Small Business: Can you afford not to Blog?

Business leadership by Geralt CC0 Public Domain from Pixabay

Despite Bill Gates’ pre­dic­tions in the 1990s not every busi­ness will have a web site today. Some don’t need one. Many will have a web pres­ence with­out hav­ing a web site. Oth­ers have a sta­t­ic web site, but need some­thing more. Some­thing on which they are able to demon­strate their exper­tise or pro­fes­sion­al prowess. Some­thing that is dynam­ic and reflects the mood and con­cerns of the indus­try as they change. This is the pow­er of the small busi­ness blog.

 

Essential for any Business

Innovation by Jarmoluk CC0 Public Domain image from Pixabay      In the mod­ern-day each of the fol­low­ing are prob­a­bly essen­tial for most small businesses:
  • Busi­ness cards — for that per­son­al connection.
  • Local news­pa­per ads.
  • Tele­phone direc­to­ry list­ings, maybe.
  • A web­site or web presence.
  • Tes­ti­mo­ni­als and reviews.
  • A pub­lic­i­ty cam­paign, even if it’s a DIY one.
  • Social pres­ence.
  • Email mar­ket­ing activity.
  • Poten­tial­ly, post­cards & fly­ers which you may have the post office deliv­er for you.
  • A LinkedIn page.
Of course many of these options involve tra­di­tion­al mar­ket­ing, they are about meet­ing peo­ple and telling them about your small busi­ness, hand­ing out fly­ers. Your busi­ness may be the type that needs to adver­tise on TV or radio.

Telephone Directory

      Some of the tra­di­tion­al meth­ods of mar­ket­ing are dying out, for exam­ple, who turns to the tele­phone direc­to­ry any more? More peo­ple search the web today than use the phone direc­to­ry. It is the flow of busi­ness that means one approach dies out as anoth­er is invent­ed. Per­haps in the future these old approach­es will be rein­vent­ed. This sug­gests that Bill Gates was right in say­ing that every busi­ness needs a pres­ence on the web to sur­vive. There was a time when there were com­pet­ing busi­ness direc­to­ries in each city, few sur­vive today.
      This is a nec­es­sary part of build­ing a busi­ness. What is dif­fer­ent today is the com­put­erised capa­bil­i­ties, tools like social media that can pro­vide assis­tance in addi­tion to those tra­di­tion­al meth­ods. More small busi­ness is look­ing to alter­na­tive mar­ket­ing methods.

Web/Social Presence

      There are many ways to have a web pres­ence for your small busi­ness these days. You don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly have to go to the effort of build­ing your own web­site. There are plen­ty of mar­ket­ing tools you sim­ply need to sign up for, or per­haps join a local small busi­ness association.
AirBNB      For exam­ple the per­son rent­ing out their spare room on AirBNB cre­ates an instant on-line pres­ence for their small busi­ness. It is a busi­ness, and a prof­itable one if man­aged correctly.
      This accom­mo­da­tion own­er may not have any busi­ness cards. If they did and they hand­ed them out to peo­ple they met then they may gain extra book­ings. If they were in Yel­low Pages they may gain extra book­ings. They may not do pub­lic­i­ty work, for exam­ple pro­mot­ing their rooms on Face­book, but if they did per­haps they may get the occa­sion­al extra booking.
      One thing they will build are tes­ti­mo­ni­als and reviews through their AirBNB web pres­ence. The pow­er of their small busi­ness at work, and the pow­er of the appre­ci­a­tion for their efforts. Tes­ti­mo­ni­als bring their own reward. There are many on-line busi­ness sites intend­ed to allow small busi­ness to show­case their capa­bil­i­ties, it is always worth seek­ing these out in your indus­try and build­ing an on-line presence.

Getting the Word Out

Angies List      The plumber, or elec­tri­cian, may con­sid­er hav­ing them­selves list­ed on Ang­ies List (if they are in the USA). But they had bet­ter offer high ser­vice stan­dards, oth­er­wise they may receive a poor review. One of the chal­lenges of reviews is that it is not pos­si­ble to please every­one all of the time. Busi­ness is all about per­son­al inter­ac­tions. You may have 5 star reviews from most clients, then you encounter a per­son who thinks you were not pay­ing prop­er atten­tion to their needs and your star rat­ing suffers.
      Look out for many avenues to expose your busi­ness to poten­tial cus­tomers. You may only get the occa­sion­al extra client, but each new clients may make all the difference.
      A LinkedIn page isn’t essen­tial for every small busi­ness, but in cer­tain indus­tries it can offer pow­er­ful assistance.

Website

      For a small busi­ness hav­ing a web­site ensures:
  1. You are vis­i­ble 24 * 7.
  2. It pro­vides anoth­er sales tool.
  3. You build authority.
  4. It helps build contacts.
Yet most web­sites are sta­t­ic. They show off the capa­bil­i­ties, the prod­ucts or ser­vices your busi­ness offers, prod­uct lists, brands, ser­vices offered, etc. Web­sites are fac­tu­al and do not offer insights or infor­ma­tion about the own­er or employee’s pro­fes­sion­al prowess, their job his­to­ry, etc. How would a cus­tomer know the dif­fer­ence between one print­ing press and anoth­er, for example?
      This is where net­work­ing and blog­ging makes all the dif­fer­ence. All small busi­ness­es should aim to net­work with poten­tial clients, yet this is not always pos­si­ble. The dog train­er might net­work with the local dog own­ers club, give demon­stra­tions etc.
      The elec­tri­cian or plumber, on the oth­er hand, could have a hard time net­work­ing with poten­tial clients, as any­one could be a client. They could speak to thou­sands before encoun­ter­ing a per­son that needs their ser­vices. Mar­ket­ing can be prob­lem­at­ic. Yes they will get refer­rals from their exist­ing clients and they may encour­age peo­ple to refer them by offer­ing dis­counts etc. All such mar­ket­ing efforts are valid, yet they have lit­tle to do with build­ing a web presence.

