Like anything involving business, a blog should be part of an overall web-based business strategy. It should serve a purpose and that purpose should be clearly defined and understood. Moreover, if a business decides to blog, they should learn a bit about how to best use engage the blogosphere.

Lee Goff from GetUWired asked the question a while back, do you need a blog? He wrote:

Many small businesses are finding that a business blog is the best way to both establish a web presence and disseminate information to clients, customers and employees. …The best small business marketing blog allows a company to handle all kinds of dynamic information exchange internally and with the public.

Now his writing is a little dry for my taste – and he never really answers the question – but it did get me thinking…why do small businesses and service-oriented professionals need to be blogging? What do they gain? And what are they missing out on if they don’t blog?

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Doug Karr says

    I just posted on corporate blogging strategies, but I think the same reasons apply to small businesses:

    1. Provides the company and their employees exposure as thought leaders in their industry.
    2. Improves the visibility of the company. In fact, according to some statistics, 87% of some visits to company websites make it there through blogs.
    3. Provides your employees, clients, and prospects with a human face to your company.
    4. It leverages the blogosphere and search engine technologies to improve your company’s findability on the Internet.

    Full Post

  2. Chris M says

    Small-business & service oriented professionals need to be blogging because, like your post mentions, it give them a web presence. More to the point, though, it forces them to stay engaged with the internet facet of their promotion, something that they might otherwise get distracted from. After all, a blog keeps them online on an almost daily basis.

    What they are gaining aside from that presence is a slew of public/customer-relations benefits. As you well know, Dawud, they are engaging the marketplace, instead of waiting for it to come to them.

    What they are missing out is letting know others that they exist. Consumers are migrating further and further away from resources like the Yellow Pages with every passing generation. If you’re not online, you don’t exist. A blog is way to not only get online, but actually stay there in a very proactive way. In a word, they are missing out on the future of their business — both gaining new clients, and retaining current ones.

    Sometimes, however, I can’t help but wonder if maybe blogging is another Pandora’s box. It’s like if you’re the first in your industry to advertise, there are gains. If you are second, third, and fourth, however, there are only losses if you don’t. Now that blogging is part and parcel of marketing (because online marketing is part and parcel of marketing), I kind of see it as a necessary undertaking.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if blogs join the ranks of standard website features much like contact and FAQ pages.

  3. Dawud Miracle says

    Chris M,

    In my opinion…you’re on it. Anyone with a small business or who is providing a service that isn’t blogging is missing an enourmous opporunity to grow their business. All your points about engaging their target audience, I agree with.

    I go further in my post, One ‘Real’ Reaons Small Business Owners Should Be Blogging, by saying that blogging can help them refine how they write and speak about their business to their audience. This is often a weak point in business owners and the blog provides a perfect avenue to help.

    Chris, how have you used your blog to market your business effectively?

    Doug,

    Great to see you back, first. Thanks for your comment. I read your post and all your points make sense for all sizes of business. Getting traffic to your site is one of the major reasons to blog for any business.

    What’s the biggest hurdle you face when you talk to business owners when talking to them about blogging?

    Karin H.,

    Yeah, I understand. I see blogs as a method, not a result. What I do is solve small business problems using all the tools at hand. Blogs play a major role in finding good, solid, sustainable solutions. Yet, they must be part of a business solution.

    How is your blog helping solve your business problems?

  4. Karin Karin H. says

    Hi Dawud

    Just noticed link to Liz is broken:
    Taking Your Blogging To The Next Level
    (Hope this works)

    As for your last question, only thing I would be careful of is not to ‘over do’ it (as in not to aks – or keep asking – questions just for the sake of. But I’m not worried you’ll dot that easily).

  5. Anonymous says

    Hi all

    Dawud, another interesting post. Agree mostly with Chris M, only can’t get my head around his last remarks: onky if you’re first in your industry you gain, if you second you loose by not doing?

    IMHO blogs, as with all profitable marketing tools, used properly always give a gain, no matter how ‘late’ your on the ball.

    As small business we use our FAQ blog right beside our website. It works two-ways:
    a) it enables us to easily ‘send out’ news on new products or trade-news, specila products, special projects we’re engaged in
    b) enables potential customers in an easy way to ask more info and also read how we always answer (quickly) the questions and even turn some of the questions into new posts. The blog ‘shows’ our customers we respect them, giving them info (free) and deliberately ‘searching’ for their input.

  6. Karin Karin H. says

    branding 😉

    Funny you should ask, Dawud Miracle, we were just talking at Liz dot com about this:
    http://www.lizstrauss.com/2007/03/14/everyones-business/taking-your-blogging-to-the-next-level/#comments

    Item 4 on her manifesto list made me realise I’m not doing all I should do with my blog to make it part of the whole marketing strategy: forgot to define a vision for each of them.

    (BTW, realy start to like the way you end almost every reaction to a comment with a new question, keeps it an ongoing conversation which ultimo could even result in various different follow-up posts. Good thinking!)

  7. Dawud Miracle says

    Karin H. H,

    I’m heading right over there. Liz is wise, I would listen to her.

    And thanks on your BTW… I’m not in this blogging thing just to grow some huge blog traffic and make by business successful. I want to create relationships. And I want my blog to be a place where people can freely interact with me and with each other. I don’t worry about ‘sales.’ I think about creating community.

    Have any ideas how I could do it better?

  8. Chris M says

    Dawud,
    Well, I’ve used blog to market small business in two ways:

    (1) I’ve used it to help my employers bring in affiliates. Affiliate subscriptions had plateaued, so they hired me to market them, and I took the social media path — starting off with a blog. Affiliate subscriptions are up, and I’m only getting started with social media. When affiliates see that you openly share your knowledge and expertise, and aren’t scared to laud the competition, they’re willing to give you a shot.

