Before we start, I’d like to make a very important disclaimer - blogging is unlikely to bring overnight fame and fortune. Hm, I wonder how many of you are still here. You are? Great! Then you’re the kind of person who understands that there are no easy answers.
There are, however, plenty of good reasons to start a business blog. What do I mean by a business blog? I mean a blog that is related to the primary product(s) or service(s) you offer, is hosted within your company’s website and exists as a support for your core business rather than as a standalone.
Some people do make money from being professional bloggers, but that’s not what I want to talk about here. Instead, I want to tell you how you can use a blog to achieve strategic business functions.
1) BE YODA (ie Establish yourself as an expert)
If someone’s going to shell out a sizeable amount of money for your legal services, for example, they’ll want to know that they can trust you to do a good job. Blogging for business is an ideal way to establish yourself as someone who really knows what they’re talking about. Sharing industry news and trends, along with your own personal opinions and advice, is a great way to do this. Not only will you gain a good reputation, but your customers will be better informed (and grateful for it), and you might even catch the attention of relevant journalists, who are always on the look out for experts to provide quotes for stories.
2) MAKE ‘EM BUY (ie Encourage increased custom)
Imagine you have a fashion retail website. People stop by, browse, maybe buy one or two items. But what if you were to show them how to put a whole outfit together to suit their body shape, how to get this season’s latest style, or copy a celebrity using items from your stock? Not only are you adding value for your customer, and establishing yourself as an expert fashion leader (you read the paragraph above, didn’t you?), you’re also encouraging them to buy from you by showing off your products in a relaxed and 'non-salesy’ setting. This particular example, where the post will by necessity be heavy on pictures, is especially useful if you link it in with image driven social media such as Pinterest or Instagram, which themselves can help drive traffic to your site.
3) PICK THEIR BRAINS (ie Gather relevant data)
There are loads of ways to do this through your blog. For example, a simple option is to run a competition where one of the entry mechanisms is to sign up to your newsletter, thereby growing your direct email marketing database (you can also get them to sign up to your social media feeds, if you’re looking to boost follower or fan numbers). But you can also host short surveys on your blog in order to find out what your customers most hate about doing their tax returns, for example, or perhaps get their opinion on a what wallpaper you should choose for your shop refit. This last example might sound a bit silly, but it all helps your reader to feel like part of your brand community, building loyalty and laying a foundation for a long-term relationship.
Of course this is just the start. Blogging is an investment of time, skill and perhaps money - especially if you get a professional to create the content for you - but it may well be the key to unlocking your business potential.
Rin will be speaking about blogging at the following WMB meetings:
Friday 25 July - Cardiff
Tuesday 26 August - North Somerset
Friday 12 September - Aztec
Friday 3 October - Swindon
Tuesday 21 October - Bristol Cabot Circus
Thursday 6 November - Bristol Central
Thursday 20 November - Bath Central
To book, visit the ‘Meetings’ page. And why not invite a guest to come along?