Five ways SMBs can use Blogging to level the playing field
"Blogging gives small business global reach at extremely low cost." So said the Godfathers of the Blog, Shel @shelisrael Israel and Robert @scobleizer Scoble, in their 2006 Blogging Bible, Naked Conversations (pictured). Although seemingly an ancient text now in the fast moving world of Social Media, the plethora of truisms throughout this book (still in print) continue to ring true despite the emergence of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram et al since then. Blogging is a great way for Small or Niche Businesses to level the playing field with their larger, big-budgeted rivals. The key to this magic is the fact that blogging requires not money but thought. Thought in theory is free. What a business spends to achieve effective blogging power is not money but IP (intellectual property). Most public blogging platforms are free, and the cost of attaching a Wordpress Plug-in for your own website is very minimal, for instance. Production of a blog is practically nil - unless you outsource the writing. If done correctly, blogging shouldn't even take much time. Here are five ways a small business can change the game by blogging:
- Inbound Website Traffic: For me, there's enough ROI (return on investment) in using Blogging to "game" your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) alone, let alone what it can achieve for awareness amongst actual people. By figuring out what your Keyword is and hitting it regularly in your blogs - particularly in the title - a small business can radically influence how it ranks in searches. When you consider that a Google query is now the very first move in a procurement process of any kind, improving your chances of ranking highly in those search results has to be worth investing something in?
- Demonstrate your Expertise: Instead of old-style proud boasts peppering your website, a prospective client or customer can learn so much more about you through your thought leadership, commentary and advice than from your awards and customer successes. Providing regular examples of the strength of your expertise, depth of your knowledge and validity of your advice is a very powerful way to market yourself to those who do arrive at your website. It also gives your supporters something to share on their social networks when they want to promote your good work. It may seem like "giving it away for free" but people pay for execution, not knowledge.
- Enhancing a Meeting: I have worked with many people in helping them see that while Blogging is a one-to-many medium, it can also be used for one-to-one. If you have a difficult meeting approaching and you want to set the agenda, you can frame it by writing a seemingly-public blog post and sending it to those you're meeting in advance. Or it can be used to supplement a meeting after the fact, continue a discussion or reinforce a point - or generally keep the conversation going. (I'm actually doing this right now!)
- Increase your Media Profile: Trade journalists are forever inundated with "media spokespeople" from large companies with large PR agency retainers. They know that the same people are touted all around town - the same ambitious, media-trained, jargon-spouting executives are offered to all the writers to comment on industry news and trends. Generally they are very frustrating to interview, usually they are minded by a PR representative and it is very hard to get something unique or insightful from them (besides their own product messages!). Social Media not only provides small business experts the chance to have their voice heard, but also offers journalists the chance to discover for themselves new and interesting talking heads for their articles. Generally one good experience like this and they will come back again and again.
- Become an industry go-to source: If you are in a particular niche, a huge opportunity exists to become an actual news source. Task someone within the business to monitor and curate industry news for sharing on Social Channels like Twitter and the company LinkedIn Page. Once a week or so the company blogger/s should round up interesting trends and themes in short 300-400 blog posts sharing insight and commentary with links to the original news. With the media suffering from ever decreasing bandwidth and with larger companies increasingly restrained from saying anything of interest in respect of industry developments - at least not anything quickly or timely - small business can fill that space of industry information source. Do this and soon people will want to give you their business!
Most companies will say they don't have time for blogging or they don't have enough content for blogging, and yet many of them send out a monthly or quarterly newsletter. They should flip this around, and post the content they are already developing throughout the month and then use the newsletter as a digest of that. Many people still do like their email newsletters and this is still an avenue to reach them; but it seems such a waste to put all that content generation energy into just one channel.
There are many other more obvious uses of a blog - company news framing (editorialising press releases etc), as a media statement medium, brand awareness, new product announcements etc but generally speaking small businesses will have far more success by providing genuine value for the reader. Ask yourself "what does the customer need help with?" rather than "what does the customer need to know about us?" If the customer finds your helpful advice useful, they will search the rest of the website for more information about you (so make sure it is there!).
If your blog is "all about you" you will only come up in a searches for you.
Artechulate can offer blog strategy development services, blog writing training and ghost-writing services.For more information on this, contact us here. //