5 reasons your business blog isn’t “working”

Your business blog is a great business building tool – but like any tool – it has to be used correctly to deliver results for your business. Most business blog failure is rooted in failing to answer the question,  “Why” are you blogging for your business.

Here are the top reasons I’ve seen over the years as to why your business blog may not be working for your business. If you can think of any other reasons – be sure to share them in the comments section.

#1: Your business blog isn’t working because you are expecting your blog to generate sales leads.

Expectations are everything – and many business owners have jumped on the blogging bandwagon assuming that a business blog will quickly and easily”generate sales leads”.

The harsh reality is – business blogs are HORRIBLE for lead generation. If you don’t believe me – read Jason’s post on “Why business blogs should focus on cheerleaders not lead generation.

Creating a business blog with the goal of generating leads is a lot like planting an acorn in your backyard with the goal of lowering your air conditioning bill this summer.  Maybe at some point down that acorn will grow into a shade tree – but it won’t be providing any significant amount of shade this summer or the next.

If you want to effectively generate sales leads, I strongly recommend that you invest in PPC or direct mail marketing.  Set up a squeeze page – create a powerful offer – choose the best way to deliver that offer to your audience and then get to work converting those leads into sales for your business.

#2: Your business blog isn’t working because you aren’t focusing on the right keywords.

Properly set up WordPress blogs are absolutely amazing when it comes to creating search engine friendly content.  I’ve had clients who do not possess the technical expertise to set up Outlook Express to download their email who were able to create business blog posts which landed clients/patients for their business.

However, the key to creating such business blog posts is knowing WHY your customers/clients/patients are searching the web. If you don’t know – then there’s no way you can create blog posts which will “pop up” in their search for answers to the problems they’re having.

#3: Your business blog isn’t working because you expect too much from your visitors.

You’re expecting too much from your visitors if you expect them to subscribe to your RSS feed without some guidance.  Unless your target audience are web experts, that most of your blog’s visitors just aren’t RSS savvy.

You’re also expecting too much from your business blog visitors if you expect them to buy the first time they visit your blog.  Instead you have to have a WAY to “stay in touch” with your blog visitors.  A great way to do that is to set up an email marketing newsletter.  Even though business blogs are horrible at lead generation, they can be used to effectively begin building a RELATIONSHIP with visitors – a relationship that ensures they consider YOUR business when it comes time to make a purchase.

#4: Your business blog isn’t working because you don’t have the expertise needed to succeed.

Business blogs are GREAT at building credibility and trust when you’re truly an expert in your field.  Even if you don’t HAVE any clients – yet – you can still use your business blog to win clients if you can demonstrate your expertise via your business blog.

Ah – but there’s the rub.  If you haven’t put in the hard work needed to EARN the expertise needed to succeed in your chosen profession – then your business blog will almost certainly illustrate your ignorance.

Trying to “fake” expertise over a hundred or so blog posts is impossible.  It’s why a business blog filled with posts highlighting your expertise is a GREAT way to build authority, credibility and trust with prospective customers/clients/patients.

#5: Your business blog isn’t working because you haven’t posted content to it yet.

I wish I didn’t have to include this as a reason why your business blog isn’t working.  I wish I hadn’t had more than a few conversations with business owners where this point needed to be made.

The only thing as “bad” as a business blog with “welcome to WordPress” as the sole entry is the business blog which is not updated on a monthly basis.

Business blogs make it INSANELY easy to publish content to the web so there’s no excuse for not updating your business blog on a monthly basis. I understand that you’re busy – but saying you don’t have time to blog is like saying you don’t have time to answer the phone when customers/clients/patients call.

Those are the top five reasons I’ve seen for business blogs which aren’t working.  Did I miss any reasons why your business blog may not be “working” for your business?

 

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.

Succeeding in Social Media

You’ve got a business – and you’d love to find new customers online.  You’ve heard that social media can do that for your business- but you don’t know where to begin.

If that’s where you find yourself, then you must know that there are TWO things you MUST have in place in order to succeed in social media:

You need two – and only two – KEY elements in place to succeed in social media.

1.  You must have a plan.

2. You must be proactive.

First – you must have a solid plan.

I’m not talking about a “social media plan” or even a “social media strategy”. I’m talking about a solid business plan which includes as part of your business’ DNA a DESIRE to serve your customer base.

Social media sucks for the business running a “pump and dump” style business plan.  If you view customer comments as “noise” then chances are your “social media strategy” is going to focus upon making your customers SHUT UP and “kwitcherbitchin”.

The current “trend” appears to be that consumers voices are becoming more easily “heard” online that the many professional marketers.  Google is actively searching for online reviews and including them as part of the Google Places Page – a free page one website which business owners can claim and utilize.

