Should you give up on the idea of a corporate blog now that we’re entering into a global recession? Is it one of those nice-to-have extras that a company can afford in the good times, but not in the bad?
I invited Tom Walker, who is a blogger for Cartridge SAVE, to give us his view on this …
Good public relations is one of the most important elements to any marketing campaign a company has at its disposal. But not all public relations are equal: some campaigns involve massive outlays of cash, while some other methods can be extremely cost effective!
Blogging is at the forefront of publicity mediums in today’s connected world, giving anyone or any business the opportunity to get their message out around the world. And with the recession hitting companies hard, it’s more important than ever to find cost effective ways to attract new customers and increase revenue.
Here are five reasons why business blogging should be an intrinsic part of your marketing mix during the downturn.
1. Marketing Has Moved Ahead With the Times
In days gone by the consumer would wait to have a flyer drop on their doorstep to read about the latest news, deals and offers available to them. Today millions of people subscribe to regularly updated blogs and use their feeds to stay abreast on everything from news and current affairs to sport and fashion. There are thousands of websites tailored to niche industries, each appealing to a particular demographic. While some of these blogs and websites are created by hobbyists, many are created by businesses who use them to turn visitors into leads and ultimately sales. Consumers are becoming more tech-savvy, especially as major online properties such as the BBC and New York Times embrace and subsequently promote new means of distribution such as podcasts and RSS to their visitors. So it is absolutely necessary for businesses to keep up with the trend and become multi faceted in how they interact with the public.
2. Relatively Low Barriers to Entry
Designing and launching your blog is very easy, you don’t need to be an HTML whizz to set one up. However, as with any other marketing campaign it is essential you invest in a plan to add value with clearly defined goals and ways of reaching them. If you don’t keep your blog regularly updated it can actually have a negative effect on your business reputation, making it appear stale and slow to act.
While there are many free blog hosting services available such as WordPress, Typepad and Blogger, which can of course be used to help boost your online profile, any serious business is strongly advised to incorporate their blog with the rest of their website so that corporate branding and voice are as consistent as possible.
3. Control Over Your Communication
Starting a blog gives your business the opportunity to inform customers of upcoming products, services, conferences, trade shows or even to give an insight into the day to day running of the business. It allows you to become your own news reporter and gives you control over what reaches the public domain. Blogging isn’t all a bed of roses though and there are many pitfalls, chief among which is the failure to be unique enough to differentiate your corporate blog from the over 20 million other blogs on the internet today. Take time to research the competition and how they use this platform. Don’t copy anyone, make your own niche!
The beauty of blogging is that it encourages interaction between potential customers or other businesses and yourselves who are able to leave comments that you might address in a later blog post. By adding questions or provocative statements in your blog, you are in effect inviting subscribers to leave feedback. Here are some tips on how to elicit more feedback:
- Reflect the style of your business in the tone of your blog
- Write in the first person so there will be a conversational style
- Make it easy to subscribe: place an option to subscribe via RSS or email prominently on your blog
- Keep blog posts short and concise: it’s the most effective way to get your point across
- Show who is responsible for the blog post: a headshot of the post author adds a face to the voice
4. Grow Your Customer Base
Another way to get your message out and also drive traffic is to post comments on other people blogs. If they are writing about something that directly relates to yours you can post a comment with your link and details of your own blog. Don’t shamelessly advertise yourself in these comments though as this may get it deleted. There is evidence to suggest well written blog comments that add to the conversation with valuable and insightful commentary attract significantly more attention than even the main post itself! Clearly there is scope for businesses to therefore brand themselves as an authority to people outside their own circle of influence.
5. Beat The Competition To It
If your competitors don’t have a blog and you do, that already puts you ahead of the game. You will be immediately at an advantage from a media and public relations stand point as potential customers will be more likely to hear of you first. If you are lucky enough to have an extremely successful blog there is no end to its ability to accelerate the growth of your business as readers link to it from their own blogs and social network profiles.