Blogging Strategies for Traditional Businesses

Businesses Benefit from Blogging

marketing Your BusinessBlogging has moved from the Geek world into main stream Internet Marketing.  Everyone is jumping on the band wagon – Traditional Businesses, Government Entities, Musicians, Moms, Non-Profits – you get the idea.  Why not integrate this huge marketing advantage into your business and marketing plan?

Blogging – Creating your Plan

Many just don’t know where to start.  The whole idea is overwhelming and way outside of their comfort zone and knowledge base.  The first step is to create a plan for your blogging efforts and map out your ideas for your blog.  Many companies skip this step and find that they get lost, the blog looses focus, and ultimately they go back to creating a plan or they fail.    Your plan needs to define what your end goals for the blog are: do you want to provide customer support, provide pre-sale information, provide general information, provide samples of your service/product, the range of how you can use a blog is unlimited, but the main goal needs to be planned.  Mapping your ideas for the  blog once the main goal is established provides a written map to keep the authors on track.  This can be in the form of  setting the main navigation and the main categories up ahead of publishing the blog.  This will keep control of your main keywords and if all posts must fit within certain categories it will ensure that all authors stay on track.

Hosted Blogs (free blogs)

There are several ways to start blogging – they range from free to inexpensive.  Here are some free places to set up a Blog:

Any of these blogging platforms are free to use – they all have slightly different features and benefits.  Using one of these services will allow the business to “test the waters” before really jumping in.  This will allow the business to see if they like blogging, if it will work for them, and find the right employee to undertake the task. These platforms are often referred too as “Hosted Blogs”.  This means that the blogging company provides the blogging platform for free and also provides hosting for free.  The main drawbacks in a system like these are limitations set by the hosting provider (can not monetize, limited plugins, limited themes, can not customise theme, etc).  These limitations may not be a problem at first but as the blog grows they can become a huge issue. The second drawback is the url for your blog.  Generally you cannot have the domain that you are wanting – they will be something like www.your company name.wordprss.com  To get a custom domain you will need to purchase that separately.  The advantage to these types of blogs are the cost is free.  There is no risk involved. Once the business decides blogging is for them then it is suggested that the blog is moved to a self- hosted environment – this can be done without loosing the previous content.

Self Hosted Blogging Platforms

  • WordPress
  • Moveable Type
  • Type Pad
  • Joomla
  • Druple

Self hosting simply means that you are buying the hosting and the domain name for your blog.  This cost is determined by the hosting company you choose to use.  My costs are about $80.00 per year.  I am sure there are slightly cheaper hosting options and I know there are hosting options that are more expensive.  The advantages to a self-hosted blog are many.  You have complete control over what the blog looks like and what content can be included.  There are many more plugins that are available for use and thousands of themes. (Plugins are programs that are written to perform a specific task.  They are easy to install and have been created and shared by web programmers world wide.  They can add very specific functionality to your blog.)  Also the main code for the blog platform is available to be customized and changed.  This is something that you would need to have a “Techie” do or hire a web designer.  Again this would have a cost attached but the advantage is the blog will have your same business look for marketing purposes and it can have whatever functionality your business requires.  You will notice that some of the same companies are listed  – these blogging platforms can be either hosted or self-hosted; the company provides both options.  In the case of WordPress the free version is a www.WordPress.com and the self-hosted version can be found at www.WordPress.org.

Increased Sales and Customer RetentionMarketing reasons for Blogging

Blogging can great impact your online marketing success.  Here are some of the reasons for implementing a Blogging Marketing Strategy:

  • Increased Branding Exposure
  • Better Organic Placement in the Search Engines
  • Wider Variety of  Keywords for Optimal Search Engine Placement (SEO)
  • Blogs Interact with Social Media Sites
  • Blogs Start and Continue Conversations with Your Business Target Market
  • Place Your Company as the Expert in Your Field

Let’s take a look at these Marketing Strategies more in depth.

Increased Branding Exposure

Building trust and loyalty on the Internet is the key to your website success.  Having your Blog branded the same as your Website and other Marketing Materials is crucial for building that trust.  Your brand will become more well known as you build your blog and it becomes successful.

Better Organic Placement in the Search Engines

Organic search engine placement is the ultimate goal for all websites.  Without Organic Placement your website will not be getting much exposure and very few visitors.  Organic Search Engine Placement is simply having the search engine find your site and place it high in the results when someone types in some of your keywords.  This is the Gold!  This is free search engine placement and what companies pay huge dollars every year to achieve.  Having and using a blog will help your company achieve good search engine placement without going to an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) company to have them get your site ranked high.  Ultimately this one fact can save your business thousands of dollars every year.

Wider Variety of  Keywords for Optimal Search Engine Placement

It is hard to know what every person that is looking for your services will type into the search engines to find you or your competitors. By having a Blog you are automatically creating more keywords with every post.  The content is changing and growing in volume and this automatically gives the search engine spiders more to index and therefore more to return to a potential customer when they are searching.  You can believe that your competitor will be found more often if they have a blog – so why not your company be the one in your local industry to get the competitive advantage and start blogging?

