Blogging is Good for Business

It’s no secret that as a small business, we have a lot on our plate when it comes to marketing. Whether it’s keeping up with traditional high touch marketing channels like trade shows, or developing our new media channels via Twitter, LinkedIn, or Google+ or coming up with content for our latest email newsletter—it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

And now we have added regular blogging to the mix.

When “content marketing” and “blogging” burst on to the marketing scene in 2008, I simply ignored the trend. It was just too much,

Three years went by. We designed a website, and then designed it again. My team wrote highly technical tape articles for our B2B customers, which we placed on our website under the header “Tape Talk”. In my mind this wasn’t blogging, it was marketing, and it worked for us. It was even a little “cutting edge” for a traditional company like ours.  Until it wasn’t.

In August 2013, Social Media Today published an infographic that included these statistics about business blogging:

  • Small businesses with blogs generate 126 percent more leads than those without a blog.
  • 81 percent of US consumers trust advice and information from blogs.
  • 61 percent of US consumers made a purchase based on a blog post.
  • Websites with blogs have 434 percent more indexed pages and 97 percent more indexed links. That means it’s easier for search engines – and potential customers – to find you.

Obviously, blogging has become a cornerstone of marketing programs today, and it wasn’t something our business could afford to ignore any longer.

So, in 2013, we started writing articles and putting them on our corporate website.  Last year, in 2014 we finally committed to a regular blog schedule which was definitely challenging.  We needed help to keep the ideas and content coming.  So far  we seem to be able to stick (no pun intended) to a twice weekly schedule.  We write about tape but also ECHOtape company happenings, insights about business and what it is like to work at a family company.

From this process, here’s what I discovered: Just like anything else, blogging requires a commitment and needs to be a priority. Think of it as you would any other part of your business, like answering emails or stocking orders, and you’ll get past thinking that it’s not a necessary task.

That said, while the benefits of business blogging are real, there are a few hurdles to jump over. What do you write about? Where do you find the time to do it? Who is going to write these posts?  How will you nor run out of ideas?

All valid. Insightful posts take work to put together. It also takes time to edit, upload and format blog posts. My suggestion? Whether you hire an outside consultant, or find someone in house, put together a dedicated and professional team of writers that can help get the job done.  I do have a great creative team that includes creatives and writers, in house and out, that help me with that. We developed a style guide to help with the minute details (yes, that’s important), and we rely on Edit Flow to share feedback before the posts go live. (Edit Flow has been a game changer. I can’t recommend it enough!)

Will there be hurdles? Of course! Early this year I felt like we had written all we could about tape. We knew we could write more about construction projects since this is an area of growth for us so we are searching for knowledge experts to help us.  We also thought we could write more about our company and begin to share ECHOtape and its people with the rest of the world.  So we started to write about what it means to be a traditional business in today’s emerging economy; and the challenges that a small, family-owned business every, single, day. We’ve had great response so we are going to keep adding that to our mix.

If you haven’t started a blog for your business, I have three words for you. Do. It. Now. You won’t always figure out what is going to work, so my best advice is to jump in, start testing your voice and see how your customers respond. That’s one the greatest benefits of blogging — the more you write and the more you try, the more you can tell what resonates with customers.

That said, before you dive into blogging, you need to answer a few questions: What is this blog going to do for your business? Are you trying to boost brand awareness? Are you trying to sell something by utilizing the blog or just looking to connect further with your customers? Is your aim to build a community?  Here are some great ideas that we have found helpful.

Before even starting to blog, Kuno Creative’s John McTigue creates goals each month. This way you have a set point to work towards. If not, it’s easy to fall into the trap of not doing anything.

When it comes to brainstorming content, SmartBug Media’s Ryan Malone suggests his clients use Evernote to “snip” articles that are related to their industry as they read them. He also recommends setting up Google alerts for pertinent topics. Then when the time comes for blogging, clients find that they have a whole folder of inspirational ideas. Ryan goes on to note that you don’t always have to create content from scratch. Taking an article and adding some insights of your own is an acceptable blogging strategy. He says, “It also has other side benefits – you become the hub for all the research in your space…and you also get great retweet and share traction.”

With these tips, you’ll be churning out blog posts in no time!

Do you have a business blog? What other strategies have you found to be successful?

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