Using blogs to market your small business can help you raise awareness of your brand, attract new customers, get media attention and drive sales. Here’s how to market your business with blogs, according to SCORE, an organization that supports and mentors Small Business owners.
Before getting started, decide what you want to achieve with your blog. Do you want to become known as an expert in your industry? Do you want to get attention from the media? Do you want your website to rank higher in search results? Do you want to attract more customers to your website? Knowing what you want to accomplish will help you determine what to blog about.
Choose Your Platform
The three most popular blogging software tools are WordPress, TypePad and Movable Type. Because they offer a range of pre-designed templates and tools, all three are fairly simple to use even if you’re not a tech expert. Your blog can integrate with an existing website if you already have one, or stand alone if you don’t.
Posting new content regularly is what attracts search engines to your site or blog, so plan to add at least one new blog post (i.e., article) per week. The more frequently you can post, the better. Most experts recommend posting at least three times a week.
Keep your posts short (300 to 500 words is generally a good length), as Internet readers have short attention spans. Use numbered lists, bullet points and short paragraphs so busy readers can quickly scan the information in your posts.
If writing several times a week is too much for you to handle, enlist some of your employees to blog as well. You can also outsource your blog duties to a freelance writer. Elance.com, Freelancer.com and Guru.com are three good sources for finding freelancers.
What should you blog about? The potential topics are almost unlimited, but here are a few ideas:
Your opinion about a current trend affecting your business
Tips and advice to help your readers
News about your business (new product launches, expansions, etc.)
Report back from a conference or event you attended
Interview with a key client or industry expert
An event at your business
Guest posts from owners of complementary businesses
Read other blogs in your industry to get ideas for topics and see what you like (and dislike). Alltop.com (www.alltop.com) is a directory you can use to search the most popular blogs in a wide range of topic categories.
Be sure the information you write about is legitimately useful to your readers. A blog that is too promotional will not hold readers’ attention or attract visitors for long.
Spread the Word
Promote your blog everywhere you can. Include the URL on your business cards and other marketing materials and in your email signature.
Also get to know other business bloggers in your industry. Visit their blogs and comment on posts. By doing so, you’ll build up connections that will help get your blog noticed and build your reputation as an industry expert.
A SCORE Mentor can help you complete this exercise and determine your next steps. SCORE has over 13,000 successful and experienced executives with small business know-how who want to help you. Find a Mentor at www.ebusinessnow.org