Blogs Interact with Social Media Sites

Internet MarketingYour blog will become the hub for all your social media efforts.  Social Media are sites that large groups of people gather and share items of common interest.  They range from general interests like Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace to specific interests like LinkedIN (for business professionals), Ning sites (there is a Ning site for most niches) and other industry specific sites.  These sites are interactive and all allow a profile of your business to be posted.  All allow images, bios, and links while some will allow very interactive modules to be used.  Most blogging platforms have text widgets (plugins) where code can be pasted into your blog.  These can be used to connect whatever Social Marketing your business is doing back to your blog.  This is a great way to drive traffic as well as get more exposure in the search engines.  Social Media site profiles get ranked by the search engines and as long as they are linked to your blog and company sites then your company is also getting more search engine exposure.

Blogs Start and Continue Conversations with Your Business Target Market

Blogs allow for commenting.  By writing articles that invite comments your company will start in interact directly with potential customers.  A good practice to adopt is to respond to every comment that is allowed on the blog.  Comments can be set for moderation – meaning they need to be approved before getting published to the company blog.  I always suggest this is how comments are handled – your business is in control of the commenting this way.  This filters out the spam comments that will be received.  When approving comments do not delete a comment just because you do not like what is says or is not positive towards your business.  Look at this as an opportunity to positively address a customers concern (others likely have the same concern) and get the conversation heading to a positive resolution.  This shows customers that your company cares and will take an active part in customer service.  Comments are also a great place to find subject matter for another post or article.  They help  your business understand where confusion is and how to market more effectively by being more clear in your message.

Place Your Company as the Expert in Your Field

Becoming the expert in your field is an ultimate goal of any blog.  When a potential customer types a request into the search engine and they see your sites coming up multiple times it really sets your company apart form the crowd.  If you are the expert it builds trust and makes getting the sale easier.  It can also shorten the sales process greatly.  By growing your blog, posting often, and creating great content your business will start to get known as the company to go to first.  There are only positive reasons for becoming the industry expert – and two of them are increased sales and increased customer retention – both things that any business needs to focus on in order to grow and succeed.

Blogging is becoming an essential part of any businesses success online.  It is a huge undertaking but also  has huge rewards if done correctly.  The Marketing Traditional Businesses blog is here for educating business owners about blogging and other online marketing strategies.  For more specific step-by-step instruction feel free to check out the training section.

9 Responses to Blogging Strategies for Traditional Businesses

  • Deborah Marsden says:

    Wish I had Planned

    Dotty,

    What a great article. I’m one of those people that didn’t plan and so now have to consider the plan and either work on the old ones or start from scratch.

    Your information will be a great help to many people.

  • Marie Leonard says:

    Planning is the “key” component for any business to succeed. So many new businesses start up each year and many more fail because of poor planning.

    The internet is no different. Actually it is even more important to plan your strategy here because you will be reaching a much wider audience.

    On a street corner, you may get a walk-in but on the net you can be invisible very easily.

    So don’t turn your nose up at making your business plan before launching yourself into any business.

    If nothing else, you will learn whether there is a demand for your service or product before committing to a course of action which could very well break you financially.

  • Michelle Moseley says:

    Hi Dotty,

    I tried a blog that had everything in it. My personal interests, business interests as well as things I was learning along the way. WHAT A MESS!! OMG, I can not believe I thought that was a good idea!

    So, I started from scratch, built a blog around one subject. Focus has helped me a great deal. I’m not scattered in all different directions. Finding where my passion was, focusing on it exclusively and not jumping all over the place has made my blogging life SO much easier!

    Thanks for sharing this with us. It will greatly help a lot of people who have blogs like I did. :-)

    Michelle

  • Angela James says:

    Having a plan and sticking with it is key

    When I first started I had an idea of how I wanted my blog to be but after much work I realized an idea was not enough that I needed a plan or a map to continue. By doing this my new blog is growing and is much easier to manage. In your post you outline this so very well that new business people will stop and focus on a direction or plan and will become much more successful in doing so. Great thoughts and planning ideas.

  • Donna Wells says:

    Dotty,

    Learning how to blog the right way is essential, when it comes to the internet world. And you have illustrated so beautifully by telling the reader the key ingredient. And that ingredient being the plan. A plan that sets things into action.

    Thanks For Sharing,
    Donna Wells

  • Pat Campbell says:

    Internet marketing is often an extention of another marketing medium. A traditional brick and mortar business will build their relationships on the ground, on location with a physical presence and presentation. Homebased business owners often rely on one to one relationships.
    In internet marketing, to extend that ability to make yourself known, and be known, the blog serves as an medium to present.
    Your blog visitor will sense your willingness to reach out to them, to be available, to offer value. Who you are as a marketer is often obvious in your blog. Take heed.
    Dotty, this article is a very valuable read on the subject.

  • Kevin Thomas says:

    I’t’s A Blog World

    Wish this stuff was around 20 years ago when I started in business,man it would have made things so much easier.I think having a clear cut plan is of most importance here,I see so many blogs that are just not structured correctly.

    When if you take the time to do your research and seek out help when building your blog many of the freshman mistakes that many of us make could have been corrected with proper instruction.

    If you’re in business and you don’t have a blog you’re cutting yourself short, because the advantages of being on the internet marketing wise are absolutely tremendous.

  • Dotty says:

    …and just to add to what you said Kevin…a blog has so much more potential than any static website.

  • Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the great article. I am heading to school in a few days and am going to be back to use some of it for my research if that is ok?

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