The One Essential Key to Business Blog Success

I recently got an email from a blog reader who wanted to know how to get started blogging for his business.  However, he had a “problem”… he didn’t have any clients yet.

“How can I blog about problems my clients are having when I don’t have any clients yet?”

This is a surprisingly easy problem to solve with a business blog. I’ve had SEVERAL client begin blogging for their business without a single client on their roster who have successfully used their business blog to land their first client for their fledgling business.

Not having any clients is by far the EASIEST problem a business blog can “solve” for any business.  However, there’s an insidious issue which can prove to be insurmountable which business blogging can not overcome.  That problem is…

Not knowing WHY people choose to spend their money with your business.

The critical KEY to success when you’re blogging to increase sales for your business is to know WHY people are doing business with your business.

If your product/service is solving a problem – then your business blogging mission is easy.  Simply create blog posts which illustrate how your products or services can “solve” the problem.  These types of business blog posts are the types of posts often shared via social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.  I’ve even seen such types of blog posts enthusiastically shared via email.

Tapping into this essential business truth is the KEY to business blog success.

Far too often, business owners do not recognize the problem their product or service is solving.  When that happens – business blogging becomes foggy – unfocused – and unproductive.

You can’t simply bang the “buy now” drum and expect consumers to flock to your business blog.  Business blogging simply doesn’t work like that.  Jason over at A Smart Bear writes in his post “Why business blogs should focus on cheerleaders – not leads” writes:

Your “cheerleaders” are those rare people who are not only fans of your company, but who put their own reputation on the line on your behalf. … [A] blog, as one of your marketing tools, is better suited for cultivating cheerleaders than for generating vast numbers of new leads.

Discovering the REAL reasons people are using your products and services  is truly the key to not only business blogging success but to the overall success of your business.

Business Blog Ideas to Increase Sales

Business blogging can be great for your business… but only if you’re creating the “right” kind of content.

A “Mommy blogger” has dozens of places from which to draw inspiration for blog posts.  A mommy blogger can compose a blog post about the cute things her kid said – or the destructive antics of her dog – or her outrage over what’s happening in the world of politics.  But as a business blogger – those kinds of posts usually aren’t very productive unless you can find a way to “weave” them into a compelling and selling story promoting your business.

Your business blog has a job to do – and filling your business blog with “fluffy” stuff usually leads to a business blog that isn’t doing ANYTHING towards increasing sales for your business.

What your business blog needs is plenty of timeless compelling content with a SIDE of “sweet fluffy” posts. 

It’s better to NOT create a blog post rather than create a blog post that you’ll regret in the morning – or next year.

I know that this is in STARK contrast to the recommendations of a few business blog experts.  There is actually a school of thought which advocates approaching your business blog posts using an approach similar to Triumph the Insult Comic Dog….

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-TfZslHKoo&feature=related[/youtube]

I’ve got to admit – I’m puzzled by anyone who advocates actively antagonizing and insulting your target customer as a way to achieve success.  It’s a technique that may get you noticed – and it may get you inbound links – but I’ve never seen it lead to increased sales.

Isn’t increased sales the reaosn why you’re spending time blogging for your business?

With that in mind – the following are business blog idea starters for a business owner whose goal for his/her business blog is increased sales. 

Business Blog Ideas to Increase Sales

  1. Look no further than into your email “sent” folder. Your email sent folder is full of answers your current customers/clients are asking – so what better source could there be than digging into those outgoing emails and rewriting them for the general population. 

  2. Your email inbox is another blog idea goldmine. 

    Once again, there’s nothing better than looking at the questions customers/clients are asking and then providing a public answer on your blog. An added bonus feature to looking to your inbox is you can often find blog post titles which zero in on the terms your target audience is using to find information about your product or service – which is often blissfully free from “industry jargon” and “insider speak”.Inbound phone call logs can provide similar inspiration.
  3. Win friends by lambasting a sleazy compeitor. 

    I’m  assuming you’re not in some rarified niche sand box where everyone plays nicely, no on throws sand and most importantly – no one is currentily performing the marketing equivalent of turning loose a herd of cats into the marketplace sandbox.   If one of your competitors isn’t playing fairly – or are making promises they never intend on keeping – you can respond by creating your own version of a”To catch a predator” kind of post.

    Creating blog posts which serve to educate consumers about questionable tactics employed by your competitors is a great way to build trust and gain credibility with your audience. You may(wisely)  decide not to name names – and instead provide a list of questions prospective clients should ask before signing a contract with any one in your industry.  If one or two of those questions expose a sleazy tactic being used by a competitor – all the better.

