Is a Blog the Best Marketing Tool for Your Business?

There is an adage in advertising that says, “I know that half my advertising dollars are wasted – I just don’t know which half!” Several authors claim credit for this quote, but no matter what the origin, I can assure you the saying is wishful thinking.

Not only is it possible that more half of your advertising dollars are wasted, on the flip side, it’s also possible that your marketing efforts are working very hard – against your business!

One every popular “advertising” avenue being touted is using blogs to promote your business. With all the hype surrounding blogs, you may be wondering if a blog could help your business.

The answer is easier than you might imagine. But in order to answer this question, you must first recognize that there are two different types of sales your business can be making.

Neil Rackham is the founder of The Huthwaite Corporation, which launched a 12-year, $1 million research study into effective sales performance. Rackham is not your typical “sales guy” but rather he’s a psychologist who studies the sales process. The study results are available in the book, Spin Selling, where Rackham differentiates sales into two categories… the Minor Sale and the Major Sale.

While Rackham applies this theory to sales people who make sales calls, I have taken this theory and applied it to advertising and marketing, because these activities are “selling” activities.

If your business is making Minor Sales, then a blog probably won’t be a really effective marketing tool for your business. However; if you’re making a Major Sale, then a blog can be a GREAT marketing tool for your business.

Are you making a Major Sale?

The elements that make up the Major Sale extend beyond the financial investment required. Asking a customer to spend a lot of money is one way you know you’re making a Major Sale… however, it’s not the only factor in play. To determine how much of a Major Sale you’re making, ask yourself the following questions:

QUESTION 1: How much risk is there in purchasing your product or service for your customers?

In other words, how much trust do they need to have to become your client or customer? How “high” is the risk if your customers make a wrong choice? Most businesses doing business on the internet need to establish a level of trust, but some require more trust to be built than others.

For example, if you’re selling office supplies, the consequences fof your customer of making a mistake and purchasing the wrong kind of copy paper is very, very low. If your customer orders the wrong kind of paper and then finds out that he/she made a mistake… the consequences aren’t very high. If the customer has children, then he or she merely brings home the reams of paper and the kids will take care of it in short order.

On the other hand, the choice of a financial planner is a VERY high risk decision for most consumers.

Several years ago, a financial planning firm in my home town made BIG news when it was discovered that the “investments” offered by the “financial planners” were not investments at all but actually a complex Ponzi scheme. As a result, several thousand of the firm’s clients in the area lost their retirement savings.

If you need to establish TRUST with your potential clients… then a blog is a GREAT marketing tool for your business.

If you’re selling baseball gloves to Little Leaguers… well, then trust isn’t quite as important as it may be if you’re a CPA or a financial planner. On the other hand, if you’re selling copy paper, trust may be downright irrelevant!

QUESTION 2: How much TIME will customers invest in researching their purchasing options?

The higher the “risk” is for your client or customer in purchasing your products or services, the more time he or shee will spend researching providers and searching for alternatives.

It’s important to note that devoting a lot of TIME to making a decision about buying changes the buying process significantly. Just because someone is spending time researching a purchase, it doesn’t mean that the decision will be made based ENTIRELY upon which provider has the lowest price.

If your customers are spending a lot of time researching options, then a blog is a great marketing tool because, via regular posts, you can illustrate time and time again why they should make an investment and build a relationship with you. You can use those blog posts to clearly illustrate WHY the lowest PRICE provider may not be the BEST provider.

If your potential clients spend a lot of time researching their options… then a blog is a GREAT marketing tool for your business.

Blogs are MAGNIFICENT COMMUNICATION TOOLS!! If you’ve got a good “handle” on the information you want to communicate to potential customers and your customers are SEEKING more information to make an informed choice.

QUESTION 3: How much TIME will your customers be spending with you after the sale?

Yet another factor that moves a sale from Minor Sale status to Major Sale status is the RELATIONSHIP that you’ll have with your customers or clients once the sale is completed.

The more interaction you expect to have with customers or clients, the more information those clients or customers need BEFORE they make the final decision. If you expect to have a lot of interaction with clients or customers AFTER the sale, then even if customers aren’t making a major financial investment, they still treat the transaction as a major sale. After all, breaking up with a service provider is hard to do!

So while the investment in choosing a baby sitter for a Saturday Night out on the town may not require taking out a loan, it still falls into the Major Sale category.

