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.

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!

Indecent Business Blogging Exposure and other forms of TMI

a.k.a. yet another reason why your business blog shouldn’t act like other blogs.

Blogging is great.  It allows you to publish content quickly and easily to the world wide web.  That content will live on long after it’s dropped from the front page of your blog and will continue playing a significant role in shaping your online reputation for years to come.

Business blogging allows you to create a search engine friendly comprehensive information archive about your business.  You can share the answers to frequently asked questions and share testimonials quickly and easily.  You can also choose to share any other content via your business blog as well.  The 30 second television commercial you paid to produce can “air” any time and the digital copy of your brochure can be downloaded  instantly.

Business blogging is truly a marvel- but like any other powerful weapon – it has a dark side.

Business blogging provides ample opportunity to create TMI business blog posts.

For some mystical, magical reason – writing on a regular basis seems to have the ability to “reveal” more than what is displayed on the page.

It’s called a Freudian slip when someone says something which unintentionally reveals what they’re really thinking.   Austin Power’s movie Goldmember provides an exaggerated illustration of this concept:

Austin: “Now who has my father?”

Dr. Evil: “Uh oh! Someone has some daddy issues.”

Austin: “Nothing could be my father from the truth.”

Dr. Evil: “Oops! You said ‘my father’.”

Austin: “No I dadn’t.”

Dr. Evil: “Did too!”

Austin: “Didn’t! Did not!”

Dr. Evil: “Shebah!”

Austin: “For me, this is a dad issue.”

Dr. Evil: “Hooh!”

Austin: “Dead issue! Dead dad! Dead beat dad.”

It’s funny when Mike Meyers does it – but if you’re not careful, it’s very easy to commit such Freudian slips.

Business blogging is at its best when it is authentic.

Business blogging works best when it’s authentic.  As you blog, you’ll be writing in a distinct “voice” – just as when you speak, you speak in a distinct voice.  The way you write – the way you share stories – the tone of your writing all comes together to create your authentic blogging “voice”.  The more of you that you share, the more distinct this blogging voice will be.

Like every good thing –  authenticity can easily cross the line and become TMI which is a BAD thing. You must be aware of this “danger” and be careful, that personal turmoil doesn’t find it’s way into your blog posts.

Like most things I share here, this “lesson” is roote in personal experience. A few months ago, I was launching another business and asked a colleague to help with the branding and design elements.  She read the posts on that blog and assumed that I had hired a ghostwriter who failed to capture my “spark”.

OUCH!

I hadn’t hired a ghostwriter – but I was having serious reservations about launching that business.

Quick aside – Some businesses are like selling  encyclopedias door to door.  Back in the old days, prior to the internet, when someone purchased an encyclopedia set, it was a one time sale.  Few customers would be willing to buy a second set of encyclopedias no matter how happy they were with the original purchase.  These types of businesses don’t have repeat sales or repeat customers  and as a result, are tough to launch and then grow.

I hadn’t wanted to face the fact that the business I was preparing to launch was looking like it was definitely a “high tech” version of encyclopedia sales.  That internal conflict had come through loud and clear despite my refusal to acknowledge it.

Should you avoid transparency in your business blog?

I don’t think you can successfully blog without some element of transparency.  With that said, business blogging is too important to take a “I’ll wait to blog for my business as long as life is perfect” mentality.  It’s the most powerful social networking tool available and one that – like fine wine – improves with age.

If you’re waiting for the perfect time to launch a business blog – that time was five years ago.  You’re behind – get moving and get started.

However, if your business is in a state of turmoil – if your personal life is in a state of chaos – I would recommend that you hire a copywriter to assume your business blogging activities.

There are a lot of benefits to hiring a writing professional.  First and foremost, a true ghostwriting “pro” can write in your voice – without ever making a Freudian slip.

Your clients or customers may love you – but they don’t need to know the intricate details of your latest bout with the flu.  🙂 Just one of many things that are better left “unblogged”.

Why Your Business Blog Shouldn’t Act like Other Blogs

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery – and if you’re considering launching a business blog you might be tempted to imitate some of the top blogs online.  It’s a great strategy to imitate success – but if you do choose to imitate some of the top blogs online – you may very well find yourself wasting a lot of time and energy.

When it comes launching and maintaining a business blog, you have to define your goals carefully.   Long ago, I applauded Liz Strauss when she wrote, “Your business is not your blog.”   Those words of wisdom still apply for the business owner who wants to use a business blog to promote his or her business.

Today there are some blogs which are acting as a “business”.  If a business blog is classified as “marketing” – these blogs would have to be classified as “media channels”.

You’re already familiar with the concept of different channels offering different content through television.  What began as three national channels has exploded into hundreds of channels – each targeting a different demographic. Many of the top blogs have become their own “television network” so to speak.  The primary goal of these blogs is providing entertaining and informative content.  In essence they’re “competing” with other content providers – like the television networks.

