Marketers have found that blogs are excellent tools for communicating with their audience. Anyone who has something to sell or an idea to promote can benefit from using blogs.
Corporates like Nike are using blogs to build branding. Microsoft and Sun are using them to communicate with the developer community.
Blogs have a number of advantages that make them excellent tools for communication.
They are cheap to install and require little or no technical expertise. So the entry point for blogging is very low when compared to the expense of hiring a website designer.
While building a website is often out of the reach of most solo entrepreneurs, anyone can start a blog. If you can’t write or hate to write, you can start an audio or video blog. The possibilities are endless.
Blogs also help you create content that search engines love, and encourage linking from a number of other bloggers who write on similar topics. This makes them excellent tools for getting high search engine rankings and boosting your visibility.
They also encourage immediate responses from your readers and customers, so you can get feedback, tweak your campaigns and respond better to the market’s demands.
Blogs, and the RSS feeds they come with, help you syndicate your content online, boost your reach and influence and allow readers to control their communications with your company.
Your blog can be your selling point and help your prospects opt for you and your services over those of others.
Whether you’re an individual, entrepreneur, small business, consultant, coach, book author, independent filmmaker, actor, model, travel guide, work-at-home mom – someone who wants to promote their individual skills and talents or interests – there is immense potential in using blogs to promote your business.
Tip # 1: Choose The Topic Of Your Blog Well
Make sure you are targeting the right audience for your products. You might love golf, but you can’t use it to sell your products unless they’re meant for golfers.
You generally wouldn’t write about something like golf on a marketing blog, unless you’re using it as a metaphor.
Pick the topic that will attract the right audience – people who are looking for your products, but more importantly, people who are willing to actually spend money on them.
If you’re not an expert on your topic, but are learning about it, blog about your learning process. There’s no shame in being a learner, in admitting that you don’t know everything.
In fact you journey could even teach others who are learning and help them relate to your experiences. Products you recommend would then be easy to sell to this group because you’ve established the emotional connection that makes selling easier.
Tip #2: Spend Some Time Learning The Basics Of Blogging
You need to learn how to use your blogging software, which blog engine will give you the results you need. Decide how much time you want to spend on your blog.
Hire a blogging coach or buy a blogging tutorial. Spend some time learning about trackbacks, pingbacks, keywords and how to use them, linking, blogging etiquette.
When you know how to use the tools that are available to you, it becomes that much easier to focus on your goals and save time in the actual process of blogging.
Tip # 3: Don’t Sell
When you start writing a blog, forget about selling. Too many people use their blog like a sales letter. Those people just don’t “get it.” That’s not what a blog is about at all.
Blogs are about communicating – connecting with your audience. Use your blog to build relationships with your audience. State your opinions whether they are popular or not. Politically-correct or not.
A while ago I wrote an article on this titled “It’s a Blog, Not a Sales Letter” in which I recommend using your blog for branding yourself, building your reputation and communicating with your audience – and not just for making a sale.
As marketers we aim to sell. But when you blog, you have to forget about selling and focus on sharing. That doesn’t mean you give away all your secrets on your blog.
But it does mean that you should not use your blog for in-your-face marketing.
Your readers will be very put off if all they read on your blog is one sales pitch after another. People are not stupid. They know when they’re being sold.
The most unobtrusive way to sell is to write reviews about products and link to them, mention products in passing, write articles or tips and recommend products (yours or other people’s) and services on your blog.
Tip #4: Use Your Blog To Inform, Share and Entertain
The reasons why people read your blog is because they want three things.
1. They want information
2. They want to be entertained
3. They want to get to know you better
Blogs allow us to combine all these possibilities in a single medium.
Use your personality, opinions, expressions as a way of drawing readers to your content, and create good information to keep them coming back.
Multimedia blogs are especially good for this purpose – because they entertain and that adds a viral component to your marketing.
Remember to always be yourself. Don’t put on a fake persona. If you hire someone to blog for you be upfront about it.
#5: Become A Source Of News In Your Industry
Blogging culture thrives on linking to other blogs or news sources.
If you want to be part of that culture, benefit from it and grow with it, you need to listen to what others are saying, form your own opinions and comment on that.
Your readers will start looking at you as a resource of news and opinions about the industry you represent and that will build your brand equity.
But always remember to give proper attribution to your sources and be clear when you are quoting from someone or you could get into trouble.
#6: Use Your Blog To Network
Networking helps you build up a list of people who know and trust you enough to refer business to you.
By linking with others, whether A-list bloggers or your own peers, you can build your own influence and reputation in your blogosphere.
In part 2 of this article series, I provide tips on using your blog help you boost your marketing ROI and visibility online.