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ABCs of Marketing: To blog or not to blog: That is the question

By Lana O'Hollaren | Aug 07, 2013

Blogging is one of the most direct ways to broadcast your expertise. Sure, you have Facebook and Twitter, but there’s something satisfying about a well-written blog. The great ones create a sense of community and entice readers back over and over again.

A business blog can separate you from the pack. The facts are hard to ignore. Companies that blog have a whopping 55 percent more website visitors, according to HubSpot. Additionally, blogs boost that vaunted SEO, making your business easier to find. It’s surprising, then, that some businesses that still avoid the blog. Only about 40 percent of U.S. companies use them.

Where has all the time gone?

The biggest drawback is time. Business owners are pulled in hundreds of directions. Frequent updates are necessary to gain any kind of social media momentum. Writing a 140-character Twitter post is a breeze compared to writing an expert blog.

But if you’re willing to commit the time, think of this advantage: It’s inexpensive (compared to placing ads). More important, unlike a story in a magazine or newspaper, you have control of the content, the topic and the messages.

Give your employees a voice.

The workload shouldn’t fall all on your shoulders. Your employees can voice their opinions to current and potential customers. They can showcase your products, services, menu items, industry trends - you name it. Frequent contributors develop into a trusted source for industry information. Choose the employees who are best at engaging customers. Encourage them to develop your “voice” using their own. Offer incentives to those who contribute.

As long as you don’t overdo it, it’s OK to brag about your products, services or accomplishments. You can build a community of readers who genuinely care about your products or services. And when readers start commenting on posts, you’ll have an outstanding opportunity to gain insight into customers’ issues and opinions.

Think about the goals of a blog: You want to drive traffic to your website and your store. Measure your web and foot traffic with a little help from Google Analytics and some creative promotional deals.

Let’s get started.

First, check out WordPress.com or another free blog site. They are user-friendly and offer customizable themes. Second, set up an editorial calendar - monthly or quarterly. For your blog to gain momentum (and boost that SEO), you need to publish a steady stream of content - aim for at least once per week. Get organized: What topics do you want to cover? Who’s responsible for content? When is their copy due?

And fear not - no scholarly articles are needed. A couple hundred words are plenty. Some businesses even “micro-blog,” writing just a few sentences (like a Tweet or Facebook post) and adding visual interest with photos or videos.

Sure, big companies have more time and resources to invest in a blog. But small-business owners, take notice - your peers are pulling it off, too. Small businesses that blog get 126 percent more lead growth than those that don’t. If you’re looking for inspiration, here are a few small-biz favorites: Sweetgreen, The Brooklyn Kitchen and St. Paul Real Estate.

Lana O'Hollaren is an executive with ab+c in Wilmington, and can be reached at 302-249-4438.

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