To Blog or Not To Blog: Should Your Small Business Start a Blog?
As technology evolves, so too should your marketing and communication strategy. With the growing focus on instant gratification, most companies allow you to mange your accounts 24/7 online without the need to ever speak to a customer service representative. A 2011 studyby Gartner, estimates that by 2020 85% of all business interactions will not require real human interaction. If you’ve relied on direct, personal interactions with your customers up until this point, keeping that strategy will put you at a definite disadvantage. Now more than ever, it’s important to develop successful ways to deliver your message to current and potential clients through new, relevant mediums.
In the late 90s blogging got its start as the technology obsessed youth began creating their own online presence via their own homepage or popular journal sites like LiveJournal. But blogging quickly evolved into more than just another social networking strategy. Small businesses quickly began to discover that blogging was a way to interact with their community and viable way to identify new potential customers and generate leads.
Every small business seems to have a blog these days , following the marketing “how-tos” available online touting “content is king.” Unfortunately, many of these how-tos leave out the hard questions like “is blogging the right marketing strategy for your business?” When done properly, managing a successful blog for your business can bring in new business as well as assert you as thought leader in your industry. But before you jump in, here are a few things to consider.
Have you figured out your company’s voice?
Consistency is one of the most important pieces to developing your brand and reputation. After all, if you keep changing your tone and message, your customers and fans will be left confused as to what your business is trying to accomplish. But before you can even get started building your brand, you need to develop a clear voice.
At its most basic level, your brand’s voice is the personification of your company. It’s the tone you’ll use throughout your marketing and communication efforts and should reflect the company’s goals and values. Will you be the witty sales team that produces the most unforgettable promotions? Or maybe you’re an expert in your field with case studies or research you’d like to share with your community. Whatever the case may be, defining your voice is instrumental in choosing the right content to share with the right audience.
Finding your brand’s voice doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does take a bit of time, research, and thought. The toughest part is defining your target audience to make sure your voice matches the way they communicate. From there, it’s a matter of fine tuning your business values and what you want your brand to say to current and future customers.
Do you have something to say?
Perhaps one of the most overlooked questions new companies forget to ask themselves when deciding whether or not to blog is if they have something to contribute. You’ll not only need to determine the overall theme of your blog (will it be how-to, or will it chronicle your experience in running a business?), but you’ll also need to determine if you’re able to add new value to old topics by using your own spin.
Once you define the theme of your blog, take some time to research relevant topics you’d like to cover. A good rule of thumb is to be able to come up with enough topics to get you through 5-10 posts. If this doesn’t come easy, you may need to spend more time researching your target audience, or may need to reconsider your blog’s original theme.
Anyone can throw together a decent piece of content, but are you saying anything new or just rephrasing a topic that has been covered to death? Your approach to writing for a business blog should be similar to that of a journalist. Once you find topics you want to cover, you’ll want to determine your angle. Can you add a higher level of knowledge through your own business experience? Do you have a great story that makes your topic memorable? Ultimately, you’ll need something refreshing that your target will want to read without feeling deja vu.
Are you prepared to commit to blogging each week?
It should be no secret that blogging is a major time commitment. Depending on your company’s exact goals from the blog, you may need to post anywhere from 1 to 5 times each week. When starting a blog, most companies find that running and promoting a blog is a full time job in and of itself, so you’ll want to make sure you have the resources to devote.
When considering the time commitment, you’ll need to look beyond just the time needed to sit down and write the article. Each blog post should include a fair amount of research to make sure the information you have is not only accurate, but also relevant for your target audience. After your research is complete, you’ll also find yourself revising and editing through a few drafts before you get to your final project; all of which take a lot of time.
Once the post is written, you then need to turn your thoughts to distribution. Simply posting your blog on your website and hoping people see it isn’t likely to get you the results you want. Many bloggers share on social media, directly reach out to other industry leaders for promotion, send links via email, and actively follow their analytic data to see what is working and what needs to be changed.
If the amount of effort put into one blog post seems daunting, don’t be discouraged. Not every business will need to post 5 articles a week. While there is certainly a time commitment you’ll have to make, many start off small, and grow after they’ve fine tuned their message and developed an audience.
Can blogging fit into your current marketing strategy?
If you’re like most small businesses and blogging wasn’t part of your initial marketing strategy, before you dive in head first, you’ll need to consider if blogging fits your current strategy. You may find that the time commitment will take away too much from the successful marketing strategies you already have in place. Or, when you dive into your target audience, you may find they don’t spend much time reading blogs. In both cases, you may discover adding a blog may yield little to no results and you’ll really want to know this before you devote too much time or too many resources to the project.
Developing a blog as part of your content marketing strategy is something many businesses consider in the digital age. A successful blog strategy can drive traffic to your website, establish your business as an industry leader, and even generate leads for new customers. Taking the time to consider if adding a blog will work for your business will help you stay focused and start off on the right foot if you decide to create a blog, or will save you a lot of time and headache if you discover blogging will not work for you before you get in too deep.
Do you have a business blog? Share your experience in the comments below!