The idea of business blogging is often met with the “meh… who cares?” attitude. I deal with all kinds of business, and while the recommendation is the same, few of them see the value in blogging until it is clearly demonstrated to them with a real world example.
I’ve been recommending WordPress, among other content management systems, for a number of years now. The main reason for the recommendation is, it’s principle function was, and still is blogging. I’ve designed a lot of WordPress themes and taught a whole bunch of people how to use and maintain a WordPress site. In the design process, one of the requirements is that the client write a short article about something new and exciting happening in their business or industry. They grudgingly do, but almost never understand why.
At present, most people still find what they’re looking for on the web using a search engine. It doesn’t matter if you use Google, Bing, Yahoo, Ask or any other search engine. All of them favor blogs. Is it right for search engines to play favorites? Quite frankly I don’t care, and neither should you. My job is to help you be seen on the Internet. To that end, I’m going to recommend what will meet that goal.
Remember the article I made my client write? Now, we’re going to explain why. At this point, we’ve built a great looking site complete with good layout and customised visuals. We’ve put in all the obligatory “about us” stuff, the contact information, maybe an image gallery or portfolio of recent work. Some companies feel this is enough. The big problem is, customers don’t care how long you’ve been in business, or that your great grandmother’s recipe for apple pie was handed down to you in secret. They don’t visit because your site looks nice, or because your contact page works. They visit because you have what they want.
After we publish the site for the world to see, I always publish the article I had them write. In a week, we look at their traffic together, and wouldn’t you know… The way people find the site is a search engine, but the page they hit is the article my client didn’t understand the point of writing. After that, it’s usually pretty easy to convince them to write more. With each article, the odds of people finding their site increase.
The additional benefit of a healthy collection of articles your potential customers can use is trust. Fly-by-night companies seldom bother to write articles to help their customers understand why they should be trusted, or what’s going on in the industry today. If a potential customer finds two companies on the Internet who do the same thing and one is offering information for free, which one is more likely to get their business? If you said the one with a blog, you’re right.
I get the question frequently, “What if I can’t write?” If you have employees, offer them a bit extra to write for you. You’d be amazed with the abilities some of your employees have. If not, you can hire a ghost writer fairly inexpensively. There are hundreds of websites dedicated to that very thing. The real answer to that question is, you can write. WordPress even has plugins to help you with spelling and grammar, so there’s no real excuse not to write.
In conclusion, if you have a business, you must have a website. If you have a website, you must have a blog. If you don’t and your competition does, one of you is right. Think of your business blog as a salesman who never needs a vacation, never calls in sick and is willing to work for free, so long as you spend a little time with him once a week.