The Small Business Blog

Small Business Blog by Peter B. Giblett
      A small busi­ness blog marks the own­er out as hav­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent to offer their customers.
      Some pow­er­ful rea­son to have a blog:
  • 81% of U.S. on-line con­sumers trust information/advice from blogs.
  • 60% of con­sumers feel more pos­i­tive about a com­pa­ny after read­ing blogs.
  • Con­sumers believe com­pa­nies behind con­tent seek to build good relationships.
  • 33% of B2B com­pa­nies use blogs.
  • SEO pro­fes­sion­als rate blog­ging as one of their top inbound mar­ket­ing activities.
  • Com­pa­nies that blog have twice as many Twit­ter followers.
Yet the chal­lenges of cre­at­ing a blog are the need be con­stant­ly adding new mate­r­i­al, writ­ing about new prod­ucts you stock etc. This is what scares many small busi­ness own­ers. Yet it doesn’t have to be that com­plex. Blogs pro­vide a dif­fer­ent focus to a web site. While a web-site gives fac­tu­al infor­ma­tion about a prod­uct or ser­vice, a blog has a dif­fer­ent dynam­ic. With a blog it is pos­si­ble to explore how to, likes and dis­likes, options, why one prod­uct and not anoth­er is best in a spe­cif­ic sit­u­a­tion. It goes beyond the facts. Exam­ines people’s needs on an entire­ly dif­fer­ent lev­el and explores per­son­al expe­ri­ences. Show­case a new product.

Building the Blog

      Build­ing a blog is not com­plex. Although it is under­stand­able why some busi­ness own­ers find cre­at­ing one a chal­lenge. Find­ing time in the day to set it up can be a chal­lenge. Find­ing time to write can be chal­leng­ing. Yet, as with all worth­while things you should look to the peo­ple around you to help in get­ting it done.
      Although cre­at­ing a blog is a sim­ple task, it is under­stand­able if you wish to find an expert to help you with the set­up and get the blog run­ning effec­tive­ly, they should help you set up the site. When set­ting up a blog you must con­sid­er the fol­low­ing questions:
  • Does it need its own domain or is it a sub-domain?
  • What soft­ware should you use? (Word­Press, Wix, or some­thing else).
  • Where should it be hosted?
  • How should we use our brand­ing and embed our logo?
  • What lay­out is best?
  • What plug-ins do I need?
  • How fre­quent­ly should we post?
  • What should we write about?
  • Who should write?
These are essen­tial ques­tions, you may have oth­ers to add to that list.

Professional Setup

At my Desk      I have helped clients cre­ate and main­tain their busi­ness blogs. It is my expe­ri­ence that most clients need greater assis­tance dur­ing the first few months of cre­at­ing their site than they need for ongo­ing sup­port. There is some­thing addic­tive about writ­ing blog posts.
      Indeed hav­ing pro­fes­sion­al assis­tance dur­ing those first few months can make all the dif­fer­ence between suc­cess and fail­ure. I have lost count of how many nights I have spent tweak­ing plug-ins and wid­gets to make them work prop­er­ly for a par­tic­u­lar site. Many plug-ins are intu­itive, oth­ers for secu­ri­ty, Google ana­lyt­ics, SEO, and cache man­age­ment, are less so to busi­ness users pos­sess­ing lit­tle tech­ni­cal knowl­edge. Many require tweak­ing and play­ing with to work opti­mal­ly, hence the need to play into the ear­ly hours of the morning.
      Most busi­ness own­ers ask for plug-in sug­ges­tions. When they have first cre­at­ed their site it can seem a lit­tle lone­ly but a lit­tle love care and social medi­al atten­tion can change that dra­mat­i­cal­ly. A good pro­fes­sion­al will help you set­up every­thing to run smooth­ly and ensure your Twit­ter fol­low­ers of Face­book Friends become aware of your blog and the advice you offer. The good pro­fes­sion­al ser­vice provider will also offer you quar­ter­ly or bi-annu­al check­ups as a part of their service.
      Pro­fes­sion­al set-up is mere­ly an option. Many small busi­ness own­ers love to do the work themselves.

Other Related Material

On Gob­blede­Goox there are oth­er posts about busi­ness and blog­ging, you can look at, including:

 

 

      Thank the author, buy Peter B. Giblett a cof­fee. This page is sup­port­ed, in part by dona­tions made from read­ers who wish to thank the author for writ­ing on this top­ic. If you have ques­tions about busi­ness blog­ging then please ask them via a com­ment. All images used here are avail­able in the pub­lic domain and have been resourced from roy­al­ty free sites like Pix­abay, Pex­els, and Unsplash.

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  1. […]  Small Busi­ness: Can you afford not to Blog? […]

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