Without a doubt, contributing to a blog requires commitment and time if it is to produce effective results. However, making use of blogs is an easy, fast, inexpensive and effective publishing tool to spread the word about a new business, generate customers and increase prospects.
Blogs are corporate tools that allow businesses to communicate with the public to provide information about products and services being provided. To be effective as an advertising tool, the blog should be linked to the company website and provide relevant web content about the company’s products to attract prospective customers. To grow a blog, it should be updated consistently in order to include new and ongoing entries. Investing in blog advertising is a rewarding endeavour but it needs to be sustained in the long term.
Blogs provide the following four key benefits when promoting a business:
Content marketing is a method of promotion designed to attract customers by providing valuable content about the business, products and services that it offers. Rather than being a brazen and overt marketing strategy, content marketing takes the form of publishing content that delivers information through important articles, press releases and news feeds. This approach treats established and potential customers as intelligent individuals. Content marketing provides accurate, honest and relevant information that consumers need to know before purchasing products and services. There is no better place for content marketing than on a blog.
Selecting and streamlining news feeds from credible industry news sources and linking them to blogs will keep interested readers returning to blog pages on a regular basis. It also prompts viewers to return to the blog for news updates which secures repeat viewers and potential customers. It is best to integrate a credible news feed with other non-competitive website links which subtly promote and advertise the business. Adding neutral, industry relevant, and credible news feeds and web content allows the business to present itself as a knowledgeable and accurate source of information in its respective market.
Setting up a blog on Wordpress, Gizmodo, and Compendium is a free alternative to having actual web presence. Blogs can be linked to other social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook, to attract potential clients. Blogs provide an effective way for small businesses to share their expertise and offer press releases in a larger market to bigger audiences. They are user-friendly tools especially for business owners who know little about HTML.
Setting up blogs with opportunities to moderate and answer questions and comments from clients presents a human face of an enterprise and allows a business to speak directly with clients and address their concerns. No company can expect to be an industry leader without an authentic and ongoing interaction with its customers.
Blogs are search engine magnets, directing not only curious bloggers to business landing pages, but also regular and targeted traffic from Google searches. Search engines crawl content and keyword rich blog sites, bringing the blog (and business landing page) closer to the top of page ranks.
When composing blogs, be sure to make your contact information clear and make navigation easy to help convert views to sales.
Dani Higginson, Purecontent
I enjoyed reading the article written by Marty Zwilling about the personality traits of an entrepreneur.
In his article, he describes the personality of the entrepreneur to be:
I enjoyed the article because I can see that I have all of these. I have a strong vision of what my sector can be in years to come and I would love to be an important player within it.
I am eager to listen to the input of others, and inafishbowl.com has been an amazing experience. I have had some really useful advice from experts on the expert panel, and more recently from Imran Hakim and Iain Scott whose blogs reassure me that I was right to postpone the launch of Rico Mexican Kitchen in a major supermarket chain – thanks guys! I’ve also learned so much from my fellow Fishbowlers and I’m quietly jealous (in the best possible way, of course!) of Owain and Dom’s partnership, and that they can rely on each other to share the tasks.
However, if I’m honest, I’m feeling kind of numb and somehow not enjoying the journey as much just at this point. I have had some highs, but the low of finding that I have to be on such very tight budget is getting me down. Or maybe it’s simply because I’m tired? Maybe I just need a few days off.
Well, I had to be up today at 3:30 so I could greet the distributor who was taking my very first orders of our brand new product, TAMALES to some really funky restaurants in London. I should be really excited, I know it’s a day I will remember in years to come, but instead, I feel numb. I just keep saying to myself that I need to be patient, as success will come with perseverance, resilience, and not before a long list of failures which one learns from. I’m in it for the long haul!
You can find out more about Marcela on the interactive business website www.inafishbowl.com
After a lot of hard work, more than a few donuts consumed, and assistance from a whole bunch of helpful experts, we're really pleased to announce that the IT Donut has launched.
What do you think?
To use a bit of IT jargon, the IT Donut is currently version 1.0. We're pleased with it, but we're still looking for feedback and help so we can make it even better.
