13 Blogging Tactics for Small Businesses & Solopreneurs
While small businesses can be more nimble and react more quickly to a dynamic environment, they still need overall planning to ensure they keep their business on track for success. Otherwise, if you’re only responding to the latest fire, you’re not working towards your long-term business objectives.
To help organize your small business and maximize your limited resources, you need a blog and a marketing plan. Here are thirteen tactics for building a better business blog.
- Establish your blog’s goals. Your blog must have well defined objectives aligned with your business goals. To be effective, write them down and make sure that everyone involved knows what you’re trying to achieve.
- Know your blog readers. To create content that resonates with your target audience, you must know who your prospects and current customers are. You need to be able to describe them in depth as if they were your best friends, otherwise your writing will sound generic. Therefore, create both marketing persona and social media persona to understand what makes them tick. The better you define your readers, the easier it is to write content that will convert them to customers.
- Assess your competitors’ activity. While it may be your baby, your business doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Your competitors, near substitutes and major players define your market. Therefore you need to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s going on. Use a non-business email address to subscribe to your competitors’ blogs.
- Brand your blog. Incorporate your business’ brand into every aspect of your blog. Small businesses in particular must ensure that every aspect of their marketing helps build and reinforce their brand. Therefore it’s important to ensure that you extend the salient attributes of your brand into your blog such as your blog name (Note: It doesn’t need to be the same name as your company), the language, the images, color and other elements. (Here’s some advice for starting your brand.)
- Plan your blog content. This is the heart of your blog because your blog can’t be a repository for bland, useless information. Your blog posts must respond to prospects’ questions, provide the purchase information they seek, demonstrate how to use your product, and show how your products solves their problems. Therefore you need the following three items: a promotional plan built around important holidays, conferences and other business related events, an editorial calendar to support on-going content creation, and human stories related to your business.
- Format your blog for easy consumption. To attract readers facilitate content consumption. This means using outlining and bolding to draw readers in and guide prospects through your content. Incorporate visuals in terms of photographs, graphics and infographics because people are attracted to pictures, especially photographs of other people! Also consider the use of video, audio (or podcasts) and presentations.
- Optimize your blog for search. Don’t underestimate the value of optimizing your blog content for search. This means focusing each post on a keyword phrase, incorporating the keyword into your title and URL, adding text to non-text content and linking to internal and external resources.
- Make your blog posts actionable. Give your readers a reason to find out more about your business or to engage with you. Incorporate calls-to-action and link to your product where appropriate. Also tailor your landing pages to keep the wording consistent.
- Mobilize your blog content. To maximize your audience, you need to provide potential readers with a mobile version of your blog since smartphones and tablet use continue to grow. There are a variety of ways to mobilize your blog including plug-ins and responsive design based themes. (For help, Ian Cleary outlines five steps to help you make your blog mobile.)
- Dedicate sufficient resources. Since the quality of your posts can make or break your blog’s ability to achieve its purpose, it’s important to ensure that you provide appropriate resources. For small businesses, blogging resources often translate to time. Since blogs work best when you publish on a regular basis, not just when you have time, you must plan for content creation. Additionally, you’ll need copyediting, graphic design and technology support.
- Promote your blog content. No matter how good your writing is, you have to reach out and bring people in. This includes building an email list for your blog and distributing blog content across social media. Also, as a small business you can use your offline establishment to expand your audience. At a minimum, use your email signature file and your business cards.
- Cultivate your blog community. Just because you’ve spent lots of time thinking about and creating your blog, it doesn’t mean that readers are waiting to read it. To build your community you need to be very engaged. This is the social part of social media. (Here’s data on small businesses and social media.) This means answering blog comments and emails. Get out in public and connect with people who fit your target audience. Also, write guest blog posts for other blogs to build a broader audience.
- Measure your blog progress. As with any marketing initiative it’s critical to assess your progress. As your blog grows and evolves, take time to try different things out. This includes post topics, column formats, titles and other content factors, and measure the results. Select appropriate metrics based on your blog objectives. Understand that it takes time to achieve your blogging goals.
While blogs enable small businesses and solopreneurs to level the playing field, they require careful planning, quality content, effective presentation and cross-channel distribution to achieve their goals.
What else would you add to this list to help small businesses build successful blogs?
For those of you in Raleigh, NC, please join me for Internet Summit November 11th through 13th.Use the code HEIDI50 to save $50 OFF any pass level.
Even though Content Marketing World is finished until next September, you can still get all the content from 2014's exciting conference. The CMWorld On Demand package includes: Audio and video from the 2014 keynote sessions, audio and PowerPoint presentations of all the breakout sessions, over 40 audio sessions from the leading B2B and B2C brands, as well as keynote video performances.
According to research by Nielsen, 70 percent of global consumers trust online consumer reviews and rate reviews as the second most trusted form of advertising. And according to BazaarVoice, when it comes to trust, marketers may as well eliminate their own brand websites as a fountain of customer trust as only 16 percent of US consumers said they trust the content on a brand's website compared to the 51 percent who trust content generated by other users.
Today's digital currency is arguably authenticity, and what attracts customers - especially the digitally dependent, savvy millennial - is not just content. It is the delivery of authentic, unvarnished content from their peers.
Join the CMO Council on Wednesday, October 29, at 10am PST/ 1pm EST for a one-hour webcast that will invite industry experts in content marketing and user-generated content who are effectively leveraging authentic storytelling as part of their content marketing strategies. We will also feature an interactive Q&A session at the conclusion of the speaker presentations.
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/minnesota_social_marketing/4437146842