Blog Marketing Your Small Business

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Be Part Of The Naked Conversation

I’m in the middle of reading Naked Conversations by A-List Microsoft blogger Robert Scoble and Shel Israel. It’s a fresh book (2006) covering business blogging.

You have to forgive my over-enthusiasm for this topic. I’m a huge blog fan, my current business project is about building blog traffic (www.BlogTrafficKing.com) and blogging, to put it bluntly, has changed my life, or at least been a major positive force in my life for the last year. It’s also done wonders for my business prospects, opening up doors to opportunities I never would have expected 12 months ago.

Blogging for business is one of the most remarkable marketing tools I’ve come across. The further I delve into Naked Conversations the more I am convinced of the value of blogs, especially for small business. I’ve made it my mission to convince you to start blogging for your business.

The Blog Is The Only Online Marketing Tool You Need

If you run a business and you have a very small budget for online marketing I would completely forgo starting a standard website and start blogging instead. A blog can incorporate all the regular website features such as your business location, contact details and services/product pages. But the real power comes from all the extra advantages that on the surface you can’t see and until you experience blogging you won’t fully appreciate.

These include:

The ease of updating and creating pages. Most blog content management systems are intuitive, simple and efficient. If you know how to write an email you can create a page for your blog.

The search engine optimization advantage. At one point I thought it was just because blogs were a fad, but now I can safely say that search engines love good blogs and I don’t see this changing any time soon.

Simple installation. You can pay a subscription fee and have a blog up and running immediately or install blog software on your own server and be done in a few steps.

Link power. Blogging, if you do it right, includes a lot of link love, which means you link to other blogs and they link to you. And not only blogs, the potential to convert a blog into a PR machine is real. Blogs, at least for the moment, are garnering attention from everyone and everywhere. Coverage in mainstream media, both on and off line, is *almost* easy to attain.

– And of course, the naked conversation. In a nutshell this means you can have a completely transparent two-way conversation with your customers. Imagine being able to influence your customers without being perceived as a business trying to sell something. Do you think that would be an advantage?

It Costs Time And Energy, Not Money

Just by writing (blogging) one small article per day demonstrating your knowledge you can very quickly establish your expertize, boost your credibility and best of all, start converting prospects into customers. Provided you have the time and motivation to produce content the financial investment can be kept very low. If you factor in the basics — hosting and a domain name — your yearly expenditure is under $100 to maintain a blog. That’s a bargain.

Talk To Your Customers

A blog creates a dialogue with your readers. Simply by blogging and responding to comments you start a natural conversation with anyone interested in what you offer. A natural conversation is so much more powerful at making a sale than any other form of advertising. It’s so effective you don’t need to include any overt sales pitch whatsoever in your blog. In fact, as the authors of Naked Conversations state, you should avoid including any sales pitches in your blog at all. Once your blog gains traction your customers will seek you out and ask to buy from you.

That sounds nice doesn’t it, customers asking to buy from you. I’m not joking either. I blog a lot about building web businesses but I do not sell any web design or online marketing services. My experience shines through my writing and podcasting and my readers perceive me as an expert at online business. I have never once said I provide web marketing services yet on many occasions I have been approached for assistance in building a website or consulting on a web project. I have no plans to launch a web marketing business but I suspect if I did I’d have an eager client base ready to buy thanks to my blogs.

The First Mover Advantage

Here’s the real clincher — why you need to start blogging about your business today — No one else is. Chances are no one else in your industry is blogging either. Sure, if your industry is online most likely there are some blogs out there, but if your business is offline than there is a good chance if you started blogging today you will be the first.

In my series — Internet Marketing For Small Business — I made use of a plumber as an example of a typical small business that could use blogging to bring in search traffic and customers. I was delighted to see in Naked Conversations the authors also mention the humble fixer of leaking taps. They noted that they could not find one plumber who was blogging.

If I was a plumber in need of business I’d start blogging. I would write “how-to” guides to help people fix things around their house. I’d spill all my knowledge from my brain into words on my blog. I’d be extra careful to make sure the title of my blog included the phrase “Brisbane Plumber” so when anyone searched online for a plumber in my city my blog would be the first search result.

This same case could be applied to plumbers in every major city in the world. I have no doubt the same could be said for all the trades including electricians, painters, repairman, garden maintenance – and that’s just the trades. Any person who blogs locally about their small business can very likely expect fantastic results, which over time are only going to increase as more and more people go online and use search to find solutions to problems.

The opportunity to take advantage of this trend is now. There is only one blog that will dominate each local niche. I can only expect to be the “Brisbane plumber” if I’m the first one to start blogging about it. If another Brisbane plumber sets up a blog first it will be very hard to supplant their leadership position. The first mover advantage is real.

Preaching To The Converted?

There is one problem with blogging. It’s a significant problem that will stop this article having much impact on mainstream small business. Most of the people who should hear what I have to say, who stand to benefit the most from small business blogging, will never read my blog. They don’t even know what a blog is. They may not even use the web on a daily or even weekly basis.