    If you decide to name names in this type of blog post- you might want to check with your attorney before you click “publish”.

  4. Interview a satisfied customer

    Nothing sells as well as success… so take a look at your client list and work up a series of questions which help to illustrate why your products/services are the best of the best.  Then send this list of questions to your best customers/clients and “interview” them about their experience with your business. People love to read stories about other people who are like themselves – and no story is better for your business than the one your current customers can tell. 
  5. Address common misconceptionsWhat’s the biggest misconception held by outsiders about your industry? Set the record straight with your business blog.

  6. Write a problem solving tutorialPeople have problems – and when your business offers solutions to those problems – then marketing becomes as easy as shooting fish in a barrel.

    Create a business blog post on how your products or services address a common problem for your target audience.  This is prime “timeless” content which can keep on gaining strength LONG after you’ve hit the “publish” button.

These are just six ideas on how to create business blog posts which increase sales.   Feel free to share your ideas on posts you’ve used to build your business with your blog.

When the “right” answer isn’t the “best” answer.

Here’s a modern day business parable…

A business owner was interviewing applicants for a newly created position within the company. He decided to base his decision upon a single question which would be asked of each applicant, “What is two and two?”

The first interviewee’s answer was “Twenty-two.”

The second interviewee pulled out a slide rule and showed the answer to be between 3.999 and 4.001.

The third simply answered,  “Four.”

The business owner asked the fourth applicant the same question, “How much is two and two?” The interviewee got up from his chair, went over to the door and closed it then came back and sat down. He leaned across the desk and in a low voice asked, “How much do you want it to be?”

The final interviewee got the job.

The moral to the story?  Sometimes the “right answer” is not the BEST answer.

In the little parable above, four different interviewees had four different “answers” to the same question – and three of them were technically “correct”.  Unfortunately, having the “right” answer wasn’t the key to landing the job in this story.

The final applicant, instead of answering the question – dug deeper to find out the “WHY?” behind the question.  Why was the business owner asking him this seemingly simple question?

The final applicant would make a great business blogger.

When you’re creating content for your business blog – you have to adopt the same kind of mind set.  You have to go digging – get creative- and try to “get inside” the mind of your target reader to discover what the best answer is to the questions they’re asking about your product or service.

“It’s red”…. “It’s the size of a deck of cards”…. “It’s easy to use”…. those may be technically correct answers to the questions prospective customers are asking – but chances are they aren’t the RIGHT answers.

Often – there is no single”right” answer… and the various “best” answers could fill a book.

I hear that often from clients .  They look at their customer or client base and see a wide array of diversity staring back at them. The “best” answer for some is not the best answer for others. It can make creating a cohesive advertising campaign maddening for all involved.

It’s times like these when business blog can easily ride to the rescue… showcasing all the different “best” answers to questions being asked by your target audience about your business.

Building Business Blog Bridges

As I was updating WordPress for a client, I saw that someone had “discovered” her blog.  This is not necessarily a bad thing – but this person had decided to try to use the comments section of various blog posts for HIS sales message.

I can understand why he’d like to get his message out on her business blog. Years ago when we launched her blog, I worked extensively with this client to target the keyword terms which her prospective clients might use to search for information online.

We formulated a plan and she began blogging for her business.  Today she’s enjoying enviable SERPS which are the result of YEARS of consistent effort on her part.

Then this guy comes along and drops a few “turds” in her comment section.  Just because he left his name and URL doesn’t make his behavior any less “spam like” and doesn’t mean she should approve his comments.

How can you avoid committing this business blog faux pas?

So let’s say you have a business that needs some serious marketing help and you don’t want to work for YEARS building a business blog. I get it.  You’ve invested your blood, sweat and tears into launching this business and you need to see results like yesterday.

While it seems like a sure fire shortcut to success to hijack the comments section of a business blog with enviable SERPS… you’re more likely to burn potential bridges than build them.

Here are three easy steps to building bridges with successful business bloggers… and possibly EARN a chance to introduce yourself to an A list business blogger’s audience.

1. Launch your own business blog.

Every successful business blogger can remember a time when he/she were pounding out blog posts that no one was reading.  Believe me, you’ll be in a stronger position to ask for a “favor” if you’ve already demonstrated that you’re more than willing to go through the motions of building your own blog audience.