In other words,  the search engines appear to be interested in magnifying the voice of the “little guy” a.k.a. the consumer online.  The wise business owner and CEO will keep this trend in mind as they plan for the future in ALL areas of their business.

Think of social media as a huge cocktail party where the conversations are being etched in stone and run your business accordingly.

Creating a free standing “social media plan” – one that is separate and distinct from the overall business plan – is kind of like a resident of Spokane, Washington  planning a road trip to Miami Beach and buying a map of  Florida to plan the trip.   While that map will help once you’ve actually arrived in Florida- but it’s not going to help you navigate the lower 48 and get you to the Sunshine State border.

The best social media plan is one that is integrated with your other means of customer communication… because that’s what social media is – communication with both existing customers and prospective customers.

Which brings me to the 2nd element needed for success in social media.

You must be proactive – not reactive.

Most humans don’t live proactively.  As a species – we didn’t immediately and universally adopt the habit of wearing seat belts and had to be “legislated” or forced into using them.  Sure, there were a few proactive thinkers who buckled up for safety – but these proactive thinkers were definitely in the minority.

So when I say “you must be proactive” when it comes to social media – that advice assumes you’ve already got a business plan that has customer satisfaction ingrained as part of your business DNA.   Then – being proactive simply means not only listening to consumers but actively ENCOURAGING them to speak positively about your business.  Giving consumers a place to be ‘heard” is a great start -but then the real job is cultivating the positive conversations.

When satisfying your customers is part of your business goals – then listening to your customers becomes a priority.  You want them to come back – you want customers to buy from you again – because you realize that it’s 5-7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to sell another product to an existing customer – you will eventually realize that listening to your customers is the best way to keep them.

In a recent article over at Mashable…Social Media Success: 5 Lessons from In-House Corporate Teams Amy Mae Elliott  interviewed Kerry Bridge, head of digital media communications, EMEA and global public sector at Dell Computers.    Bridge offers this simple reason for why Dell has been so successful using social media to generate sales for their business:

“Listening to our customers has always been at the heart of what we do.  Dell’s heritage of direct customer connections and online leadership are the seeds of our drive to be a social media success.”

Throughout the article – you’ll see the same “thread” repeated over and over again.

The Social Media Success Formula outlined in that article can be summed up as this:

Strong products + a sincere desire to improve customer experience + a proactive commitment to communicating effectively with consumers = social media success.

I get a lot of inquiries from business owners who want to “get started” using social media to grow their business.  They read stories where a companies like Dell have generated millions of dollars in revenue using the free social media communication service Twitter and they want to tap into that kind of business building social media action for their business.

These business owners are frequently disappointed to learn that the social media strategy is not a “set it and forget it” type of proposition.  While many of the communication tools which are an integral part of social media are “free” – using those tools takes time to learn to use – and they require a significant investment of time on the part of the business owner.  Companies like Dell, Ford and Southwest have teams of social media pros who work full time participating in the social media conversations online.

You may not have the resource to fund a full time social media team dedicated to communicating with consumers- but almost every business can launch a self hosted blog where consumers can come and share their thoughts.  Sure – you have to put forth a bit of effort in crafting those blog posts – and if you do that well then you might have to drudge through spammy comments – but if you’ll invest that limited amount of time into your business blog – you’ll find REAL gold in the authentic comments from actual consumers.

Business Details: The Devil known as Domain Names

William Feather – an American author – once cautioned,

Beware of the person who can’t be bothered by details.

As a business owner, the hardest part of owning and running your own business is paying attention to all the tens of thousands “loose threads” which make up your business.

For the past few years, I’ve been helping business owners set up self hosted WordPress blogs to power their online marketing message.  We walk through all the hundreds of tiny details which have to be addressed in order to create a powerful online communication tool for their business.

Why would you want to invest the time and money in launching YOUR OWN business blog instead of a starting with a FREE business blog?

Launching a new business blog is a LOT like launching the space shuttle.   When NASA launches the space shuttle -the 1,200,000 lbs of thrust generated by the main engines isn’t enough to break Earth’s gravitational pull.   NASA needs additional rockets to generate the additional 6,000,000 lbs of thrust.  However, once the shuttle has broken free of the Earth’s gravitational pull – those additional rockets are jettisoned having performed their job.

When you launch your business blog – there’s a lot of work that is done “up front”.  Just like launching the space shuttle – it takes a lot more effort to start a business blog than it does to maintain one. (By the way, this up front work has to start anew when you decide to “switch” to your free blog to your own self hosted business blog.)

The good news is that once that initial work is done (pick ujp a copy of the 8 Week Power Blog Launch to learn how to shorten that launch period to 8 weeks or less.)  – your business blog can easily “glide” with minimal effort on your part.

