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How Well Is Your Blog Selling Your Business?

lemonade-stand.jpgI’m always amazed at people who think that bloggers mostly write about their personal life.

Think about how often you’ve heard someone say, “why would I want to blog? I don’t care about what someone at for breakfast.”

What’s often missed in statements like this is that blogging isn’t just about sharing your personal life. It’s also about sharing your business.

Unlike a traditional, static website however, a blog – or as I like to call it a personal publishing system – gives you the opportunity to connect directly with other people. People who may be in your target audience. Or peers and others who gain something from reading your posts.

But a blog is more than another medium for connecting with people in your target audience and peers. It also provides a platform to engage in conversation. Those conversations can lead to relationships. And those relationships can lead to increased business.

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Why Your Business Needs To Focus On Relationships More and On Money Less

hamster-wheel.jpgEvery business owner wants to make more money.

Doesn’t matter whether you sell products or pitch a service – you probably want more clients, customers, buyers, patrons, consumers, subscribers, users, etc. Doesn’t matter what you call them – you’d like more.

After all, doesn’t more subscribers equal more people to market too? More patrons mean increasing sales? And increased sales equals more revenue. Isn’t that how it works?

Most of us know that. Yet many business owners set their focus too strongly on increasing revenue. They spend their time, their energy and their resources focused on making more money. And so they become like a hamster running around the wheel of trying to increase their profits – often, getting nowhere.

But what if you took some of that time to build relationships with your clients and customers? What if you took some time to build relationships with some of your leads? Better yet, what if you spent some time and resources to build relationships with other business owners? Businesses that compliment yours in one way or another. Or grew relationships with other business owners you have other interests in common with? What could happen?

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A Key To Great Social Media Relationships

one2one-sm.gifRemember the days when the internet was like listening to news radio? You’d search the dial for news and interesting topics.

Then came talk radio. Now people could call in and add their two cents to the topic discussed by the host. I often think of social media as being like talk radio.

For instance, now people can interact with the ‘hosts’ of blogs; engaging in interesting, lively and informative conversations. Or they can meet each other in Facebook or on StumbleUpon. Yet it goes further than that. Now, rather than just commenting on topics, social sharing and networking sites allow users to have control over what content gets seen – which stories get pushed to the top. It’s really an amazing time. [Read more...]

3 Easy Steps to Creating a Web-based Business

steps.jpgIn truth, having a web-based business isn’t difficult.

What’s difficult is getting really clear about who you are, what you do and who you do it for. The problem is, there are tons of approaches for doing this which sometimes leads to confusion. Do I need to write a business plan? What about vision? Etc. The questions are many, but the answer are endless.

Of course, once you’ve answered the questions about your business, you have to ask a whole other series of questions around marketing. What system? What mediums? How best to reach our target audience? Etc. This can lead to even greater confusion, frustration and waste of time and money than the business development quesitons.

This whole process can be really big. That’s why I’m always looking for ways to simplify it. Because, really, developing and growing a business isn’t as hard as we make it. Basically, we need to create a compelling service – one that solves a problem that people need solved. Then, we put our service in front of the people who have the problem. That’s really it.

So it’s really very simple – especially with the internet.

That’s why I was excited when I found Matt Cutts‘ 3-step process to building up a really good site (read: business). Take a watch:

Matt Cutt’s 3-Step Process

  1. Create a compelling service – spend the time to create something people can love.
  2. Start a blog – get links and engage in conversation.
  3. Smart marketing – SEO and have something interesting to say.

Pretty simple, right?

So if I was taking Matt’s 3 steps and putting them in my language, I’d say:

  1. Create a service, you love, that solves a problem that needs solving. What are you good at? What do you love? What is the need? Bring these three questions together and you’re on your way.
  2. Start a blog – and learn how to use it. First write, and write often. Join in the conversation on other blogs immediately. Learn about linking and link often. And really learn how to use one of the social networking sites. You can get to the others later.
  3. Get the word out and be authentic – Matt says if you use WordPress, much of your SEO is handled for you already. I’d say 80%. The other 20% is in the details. So worry less about SEO in the beginning and more about the quality of your content. And have something interesting to say – but say it in your way. Be a real person because it’s people that people want to do business with.

So if it’s this easy, why don’t more of us do it? What gets in the way? And why do we make it so difficult?

What do you think?

(note: image, Joe Walking Up The Steps from hip.kids on Flickr)

Which Blogger Would You Most Like to Meet?

