Some of the most common comments I get from small business owners is that a blog is too much work to maintain, I don’t have the time; no one is going to read it. Many of these statements may very well be true, but marketing in this new online world is very different than what you are used to in the past. I have heard from many small business owners here in Hawaii that their print advertising just isn’t pulling like it used to. In the new online world; adapt or die; if you think it’s too much work realize that your competition is going to be doing what you are not willing to do.
Here are some of the top reasons I believe most (not all) small business web sites should have an actively updated blog.
It’s a cost effective way to advertise your brand.
If you are writing and updating your blog yourself, it just costs you your time. I understand time is valuable, but think about how much a single advertisement in a local newspaper costs you. If you are not willing to put the time to learn, paying someone to write one new blog post a month for the next year could cost much less that a single quarter page ad in a newspaper. The StarAdvertiser can charge between $2,000 to $5,000 for a single ad on a weekday. You could pay someone to create a whole year’s worth of content for the same price of a single advertisement, potentially building a real following for your business. I recently sat with an account executive with a local radio station, and he started to give me the sales pitch “if you can just commit $100,000 over the next 6 months, we guarantee you will increase your business”. Well, that’s a lot of money for my very small company, I wish I could afford it but I can’t. I would rather hire a staff of writers to generate regular content and use the Internet to increase my business organically.
Social media is critical to your business.
According to OTX, the average American between ages 35 to 49 years old spends 3 hours a day on social media. Even 50 to 64 year olds spend 2.4 hours a day on social media. Much of this is on Facebook, but other sites such as Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn are important as well (there are too many of them to list here). Also according to OTX, one of the more surprising findings was that small business owners spend 50% more time on social media than others.
So what does this have to do with blogs? Well if you want to use social media to benefit your business, what are you posting to Facebook or Twitter? By focusing on building your blog, you automatically now have new fresh content, every time to post to your blog, to also post to your social media outlets. You are hitting your clients with the content from multiple directions.
The value of social media can be described by recalling my 15-year-old son. Like most 15 year olds, he loves to eat. One of his favorite pastimes is going to the various Eat-The-Street events here in Honolulu. I’m sure the organizers of Eat-The-Street have a website and a blog to advertise their events, but we never check that, because my son always knows what is going on from their Facebook page. He gets updates right on his phone. If we are attending their events based on social media, I can image many others are as well. We are living proof that Facebook works and it can work for your business.
You’re not advertising, you’re building a brand.
What is the difference between advertising and building a brand? The way I think of it, advertising, while absolutely necessary, is about spending money to drive business to your door. If your business is new, you have no choice but to do this. Ultimately, building a brand though, establishes your company or yourself individually, as an expert in your field. Customers come to you for advice, rather than you spending resources to try to attract them.
A great example of this on a local Hawaii level is my uncle, Ed Buck. Many years ago he ran regular 30-minute television spots, he did it consistently for over 20 years as he was building his financial planning business. Now, the content of those television shows were never focused on “come and see me and buy product”. The focus was educational; tax code, value of saving, retirement planning tips, etc. Now 30 years later, he has established himself as an expert in his field and his company is a marketing machine that generates dozens of new lead a month by doing very little in the way of new advertising.
Search engines like content.
“Google values fresh content”. To me, the rest of this article is almost completely irrelevant compared to this one statement. Even if no one ever reads your blog posts, even if you ignore the social media advice, you will most certainly benefit, in the long run, with better search results. Bottom line is, you need to give Google and Bing search engines something to search for. You really have no idea what your potential customers are looking for. By writing a blog post a month, by the end of the year you are not only giving Google 12 additional pages of text to index and potentially get picked up by search terms, but you are showing their algorithm that your site is active and up to date, which is thought to give a boost in rankings as well.
According to statistics from Kapost, corporate blogs lead to 55% more visitors to a company’s website. That’s a 55% increase in the chance of you converting a visitor to a customer.
The thing to remember about blogging is it’s not going to generate miracle overnight results. It could take a year or more for search rankings to increase, and even longer to establish your organization as a “brand” or expert in your field. Bottom line, everything we are talking about here takes a lot of work.