Before you start blogging for business, or building a website for any purpose, you should make a list of your goals for blogging. When blogging for business, your number one goal is probably to make your boss happy.
The best way to make your boss happy is to make your boss’s boss happy, and what your boss’s boss cares about the most is probably more sales of whatever products or services your company produces, so the rest of this article about blogging for business will focus on easy ways to improve sales through blogging in an established market.
#1. Blogging For Business Can Be Boring
The number one mistake novices make when they start blogging for business is blogging about the business. You’ve probably seen (but barely read) many posts that go something like this:
In the fourth quarter 2012, sales were up by 28% and costs were down by 12%, leading to improvements across the board. In 2013, we expect…blah blah blah
This is a horrible mistake. Unless you’re blogging for investors in your business, nobody cares about the day-to-day or even year-to-year health of your business. The only reason customers and potential customers care about your business is your products and services.
If you’re selling something new or improving something old, write a blog about it. But if your company did something incredible which won’t directly benefit your customers, write an internal memo instead of a blog post.
You need to remember why the blog is being created and who your target market really is. Another thing is that the internet revolves around content and the content you produce for the business blog must absolutely be excellent quality content that your company can be proud to publish.
#2. Who Are Your Readers When Blogging For Business?
When a company chooses the most technically competent person to build their business blog they often overlook the fact that they may have almost no customer interaction—which means they actually know practically nothing about the customer side of the business.
If this situation sounds familiar, then I highly recommend that you take some time before you start blogging for business to sit down with someone in your company who does work directly with customers.
Here are the top five questions you want to ask them about your company’s customers:
1. What is the primary demographic? At my friends employer, a tech company, they were about 75% male, mostly under 40, and not very technical.
2. What do they buy from your company? In most small or medium companies, a small handful of products or services are responsible for 90% of sales—you need to know what these products or services are so you know what’s relevant to your potential blog readers.
3. How do customers find out about your company? The chief salesperson in your company probably knows the top three places people hear about your company, products, or services. Knowing how customers find you helps you find your customers.
4. What are the top questions or complaints or requests your company gets from customers? Write down every idea your expert gives you because this is what you want to write about in your initial blog posts.
5. What are your company’s customers interested in besides your products or services? The answer to this question will help you develop your blog long-term to attract more business.
#3. Setting Up Your New Blog
When setting up your blog for business I recommend you use WordPress, not the free blog type at WordPress.com, but the self hosted WordPress. This allows your company to keep in total control of their own content and files. Free blog hosting is not for business and just looks cheap. To get your blog off to the right start I suggest you check out my WordPress website checklist. There are some great tips there that will apply to a business blog also.
I don’t usually recommend that new bloggers spend much time on site design, but blogging for business is an exception. Talk to your company’s art director and see if they can add the company colors and logo to your site.
(If your company doesn’t have an art director, find out who made or bought the company logo and talk to them, or offer to your boss to become the company art director—which may lead to salary increases as your business grows.)
I still recommend that you avoid getting bogged down in pointless site design. Focus on just the colors and logo, and try to make the blog reminiscent of your main company website.
Buying the Elegant Themes package for $39 is a great way to impress your boss as they have an entire section on business themes for WordPress Most real world business people will look at the site with your new theme showing and think you are a very talented web designer.
#4. Writing Your First Posts
Take the collection of customer problems and complaints you got from your customer expert above and use them to write five or ten initial blog posts—but don’t post them yet.
Show your first set of blog posts to your boss and get them approved. Many bosses, especially Internet-savvy bosses, have no idea how much transparency a blog adds to a business and they might be uncomfortable admitting in public that your business is anything less than perfect.
If your boss doesn’t like the posts, write posts about another subject and show them to your boss before publishing them. Repeat this process over and over until you do know what your boss wants you writing about when blogging for business.
If your boss doesn’t want you to write posts relevant to your customers, either show him this blog or just do what he says—it’s better to have a job working for an idiot than have no job at all.
When you have published your posts, just like any normal blog or website, you will need to generate traffic to your new post. The companies branding alone will not land you website traffic, you need to follow a few procedures to make your blog posts get noticed.
#5. Blogging For Business Improvement
Helping customers solve problems on your blog through your initial posts will attract a small readership to your blog. Now is your chance to grow your audience.
Take the information you gathered from your customer expert and use it to find a topic which interests your customers. For example, I heard an interview recently with the owner of a business which sells an accessory, Starlettos, for high-heeled shoes. She markets her business partly through Pintrest—but she doesn’t post pictures of her product. Instead, she posts pictures of something she knows her customers are interested in—fancy high-heeled shoes.
Whatever it is that interests your customers, post about it once a week while continuing to sprinkle in posts about common customer problems. This brings me to my next point.
#6. Social Media for Business Blogs
We all know that social media is an amazing opportunity for any business to connect to their customers, but sometimes this can work against your company and product sales. The exposure social media brings to a company is an open book and once you step into the arena there is usually nowhere to hide.
This is why I recommend you deal with those customer complaints you already know about on your blog for everyone to see. Get it out in the open and show people how your company solves these problems and deals with customer issues straight up.
See my Social Media checklist when setting up your Social empire, it might come in handy.
Get a Social Media Dashboard
You can manage all your social media accounts from one simple dashboard. There are free dashboards and paid.
Just signing up for a free 30 day trial of HootSuite Pro can get your accounts rocking. It allows you to control more, schedule more, interact more. Many of the top bloggers and most business blogs use social media dashboards as Social media exposure is a great benefit when creating connections with customers.
#7. Turning Readers Into Customers
After your blog has an established reader base, it’s time to make your boss’s boss happy by attracting new customers. Sit down with your boss and any other stakeholders you can find and determine how you can turn readers into customers (or repeat customers).
Here are five techniques you can try:
1. Offer a coupon or announce a sale through the blog.
2. Write a series of behind-the-scenes posts about an upcoming new product starting weeks or months before the product is released to get customers excited about it.
3. Offer bonuses—this is great if your company doesn’t sell products directly. You offer to send a bonus product or refund to anyone who sends you a receipt dated during a particular period.
4. The “thank you promo.” Collect a bunch of quotes from positive public reviews of your products or services into a Thank You blog post. (Remember to link back to the site which originally posted the review.) Potential customers who see this post will know you offer a great product or service.
5. Use a case study to tell the story of a person or company which benefited greatly by adopting your product or service. Many business case studies are written in a dry, impartial tone with lots of statistics—but for a blog post, it’s more important to write a good (but short) story.
Whatever techniques you use, blogs and websites can be setup for under $100, so any sales you encourage through your blog will instantly make your boss happy you started blogging for business.
Creating a blog for a business is an excellent marketing tactic that every business should adopt. After all, technology is our future and your company needs to move with the times or suffer the consequences.
When you think of blogging for business you should also think of it as a free or very cheap advertising opportunity that should be taken advantage of today.