CEOs and small business owners are blogging more now than ever before. But is this really the way to seek out and engage with that core of loyal customers who will spend their hard earned money with you no matter what your baying competitors lay before them? Or is it just another way to fruitlessly flitter away your precious time? Ken Builder, MD of leading DIY website company WebEden.co.uk advises on how to build the biggest, brightest blog for your business.
Rough estimates currently put the number of worldwide blogs at around the 100 million mark. We live in an age where everyone can instantly have a potentially global voice. Undoubtedly, of those 100 million blogs, a vast majority might well be regaling readers with the side splitting antics of their domestic house cat and have no relevance (or no interest) to your customers but, rest assured, whatever expertise you and your business possess, there are going to be people already writing about it.
And with vast competition vying for the short attention span of any reader, those considering starting a business blog should carefully decide whether it will help or hinder their business.
Writing and maintaining a top notch blog is a unique and powerful tool to engage with customers on a personal level. But it’s not easy. So what are the dos and don’ts of business blogging, the tricks to utilise and the traps to avoid?
First of all...
Do not sell!
When you cease being a business person and don that comfortable jumper of a regular citizen (also known as a consumer) you will no doubt be aware that we are all marketed to incessantly. From pop ups to banners, to flyers, to those mid-evening long distance phone calls, we are constantly having the latest and greatest must-haves thrust before us. The last thing we look for, therefore, in our quality ‘consumer decision making, product/service evaluation time’ is for more of the same.
Make sure your blog a resource for readers interested in your business or the wider industry and not a sales pitch.
Become an industry expert
Use your blog to educate and inform. Be the voice of reason, of calm and authority in your chosen field. If you sell cars, give people the insider knowledge of what they should look out for before buying a new car. If you sell insurance, simplify for your readers the complicated Ts&Cs – help them to understand what’s important and what they can ignore.
Always look to gain their trust and their respect.
Commit to your blog and follow through
Blogs are a slow burn. They take time to build and inevitably there will be a period at the beginning where you will require persistence in your task, even when you feel you are (and you may well be) writing for just the merest smattering of readers.
With the unfathomable power of sharing links to attractive content through social networks, an articulate and morally sound voice of authority and reason within any industry will find its readers. So commit to it, make sure your blog’s content is of value or is, at the very least, enjoyable to read for your target audience. Spread the word of its existence through your website, your own social media pages and your existing company contacts. And then trust the process.
More followers means more business?
While business owners might enjoy having a blog that’s popular, it’s of little use if it doesn’t grow the business itself.
A general increase in awareness of your business through a popular blog is a wonderful thing. The hidden gem though is that potential customers are able to get to know your organisation and its leaders personally, as though you were sat with them on a comfortable sofa enjoying a glass of single malt.
Whether intentionally written about or not, a blog will, nine times out of 10, provide real insight into your company’s ethics and character and, when it comes to consumer decision making, the importance of these factors should certainly not be underestimated. What you are meticulously cultivating is that illusive animal - consumer trust.
We all buy from companies we trust. Maybe we trust that they will give us the very best value or at least won’t steal our money, maybe we trust that they know more about what looks good to wear than we do, but we buy from them, and return to them, because we have, for one reason or another, formed a positive association with what they stand for.
So if the time is right for you, clear your diary, build your blog, clear your throat and begin.