When I mention to a business client that their new website can have a blog, I’m often asked, “what would I use a blog for?” Most of us have seen how individuals might use a blog as an online journal of their lives – a place to vent and talk about what’s important to them – but how does a business use a blog to actually benefit the business?
Here, in no particular order, are a variety of ways that a business can make great use of a blog format.
1. Answer Questions
If you ever receive questions about your business or industry, either direct or implied, you can answer those questions in your blog. You simply start by posting the question, leaving out who asked it of course, and then answer it.
This is particularly effective since most people end up asking themselves the same questions, so it’s likely that you will be providing valuable information to many people. In fact, you should fully expect that eventually people will be using a search engine like Google and will type in your exact question and your blog post, with the answer, will come up as a result.
If you have an FAQ system or page, you can discuss the same questions and topics – the format of the blog post is simply more casual and conversational, while an FAQ entry should generally be more formal and to the point.
2. Client Spotlight
If you just completed a large or interesting project, or simply have something nice or compelling to say regarding a specific client, use your blog to share. It’s a great way to illustrate how you might handle a specific project or even a challenge. Be sure to get the client’s permission before you post your entry.
If you read an article in the newspaper or some other online source that you think your customers should read, post a link to it in a blog entry and explain why you think it’s relevant to your clients. Conversely, you could also use this method to respond to negative press your business or industry may receive online.
You can also review a new product or service.
Regularly take a topic or issue from your industry and teach your clients all about it. This method involves a little more work on your part, but is eventually even more rewarding and compelling than others.
First, do your homework. Make sure that everything you state is correct and verifiable. Use statistics if you can and cite your source
Second, create your blog entry in a Word file and see how long it is. Break it up into smaller sections if its lengthy and label them Part I, Part II, and so on. You now have not only several blog posts, but a series that will entice readers to come back for the next part.
A particularly common technique is to make lists. You can list anything you want, anything that might be interesting to your clients, and talk about each list item for a moment before moving on to the next. An easy topic might be Do’s and Dont’s for your clients as I’m sure nearly every business has common pitfalls that their clients struggle with, as well as things every new client should be doing.
Do not feel forced to come up with a specific number, like “Top Ten”, as that will simply frustrate you when you can only think of 8 items. It’s your blog, so list 5 or 50 if you want to.
6. Events & Conferences
Use your blog to talk about and announce upcoming events and conferences, if it’s something you think some of your clients may want to attend or be interested in. If it’s a conference for vendors like yourself, then talk about it afterwards and share some of the things you learned that might prove valuable to your customers.
Other common high level uses include:
- Lead Generation
- Sales Conversion
- Establish Authority
- Engender Trust
- Nurture Community
Regardless of which method you use, always make sure that you re-read your entry for correct grammar, spelling, and factual information. Also, whenever possible, make sure that you’re using your targeted keywords. If you can, refer to older blog entries or articles you may have written and link back to them (that’s referred to as deep linking).
Of course, the beauty of a blog is that there are no rules or regulations. Your posts can be as long or as short as you want, and on any schedule you like (though the more regular you post, the better). Furthermore, there’s no reason why you can’t utilize each and every one of the techniques above, and anything else you might find or invent. Your blog doesn’t have to be the same each and every week, as long as the overall topic remains the same – your business and your industry. Continue to write interesting and helpful information and your blog will become a great sales tool for you and your website.