In my own personal experience, I’ve found that comments and guest blog post requests from business owners who are NOT actively blogging tend to fall into the “shamelessly self promoting” category.

See, a business blog post is not place for a “one call close”.  Your business blog is a place to woo consumers an to educate them.  While your ultimate goal is to seduce visitors into becoming your customers – you first must strive to earn their trust before you ask for their business.

That’s the nice thing about business blogging – it allows you to find the right “voice” while building an impressive library of useful web site content along the way.

Once you’ve launched your own business blog, determined your marketing strategy and created enough content to showcase your your own unique and authentic voice, then you’re ready for the second step…

2. Leave PITHY comments on other blogs.

Pithy means concise and expressive.  Your goal should be to add VALUE to the conversation at hand in the post – not to hijack it for your own sales pitch.  You’d be surprised how much “traffic” can come your blog’s way with a well reasoned comment or two.

Leaving regular, pithy comments on other business blogs is a great way to pave the way to the third way to respectfully use other business blogs to promote your own business….

3. Guest Post

Guest posting has the potential to be a “win-win” situation for both the blog owner and the guest blogger.  In my client’s case, if the author had launched his own business blog to promote his book – he could have contacted her and asked for an opportunity to guest post on her blog.

Assuming this author can write well – my client would get the double benefit of someone ELSE creating content on her established blog.  She gets a break from blogging AND still gets to offer fresh useful content to her readers.

Of course, if he has a history of leaving pithy comments on my client’s blog – this author would find my client is much more receptive to his offer to guest blog post.  By previously contributing to the conversation on her blog previously – this author would find my client more than willing to allow him a place to promote his point of view – and his book.

It’s a win – win – but only if the guest blogger has his own blog and has proven his ability to participate in a polite “blog style” conversation.

Guest blogging can be a GREAT way to introduce your products or services to a new audience.  On the other hand, it’s WAY too easy to delete shamelessly self promoting comments.

Business blogs are not SQUEEZE pages… don’t try to treat them as such!

Facebook is a Fad

What does Spock see when he looks into the scanner?  Why Facebook of course!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vs2l38DoqsQ&feature=player_embedded#at=49[/youtube]

Is your business ready for the end of Facebook’s “fad of the moment” status?

If the thought of the fall of Facebook makes you nervous- if Facebook is acting as your sole web presence – it’s time for a reality check.

At best, Facebook should be one of many TOOLS in your social media marketing toolbox.  It should never be the ONLY way for consumers to find your business online.

If you think Facebook is forever -I’d like to remind you of a very popular social media site of  yesteryear – MySpace.

When Newscorp purchased MySpace back in 2005 – the site was at the height of its popularity.  Of course, the first order of business was to cash in – and cash in they did.  Unfortunately – the changes made to improve short term profits were made without regard to the site’s users.   As the user experience began to deteriorate at MySpace, Facebook opened it’s virtual doors to the general public and consumers fled-driving MySpace into obscurity.

User experience killed MySpace – and a similar fate awaits Facebook as well if they continue to ignore the “will” of consumers.

The biggest mistake any business owner can make is to build their business on the “free” internet real estate offered by Facebook.

Facebook’s greatest appeal has always been the fact that it’s free and it’s growth has been very “viral”.  One person recruits their friends and family to sign up… and those friends recruit their friends – and before you know it – over a half a billion people have created Facebook profiles.

It’s natural that business would want to have a presence on this popular site.  However, it’s important to remember that your business doesn’t own in any way, shape or form its Facebook page.  Heck, you’re not even paying to RENT to Facebook for this online real estate – which means your options are VERY limited should you find yourself in unknowing violation of Facebook’s ever changing TOS.

There have been more than a few internet pioneers who have discovered first hand that it SUCKS to build your internet marketing empire on internet real estate you do not own.

While Facebook is indeed a “fad” – social media is not.

Social media is more than just the sum of it’s parts.  Social media is bigger than Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, You Tube and the myriad of other mega social media sites combined.

The smart business owner will place his or her own “horse” in the social media race and maintain a business blog.  Then social media sites like Facebook, YouTube and Linked In can be leveraged to help bring readers (a.k.a. consumers) to the business owner’s blog. That same smart business owner will be watching the newest players on the social media scene to see if the businesses’ target customers are beginning to congregate at a new social media gathering place… like say Foursquare.

When you create and maintain a business blog – where prospective customers can find out more about the products and services you provide – you might discover that your business blog is the most profitable piece of your own marketing puzzle.

That’s better than a page full of “likes” any day!