Everything you need to set-up, develop & promote a successful Business Blog

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    Building your blogAnother nice piece from Seth Godin last week where he talked about his Seven tips to build for meaning and where he briefly (comme toujours!) talked about some tactical tips about how to add value online.

    One of them particularly struck a chord with me. Seth’s comment was:

    It’s a brick wall, not a balloon. This is a hard one for many people. We try to build something quickly and get it totally complete all in one go. If we can’t, we get frustrated and give up. But great blogs and lenses are built brick by brick, a little at a time. You learn what works and do it more.

    I liked the analogy and particularly in terms of the building of the brick wall.

    I find that it can sometimes be difficult for companies when they launch a blog – whether they are launching a business blog or a full blown corporate blog, I get the impression that they have a nagging feeling in the back of their mind that somehow it’s not really finished.

    When a website is launched, it should have everything there written and visible including all the relevant information and the pages completed, stored and in place. When a product is launched, it should have instructions, packaging etc. right from when the first one is shipped to customers. I think they feel that that’s what a business blog should be like too.

    But the launch of a blog is not the end of the process, it is the beginning. Granted there will be the main Foundation posts in place at launch but after that the content will develop and be kept fresh by the new articles being posted – that’s how it becomes successful. Building the information, reputation, trust etc and fufiling expectations.

    So have patience and take heed of Seth’s comments – put solid foundations down and then build your blog brick by brick.

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    When companies are looking to incorporate a blog as part of their online marketing then this will involve either integrating the blog into their current website or setting up a separate site using a separate domain name. (More thoughts here on this point)

    If the blog and its focus is likely to be complementary to the rest of the website, then the sensible choice will be to integrate the blog into the site itself, ideally at a graphic and functional level. You’ll also want to make sure that the blog reflects your site’s navigation and menu as far as possible while offering the information and connection opportunities that we are, I hope, familiar with by now.

    However, what I have seen on numerous occasions is that while the blog is there and complete with links back into the other pages of the website, it does not appear in the main menu of the site. Indeed sometimes, there is no link to it anywhere on the site!

    What a waste!

    • Great Marketing: Firstly, it is perhaps the cheapest and easiest form of marketing that you have access to for your blog. The visitors to your website form part of your target market and are already likely to be familiar with your company products. The blog should help to enhance that and help to open the dialogue with them so help them find it, wherever they are on your site.
    • Have Confidence: it also demonstrates either a lack of thought or a lack of confidence in what the company is doing – if you have spent time in planning your blog (Green Cross Code and then answering the 3 KEY questions especially) and writing it, then have the courage of your convictions, put it out there and link to it! If you don’t think it’s good enough to display your name then re-think your blog, don’t just hide it.
    • Consistency: users of websites tend not to like surprises, therefore not knowing that there is a blog but not being able to find it easily will prove highly frustrating for them and result in people leaving the site. Not good for the desired “stickiness” element that most sites look for and that blogs can really help with.

    So remember, if you have a blog that you want to work for you, whether it’s for marketing and PR purposes, as part of your customer service or just as an expert information resource, make sure that the links from the rest of your site are visible and strong. It’ll help your readers find you and that will then help you in return.

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    Yesterday, Jupiter Research released figures which they claimed would mean that 70% of large companies would have deployed corporate blogs by the end of this year.

    Even if this figure is realised in the US, and I admit to having deep reservations as to whether we will be anywhere near that, this will certainly not be the case in the UK, neither at the SME nor the large corporation end of the spectrum. The initial feedback from my request last week for information on UK based Business Blogs has produced a number of excellent blogs but not the sort of numbers which would indicate anything more than single figure levels of activity within companies.

    This does of course mean that there are still huge opportunities for UK organisations willing to embrace blogging & the open discussion and interaction with clients, suppliers, partners and staff that this would involve. Not to mention the increased levels of visibility and business. So what is stopping people? In the MediaGuardian last week, Stephen Brooks in a piece called Blogs struggle to impress in the UK comments on two surveys which conclude that “there is a reserved nature in the British Market when it comes to writing a blog” and that even 30% of heavy internet users have not even heard of Blogs.

    I remain unconvinced by the “reserved Brits” epithet although I do recognise that there is a certain caution in the business world when it comes to transparency – though if companies have nothing to hide, I sometimes wonder why this reticence prevails. However, when it comes to Small Businesses (SMEs), potentially the group which has most to gain by using blogging as part of their marketing mix, then I see the issue as one dominated by a lack of information and hence understanding of how blogging can be used.

    As this changes, the development is likely to follow the same path as the early days of websites with early adopters making the biggest gains and benefiting most. However, ultimately a blog – or rather a website with blog functionality – will become the norm rather than the exception. But by the end of the year? Well, in the UK, I think that we will still be firmly in the “early adopter” phase but there is no doubt that it is gathering momentum, “reserved Brits” or not.

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