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?

 

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!

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?

On your way to the top – you might fall down

I’d like to introduce you to Janet Simpson.  She is a nutrition coach and registered dietitian.  However, she’s also  an entrepreneur, a professor, a mentor, a grandmother and tri-athlete.  She could have cut time from her first triathlon if she hadn’t stopped to hug and kiss her grandchildren who were there to cheer her on.

In other words, Janet is “Wonder Woman” in the flesh.

Janet had previously shared with me that she was planning to run in a 5 mile “fun run”.  If running five miles doesn’t sound like “fun” to you – you ain’t heard nothing yet.  When she finished with her fun run, she planned on helping race organizers tend to the needs of those running the 100 mile course.  That’s not a typo – in addition to the “mini” 5 mile run, there were half and full marathons in addition to the  one hundred mile competition!!!

Eighty people signed up to run the 100 mile course, and Janet later told me that the winner finished in a mere 18 hours.  She reported that he looked as fresh and energized as if he’d just completed a jog around the block.  Of the 80 who signed up for the 100 mile run – 60 completed the course in well under the 30 hour time limit.  Of those who didn’t finish – all completed at least 60 of the 100 mile run – before succumbing to such injuries as their toenails falling off.  One competitor ran the entire 100 miles barefoot.  Did I mention the race was held in October in Michigan?  BRRRR!!!!

If you think running 100 miles in the course of a single day barefoot in the cold sounds like an entry in the DSM-IV for some form of mental illness – you’re not alone.

While the runner who won the 100 mile run finished the race looking and feeling great – the same couldn’t be said for Janet. The course she ran followed a trail which lead through a forest.   The leaves from the trees  had  fallen, covering the exposed roots and other hidden dangers.  As Janet began her descent down a steep hill, she found herself flying through the air.  She had inadvertently hooked her toe under an exposed  tree root- hidden from view by the leaves.  She landed face down with enough force to not only scrape her face, hands and knees but also to knock the wind out of her and  crack a rib or two in the process.

Here’s the amazing part – the part that anyone who aspires to build a business of any size needs to know –

Janet still finished the race.

Even though she was battered and bruised, she sill  finished running the race -and came in 2nd in her age category to boot.   Initially she justified finishing the race by saying that she fell at the 2.5 mile mark and it only made sense to keep moving forward.  However, she later admitted that she could have chosen to ride to the finish line – but she was determined to finish the race under her own power.

What this story has to do with building your business

Building a business is hard.  I’ve worked with literally hundreds of new business owners and few are prepared for how difficult the process can be.  It’s taxing physically, mentally and emotionally.  As a general rule, everything will cost more than you think it will and take longer to complete than you think it should.  It’s just how business launches go.

New business owners are rarely prepared for the many obstacles they will have to overcome as they launch their new business.  While some hazards are common enough to be experienced by almost all business owners, others are like the tree roots in the forest through which Janet ran which laid hidden beneath the leaves.

According to Patricia Schaefer at Business Know How, one of the key attributes needed to start a business is the ability to recover after encountering such hidden obstacles.  She writes:

You learn from your mistakes, and use these lessons to succeed the next time around. Brian Head, Economist with the SBA Office of Advocacy, noted that studies of successful business owners showed they attributed much of their success to “building on earlier failures;” on using failures as a “learning process”.

Some hazards you’ll encounter as you launch your business are predictable.  That’s why you choose carefully the team members you’ll use to support you as you build your business.  A good accountant, attorney or business consultant can help a new business owner see many potential hazards which lie ahead.  Their advice is often worth it’s weight in gold – but if you’ve never tripped on a hidden root and broken a rib – you might not realize how valuable your trusted adviser’s advice is.

No matter how good your counsel – chances are that as you build your business – you’re going to have to navigate a steep path covered with newly fallen leaves.  You too may stumble upon a hidden exposed tree root and you may find yourself lying face down on the ground, battered and bruised with the wind knocked out of you.

At that moment – you’ll  have a decision to make.  Will you use the fall as your excuse to leave the race?  Will you climb upon the courtesy cart and be ferried back to the finish line?  Or – will you pick yourself up and start running again – heading towards the finish line?

The answer ultimately determines whether or not you’ll succeed in your business – because it’s not a question of WHETHER you’ll fall.  You will fall.  It’s just a matter of when, where and why.

No- the question is whether you decide to get up and try, try again after the fall. Will you view your fall as a learning experience – or will you view it as the end of the race?

Overcome Business Fear of Sharing

It’s not uncommon for people who sell their knowledge and expertise to  fear that if they give too much information away – that they’ll eliminate their potential client’s need for their services.

When it comes to sharing your knowledge and expertise – the more you give, the more you get.  The more you share knowledge and expertise – the more recognition and authority you accumulate.

Many knowledge professionals are engaged in making what Neil Rackham defines as “The Major Sale“.  Major sales require a large investment of either time, energy or money.   Major sales are more than simple transactions – they’re full blown relationships and relationships are the foundation of social media.

Relationships begin by building a foundation of trust.  Build enough trust with your audience and you’ll eventually find you’re creating authority.

Authority =  trust + power… the power to motivate people to take action.

Building authority does not happen overnight. It happens gradually – as you reveal and share your expertise via the many opportunities made possible thanks to social media.

I don’t have much time these days to bake- but over the years I have learned the hard way how important a tiny ingredient like baking powder can be in a recipe.  It’s such a tiny amount of a seemingly inert powder that surely it won’t be missed if the box in the pantry is empty- right?  WRONG!  That tiny bit of baking powder makes a HUGE difference in any recipe.  Without going into the science behind it – baking powder causes the bubbles in the batter to expand.  This “fizz” helps to make baked goods tasty treats which when combined with long periods of inactivity – cause one’s ass to grow to a mind blowing size.  Thus my retirement from baking as a hobby.

Dietary issues aside, when it comes to marketing your business – your knowledge and expertise are the “fizz” that makes your business rise and grow.  Sure, people can get a plethora of information “for free” on the internet – but there comes a time when general free advice isn’t enough.  It’s at the time when the rubber meets the road and prospective clients NEED your wisdom and hard won insight into solving their most pressing problems.

For example, if you think the self serve legal document service Legal Zoom replaces the need for a good attorney – then you’ve obviously never NEEDED a good attorney.  A good attorney has the education, the experience and the critical thinking skills to either avoid trouble ahead or get you out of trouble.

If you think one of the $25 tax preparation software programs replaces the need for a good CPA – then you’ve never worked with a good CPA.  A good CPA has the education, the experience and the critical thinking skills to either help you avoid tax problems in the future or can keep you out of tax trouble.

If you think an electronic back massage pad is an effective substitute for a good chiropractor – then you’ve never experienced a good chiropractor.  A good chiropractor has the education, the experience and the diagnostic skills to treat current back problems and can help you avoid back problems in the future.

If you think a self help book replaces the need for your services as a therapist or a coach – then you’ve never worked with a good therapist or coach…. yada, yada, yada.

You get the idea.

Which is why – if you’re good – you shouldn’t fear sharing too much of the WHY people should work with you.  There’s no way to give too many reasons WHY someone should want to work with you.  There’s no such thing as sharing”too much” information when it comes to making the major sale which is why blogs ROCK as marketing tools for anyone in the business of selling their expertise.