Tightly targeting your blog helps increase it’s effectiveness

I love blogs because they are a boot strapping entrepreneur’s best friend.

For example, what do you do when you’ve got a concept that is "revolutionary" and therefore, by nature, NOT a topic of search on the internet?

That’s the quandry facing the web site "15 Minute Date". 

15minuteDate is a new concept in online matchmaking that combines the best of blind date and speed dating. Great concept, but the problem is twofold…

  1. No one is searching for the keywords "15 minute Date"
  2. Online dating is a HIGHLY competitive keyword term.

What’s an entrepreneur to do?  Launch a BLOG of course!!!  The 15 minute dating blog features True Dating Horror Stories and Tips from Real People.  Funny, engaging and provocative, blog entries like 20 things NOT to do on a first date are sure to catch the target audience’s eye.

I tell my clients over and over again that blogs act like bait…attracting readers AND journalists alike.  15MinuteDate.com is an outstanding example of this process in action.

Tale of two clients….

Names have been changed to protect my client’s identity. While the names are changed, the stories are true.

manlookingatwatch.jpgLate last year, my client Barry Smith landed the consulting gig that most consultants dream of landing. He signed with a Fortune 1000 company to do the work that he does best. He signed a one year contract with the company and near the end of the contract, the company began making inquiries as to whether Barry was interested in “conventional” employment with the firm.

Visions of benefits, paid vacations and 401K plans began dancing in Barry’s head. Meanwhile, the domain name registration and web site hosting were both coming due. Barry contacted me to see if he could put his domain name registration and web site hosting accounts onto a monthly payment plan. After all, in a few short weeks, it didn’t look like Barry was going to need to keep his web site up for much longer.

I completely understood Barry’s excitement at the prospect of returning to corporate America. I too have been known to browse through the Monster.com listings and dream of a position where I’m not responsible for taking out the trash and cleaning the “corporate” break room in addition to all of my other fascinating and thrilling tasks for which I’m responsible as a solo entrepreneur.

However, I also fielded a similar call from another client about 18 months ago. Karen left her position at a Fortune 100 company as the director of training and communications to launch her own training and communications firm. Five years after launching her own company, Karen LEPT at the chance to go to work for her biggest account on a full time basis. Karen had never enjoyed all the peripheral duties that come from running your own business. The financial side of the picture made her head spin and she absolutely DESPISED managing the technology that was essential to her business.

I encouraged Karen to keep up her web site, just because it did such a GREAT job of highlighting her talents. I explained to her that any clients who contacted her via her web site could be directed to her employer. Karen was comfortable with that, so we kept her web site intact with the exception of changing the contact information to inform visitors of Karen’s new employer.

Eighteen short months later, Karen’s honeymoon with her employer had ended quickly. It wasn’t long before the comforting blanket that had enveloped her in security was now acting as a tourniquet around her neck. Karen jumped to another “ship” and tried another turn at being a “9-5 employee” but her second stint was even worse than her first. A little more than 2 years after our initial conversation about taking her web site down, Karen found herself back at the helm of KarenJ Training and Communications.

Fortunately, because Karen had left her web site up and kept her hosting account active, it didn’t take much to rev up the marketing engines and get her web site “active” again. During her “time off” her site had aged two years, making her a “Grand Dame” among web sites. A few new articles, a change or two to her “about” page and she was off and running again.

So when Barry contacted me in December, I was able to tell him the WHOLE story of Karen’s quest. I told him how her hosting fees for those two years were small in comparison to creating a whole new web site from scratch. I also told Barry that, if he decided he was happier back in Corporate America, he could always convert his web site to a blog, where he could continue to share his expertise and create a virtual resume for his next job in Corporate America, not to mention a following should he ever decide to publish his thoughts in a book some day.

Lessons to take away from the story above:

 

  1. If you haven’t registered your name as a domain name, do so immediately. Because these two coaches had domain names under their “given” name, they could easily switch to a blog without hurting their standing in the search engines. The blog could then be used to promote their expertise.
  2. There is a severe and harsh penalty levied against “new” web sites by Google. It’s usually WELL worth the $10-$45 per month to maintain your web hosting account even if you “transition” back to traditional employment.
     
  3. Should you decide that the carefree life of a solo entrepreneur is not for you, it is possible to sell your domain name and web site. Because of the penalties imposed by the search engines on new sites, an established site that hasn’t been used for porn or spam is probably worth more than you think it is.
  4. A blog is a great way to showcase your knowledge and expertise. Its ease of use makes it ideal for anyone to strut their stuff and show what they know.

