I read an article in IT Week a couple of weeks back and have been meaning to blog about it for a while. Phil Muncaster wrote a small piece in the October 9th issue (that I can't find online for the life of me) that was titled "Smaller Firms afraid to take plunge with blogs". It got me thinking.
According to research of 2000 UK SME's by Fasthosts that Phil quoted, nearly half of SME firms understand the business benefits of corporate blogs (which I doubt highly) but only 3% have plans to start one. Mad eh? I think so and it almost make me want to start some 30 minute consultancy workshops on why SME's should blog. Here is why I think they should:
- It's a differentiator: clearly this research shows your competitors are not blogging so maybe you should? Get in there early, lead the way and grab your audience. That's what English Cut did with significant commercial success.
- Your customers will soon expect it: well they will as soon as your competitors give them a way to talk to them and have an ongoing dialogue in a way this is becoming increasingly common. If Dell, GM, Carphone Warehouse and others are doing it (and benefiting) shouldn't you be?
- It's not as hard as you think: creating a good blog is time consuming but it's getting easier and easier with tools like Technorati helping you raise your profile, Windows Live Writer making it as easy to blog as write a Word document,
- You control the message: I attended a great seminar with Matthew Stibbe last week about how to write well (I've got lots to learn) and one thing I took away is that ad agencies, PR companies and those kind of tactics have their place but often dilute your core message with marketing doublespeak. When you control the message, it's likely to be more respected, authentic and honest. Which means people are more likely to listen.
- People will find you: Trust me, search engines make you very find-able. I often look at my referrer logs to my blog (use Statcounter for free) and you'd be amazed at how people find you with the most obscure searches on Google imaginable. Write your stuff, do it frequently and be honest and people will find you. Trust me.
- The Google effect: I know several small businesses who pay money to appear on Google (and MSN) sponsored ad links. They get some business from it for sure and it's clearly a good business for Google. Here is my secret though - I have *never* clicked on a sponsored link on Google for the simple reason that it is sponsored - to me it's artificial and I bet I'm not the only one who loses the use of their right eye when using Google and doesn't even see that list of sponsored links over there. What does this mean though? Well if you blog often enough and with intelligent use of titles and keywords you will organically rise up the Google rankings. I've been amazed at my own rise for pretty broadly used words like Vista so it proves it can be done. I'm pretty sure that if I wanted to appear top of Google's search for "Chiswick High Street" I could do so within about 3 months with some focused blogging. It's a reasonably popular search on Google and has low competition for keywords. I setup my CHS store directory, blog about the place, generate some decent traffic and then sell some links to Foxtons, Barnard Marcus, Lom Bok and off we go...hmmm
- You will find your voice: the Fasthost research showed people were put off by what to say and how to say it. I was when I started blogging but your friends and customers will soon help you shape that as they did for me. There are tonnes of places to get advice on this anyway and I've listed some below. Frankly, that's just a crap excuse.
There is more I could add here but that's my list of 7 for now and I'm going to extend a free offer to any small business in Chiswick that wants blogging help - email me and buy me a coffee in one of the million coffee shops on our High Street and I'll be happy to come and help you get started.
- Suw Charman/MSN's How to Blog for Business - A Guide to Corporate Blogging
- ProBlogger's 31 Days to Building a Better Blog
- Beginner's Guide to Business Blogging - Originally a limited release, now available for free
- The Rise and Fall Of The Hit by Chris Anderson
- The Corporate Weblog Manifesto by Robert Scoble
- Naked Conversations - my bible
- The HughTrain
- The Stormhoek Guide To Wine Blogging