Get A Blog.
Seriously, set-up a blog and get blogging. Do it now.
I’m constantly amazed that so many companies out there still haven’t bothered with a company blog. OK, I get that many businesses don’t feel ready for things like Twitter, Facebook or Google+. But a blog is different.
If you haven’t got one already, the single most effective piece of inbound marketing that a business can implement right now is a company blog. And here’s why.
Why Your Company Needs A Blog
You get seen on the web more often. A regularly-updated blog will be indexed by web search engines such as Google or Bing more often than the ‘brochure-ware’ corporate website full or marketing style but precious little substance. Since search engines love new content, that means that your blog can appear in web search results at a higher ranking (i.e. higher up the list) and more often. A key part of optimizing your website content (so-called Search Engine Optimization*, or “SEO”) is based on the assumption that your site is constantly being updated with new stuff. That means having a blog.
It’s a lead-generator. A blog is the single largest and most cost-effective action to pull prospective customers to your site. Advertising no longer works. Press Releases no longer work. Mailshots don’t work – unless you think a 0.5% response rate is worth the effort. Create new, original and regular content about subjects that your customers are interested in, and they’ll find you. How do I know? Well, you’re reading this, aren’t you?
It keeps your business relevant. If you’re blogging properly (i.e. not constantly talking about how great you are) a blog forces you to keep up-to-date with stuff that your customers are concerned about. That helps keep your value proposition relevant with all of the knock-on benefits (better website copy, better presentation materials, intel that’s fed back to the sales team who are better prepared at answering prospects’ questions, etc.)
You’re building respect, reputation and trust in the mind of your reader. With 1001 companies looking like they’re all selling pretty much the same thing as far as your customers know, trust is pretty much all you have at the early stages.
How and What To Do
There are a number of blogging services out there that’ll have you set up in no time. However, do yourself a favor and ignore them. No matter how small your company, make the investment in setting up a self-hosted WordPress website and blog. Why? Because search engines love it, and it’s very flexible. But mostly because it’s yours – you own the entire site and are not under the control of a third-party as to what, when and how your blog looks. Don’t even think about using anything else. Trust me on this.
From a technical perspective, setting up and configuring WordPress isn’t too difficult. However, it’s not a “double-click-and-off-you-go” type of thing either. If you don’t know what you’re doing, get a professional in. They’ll set things up for you, teach you how to use it, and help you if you get into trouble. Most businesses don’t need many bells and whistles on their site/blog, so you may be pleasantly surprised at how affordable it can be.
Up and Running
Now what? Get blogging.
Blog only when you have something useful to say, or to share. Don’t create noise for the sake of it. Above all don’t give the hard sell, corporate rhetoric nonsense. Yes, you’re blogging to help grow the business, but you’re also blogging to grow an audience. That means creating content that they find useful and helpful. If all you’re doing is shouting about how great you are, you’re not building a following. Sales pitches have their place, but there should be a balance.
At the same time you should be blogging often. To generate results from your blog you need to work on it regularly. Try to blog at least once a week. Twice or three times a week can yield exponentially better results, but blogging that often isn’t something most start-ups and small/medium sized businesses can do. You can outsource your content creation to make things more manageable, but you still need to devote some time every week to managing and monitoring.
However frequently you blog, make sure that you keep that frequency. If, for example, you’re happy to commit to publishing a piece of content (a written article, a video, a podcast, whatever) every Wednesday afternoon, then make sure that you move heaven and earth to keep that commitment. If you don’t come back to your blog regularly, you shouldn’t surprised if your customers don’t either.
What Are You Waiting For?
Depending on how you approach it, a company blog can either be a valuable business and lead-generation asset, or a complete and utter waste of time, money and effort. Which camp your blog falls into is down to you.
Still need convincing that publishing a blog is the single most important marketing tactic you can implement for 2013? Then get in touch and let’s talk it through.
* Be careful if you’re thinking of employing someone to handle your site’s SEO. Recently Google made some changes to the way it indexes websites. These changes are so large that using certain SEO practices may result in a site getting demoted or (in extreme cases) even blacklisted. In the same vein, many “how-to” SEO books published before around May 2012 may be promoting tactics that were OK to use a year ago, but might get you into a world of pain today. Caveat Emptor, and all that.