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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
For a small business having a website ensures:
- You are visible 24 * 7.
- It provides another sales tool.
- You build authority.
- 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
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.
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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