Build your customer base through blogging
Some people don’t really “get” blogging. I’ll admit that for years it seemed rather self-indulgent to me. Not merely self-indulgent but disingenuous too.
If you’re going to keep a journal or a diary, those thoughts are inherently private. Posting it online seemed to me tantamount to telling every detail of your finances or your sex life to every random stranger you come across.
The first few blogs I looked at seemed to be mostly unsubstantiated random thoughts about whatever was on the writer’s mind. So it was a long time before I caught on to the potential in blogs.
A blog doesn’t have to be like a journal or diary. It doesn’t even have to be personal in nature. Think of a blog more like you would the editorial pages of a newspaper. It’s “news” (sort of) but it can be about anything you want it to be.
A steady communication stream
Does your company publish a newsletter? Every article in that newsletter would likely make a good blog post.
Perhaps you have an interesting story about how your company won a certain contract. Or where some of your materials are sourced. Or how you’ve been recycling since 1967. Or a string of ideas for creative and unusual ways to make use of your products.
Product literature, sales brochures, industry news, quarterly and annual reports… these can all be sources of potentially good material for blog posts.
By regularly posting small snippets – articles 100 to 1,000 words long – you do several things:
Provide a steady flow of fresh content related to your business. The search engines love fresh content. The more frequently and regularly you provide it, the better your web site will fare in search rankings.
Maintain steady communication with customers and prospects.
By having a lot of material, you develop a content-rich web site that will become a resource for anyone who wants to know more about your company or its products.
Create a deeper and richer base of keywords for which your site will be ranked. Users searching for a broader array of terms will find your site more often among the listings presented.
It’s not all about you
Your blog entries needn’t be – in fact, shouldn’t be – all about your company, your products or your services. Most people are interested in themselves and their own lives. Most people also have a range of interests.
Let’s say you’re a realtor. Instead of only blogging about homes you have listed or what to look for when buying a home or finer points of financing and price negotiation, try a more holistic approach.
Of course you should blog about all those things but mixed in with those write restaurant reviews for locally owned restaurants in the area where you sell. (Share your review with the restaurant owner and invite him to link to it from his own site, thus generating additional traffic to yours.) Or maybe a local school is putting on a play or concert that is open to the public. Attend and then write a review in your blog post. (Share your review with the school’s newspaper. Some of those kids may have out-of-town relatives. If they are planning on moving to town, prior exposure to your site through those kids could be good for you.)
Or perhaps you own a shoe store. Blog posts which highlight walking and hiking paths in your area would be a good idea. A winery could keep a travelogue about day trips in the region. A pet store could highlight and review pet-friendly hotels and other businesses.
There should be some link between what kind of business you have and the topic(s) you blog about but the link needn’t be direct and ideally should not be self-serving.
Please note that this approach is different from something like article marketing, which is covered later. Writing about other businesses and organizations on your own web site still generates traffic to your web site and helps you be seen as providing useful information. With other avenues such as article marketing, your articles will be posted on a third-party web site and you’ll get almost none of the benefits of this form of altruism. All you’ll be doing is referring readers to those other businesses and organizations.
How often should you blog?
Everyone has a different opinion about how frequently a business should blog. The real trick is sustainability. Blogging every day will be great for getting exposure for your site, but only for as long as you can keep it up. As soon as you run out of topics to post, days go by without anything new. Then days turn into weeks.
Better that you space out your posts (once you have a core of at least 10-20 published) to just one or two a week but to sustain that pace over the long term. By long term I mean several years.
Who should do the blogging?
The question of who should write your company’s blog posts hinges to a great extent on the size and nature of your company. Because blogging is like brand building in that it doesn’t directly generate sales, it should be considered a relatively low payoff activity. In that sense, you generally don’t want your salesmen or executive team writing the posts.
That said, your company’s blog posts will be a highly visible representation of the company so they must be written by someone with good writing and communication skills. They should also be done by someone with small pockets of spare time. A smart and ambitious receptionist or secretary would be a good choice.
If you do not have a dedicated person to handle the task of writing blog posts, you can outsource the job to a professional ghost writer. Some very good writers may charge as little as $20 per article, assuming you have an ongoing relationship and are asking for articles to be posted on a regular basis.
You could also have more than one person write posts. They do not have to all have the same tone but they should all be comparable in quality in terms of the technical aspects of the writing.
Going multimedia with your blog posts