blog because they’re getting value from it – information, education, entertainment, freebies…but they’re not going to come back if it’s just another sales pitch.
Prospects use your blog for the chance to get to know you and your business WITHOUT being inundated with annoying advertisements and sales copy. Once again, it’s all about that relationship you’re building with real people.
And, on that note…
Since your blog is a safe place, readers don’t have their sales resistance up.
Yes, I just told you not to use your blog to sell your products.
That’s still true. Even in this section.
But when you’ve accomplished a relationship with your readers and you’ve given them loads of value consistently, you’ve created the optimal environment. When you do occasionally – and that means very rarely – mention one of your products or services, that message is much more likely to connect.
Be careful plugging yourself, though.
If you’re going to link back to products, it might be appropriate to make fun of yourself and joke about your cheesy sales pitch if it fits with your brand identity. Or, if you’ve done a really good job developing a loyal readership, you can actually make the occasional appeal for sales by saying something like: “The money from our book sales is what keeps this website running, and we’d really appreciate it if you’d consider supporting us.”
Just keep in mind that your blog is there to give something valuable to your readers for free, and you haven’t earned the right to ask for something in return until they like you and trust you.
Abuse your blog as yet another place for sales, and you’re going to lose your readership and get a reputation as annoying and spammy. Be careful.
But there’s a reason you’re “giving stuff away” on your blog:
If you’re good at providing valuable content, your readers will have a sense of obligation to shop from you.
Once you become the go-to place for your customers and prospects to get what they want for free, they’ll have an almost subconscious sense that they owe you something.
Of course, not every reader is going to buy from you. Even some daily visitors will never spend a dime in your store…but a lot of them will, and many will share your posts or tell their friends about you, which leads to even more sales in the future.
Plus, your blog can have an income stream all its own. Selling ad space, running paid promotions or sponsored content, or even affiliate marketing can bring in enough money to cover the costs involved in paying writers and building an effective site.
Some people keep blogs as hobbies, and that’s fine.
But we’re business people.
The bottom line is that a blog is essential for a healthy bottom line.
If you don’t have a blog yet…
What are you waiting for?