Why Blogs Are A Basic Necessity for Small Businesses
Further, as an owner, your time is one of your most limited resources. You must understand that every choice to do something is a choice not to do something else.
Three reasons a good blog supports your small business with limited time investment:
- Consumers trust content – unlike advertising.
- Consumers start their purchase process by searching online for answers to their buying questions.
- Consumers need to see a message multiple times before they believe it.
A blog is necessary to a small business (including solopreneurs and professionals) for the following seventeen reasons (Of course many of these points can be applied to larger businesses.)
- Provides an easy-to-use publishing platform to supply information to buyers. Most blogging platforms are simple CMSs (content management systems) that you don’t need special training or head count to use. Unlike a website, you can change the information on your blog in a matter of minutes. While It can be useful to have a professional webmaster set up your blog, you don’t need to be a geek or have a resident teenager to use them on a daily basis. Actionable Blog Tactic: Buy your own URL and hosting, don’t build on a free service like WordPress.com or Blogger
- Is an online outpost that can be an alternative to your website or a complement to it. While blogs can substitute for a website, they also support the use of a website. Actionable Blog Tactic: As a small business, incorporate your important business information such as address, email and phone number, into your header and/or footer.
- Offers a branded context for your message(s). Extend your branding onto your blog through the use of the colors and other branding elements. (Here’s a checklist for branding your blog.) Actionable Blog Tactic: As a small business, the most important aspect of branding is to be consistent. Therefore, decide on your colors, typefaces, and other elements and keep with them. (BTW—here’s help to get you started with branding.)
- Gives readers multiple entryways to your business. Each blog post has a unique URL with unique content about your business and products. Actionable Blog Tactic: Use each post to lure readers in and include at least one link to your product offering in each post.
- Answers questions from prospects and customers. Regardless of what your business focus, your potential customers have questions. Chances are you know the top ten to twenty questions and responses to them without thinking. Actionable Blog Tactic: Make a list of all of the questions people have about your products and business before they buy. Then answer them one by one. (Note: Hat tip to Marcus Sheridan.)
- Shows shoppers how to use your product. Create small tutorials to explain to potential buyers how to use your product. You can use images, photos and video to accomplish this. Actionable Blog Tactic: You can broaden your definitions and educate your prospects about your offering.
- Helps buyers with styling. Take a page from the fashion magazines. Just as you put together displays showing your work in content, show customers how to put your products together. For example, this would work well for a local hair salon. Actionable Blog Tactic: You can gather buyers’ questions related to styling putting your product in action. Think outside of your shop. This is particularly important if your product is used outdoors.
- Presents related topics to discuss (if you don’t have physical products to showcase). If you’re a professional with a small business but don’t have physical products to discuss on your blog, fear not. Instead discuss issues related to your business. Actionable Blog Tactic: Consider related activities your prospects have challenges with. For example, an accountant could have a blog entitled, The Shoebox, since everyone brings their accountant a shoebox full of bills. You could write about getting and staying organized.
- Gives your business a human face and voice. A blog shows customers who you are. By blogging, your readers and audience get to know you. Soon, they feel like they’ve known you for a while. The blog helps convert them from being strangers. It does the hard work of building the basis for a relationship. Actionable Blog Tactic: Make sure you have a well rounded About page. It’s one of the first places people check on your blog. (Don’t take my word for it. Check your stats!)
- Enables you to broaden your offering. Your blog enables your to create additional content products that go beyond what you offer in your real-life establishment. Actionable Blog Tactic: Before you jump at the opportunity to expand your product offering, ensure you have sufficient resources to keep your business going.
- Supports your customers. Spotlight a customer of the week. Take their photograph (and don’t forget to get permission to use it) and ask them a set of questions. This makes your customers feel special. Another alternative is to ask customers to contribute their photographs. Actionable Blog Tactic: Keep a camera handy to take shots of customers showing them using your products.
- Supports search optimization efforts. By creating content focused on a keyword phrase, you help your business to appear for critical terms your audience is seeking. Actionable Blog Tactic: Among the other search tips are to use real words in your URLs rather than computer generated ones. Also, add text to your images and videos. (Here’s a full list of search optimization recommendations for blogs.)
- Works with your email marketing initiatives. It extends content that can be included in your emailings. Actionable Blog Tactic: Even more important, leverage your blog to acquire new email addresses.
- Expands your reach. By blogging about your business online, you extend your reach beyond where you’re located physically. Actionable Blog Tactic: Consider how you’ll handle customers outside of your community.
- Is a hub for your social media activity. By continually offering fresh, new content that readers can comment on and share, your blog is the center of your social media activities. Actionable Blog Tactic: Share your blog posts across the relevant social media entities for your business.
- Allows your prospects, customers and the public to have a feedback channel. Through the comments section you get gather input from readers. Actionable Blog Tactic: Include ratings and polls to solicit feedback from readers.
- Helps build community. Your blog can become the focal point of your business community. Actionable Blog Tactic: Get readers to contribute guest articles and to comment. (It helps to have a set of guest blogging rules.)
(Once you’re sold on blogging, here’s a guide to help you through the process.)
For a small business, a blog is a great investment in building your business because it helps provide information for prospects, cost-effectively supporting your business.
What else would you add to this list of how blogs are necessary to small businesses (including solopreneurs and professionals) and why?
Please join me at Content Success Summit. I’ll be speaking about Blogging:
Hat tip to: Becky McCray of Small Business Survival who is a co-host on #BlogChat tonight. Becky is the author of Small Town Rules. The subtitle tells you everything you need to know: “How Big Brands and Small Businesses Can Prosper in a Connected Economy.”