If your potential clients will develop a relationship with you after the sale… then a blog is a GREAT marketing tool for your business.

If your business is involved with making Major Sales, then establishing communication with customers BEFORE they make a purchasing decision is essential. When communication is key, a blog is a GREAT way to communicate with customers and clients.

This article was published at BizNik
Biznik - Business Networking

Why and For Whom Do you Blog?

Darren Rowse has an interesting article about a “new” breed of blogger,  who doesn’t blog for money but rather earns income as a SIDE effect of blogging.  His post was inspired by a post written by Seth Godin (the MASTER of earning income as a side effect of his blogging) called “The Wealthy Gardener” in which Seth writes:

Blogging is much the same way. The best bloggers make money, but mostly as a side effect, not as a direct result of setting out to use a blog to make a profit. It’s just too long a ramp up time, too frustrating and too uncertain to be the best path to make a living.


Which is why I encourage my clients to embrace the “new breed of blogging” with a passion.  See, in my practice, my clients are engaged in making what Neil Rackham classifies as the Major Sale.  According to Rackham, a major sale is one in which the seller needs to establish a trusting relationship with the buyer in order to complete the sale.

If you’re an independent service professional, chances are good that YOU are engaged in making a “Major Sale.”  If that’s the case, then a BLOG is a great way to communicate with potential clients and begin building the TRUST needed for them to eventually hire you so you can perform your services for them.

With that in mind, when I have a client who expresses desire to “monetize” his or her blog, I encourage them to think FIRST of why they’re blogging and then WHO their target audience is when they blog?  A consultant whose monthly retainer is four or five figures should probably focus more on building a relationship with potential clients rather than focus on the nickels and dimes a “monetized” blog will generate.

Even blogging superstar Micheal Arrington of Techcrunch began blogging not with a “monetized” blog in mind, but rather as a way to get up to speed quickly on the emerging technologies of Web 2.0.  It wasn’t until after he had built a MASSIVE audience that he parlayed his blogging “success” into a successfully “monetized” blog.

Mark Butler writes about the things Courtney Tuttle did right when he launched his blog and the first item Mark identifies is Court “began with the end in mind”.

Figure out what the ‘Why’ behind your blogging is, and remind yourself of it every day. Hint: “To make money” isn’t specific enough. Your blog should have a clear place in your business plans and goals. Define it, and stick to it.

I recently wrote about a GREAT contest being launched by the Search Engine Journal blog where they’re inviting guest writers to create dynamic posts to their blog.  It’s a great contest, but one I won’t be entering.  Why?  Because my blog is a promotion tool for my business and my clients are NOT RSS subscribers nor readers of the Search Engine Journal.

A conversation I had this morning with a client illustrated this point well for me.  I found myself creating a word picture for a client to help her to understand the difference between her domain name based email account and her beloved Hotmail email account.  (The word picture involved an RV, a mail box, and two dogs named Outlook Express and Hotmail.)   Trust me when I tell you that the readers at Search Engine Journal do NOT need that word picture to understand the concept of having two separate email account.

It’s easy to get distracted by shiny objects and small furry creatures as you build your blog.  However, when you keep in mind WHY you’re blogging and FOR WHOM…. it makes it MUCH easier to decide where to invest your most precious commodity…. TIME.

PR drop from “3” to “0” thanks to a spammy widget!

I recently posted about how I thought I had a “near miss” with the Blog Skinny widget.

Well, it turns out it was a direct hit on many fronts.
I thought I had removed the widget from my test site.  As a matter of fact, I would SWEAR that I did so.

Yet this morning, I went to the site looking for an article I had posted there… and I noticed that the site’s PR had dropped from a 3 to a zero.

OUCH!!!  Why did this site get slapped?  However, I was on a mission, so I searched for the term and began scrolling through the posts… and that’s when I saw it.


Well… mystery solved.  (Well, not the total mystery.  HOW IN THE HECK DID IT GET BACK UP THERE?  I checked to make sure it wasn’t there anymore the last time I was there!)

That’s the reason for my precipitous PR drop.  I also suspect it’s the reason I’m getting spam now in the email address I used for the site.

Andy Beard offers a great post on Google Reconsideration or Reinclusion Request  however, I’m going to have to decide if I want to keep the blog there or not.

However, in the mean time, I’d like to ask for other people’s experiences with other spammy widgets.  Is Blog Skinny the only one?  What ones have “burned” your blog.