If you have any comments on the information the site contains, or how it looks and functions, send a quick email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, leave a comment on the website to tell us what you think.
Be one of our experts
We're also working hard to expand the information on the IT Donut. To do this, we're recruiting IT experts to help us.
If you're knowledgeable about any area of IT, we'd love to hear from you. Again, just send an email to email@example.com and we'll see how we can get you involved. In return you'll get exposure on the site, plus the warm feeling that comes from knowing you've helped out lots of small businesses.
John McGarvey, IT Donut editor
We’ve been creating a lot of blogs for people recently, and I often must sound like a broken record in briefing meetings due to my insistence that bloggers work with a good photographer to get a professional headshot.
I can’t tell you the difference it makes.
Let’s start with the presumption that a good headshot will make you look your most attractive, professional and approachable. By attractive I don’t mean sleazy or sexy or like you’ve just stepped off a boudoir shot. I’m talking about a photograph that strokes your ego and makes you proud. But it also needs to look like you.
Before I met Matt Pereira my headshot was a picture I’d had taken in a studio in Birmingham several years before. I was one of the female entrepreneurs invited to take part in a cover shoot for a franchise magazine. They had hired a make-up artist and after several hours (I kid you not) primping and preening, we were wheeled out into the studio where we were draped over a chaise longue . To get us used to the camera, the photographer initially took headshots of us on a bar stool. I looked attractive but nothing like myself. I limped on with this photograph for several years but I had to laugh when I met the lovely Shelley van Lit from the Elmbridge magazine at an Elmbridge Women in Business event I was speaking at. Shelley said to me “I’ve been looking at your website today, I wanted to meet you. You look nothing like your photo! I wouldn’t have recognised you if you hadn’t introduced yourself”. That was me told.
Fortunately a couple of weeks later, I had the most gorgeous shots taken by Matt and I’ve never looked back. Like I said, a good photographer will take photos of you that actually look like you. But they’ll be of your best self. He or she will capture the essence of you and present you as someone people want to get to know. A good social media photograph has got to be engaging and approachable. And so that means eyes to camera, smiling and saving those sexy pouts for the boudoir shoots.
And a good headshot isn’t just about helping you appear more engaging in your social media profile. It’ll also help your website and blog appear more attractive.
So next time you think you’ll just upload that holiday snap from two years ago, think again. Find a great photographer and get some professional headshots done. It will pay dividends.
Fiona Humberstone, Flourish design & marketing
I was delighted to be invited to speak at the forthcoming Sage World event on 8-9 September.
For my part, I will be chatting about a question that has fascinated me ever since my first ‘proper job’ as an investment controller at the venture capital company 3i: What simple principles and tactics make business success easier? Or, put another way, what things allow you to survive the tricky first stage of business growth, so you can then have the time to build a truly successful business?
I’ve been discussing this topic with audiences for over ten years. It is a subject that never loses its excitement, because starting a business is never anything less than exciting for the people doing it. I come out of these sessions buzzing with enthusiasm and wanting to spend a couple of hours with each of the people who come and talk to me about their businesses straight after the session. I think it helps enormously that I started my own business as a one-man-band and I’ve continued to grow the company with no outside investment — in other words I am like 99% of the people in the audience.
Sage is one of a handful of mega-success stories in British business over the last 25 years and I’m pleased to see that Sage World is trying to do something different from the usual business event, by using their ‘interactive delegate technology’.
So there will be lots of demonstrations of the software tools you can use to get your business idea off the ground. If you’ve already established your business, then you’ll find plenty of ideas to help you build on that foundation and meet the technical challenges that small firms face in the modern business climate: finance, HR, sales, marketing, and so on.
Sage World also offers a tremendous opportunity for you to build useful contacts. Networking is about meeting the right people, making the right connections and tracking them during and after an event. So I’m dying to try out Sage’s Spotme electronic networking device - I’m sure this will really help me find and talk to the people that matter to me.
I’m sure it’ll help you, too. So please do track me on Spotme, come and say hello and make the time to hear the presentation.
Sage World is a free two-day event in September for anyone starting or growing a business.
Rory MccGwire, BHP Information Solutions