In these cases – contrary to Liz’s word’s of wisdom – the blog is the business.  When it comes to this style of blogging – you’ll notice there are lots of ads being displayed.  Those ads are the way those blogs are paying the bills which is why – in these cases – the blog is the business.

In the 8 Week Power Blog Launch – in the first lessons I ask the bloggers to define their blogging goals.  It’s important to define your blogging goals because if you’re going to become a competitor for network television  you’re going to have to take a different approach than the business owner who wants to position his or her blog posts in the path  of prospective customers as they research an upcoming purchase.

Creating your own “network” with your own programming is a huge task – an insurmountable one if you’re trying to do it yourself.  These “network blogs” often employ full tine writers,editors and even advertising sales people.  The content of the blog IS the job.   So while you may be a huge fan of a blog which provides daily content and breaking news – chances are you won’t want to imitate that big time blog when it comes time to launching your business blog.

Instead – you’ll want to adopt the blogging style of writing informative blog posts which are written with the end consumer in mind.  If you’re selling widgets – then your business blog should be filled with articles on all the many amazing uses of widgets around the home or business. When that’s your goal, writing a blog post or two each week is often all you need to build that kind of business blog.

On the other hand, if your blog goal is to compete with Oprah’s new television network – that’s going to require full time effort by a team of talented writers.  You’re going to be churning out content on a daily – in some cases hourly – basis.

This is why you must first define your business blogging goal before you begin blogging.  In many cases, your business blog shouldn’t act like other blogs because it’s goal is not to become the go to source for widespread information rather the goal is for your business blog to provide great information for prospective buyers of your product or service.

Business blogging is a marathon – not a sprint. Keeping the goal in sight is a great way to keep your business blog on track and can prevent you from “burning out” before the race is over.

Blogging Off Topic

One of the most challenging aspects of business blogging is deciding upon a topic.  Not only do I hear the many “reasons” (a.k.a. excuses) for not choosing a topic and sticking with it,  but I’ve uttered a few of them to myself along the way.

Admittedly – it’s hard to stick to a tightly targeted topic.  It requires effort and creativity to compose blog posts that somehow – someway –  take a cursory pass at the topic of your blog.  Once again – I’d like to offer here a bit of advice for anyone who would rather learn from my experience than their own.

Blogging off topic

Why are you blogging?  It’s the most important question to ask as you launch your business blog.   If you’re enveloped in a fog created by the various “gurus” who tout business blogging as the way to get rich quick for your business – you’ll quickly discover that business blogging is not a get rich quick sport.

Business blogging is a GREAT way to build an impressive array of articles which showcase the value of your products and services.  Business blogging makes publishing these informative articles to the web quick and easy.   Through these articles – you can allow prospective customers/clients/patients to “see” what’s in store after they do business with you.

One important lesson I’ve learned over the past few years when it comes to business blogging is this:

Blog posts should be timeless.

However, when you are blogging – it’s often easier to write about what’s happening at the moment than to lay out a blogging “plan” for your upcoming posts. Don’t get me wrong – sometimes “the moment” is the fodder for the best blog posts.

SOMETIMES

Other times – “the moment” takes your blog horrifically off track and off topic.

A few years ago – I wrote such a “blogging off topic in the moment” post.  At the time, I was feeling abused by a local business and very angry.   I also had shiny new  powerful Weapon of Mass Destruction – my blog.  I vented my frustration under the title “When a pest control company becomes your biggest pest.”

That blog post did everything I wanted it to do at that moment in time.    My account with the company was quickly adjusted and I was pleased.  Not only did I achieve satisfaction – but once again I saw the benefits of maintaining a business blog.

That was then – this is now.

Today that blog post seems to have become an internet lightning rod for Floridians frustrated by their pest control company.  (Pest control services are a necessity when you live in the Sunshine State.) So what’s not to love about a blog post that gets so popular that it becomes the target of an internal online reputation repair campaign?

Well – it’s the fact that the blog post is completely and totally off topic for my blog.

When visitors arrive at my blog via search – they see that blog post as their “opening page”.    Keep in mind, many of those visitors are here for information about pest control companies in Florida.   There isn’t much information here beyond that single post – so these visitors bounce.  They aren’t here for information about social media marketing or business blogging – they’re here because they’re upset with their pest control company.

Business blogging is definitely a horse of a different color than “traditional” blogging.

As a business blogger – you need to create TIMELESS blog posts that are on target – because the older those blog posts get – the more likely they are to show up in a search.

“A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.”  ~Mark Twain

I blogged in the moment – and I inadvertently picked a cat up  by the tail.

A word to the wise – if you’re blogging for your business – focus upon keeping your blog posts on topic and timeless.