    (2) On the side, I’m partnered with a firm that promotes writers. Not only have I used blogging to fill our and promote their website, I’ve brought it into their package of products and services. Not only are writer applications up, but three of their writers are already blogging.

    In both cases, it’s become a case where blogging isn’t just a medium, but a message as well. It’s raised companies into a higher profile within their respective industries, and has earned tangible gains.

  9. Dawud Miracle says

    Chris,

    That’s great. At some point I’d love to talk with you about how you’ve helped companies earn ‘tangible gains.’ I’ve certainly seen that in my own blog with prospects being converted.

    Karin H.

    I fix the link here for you. And thanks for sharing your concerns. I’m oingly going to ask questions if I really want to know the answer.

  10. Dave Starr - ROI Guy says

    I thought this question would take off like a house afire Dawud, and there has been some useful and interesting comments … like some others I was a little mystified by Chris M’s “you have to be first or forget it” thoughts, perhaps I’m just not thinking it through enough.

    I would counter, though that someone not “enjoying” the benefits of being on the leading edge (bleeding edge) can benefit even more from blogging. Suppose you have an idea for say, a video sharing site. Yeah, I know, you mean go up against YouTube and the other “big guys” … but your idea is unique enough to merit giving it a try. Putting up the site by itself is unlikely to get you enough traffic to even write the specifications and copy, let alone recover the time and other resources. But if you blog about it, and already have a relationship with some other movers and shakers you can artfully explain why you are better to them and at least have a chance of getting the little burst of traffic you need to give your “better way” a chance … and unlike trying to buy huge media ads, you don’t need your checkbook. In the average media company or newspaper, TV station whatever, I have a “two way” relationship with no one. But in the blog world, even though I am a tiny, less than energetic presence I know a number of people well enough to exchange emails with and expect not only will they read them, they’ll either give me a boost or write me back and give me honest feedback … worth a fortune, in my view.

    The second reason I think every business with a web presence needs a blog is Google. As a web designer you know the continual conversations that ramble on about Google Sandbox, Google Honeymoon and whatever other real or imaginary “geek speak” is currently popular with people making explanations (excuses) for why a site isn’t indexed. based on personal experience, put WordPress on a site, make a post or three, submit it to Googles free site submission page and look at your server logs in 24 hours or so. Googlebot will have been there. search engines love blogs … how much cheaper and easier can it be?

  11. Dawud Miracle says

    Dave Starr,

    Great points, Dave. I don’t know exactly what Chris meant with his comments, but I’m guessing he’s speaking to how much easier it was for bloggers three-four years ago to create large communities simply because there wasn’t that many bloggers. Now it’s different. There are so many bloggers, that the ‘competition’ for readers is much greater than just a few years ago. I, personally, don’t think that’s a bad thing. However I do think it now takes more effort to become successful.

    And I’m right with you with Google. Absolutely. I get over a third of my traffic from Google’s organic search alone. That’s amazing, considering that when my site was static, I’d see a much smaller percentage of Google referrers than I do now. And keep in mind, I’m still in the beginning phase of my blog…

  12. Adam Kayce : Monk At Work says

    This may have been said, although if it has, it’s been in a different way than this (at least to my eyes): A blog gives your readers a taste (if not a big honking gulp) of your personality.

    There are trillions of websites out there, and the companies they’re representing are run by actual people… but sometimes that’s really hard to tell based on the copy.

    And when readers (that’s us) are skimming around looking for information and a place to get help for their (our) problems, it makes it a whole lot easier if we can connect with an actual personality. A living, breathing human being.

    Like us.

    Blogs, more so I believe than any other medium, give readers a chance to feel that human connection, which breeds trust, community, yadda yadda yadda… and all that yadda yadda translates into successful customers, and successful businesses.

  13. Dawud Miracle says

    Adam,

    Yeah, baby…like the new signature.

    Yes. Exactly. The way I think about it, a ‘traditional, brochure-style’ website is two dimensional (hopefully), with the two dimensions being your write & they read. No interaction otherwise.

    Blogs are three dimensional in that you write, they read and then they have the chance to comment. Now the site is highly interactive – giving readers from your target market, as you said, “a big honking gulp” of who you are. You could even say that blogs are 4-D because your write, they read, they comment and you can engage them in conversation.

  14. Karin Karin H. says

    Morning all

    Dawud, you and Dave Starr are both ‘talking’ about The Long Tail principle: there are a lot of (profitable) niche markets out there (out here?). Dave’s example of how to use your specific ‘readers’ looking for that niche can help your product grow (by blogging – interacting – community – ‘talking-about-it in other comunities).
    Another good book on this matter is The Citizen Marketers – explaining why bloggers / communities are so important for all markets, can even make or break any market.

  15. Dawud Miracle says

    Karin H.,

    Great suggestion. I ordered The Citizen Marketers a couple of days ago from Amazon. Not here yet. But your timing is incredible.

    Anything other books you might recommend about using social media for marketing/business growth? I’ve read most of the blogging books – they seem to just say mostly the same thing. My current focus is trying to get a real solid grasp around how blogs can market a small business and help convert potential clients.

  16. Karin Karin H. says

    Oh, don’t get me started on books!

    There’s another book I just finished reading, but haven’t found time to write a book-review on yet: The Knowing-Doing Gap.
    Not exactly about using social media for growth, but more to be used – practised more likely! – for implementing everything you read into your business 😉

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