Build a Blog get a Great Marketing Tool

Most business professionals recognize the value of social media for building, strengthening and maintaining their businesses, but many don’t consider developing a business blog a vital component of their social media strategy.
Journalist, editor, published writer and dedicated blogger John McDonnell has a handful of compelling reasons for business people to take up regular blogging.
The first is that is is a cost-effective and easy way to market your company and services directly to those you most want to engage. And he has some key ways to keep the process of blog-building and -maintaining cost-effective and easy.
McDonnell shared his expertise recently with 48 members of the Women’s Business Forum during the group’s regular monthly meeting at the James Lorah House in Doylestown. His presentation, “Blogging to Market Your Business,” looked at why and how to get started on a business blog.
According to McDonnell’s research, in February 2011 more than 156 million public blogs filled cyberspace, written on every topic imaginable. That number doesn’t include the private blogs that operate on personal and organizational sites.
Why blog? First and foremost, blogging is a cheap and easy marketing tool, he says.
“If you already have a website, there are thousands of templates from WordPress, a free service that you can set up on your site,” says McDonnell, whose experience includes advertising, public relations, corporate communications and his own fiction writing. He has blogged for years; on one blog, McDonnell Writing, he shares excerpts from his fiction and links directly to
McDonnell, who doesn’t have a website of his own, says if you don’t have a website, you can still use one of the free blogging sites that help you establish a blog from free templates and post to it regularly. He also suggests Blogger, which is run by Google, “so it puts you higher on search engine results.”
He also points out that blogging makes it easier for people to find you and your business online when you post frequently and use the right keywords to move you up in search engine results.
Blogging deepens the relationship between a business and its customers by giving both a means to connect to the other easily and directly — “one where you have control,” says McDonnell. He notes that as the blog owner, you can reserve the right to remove a comment or response that you believe would be detrimental to your business or is inappropriate.
“You would spend a lot of time and money to get that kind of interaction with your customers" using traditional marketing, he said.
In comparison to a website, “a blog is much easier and faster to update.” Templates and blogging sites are designed to require a minimum of technical expertise.
“You can post a blog article in about a minute. Updating a website could mean contacting your site administrator and paying each time you want to add something or make a change.”
McDonnell says that writing for your blog is where you get to present yourself as the expert in your field. Post an article on how to do something you know about that others don’t, and you become recognized for your knowledge. Share tips or pointers, and potential customers regard you with trust.
To get your blog up and running, McDonnell suggests you start by researching other blogs, which will provide you with ideas. He recommends Technorati for lists of blogs, or using Google to search for blogs. He also urges potential bloggers to “have a plan — a clear focus” of what you will write about, who your audience is and how you will drive people to your blog.
“Regular posts keep it fresh.” To make it easier to avoid missing regular postings or scrambling to create something, McDonnell says, “Write several posts — 10, 12, 20 — in advance so you have something to post at crunch time.
Business posts should be “fun, entertaining, but have real value for the reader. You don’t have [their attention] that long, so use your expertise to tell them something they want to know.”
He also suggests using guest bloggers when their style and the website you’d link back to are a good fit for you and your readers. Guest bloggers will want to write for you so they can link to their own sites and drive traffic there. “And you can use your own customers as guest bloggers.”
To drive traffic to your blog and keep them returning to view your new content, he recommends using other social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter, and linking to your site when you do your own guest-blogging stints or comment on other blogs you like.
“Have patience. It takes time to build an audience of loyal, long-term readers.”


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