I interact with small-business owners every day, and most of them understand that one significant way to boost customer loyalty is with a blog. But when I ask if they have one, many of them shake their heads, citing lack of resources, time or money. They know they should have a blog, but they don’t.
Despite other bloggers reporting that blogging is dead — um, so why are you blogging? — blogging for businesses is still an evolving medium. So much so, in fact, that blogging businesses boast a supreme advantage over their non-blogging competitors right now.
Even the term “blogging” itself has been redefined over time. Originally intended as online diaries back in the late Nineties, blogs today are used for outreach, sharing opinions, offering tips and just about anything else. And some, like this one, seem to make no sense at all.
Why do I follow Sugar Pine Realty in Sonora, Calif., on Twitter when I’m 99 percent certain I will never move to Sonora, Calif., and need to buy a home? Because the firm employs a fantastic blogger who writes about such universal and appealing topics as “7 Steps for Success When Buying a Home” and “10 Mistakes People Make With Family.” So if a friend or colleague winds up moving to Sonora, Calif.? Well, I’ll recommend he look into Sugar Pine Realty.
Similarly, why do I subscribe to a blog called MusicGoat.com, which is about “ideas on how to make money with music,” when I’m not a practicing musician? Because I love reading about, discussing and listening to all kinds of music. And because the guy who runs the site makes music I enjoy, reviews albums by artists new to me, and pens posts with titles like “Why Record Stores Still Kick [@%$]”
The Internet overflows with blogs about blogs, most of them doling out the same statistics and advice. But here’s one that really stands out:
In 2012, 92 percent of companies that blogged multiple times a day acquired customers through their blogs.
That’s according to HubSpot, an inbound marketing software platform. How realistic is it for you to blog more than once a day, let alone more than once or twice a week? I don’t know. You tell me. And then figure out how to make it happen at least once every seven days.
That could mean delegating it to the employee on staff with the best writing skills. You also could involve multiple employees, who each take turns blogging and spread out the responsibility. Business owners even might want to try blogging to give customers a direct link to some of the company’s most powerful people. You also could consider contracting with writers outside of your industry who can bring a fresh perspective and an eager-to-learn mentality. Make sure that whoever does your blogging is enthusiastic and committed. Nobody wants to read what a boring blogger writes.
Blogging remains one of the easiest, less-expensive forms of marketing out there. All those ideas, news items and updates you want to share with customers but can’t squeeze into 140 characters or work into a Facebook post can go in a blog. Heck they should go in a blog.
Just avoid sales pitches, keep things short (fewer than 800 words, if possible), include photos or images, and offset material with numbers, bullet points, boldface and other formatting styles that will make reading your blog less intimidating.
Below are five starter topics to get you through your first few blogs. Notice that all of them focus, in one way or another, on your readers — who also are your customers and potential customers. Never lose sight of them.
1. Who are you and why should readers care? Lay out your blogging strategy — what type of info will you provide and how often? — and include a few details about the company’s history, profiles of employees and snippets of behind-the-scenes life.
2. What is the most pressing issue facing your industry? Explain why it’s an issue, what it means to your readers and how your company is addressing it. Reassure them that they are safe doing business with you.
3. What promotions or special events are coming up? Give customers who care enough to read your blog a sneak peek; more than likely, they’ll help you spread the word.
4. What are common misperceptions about your industry or even your company? Are you the owner of an Amish bakery? A mindfulness trainer? A snuggle house operator? Clear up those misperceptions in an eye-opening and entertaining manner.
5. Has your industry been in the mainstream news lately? If you operate a restaurant that’s serving poultry in the midst of a statewide salmonella outbreak, reassure customers that you and your suppliers are doing all they can to protect the health of diners. If an accidental drowning has rocked your community and you oversee an aquatic center or install residential pools, blog about the importance of water-safety education.
What does your business blog about?