HubRunner Picks: Blogging Resources for SMB Owners
Marketing strategies for small businesses has changed dynamically within the last few years and have evolved drastically in recent history. As consumers turn less to print media and now follow current events and entertainment online through social media sites, small business owners must use those virtual resources to attract new clients and keep old ones returning.
Although, change can help your small business become more successful, popular, and recognized through blogging by using your “voice” to describe your business the way you want it to be perceived, and attract the customers you want while investing much less financially than traditional marketing practices.
The hardest part is knowing how to begin and what to say on your blog, so we’ve gathered a few tips and tricks in the three articles below to help you navigate and create your own blog and enhance your online presence!
Standard Marketing: Five Tips For Small Business Owners
Practically every small business owner with a website knows that it is recommended they maintain a blog for the sake of their SEO strategy. The content delivery is required by Google in order for them to deem your website to be an online resource of valuable information in your field. Deliver great content frequently and you have a better shot at ranking on Google Page One than your competition. SEO is highly important and blogging is a great way to maintain your online presence and boost your SEO in order to bring in qualified traffic.
1) Keep It Relevant To Your Products and Services: Your business blog is not your journal! Your blog can be light and fun, but it must remain relevant to the topic at hand – your business. Put yourself in the shoes of your customers and anticipate the questions they may have not only about your brand, but about the products/services that you offer. Answer these questions in an interesting, informative, and engaging manner, complete with photos, graphics, and videos integrated into the mix, and you will have a relevant AND successful blog.
2) Keep It Relevant To Your Locale: Many small business bloggers make the mistake of writing generalized articles about their industry, neglecting to localize it in the process. Be sure to put a local twist on your blog articles. An interior designer in Vancouver BC may tie in the fact that the region offers a natural bounty of home design inspiration perfect for the season, using localized keywords (e.g. “Greater Vancouver”, etc…) in the content to send Google signals that the article is slated for a geographic region.
3) Don’t Blog Blind – Do Your Keyword Research to Pick Article Topics/Titles: Perform keyword research using the Google AdWords Keyword Planner while also considering these other methods to choose keywords for your blog topics and titles. By combining your deeper understanding of what your customers are looking for, with some common sense, and a little bit of important data you will quickly learn how to choose topics and craft exquisite titles for your blog articles.
4) Blog In The First Person: Even when it comes to big brands and businesses it is suggested to take a personal tone in a company blog. Readers (and customers) connect better to a persona more than they do page full of text that consistently refers to itself in the third person (constantly referencing the brand name). This is especially true for smaller brands and thus as a small business owner you will want to embrace blogging in the first-person (“I” and “we”) more than any.
5) Use Social Outreach To Gain Favor To Your Blog: Until your blog articles start ranking for key topics and phrases you will need to take to social channels to put the literal word out there and reel in referral traffic in the process. This involves prompt distribution of your newly published articles on LinkedIn, pre-scheduling Tweets for the week that link back to the content, posting the article on Facebook during high-engagement periods, linking the blog’s featured image onPinterest and Tumbler, and concluding by identifying forum discussions that your most recent article will be able to contribute answers to.
Forbes-Entrepreneurs: Keys to Successful Small Business Blogging
Ty Kiisel, a contributor to Forbes Online, reports that there are somewhere around 3.9 million “lifestyle bloggers,” as they prefer to be called. They have become incredible brand advocates for a virtual who’s who of many of the very biggest consumer brands, as well as responsible for introducing a lot of other less-known brands to a large and enthusiastic audience. One can learn a lot from their experiences over the last few years—both good and bad. These lessons can help a small business owner determine if blogging is right for him or her.
Hired Guns Aren’t Always A Good Idea: Some executives hire ghostwriters (hired guns that write for them, as if they were them). These executives know they don’t have the writing ability or the time to do it for themselves. Particularly for a CEO who wants to create a thought leadership position for him or herself, I’m not a fan of ghost writers. I know there are some business executives that employ other people to write for them, even in major publications, which I think is a little disingenuous. If you are putting yourself forward as a thought leader, it shouldn’t be your publicist or PR firm writing for you—it should be you.
Be Credible: Being credible means you can’t always be a salesman. If the only thing you talk about is you, your company, and your products, people will stop paying attention to you. Share information about your industry—hints and tips that will help your readers even if they don’t use your products. If you do, they will appreciate what you’re doing and will patronize your business.
Be Honest: Some lifestyle bloggers regularly review products they are paid to review. For example, their monthly blog about date night at a restaurant like Chili’s or Applebee’s might very well be a paid endorsement—making their review a lot less credible if it isn’t disclosed (which often times it isn’t). Whenever we try to hide or misrepresent those types of relationships, we are eventually discovered and our credibility is lost.
Linkology: Smart Blogging Tips For Small Business Owners
One of the most challenging marketing requirements that new business owners face is blog development. Many small business owners are not comfortable with writing and most struggle coming up with relevant content for their market and relating it to their services or products. The pressure to deliver consistently interesting and dynamic information to your audience can be especially overwhelming, and many small business owners expect to see immediate results and are swiftly disappointed. These blogging tips for small business owners can help shift perspective and ease the anxiety of tackling the blog realm.
- Embrace Reality: There is no easy button to instant notoriety and high engagement. Blogging is a long-term, on-going marketing strategy that supplements and grounds other marketing campaigns over the life of a small business. It takes time to develop a reputation as an authority in your area of expertise and even longer to develop the loyal following that triggers purchasing. Visualize the arena in which you would like to establish your small business as a market leader and trusted authority. Brainstorm a variety of topics that would showcase that expertise. Write yourself towards the end goal, with each blog post serving as a step towards consumer loyalty and active engagement.
- Service, not sale: The surest way to develop trust and long-term loyalty is a selfless and generous approach that shows authentic interest and consideration for the needs of the reader. Focus on blog topics that help your audience in some specific, actionable way. Blogging is not an opportunity to sell yourself or make constant pitches to your customer base to drive sales. Blogging serves as a way to develop a personality and conversation with your market that allows them to explore their relationship with you without the pressure of purchasing. Listen and offer a useful solution!
- Commit To Quality: Your small business blog is not an area in your marketing strategy where you can skimp. In a world where content is virtually endless, readers demand captivating, high quality content that consistently respects their expectation for purposeful writing. Your customer is giving you their most valuable resource – time – every time they click through to your blog, so it is imperative that you commit to providing a quality experience each and every time they visit.
- Encourage Engagement and Action: Every blog post should have a very specific “call to action” for your reader. A call to action is a detailed task or concept that the reader takes away from the blog post to immediately put into action in their daily work flows. If your blog post is properly meeting a need to a question your audience is asking, the call to action should provide specific steps to achieving that resolution on their own.
- Get Involved: Explore the blogging world outside of your own “home base.” The blogosphere has become a lively, interactive conversation. Beyond your own blog posts and communication with your readers, there are countless opportunities to connect with other bloggers to develop mutually beneficial partnerships. Applying the human element to your blog by giving it a “face” in the online arena can foster growth and drive interest as your personal reputation and desire to “get involved” becomes clear.