Most bricks and mortar business owners don’t have the time or simply don’t travel in the right circles to be exposed to the concepts I present here. Books like Naked Conversations go a long way to help the cause because they take blogging offline. Unfortunately for the moment though, most people who read this blog are bloggers or savvy Internet users, in which case I am largely preaching to the converted.

Of course that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t urge any small business folk reading this who are not currently blogging to get into it, or if you are already blogging, to get out there and rave about blogging to your colleagues and business peers. As bloggers it’s important to understand that a knowledge gap exists that divides those that know and understand how to take advantage of blogs and those that don’t. The few that take the time to breach that knowledge gap stand to benefit the most.

Yaro Starak
Small Business Blogger

About Yaro

Yaro Starak is an Internet business and blogging expert. He runs the successful Internet business blog - http://www.entrepreneurs-journey.com and teaches about how to make money from blogging at http://www.blogmastermind.com.

You can contact Yaro at - http://ReplytoYaro.com

Comments

  1. Hi Yarom
    I’m getting a lot of good information from your various blogs, and I have a question.

    As a fitness trainer, and someone who isn’t very tech savy, I’d like to know if you could recommend a blog host that provides the best exposure for someone like me. Are there hosts or blog builders that automatically assit the writer with marketing or blog optimization?

    I have a blog with typepad, but I have no clue if I am getting my name out there like I should.

    Thanks,
    Coop

  2. Yaro, Sorry about the goof with your name…I’ve had a long day.

  3. Hi Coop – It really depends what you are trying to achieve with your blogging? It sounds like you want to blog to build your credibility and establish an audience…which will hopefully lead to referrals and paying clients.

    First thing – join my blog traffic tips newsletter if you haven’t already – http://www.blogtrafficking.com – that should get you started and my advice is not too technical.

    If you don’t want to do it all on your own and have the money to invest in a good blog marketing campaign I’d go with Jim Kukral’s http://www.Blog4999.com (he’s a sponsor of this blog – click a banner). He’ll definitely help with all your optimization and strategy and work one-on-one with you to get your blog doing what you want it to do.

    I hope that helps!

    Yaro

  4. Hey Yaro. I couldn’t agree more about the need to keep it real in the posts — and believe it or not not everyone gets this. A recent Columbia study found that 79% of the major media use blogs as their primary source for expert sources — and that’s because people aren’t as canned in blogs. They’re tellin’ it like it is. They’re giving genuine opinions. Thanks for your own naked conversation (and I will be checking out this title!) Suzanne

  5. Hi Suzanne – Thank you for the comment. The candid nature of blogging is definitely one of the main reasons I can do it effectively. If I had to adhere to some academic or journalistic rules of writing I’d struggle to express myself well. As an entrepreneur I like it when I make my own rules – which blogging lets me do.

  6. I completely agree with your assessment here and love the blog btw. Since we’ve add a blog to our site, our traffic has increased by 50%. Great to see the little guys can make a name out there for little to no money!

  7. Nice article however I disagree with the plumber angle. Plumbers are word of mouth business’s. If he has time to write articles I do not want him as my plumber. Plumbers know their work get in and get out. If he is good I tell my friends hey Joe Plumber did a great job call him next time.

  8. Bfennell – that’s exactly why plumbers are perfect for blog marketing. The blog will encourage word of mouth because anyone who reads it will know the plumber is an expert. I’d definitely choose a plumber who clearly knows what they do by demonstrating it on a simple blog, plus they would get top search results.

  9. There’s some good stuff in this article but I don’t agree with everything you say. Surely blogging is most suited to information-heavy businesses? For your regular “Yellow Pages” style businesses (plumbing, pest control, bookkeeping, personal training etc etc) I would recommend a standard lead generation website every time.

  10. Hey Will – I believe if the budget permits a lead generation website with a blog element is the perfect combination, but as you know that can cost upwards of $3000+.

    If a plumber has a smaller budget setting up an easy to update blog works great as an SEO tool, great as a communications channel and is easy to add new content to (and not just blog articles – standalone “pages” too, so it can act much like a lead generation page anyway).

    I think what you will find is that the core components of lead generation websites, such as sales copywriting, will always be important, but blog-style content presentation will become a better means to communicate the message because of the more personal feel.

    If I came across two choices – a plumber with a mostly static lead generation website and a plumber with a personal dynamic blog, and they both included all the usual credibility proofs (testimonials etc), I’d be more inclined to eventually choose the blogger because I know after reading the blog I’d have a better feel for the person (assuming of course he/she is a good plumber/person).

    It would make for an interesting test, that’s for sure.

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  12. I really enjoyed reading this article. I was a somewhat hesitant first time blogger but am now enjoying the whole experience. I am still finding my feet and sometimes I wonder how “personal” I should become (as my blog is primarily about my start-up business and the life of a netrepreneur). I am spending time to read other blogs though and that’s in fact, how I found yours.

    Many thanks and all the best.

  13. gotomeeting says

    There’s some good stuff in this article but I don’t agree with everything you say. Surely blogging is most suited to information-heavy businesses? For your regular “Yellow Pages” style businesses (plumbing, pest control, bookkeeping, personal training etc etc) I would recommend a standard lead generation website every time.

  14. Yes..u right blogging helps business…Thnks for info…keep it up!!!