I get this question a lot from people. I guess I’ve been fortunate enough to meet so many bloggers that it’s hard to say. Would I like to meet Darren Rowse or Brian Clark? Sure. I’d love to look them both in the eye and thank them for everything they’ve taught me about blogging.

one2one-sm.gifIt’d be great to meet Seth Godin – oh, wait, I did meet him last summer when he was on his book tour for The Dip. Great ideas, nice presenter, but didn’t find him too engaging personally. Maybe it was the setting.

I’ve also had this odd fascination with Robert Scoble, though truthfully, I’m not sure why. Maybe he just gets it in a way I’m still trying too. Or the authors of the Cluetrain Manifesto. That book solidified how I look at business and it’d be great to bat it around with those guys a bit.

Gosh, really, there’s tons of bloggers I’d like to meet. After all, I’m blogging because I love the conversation. I love to learn. I love to share what I know. I just love meeting people. People from all walks-of-life. I want to hear their stories and learn from their experiences. So really, there’s tons of bloggers I’d like to meet…

Like you!

But since in our last one2one conversation Liz asked me who’s the person I’d like to meet, I’ll go ahead and choose someone.

muhammadsaleem.jpgBut you know, the blogger I’d like to meet most at this moment is someone I should have met last May at SOBCon07. He was there. I saw him around. We just never got a chance to meet. Who is it? Muhammad Saleem. Why? Because this guy knows social media and I’d love to pick his brain.

I’d call him a social media expert. Just take a look at what he writes on his own blog, [muhammad.saleem] or at Pronet Advertising. Or check out his numerous guest posts on sites like The Blog Herald, Copyblogger, Search Engine Land. And don’t forget to search for the huge number of interviews he’s given around social media. He’s even a top Digger and one of Propeller’s “professional social bookmarkers.

Really, just follow this guy’s trail and you’ll learn everything you’d ever want or need to know about social media, social networking, social sharing, social marketing, etc. Maybe I don’t need to sit down and pick his brain.

Nah, that wouldn’t be any fun now, would it? Not to mention, I’d miss learning who Muhammad, the person, is. And that just wouldn’t be any fun.

So is there a blogger would you most like to meet? Who? Why?

And for Liz, since this is a one2one conversation…

What’s one way you’d say social media has changed the way you do business?

Of course, when I’m asking Liz, I’m asking you too. So please, answer away. And Muhammad, if you happen to stop by, I pose the same question to you.

Small Business Marketing Tip: Use Word of Mouth

bullhorn.jpgWant to know one of the biggest secrets to social marketing? It’s really quite simple…

People share things they find enjoyable, helpful or interesting with people they know. In other words, people pass it on. That’s what social marketing is about – passing it on.

But sometimes we forget. We’re rushed or tired or just ‘messing around’ on the web and we may not think to always share things we find with people that might like or benefit from them.

So why not remind them? And when you remind them, make it easy.

Andy Sernovitz, author of Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking, and one of my favorite marketers, suggests just that. In is book he suggests:

Someone is on your website, looking at something that you are selling – and they feel the urge to tell someone else. Make it easy. That person is about to advertise for you, for free. Or they need to ask someone a questions before they buy, Or they just like what they see. Do whatever it takes to let the word of mouth happen.

I couldn’t agree more. Make it easy for people to share what they find on your site, on your blog and in your products and services sections. Really, everywhere. You never know where people will be on your site that will inspire them to share with a friend. So make it easy.

On page 124 of Andy’s book, he offers the secrets to creating effective tell-a-friend forms:

  • Make it fast.
    Design a form that can be filled out in less than 15 seconds. Get rid of optional fields, passwords, or anything that gets in the way of the referral.
  • Ask for several referrals.
    Be sure to explicitly ask users to forward the message to multiple friends. The more you ask, the more you get. Design the form so it is easy to add lots of names without confusion.
  • Use the sender’s name.
    When you deliver the message, make sure it is from the referrer, not your website. The recipient isn’t expecting mail from you and might delete it. He will open a message from his friend.
  • Include a personal message.
    Let the sender add text to the message. The referral is far more powerful when the talker gets to put it in his own words.
  • Make it forwardable.
    Take a look at the message that recipients get. Is that message a ready-to-go viral email, or is it some cryptic link?
  • Protect privacy.
    And brag about it. Be clear and explicit that you respect the privacy of the senders and recipients using the form and that you won’t use their emails for any other purpose (and stick to what you promise). Usage will skyrocket when you do this.

Just to drive the point home a little more, here’s a short video I found of Andy talking about how tell-a-friend is worth 1.6 billion dollars.

How do you ask people to pass it on? Oh yeah, and by the way, please feel free to share this blog with anyone you’d like.

(note: image from Duncan Davidson on Flickr)

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