It is great to see articles appear in major newspapers which extol the virtues of blogging and in particular business blogging. This is partly because it adds some additional (hopefully) useful information for companies looking at whether they are going to incorporate it into their own activities and partly because it is always hugely powerful when one information medium sticks its neck out and recommends another.

So last week’s article in the New York Times entitled Bloggings a Low-Cost, High Return Marketing Tool was a good read particularly with an opening line which states that blogging is widely considered as “a low-cost, high-return tool that can handle marketing and public relations, raise the company profile and build the brand”. Good start point but that’s by no means all that they do!!

As the article nicely points out, the benefits for small businesses range far and wide but need to be focused in order to be successful. To be truly effective, they need to form start of the business strategy which, after all, is what should be happening with all marketing activities. They can then be used to:

  • demonstrate expert opinion

  • develop a community around the business

  • become a respected source of information

  • create new relationships and partnerships for the business

  • develop greater awareness of the company and the brand

  • show a personal side to the company’s activities

and many more activities, some of which are outlined in more detail in the document “An Introduction to Business Blogging“.

There was, however, one small element that I disagreed with. Although I share the author’s opinion that blogs are not for all companies, I do believe that the opportunities they offer are more extensive than most people believe. To use an example given in the article, a restaurant may not consider blogging to be as important as serving great food but it can certainly benefit from the publicity and visibility it can offer.

After all, blogs are the nearest thing to online Word of Mouth that we have and Word of Mouth is a key elements of a restaurant’s marketing opportunities. Additionally, a blog can also be used to run a ‘customer reactions’ area which can introduce the interactive element to a website, allowing diners to record their impressions, enhance Search Engine rankings and help to generate online word of mouth par excellence.

The use of blogs is starting to be better understood by both small companies and corporates alike, but we are still only scratching the surface of what they can be used for and help businesses to achieve. Here’s hoping that, in 2008, we can help to push the boundaries even further.

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