Business Blogging Guide Step # 1: Research

by on March 27, 2011

in Social Media Marketing

In my recent blog post South Jersey Business Blogs Suck, I found that businesses in Southern New Jersey are doing a poor job of blogging. In the first in a series of posts on business blogging, I’ll cover some tips on how to create an effective blog starting with research.

Establishing a Goal

Although it sounds crazy, many businesses don’t start their decision making process with a goal in mind. Since every business activity has a cost, it’s important to identify the goal of a business blog and then determine the cost of achieving that goal. Some benefits of blogging include:

Increased Web Traffic & Leads – Blogging on a regular basis will increase traffic to an existing website and increase the number of sales leads.

Improved Reputation – Cultivating a professional reputation is often the goal of many business blogs. This is often the case for professional services like attorneys, real estate agents and even SEO consultants ;) , but blogging offers benefits to almost every type of business.

Build Stronger Relationships – Introducing prospects to a business through a blog can be an effective low cost marketing method. Furthermore, a blog can strengthen relationships with existing customers reducing churn and new customer acquisition cost.

While these are only three benefits, business blogging offers many more. When considering the creation of a blog, businesses should establish a primary goal and approach the prospect of blogging with that goal in mind.

Evaluating Your Business

A quick sanity check is always a good idea before spending time and money with further research to determine if a business blog is for you. In short, business type, resources and personnel should be quickly reviewed to ensure you’re not way off base. Here are a couple obvious tips that may sway your decision to move forward:

Business Type – Business blogging is especially useful for company’s whose customers perform online research on their business type. Therefore a blog is more likely to be a good addition for architects, plumbers and land surveyors, but a poor choice for convenience stores and car washes. So it’s helpful to think through how a blog will connect readers to your company.

Resources – Writing and managing a successful blog is a commitment of both time and effort. While the financial investment should be modest, the time necessary to create and manage a blog of good quality can be significant. Writing posts, finding related images and managing comments take time.

Personnel – Is there one person that will be responsible for maintaining the blog? The concept of shared responsibility sounds good, but rarely works.

Business blogging is an effective online marketing tactic for a wide variety of businesses, but it may not be for you. Before diving in head first, it’s a good idea to understand whether you have basics necessary to be successful.

Finding Your Audience

After a quick internal investigation, look outside to consider who would value the content created by your blog. You’d be surprised at the level of interest clients, prospects and industry peers may have in your products, and some basic research may help you uncover this curiosity. Combining common sense with some online research, you can answer questions like these:

  • Who’s Interested in the Products Our Company Provides?
  • What Questions Do People Have About Our Products?
  • What Commonalities Do Our Existing Customers Have?
  • Are Our Customers Online? If So, Where?
  • Do Similar Companies Have a Blog? Who Are They Targeting?

While there is no such thing as a correct answer for any one of these, questions like these can provide insight into creating a successful blog that’s more likely to meet your goals.

Quick & Dirty Research Is Fine

Defining a Goal, Evaluating Your Business and Finding Your Audience are three simple steps that a business can take in an afternoon to get a feeling for whether starting a business blog would be a good fit. Not intended to be exhaustive, this research can be quick & dirty with the goal of providing information that you’ll need to make a sound decision.

Since there are many forms of social media that businesses can use to market themselves online, n my next post I’ll discuss alternatives to blogging.

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