A few of my clients have actually “ignored” their business blogs for periods of 12-15 months at a time.  In several cases, this period of inattention has actually been a good thing. One client was pleased to discover that after a prolonged absence from business blogging -that her blog was enjoying quite a bit of success with long tail searches for her services.  Her blog was getting 100 unique visitors a day via search and when she returned she discovered that more than a dozen of those visitors had left comments requesting more information about her services.

Ok- it wasn’t “good news” from the visitor’s point of view.  Visitors left comments – asked for information – and got deafening silence.   However, the silver lining was when this business blog owner returned to see those comments, it ignited a renewed passion to begin really using her business blog as a marketing tool for her business.

Fortunately she had subscribed to the Cyber Angel hosting services which automatically updates WordPress and essential plugins – so when she did turn her attention back to her business blog she didn’t return to a blog which had been ruthlessly hacked or hijacked by someone who wanted to capitalize upon her tightly targeted niche position.

This is a happy tale of how one business owner “lost track” of one of the many details of her business and it ended well.  Because she had carefully crafted her business blog’s foundation – even a 13 month absence didn’t “destroy” her business blog.  As a matter of fact, she returned to a blog stronger than it was when she last logged in – a blog with an additional 13 months of “credibility” with the search engines.

Then there’s the other side the coin – when an inattention to detail has disastrous results.  It begins with an innocent email that reads, “Help!  My business blog is down and I don’t know why.” What follows is an “on your way to the top you might fall down” types of experience.

I’ve received various forms of this email over the past few weeks and in every case, the reason the blog is “down” is because the domain name registration expired.  When a domain name registration expires – everything associated with the domain name comes to a screeching halt.

When you register a domain name for your business blog – you’re only “renting” the name – you do not “own” it.   Because you’re renting it – you have to “renew” it on a yearly basis.

You might also be surprised how many business owners are not the registered owners of the domain name for their business.  Instead, they’ve chosen to register their domain name for “free” as part of their hosting set up.  When you choose that option, the hosting company – NOT YOU – is listed as the administrative contact for the domain name.   That means the hosting company is in control of www.yourcompanyname.com.  (Yes- domain names are considered “real” property and if your hosting company refuses to transfer www.yourcompanyname.com to your business, you CAN choose to pursue legal remedies.  However,  have you priced a lawyer’s services lately?  That “free” domain name is going to get really expensive once lawyers are involved. I J S)

This year alone I’ve had several business owners contact me – anxious to begin the adventure of business blogging – only to discover that their web developer or their hosting company “controls” (a.k.a. “owns”) the domain name that they thought “belonged” to their business.

Why is “registration” of a domain name critical?

Think of your domain name as the “address marker” for your business blog.  The real “address” is a series of numbers known as an IP address .  Your domain name is simply the “human friendly” way of finding where websites and blogs “live” on the web.

In addition to serving as an address market – domain name information is used extensively by the search engines.  Keywords contained within a particular domain name can bring hundreds of visitors a day via search to a blog.  (Just ask my client who “checked out” for 13 months to return to a blog full of comments from potential clients awaiting moderation.)  However, the search engine look at a lot more than just the phrases and word contained within the domain name – they also look at the HISTORY of a domain name.

It’s commonly accepted “web wisdom” that older content – and older domain names – get more search engine “luv” than new content and newly registered domain names.

Domain names and great original web content get better with age.

Which is why – it’s so heartbreaking for me to get an email from a client who has invested the time and effort building a brand new blog under a brand new domain name into a blossoming business blog which is climbing the SERP charts only to have the rug pulled out from beneath their feet by an expired domain name.  It’s even more frustrating because it is so easily avoided.

As I write this blog post, I am reminded of an earlier email from a client who is currently experiencing this heartbreak.  She had hired a new virtual assistant and needed her blog log in information so her VA could handle the many web based details which were overwhelming her.    Obviously this “detail” of renewing her domain name had slipped by unnoticed by this cut rate VA.  (Read “Avoid Hiring the VA from Hell” for more tales of VA horror.)

Meanwhile, her product is almost ready for beta testing – and the firmly established web position she had staked out is now gone.

My client’s VA dropped the ball  and now she’s got to choose whether she will invest more time and money into launching this business.

Personally – I hope she fires her virtual assistant and continues her journey to launching a product which targets an emerging online trend.  I hope this doesn’t derail her vision or cool her passion for creating her product.  I hope the fact that her domain name was snapped up so quickly serves as evidence of the potential that lies ahead.

But in the end – it’s up to her whether she decides to get up or stay down.  What would you do?

When is it time to stop business blogging?

Launching a business blog is an exciting time.  The opportunities that open up as a result of blogging for your business are positively staggering.  There’s no way to predict specifically how blogging will impact your business – but if you give blogging for your business a six month commitment – you will no doubt witness some form of benefit that more than justifies the time and expense.

Perhaps you’re like a lot of business owners and one of the reasons you haven’t started blogging for your business is that you’re afraid it’s a never ending commitment.   If the prospect of making an open ended commitment to business blogging  makes you nervous, take heart.