By the way, Barry decided to keep his web site and actually turned down the job offer. Seems the story of Karen Jones reminded him of why he left corporate America in the first place. He has decided to launch a blog so he can effectively demonstrate why the Fortune 1000 company was so interested in bringing him on board full time with other potential clients.

Pick Your Niche and Target Your Message

It’s common wisdom that all any service professional or consultants needs to be successful is "passion". Let it be known here that passion alone can be overrated. When you’re building a practice, you need more than passion. You need more than a high level of dedication and energy to succeed. You need a plan. A marketing plan with a marketing budget to be exact.

We’ve all seen this scenario played out in some form in your hometown. Typically, it begins as some starry-eyed owner rents retail space. The newly minted entrepreneur then spends his capital on cash registers, inventory and store signage.

When it’s time to open the doors to the shop, the owner is tapped out. The new business, struggling along on the thread bare path of "word of mouth" waits impatiently as bills mount and customers trickle in at a painfully slow pace. Within a matter of months, the newly opened store is finally spending some money on marketing, only it’s being spent advertising a "Going Out Of Business" sale.

To avoid the same fat, you need a marketing plan (a part of your overall business plan).  Your marketing plan should begin with a thorough investigation into your target market.

* Who are your customers?
* Who is the competition?
* What problems do they have?
* What problems can you solve?
* Is someone willing and able to write a check to hire you to solve the above mentioned problems?


Once you’ve answered the questions above, you can successfully pick your "niche" market. The wonderful thing about niche markets is they are tightly targeted. That means your marketing dollars go further.

Marketing is merely a matter of bringing the solutions your target market is looking for to the attention of those who will benefit the most.

By defining those who will benefit most from your goods or services, you narrow your focus. Instead of "spraying and praying" with your marketing message, you’re speaking directly to your target audience. That cuts down considerably on your overall marketing expenses.

Finally, remember that marketing is not sales. Marketing is focused on the sales you’ll make next quarter and beyond. In sales, the focus is upon the sales to be made THIS quarter.

A tale of three blogs…

Over at Blog Grrll, she tells an amusing tale of three little blogs

Based on the tale of the three little pigs, the author has done a GREAT job of applying the moral of the original story to her new, modern "piglets". 

Basically, the moral to her cautionary tale is the same as the moral to the tale of the original three little pigs: "Hard work pays off later…. laziness pays off immediately!"

When I tell my clients that my blogs don’t reach "critical" mass until 100 posts…. it frightens many of them.  Remember, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. 

The real key to creating marketing magic….

As a "legal bribe" I’ve created an ebook that takes you step by step through the process of creating marketing magic.  It’s a great resource (so I’ve been told) and one that has travelled far and wide.  I’ve recently learned that it’s being offered as a free resource on other sites promoting marketing "magic". 

In the ebook, I outline 10 steps to follow.  I also offer one on one consulting with business owners who need help with the process… and what I’ve discovered is there is a much needed disclaimer for the ebook…. it only works if you follow the steps.

Ron Popeil hawks his Showtime Rotisserie by telling viewers that they can cook great meals without the work.  All they have to do is "Set it and forget it!"

I’m here to tell you right here, right now….There isn’t any such thing as set it and forget it marketing. 

I know that small business owners have a LOT on their plate.  As a small business owner, you get to be CEO, CFO, CMO, and a whole host of other alphabet soup titles.  The hats you wear are the ones people who are employed in mega-corporations spend 10 hours a day doing…. yet as a small business owner, you’re lucky if you get to spend a full hour a day on any one of these roles.

If you’re going to create marketing magic, you’re going to HAVE to find a way to "connect" with your potential customers.  You’ve GOT to find a way to garner their ear (or their eye). 

Writing is an excellent way to connect.  Speaking is another.  Blogs are absolutely GREAT communication tools because no matter WHAT your preferred method of communication, your blog can be the way you deliver your message.

If you’re not comfortable writing, then pick up a web cam and start recording.  Upload your video and feature it in your blog.  Not ready for video?  Then record your voice and speak your message.  Hate how you sound on tape?  Then set your fingers to your keyboard and start writing.

If NONE of these works for you, then hire a ghost writer.  Advertising 2.0 is all about TWO WAY communication with your customers/clients.  If you’re not a great communicator… that’s ok.  But if you’re not, recognize it and then get someone on staff who IS a great communicator and put them in charge of …. communications!