Blogging itself is not news of course. I’m compelled to cover it semi-regularly here for two reasons. One, blogging has transformed my business in many positive ways, so sharing it with others seems only natural. Two, while blogging itself is not news, the medium is constantly evolving and growing increasingly relevant for small business owners. I find that while most business owners seem to know what a blog is, few understand the massive relevance to their business. It is seen primarily as a frivolous, optional add-on to their already overextended marketing budget.
The truth of course, is the opposite. In an fast-approaching and inevitable paradigm shift, blogging is becoming indispensible and it’s traditional marketing that is becoming irrelevant…and frivolously expensive when compared to how much damage you can do with a blog. So, here’s a list of 8 reasons you are losing business by not blogging. Perhaps this will help make the importance clear.
One note I’d like to stress is that when I say “paradigm shift”, I mean it. Business owners need to start thinking about marketing differently. The focus of My One Hundred Things is “how to create wealth despite the economic collapse”. So it stands to reason that a tool which can greatly extend the reach of your business, improve the quality of the contacts you make and draw a lot more business your way, for a LOT less money, is certainly a tool which needs to be covered here. The problem is that most business owners still look at blogging as another old school marketing tool, which completely misses the point. By learning to think differently about marketing altogether, perhaps blogging will become a more natural solution for business owners. Anyway, it’s what your customers want, so you better start giving it to them.
- You’re losing word of mouth advertising - Any business owner I talk to would be quick to admit that word of mouth advertising is the best advertising they can get. Owning and operating a blog enables you to be part of the conversation online. People ARE talking about you, you know? If you have a blog, you have way more than a traditional website, you have a personal presence…one people are comfortable and happy to send their friends to and talk about. People are a lot more comfortable referring someone they know to you if you have a personal blog, as opposed to a traditional static website. It makes you more personal, more approachable, if people can read about you and get a feel for what you’re like. Yes, people like to stalk. If you’re in business, and you want people to do business with you, why would you not want to be part of that? On the flip side, when you DO have a blog, you can set the record straight anytime someone’s talking trash. You can also build a strong community of people who are advocates for you. Strong bloggers eventually build networks consisting of thousands of people who consistently link to them, send them traffic and talk positively about their content. This is word of mouth for the 21st century.
- Your name is being dragged through the mud, and you don’t even know about it - People are talking about you. The process of learning how to blog is about a lot more than just writing an article every now and then. It’s about networking. Having a blog will teach you how to be part of your online community. And don’t think you don’t have one…you’re just not aware of it. If you own a business and you’re doing business with people, people are LOOKING for your blog, right now. And they’re not finding it. They’re commenting on other blogs and forums about you, and you’re not there to be part of the conversation.
- Your competition is establishing themselves as the expert, while you are quickly becoming irrelevant - Blogging is personal. You don’t use it as a way of simply placing ads or “building a list” or making sales. You’re selling yourself. You’re telling the public about yourself. You’re networking. You’re having a conversation with people. What happens when you do this is people learn that you actually have a lot to say. This is a good thing. Of course, this is assuming you DO have a lot to say. If you’re not actually creating value for your customers at this point, that will become apparent also. It’s best to either BE good, GET good, or NOT blog. Having a lot to say about your industry and how you can honestly help your customers and maintaining a blog together are a very dangerous combination. If your competition is blogging, and you’re not, they are quickly and quietly building a very compelling network of people who love them and who don’t even know who you are.
- Customers are simply not connecting with you, so they don’t buy from you - This is an inevitable consequence of not having a blog. Seriously, it’s that big a deal. First, search engines love blogs (well-built and actively maintianed ones that is), and if you don’t have one, you’re missing out on a lot of love from the search engines, which means your getting a lot less traffic than you should be. But it’s a deeper problem than that. The type of content people want is different than what it was 5 or so years ago. Yes, things have changed that quickly. People don’t want static content. They don’t want boring ads that talk at them and tell them what to do. They want interactivity. They want to connect with you. Think about this…they WANT to connect with you and like you on a personal level. It’s how they make buying decisions. Your static website is most likely turning them off. Your competition that IS blogging realizes this. They’ve learned to think of marketing differently. They’ve realized that they can connect with many thousands of people this way, on a personal level and massively extend the reach of their business. Your customers are connecting with them, not you.
- Your expenses are getting out of control, and the money you spend on traditional marketing gives you a less impressive return each year that passes - Let’s face it…traditional marketing, like newspaper and magazine ads, mailing campaigns, billboards, etc…they are getting more expensive each year, and they are getting LESS effective each year. Anyone who’s been in business for more than 5 years knows this intimately. How long can you tolerate your expenses rising coupled with more and more inept returns on your advertising dollars? When you look at this commonly understood fact, it’s obvious that you need to make a change somewhere, isn’t it?
- The quality of the contacts you make is going down, which means your return on investment is going down - Like I said in #5, traditional media is getting less effective. The reason is because people are drowing in advertising. If it doesn’t connect with them personally, it’s unlikely to have any effect on them whatsoever. That’s not very much bang for your buck, is it? Traditional marketing is based on “interruption marketing”. The idea is to jolt your attention and get you to notice an advertisement that you ordinarily not be interested in seeing. People have built up some serious walls to this type of advertising. Social media connects with people on their terms. Believe it or not, people want to buy cars, books, appliances, all types of services, or whatever it is that you’re selling. If you connect with them on their level and on their terms, they will love you for it, and they will buy from you. That’s what you can do with a blog that is impossible for you to do with traditional advertising.
- You have a lot of talent and expertise that is not being shared - Blogging is therapeutic. As a business owner, you have a lot to say, and blogging can be a channel for all that expertise. Not only is it good for your business and good for your customers, it’s also good for you. C’mon now, let it out!
- You are losing your most valuable asset of all…your time - It is a myth that blogging has to take all your time. It can. Make no mistake about it. But it doesn’t have to. As a business owner, you know that time is your most valuable asset. And you know that time is money, right? So stop wasting money on advertising that doesn’t work. You know it isn’t pulling it’s weight lately. I say this confidently, because I know you know it’s true. I’m in the real estate business for example, and I know for a fact that many Realtors are dropping print advertising and mailing campaigns altogether. It just doesn’t work. Yet NAR reports that less that 8% of Realtors have a blog. What gives? You can’t do NOTHING to promote your business. You need to simply do what works.
Blogging will force you to learn new things. It will certainly be a learning process. And it will take time. It’s not a magic bullet. It’s one of the things we need to learn as business owners…good things take time. Blogging will not pull immediate results like a banner ad will. But blogging also will not cost you several hundred dollars a week. And once you get past the start up period, the online network you’re able to create will continue to reward you passively for the life of your business…and if you do it right, it will even continue to reward you beyond that…even if your current business fails for whatever reason, your network will know you, they’ll understand you, and they’ll support you in your next venture as well. What kind of newspaper ad can do that?