Every business owner who maintains a business blog will have to answer the question, “Is it time to stop blogging?”

Jim Kukral is a blogging superstar.  He’s an author – a speaker and a consultant who began blogging way back in 2001.  Blogging has helped to establish Kukral as a sought after speaker,  author and business thought leader.   Last week – he announced that he has quit blogging and  his announcement has created quite a stir. Many have offered their take on Kukral’s decision to quit blogging.  Jonathan Fields writes in his post “Should YOU stop blogging

[T]he bigger message we should all take from his announcement is not that blogging is dead, but that:

  1. We need to examine why we’re doing what we’re doing on a regular basis, then
  2. Respond and evolve to accommodate change, both external market-imposed change, and internal shifts in where we want to take our businesses and lives.

We’re all hostages to the constraints that time places upon us.  We all have a mere 168  hours available each and every week.  Work – play – sleep –  all have to fit within the confines of 24/7.  It’s no secret that launching and maintaining a business blog takes time and we all have to budget our time effectively.

We make  dozens of” time budgeting” decisions daily – many of them without much conscious thought.

I like to equate blogging with exercise because both require a regular commitment and the benefits tend to accumulate over time.  When we say that we’re “too busy” to exercise – what we’re really doing is valuing the benefits of other activities over the benefits of exercising.

There’s one key difference.

The benefits of business blogging don’t stop when you quit blogging.

Stop exercising for three months and your body will definitely tell the tale.  On the other hand, assuming you’ve created a solid business blog foundation – you can take 3 months off from business blogging and come back to find a business blog that is stronger – not weaker – as a result.

The time you devote to business blogging today will continue to benefit your business long after you’ve stopped blogging.

Lisa Barone over at Outspoken Media gets it.  In her blog post, she is encouraging business owners to ask the right questions about using social media.  She writes:

Ask yourself:

  • What are your business reasons for doing X?
  • What actions are important to help you see a benefit from X?
  • What are the rules for the organization when participating in X?
  • Is X the best thing for your business, or could you see a better reward if you switched your focus to something else?

I love the way Lisa phrased these questions – because they’re questions that every business owner needs to ask about EVERY business activity – not just business blogging.

One of my clients recently let her membership to the local Chamber of Commerce expire.  She enjoyed the networking activities but her business is “bigger” than the small Tennessee town in which she resides.  As her practice has grown – she has had to evaluate whether the time she spends socializing at local Chamber events is the most profitable use of her time.  This year, her answer to whether to remain active is”No”.  For her,  that 2 hours a month is better spent finishing her book and blogging than socializing.

For Jim Kukral – when he asked those questions – his evaluation of the time he was spending blogging lead him to quit investing time in creating new blog posts.

But notice – he is NOT taking DOWN his business blog.

That’s not what Jim means when he says he is “quitting blogging”.  There’s a big difference between taking DOWN your blog and choosing to stop actively creating new content for your business blog.

Over the past nine years, Jim has created hundreds – perhaps thousands of blog posts.   Even though Jim won’t be creating new blog posts, the posts he has created in the past will continue to serve him well.   When visitors arrive at Kukral’s now static blog – they will still be able to click on the links in the sidebar – they’ll still be greeted with a pop-up window to ask them to sign up for Jim’s newsletter – they can still become a “doer” and part of his private inner circle.

In other words, Jim’s blog will continue to do what his blog has been doing for the past nine years – building trust, establishing his expertise, collecting leads and selling his book.  The point is – now his blog has reached a point where he doesn’t HAVE to keep adding posts.  He can simply let his blog continue to do what he created it to do.

One of the biggest”fears” I hear expressed about business blogging is that business owners confuse business blogging with “blogging”.  Business blogging does not require that you post three times a day 7 days a week.  The only reason for blogging on that type of schedule  is if your primary competition is the 24/7 cable news networks.

For most business bloggers – posting one or two articles a week will result in a robust offering of informative articles about the benefits of doing business with you.  Two blog posts a day for five years will yield a “website” with over 500 pages of content.

That’s 500 opportunities to share 500 different ways your product or service has been used to solve your target audiences problems.

So when is it time to stop business blogging? My answer would be when you’ve stopped offering new products and services and you’ve covered every possible angle on the products and services you currently offer.

  • Stop blogging for your business when you can’t think of another way to illustrate the value of your product.
  • Stop blogging for your business when every consumer in your target audience knows why your the natural choice.
  • Stop blogging for your business when you run out of ways to share with potential consumers the benefits of your product or service.

Of course, you won’t achieve any of the above in five blog posts or less.   The act of blogging is easy – the art of packaging your products and services into a a cohesive marketing message is the hard part.

Of course, in order to stop blogging for your business you have to start – and for many business owners – they have yet to clear that hurdle.