The use of Business Blogging by small businesses is a topic that has been covered by many but is certainly important enough to be revisited here. I am convinced, given the wide range of potential benefits and the different ways in which a small business can use a Business Blog, that the discussion should not be if a blog is worthwhile but rather where its focus should lie.A blog can play a central role in the marketing activity of a Small Business but, like all forms of marketing, it needs to be planned, targeted and measured. Consequently, a key phase in creating a successful Small Business blog happens ahead of its launch when you plan out how you want to use your Blog, who your target audience is and what you want to achieve with it. All three of these elements are key to its success.If we now take a look at some of the potential types of focus that a small business Blog can take, then you will see what a powerful tool it can be.Demonstrate and communicate your expertiseMost small businesses offer specialist knowledge and skills – it’s what differentiates them – but what they often lack is a way to demonstrate them to potential customers. A Business Blog offers the ability to do this and much more beside. By what you write in your posts and also how you write them, you can show your expertise without overtly selling to your readers – this gives you the chance to build up a positive reputation and a degree of trust with potential clients and partners alike.Build individual networks and foster collaborationSmall businesses may be specialists but they also need a strong support structure and partners around them. Business blogging is not only an ideal way to start to engage with customers, as we have seen, but also to foster partnerships, collaborations and joint ventures with others in your industry. As you attract other players in your marketplace to your blog, opportunities for collaboration and networking will develop naturally through the conversations taking place.Communicate with a local, national or global audienceWhile Business Blogs are most often used to communicate with a targeted, but geographically widespread, audience, they can also allow you to focus in on a local customer base, primarily by changing the emphasis of the posts and the structure. This flexibility of approach means that small businesses of all types and with all types of customer base can use blogs to promote their business and develop relationships with their customers.Developing reputation and trustWe all need to get closer to our customers and a Business Blog is an excellent way to achieve that. It allows us to engage customers and readers of our blog in a way that no other online method can achieve. This in turn gives us the time and the opportunity to develop our reputation in their eyes and foster a high level of trust between ourselves and our customers.Great Search Engine rankingsWith so many people using the internet to research products and services before they buy, small businesses need to achieve a prominent position and high ranking in Search Engine Results for their chosen key phrases. Business Blogs can help immeasurably in this. The structure of a blog combined with the focused nature of the posts, regular updates and the interlinking which is part and parcel of blogs, will all push you towards to the top of the rankings. This makes a Business Blog ideal for small businesses looking for greater visibility and enquiries.Dominate a Niche MarketSmall businesses usually have a set of services or products which are designed to answer the needs of a specific, and often, niche market. Getting exposure in that market is key to being able to dominate it and ensure that your business is the one that the market itself recommends. Using a Business Blog, you can raise your profile and lead the discussions on any aspect affecting that market. Talk about it and get talked about!Project your personalityAs a small business, you will tend to work very closely with your customers. Your expertise is highly important but so are you as a person and how you get on with your customer – a strong relationship will help to ensure that the project develops well. Blogs can let your personality shine through before you enter the relationship and may give you the edge in being selected.Easy Web Publishing – no webmaster required!While we rightly focus on external benefits, we should not forget that there are also solid internal reasons for using a blog in a small business and ease of use is right at the top of that list. Blogs can be used in addition to a business website or as part of it – they can also be used instead of a website. In all of these cases, once established, you can publish new content or change pages on your site without relying on a web designer or webmaster. Reader friendly, user friendly and cost effective.Research your MarketYour Business Blog provides you with a two way communication tool, and the information that you can get from your readers may be highly important. By participating in the discussions that your posts will generate, you should be able to get a clearer idea of what the up to the minute interests of your clients are. Surveys and focus groups can achieve this to a certain level but open conversations on your Blog will achieve much more, both in terms of depth and breadth.Finally a word of advice: don’t get hung up about the word “blog” – a blog is a tool and it’s what you do with it that counts. Many people use Microsoft Word but the documents that they produce are as varied as the author – the same is true with Blogs for small businesses. So, evaluate what you need as a business and then focus strongly on using the Blog for that purpose and it will be successful for you.
The growing popularity of blogging by the general public is making business blogging a necessary marketing tool to stay competitive. There are many factors that can determine the success or failure of business blogging, and how successful it is with the business’s target market. These factors include how well the blog is marketed, how easy it is to comprehend the blog content, and how well the blog entices people to take action. Determining the name for the blog is one important factor in driving the right kind of targeted visitors to the business website.Why the name of the blog is importantThe name of your blog is important because it sets the tone for the blog and it is the first line of marketing for your desired visitors. If a business names their blog ‘Jim’s Blog’ or ‘Jane’s Blog’, it isn’t descriptive enough for people at a first glance to decide if they even want to visit your blog.Another important result of how you name your business blog, is that most blogging software will put the name of the blog in the title of the browser. Many search engines will list the title of a web page in their results page. If your blog name isn’t very descriptive and accurate, you will risk losing potential customers or prospects coming to your site if they stumble upon your blog from a search engine results page.Research the keywords for your blog:This is an important step because you will want to include some keywords in your business blog name to get maximum results. In order to determin which keywords you should use in the name of your blog, you will need to research the viable keywords for your industry. There are many free and paid tools that you can use that will tell you what keyword phrases are being used in searches. This information will tell you what phrases your target market uses to find businesses in your industry.While performing your research, you will find many results for keyword phrases. The ones you should be most interested in are the keyword phrases that don’t have too many words (no more than 4), as we will be adding more to the name if possible. You will also want to pick the keyword phrases that have a relatively high number of total searches for the month (10,000 or more).Once you have decided upon a few keyword phrases, experiment with some different arrangements of the words to create the beginnings of a compelling business blog name.Pick a clear benefit of your services to use in your blog name:You are in business to fill a need or pain for your target market. If you aren’t doing that, you won’t be in business for long. Pick a clear and concise solution to a problem that your business provides for your target market, and try to incorporate that benefit into the name of your blog. You should end up with a name that will include relevant keywords and also contain a benefit for your clients or customers. Following these steps will give the title of your business blog a more relevant and enticing name.How to put all the elements together for the name of your business blog:How do you put together a keyword phrase and a clear benefit to create a powerful blog name? Let us go over an example for the travel industry. We will use a hypothetical company that provides travel insurance to travelers. A common problem for travelers that need travel insurance is to replace lost property and luggage. The benefit of this particular travel insurance business is that it provides coverage that is over and above what the other travel companies provide, or provides a service that makes it quicker and easier to process claims.Our keyword research for this industry finds that ‘travel insurance online’ has just over 10,000 total keyword searches for the month (total of all 3 of the major search engines). So in creating the name for the blog, we could call it ‘Quick Claims in Online Travel Insurance’ or ‘More Than You Expect From Online Travel Insurance’. We have included a benefit, and the keyword phrase in one short sentence, and we did not make the name too long to make it look awkward.As you have seen, the name of your business blog serves a couple of functions. The biggest one is that it can be used to help drive targeted visitors to your website, but the name also plays a role in search engine optimization for your business blog. When choosing a name of your business blog, don’t leave out the fact that it should also fit into the branding strategy of your business. Choose wisely and do your research well and you could reap the benefits and rewards for your business.Copyright 2006 B Hopkins