What is Business Blogging Actually About?
(It’s Not What You Think!)
“What does blogging for business mean?”
I have read that a business blog should be used for everything from “brand awareness”, getting more “social shares and likes” to “nourish leads.”
Okay, here’s what I think…
The real purpose of a business blog is simple – to attract and keep the right customers!
So who are these “right” customers?
Right customers are people who want what you have to offer AND who has the money to pay your prices AND who is willing to buy it. So the main goal behind ALL small business blogs should be to attracting your best target audience and converting audience into profit-making leads and sales opportunities.
The Actual Purpose of Business Blogging is to…
…Get more people to know, like and trust you and your company.
This is important because as business speaker Bob Burg said,
“All things being equal, people will do business with and refer business to, those people they know, like and trust. In other words, if two or more sellers have a product, price, know-how, or any other determining factor which might come into play that is pretty much the same, or equal, it’s that man or woman who has successfully created the “know, like and trust” relationship with the prospect or referral source who will obtain that sale or referral.”
But to achieve this kind of relationship with your web visitors, you’re going to have to understand and embrace 3 core concepts: visibility, likability and credibility. Think of each concept as being the leg in the stool that supports your blog.
This article will give you a brief overview of each concept and explain why it is an essential element in the underpinning your blog.
Increase Your Online Visibility
This is the first priority of any small business marketing effort – online or off. Being found and being seen by the right prospects is critical. This is why so much of the internet marketing/pro blogging industry is focused around “traffic generation” in order to boost online visibility.
There are a ton of ways to increase your online visibility. You can use everything from pay-per-click ads on search engines and in social media, to solo ads on popular websites, to joint ventures and co-registration partnerships, to SEO (search engine optimization) and content marketing (my fav, by the way).
As I said a TON! But the key element of marketing yourself successfully that you must be consistent. In your timing, your message and your delivery system. Consistency – means performing all your online marketing tasks using a preset schedule, a clear and unified message along a specific communication channel.
This is important because a search engine such as Google have a known preference for fresh and frequent content updates. Its a simple fact of web marketing that the more frequently you promote yourself online, the more your visibility will increase over time.
Demonstrate Your Likeability
Now before you go and poo-poo this concept and start talking about it being too “airy-fairy”, and having nothing to do with business, I want you to take a moment and think about this. When was the last time that you willingly did business with a company or individual who you really didn’t like?
I mean seriously?
As a general rule, most people avoid things and people that make us feel bad, look foolish or have a negative impact on us. And despite our best efforts to be “open-minded” or “mature” or “sophisticated”, we often express these feeling as a form of dislike. How many times have you heard someone say, “I can’t put my finger on it, but I just don’t like it/her/him/that place.”
Now don’t go confusing likability with popularity. Popularity is defined as “being widely admired, accepted, or sought after.” Likable people don’t have to be popular or kissy-butt pleasing or slightly famous. But they do have to get along with the people they are doing business with – especially their clients and customers.
In Dale Carnegie’s classic, How To Win Friends And Influence People, he recommended that the best way to get along with other people was to take an interest in their lives. Carnegie suggested that you ask questions – find out about people’s hobbies, families, plans and goals. Make a point to remember what’s going on with them, as you would a close friend.
Of course this is great advice when you are dealing with people face-to-face, but how can you achieve this same degree of intimate interest online?
By observing people and answering their questions! After all, isn’t that what you would do in the real world?
For example, if you ran a pet shop and someone asks you “how much is that doggy in the window?”, you would answer them wouldn’t you? You would then go on and try to help them find the best pet for their family, wouldn’t you?
And you would naturally demonstrate your likability by taking a interest in hearing about their lifestyle, their family members, etc and giving them honest and accurate advice. You would answer both their asked and unasked questions about THIS particular dog, dogs in general and good pet care.
By answering their “obvious” questions, you have proved that you “get them” and that you understand “where they are coming from.”
You can recreate this same interest online by creating a series of customer-focused Q&A blog posts and/or videos. By observing which questions new customers always ask (and what questions they should have asked but never do) and then taking the time and effort to answer these questions in detail, you can build a feeling of rapport (likeability) with your web audience.
As likability is the second leg in the platform that support your blogging purpose, the third and final leg is…
Credibility as you might guess is the trust part of the KLT formula. While trusting has never been easy for many people right now there is a huge Trust Gap in the US.
“What is The Trust Gap?
Before the crash of the US economy in 2008, most small business owners, corporate execs and internet marketing honchos had it pretty easy, relatively speaking.
Even though the internet had suffered a boom and then a bust, overall most companies were doing well with their traditional marketing and promoting. People trusted what businesses said they would do.
Then came the Great Recession and traditional advertising channels like print, broadcast and radio fell down the same sinkhole that was swallowing both small family businesses and giant corporations alike.
Then there were the bailouts for the banks, and the investment scams and the real estate scandals. Layoffs, mass unemployment and industries closing down all across the nation terrified us all and made us very, very cautious.
In one word, people became skeptical.
Now no matter how attractive the website design or useful and informative the content, web visitors are more than a little cynical and doubtful when it comes to believing you.
Nowadays, people feel an emotional disconnect between themselves and most companies. This is due in part because of the economy… after all who isn’t more careful with their money these days?
And in part this is because in the past businesses – both large and small -have abused our trust and taken advantage of our relationships with them.
And part of is because we are hard-wired to wary of “strangers.” It should be no surprise to learn that in most human cultures the word for “stranger” is frequently also the word for “enemy.”
So often your online prospects are as skittish and cautious as the new kid in town who is going into a crowded school classroom for the very first time.”
So as you can see, bridging the Trust Gap is a very critical task. Without credibility, no matter how well-known you or your company might be or how well liked you are few people will take the risk of buying from you or hiring you. As I explain to all my friends who have barking dogs, “I have been bit by the dog that never bites, before!”
But one the simplest ways to cross over that gap is by offering your customers something of value – your knowledge. This is what content marketing is all about – creating and sharing useful and helpful FREE content to attract and convert interested prospects into customers, and customers into repeat buyers.
As I said this is ridiculously simple but it is by no means easy or without effort. Creating “useful but incomplete content” as internet marketer Jimmy Brown says is not a cake walk.
Your blog content has to to help people and prove to them that you know of which you speak…yet you can’t give all the milk away before you sell the cow either. But using free information to build a solid customer has been used by everyone from John Deere tractors (since 1901) to Michelin Tires , to LEGO’s Club magazine for kids, to Caterpillar’s busy online community for operators and owners.
Okay that is it.
Now you know that the REAL purpose behind a business blog is all about increasing your online visibility, likeability and credibility.