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.

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?

Before you spend one penny on an AdWords campaign….

online advertisingBefore you spend one penny on an AdWords campaign – take a walk with me – a customer – through the whole “searching for a product or service” on the internet.

Yesterday – my clothes dryer quit working.  While draping my clothes over the railing of the upstairs over look is an option, it’s not particularly decorative – so the first thing on my “to do” list this morning is to find an appliance repairman.

Right now, it’s easier for me to search for this service online rather than try to find the latest version of the yellow pages.  If I had one of those jobs where you get up, get dressed and drive to an office – I’d be using my cell phone to perform this search as I sat in rush hour traffic.  However, because I don’t have to drive to my office – I sit down at my computer and begin my search for a local business online.

I go to Google and I type in the words “appliance repair [my city + state]” and hit enter.  This, by the way, is known as a “search query”.  These are the KEYWORDS that I am using to find what I need on the internet.  I could have just as easily used “dryer repair [my city + state]| ” or “[brand name] dryer repair [my city + state]”.

I am greeted with several Adwords ads – each containing my search query.  This is good.  I WANT a local service provider.  However, while the ads all lead with my search query terms of “appliance repair [my city + state]”, when I click through to the web site – there is no MENTION of them servicing my city.  As a matter of fact, one of the web pages proclaims proudly that they travel clear up to – well, to a town in the next county.

I’m well aware that each time I click on one of these ads, that each of these businesses will be charged with the click.  I can’t help but wonder how many other people in my city have clicked on that ad only to discover that the business does NOT provide service to our city.

One company has an elaborate flash page which takes more than 20 seconds to load.  That time is an estimate.  As I watched the elaborate show unfold – I clicked away.  I don’t want to be entertained – I want my dryer fixed – NOW!

I come to a really GREAT web site of an appliance repair shop.  It’s a GREAT web site, complete with a cute basset hound puppy as a mascot.  I’m such a SUCKER for appealing mascots.  I picked my pest control company because they dressed their cars up as mice.   With that experience in mind,  maybe it’s best that this appliance repair service is not local.  However, while the basset hound puppy was cute, it took me three clicks to find out the company is based out of a city over an hour away.

As I search, notice I’m looking for something really specific.  Yet, while the AdWord ads parrot my search terms – when they take me to a page which lists cities two and three counties away – I instantly think I’m in the wrong place.

If a keyword is worth bidding on – then it’s worth creating a landing page for that keyword.

I’ve written before about the importance of landing pages.   If you’re using the web for marketing, you’ll know it’s a numbers game pure and simple.  However,  the key concept is that those numbers include VIABLE prospects.

Once I exhaust searching the paid ads – that’s right, there were 9 ads and not ONE of them mentioned my city as an area they serviced – I move on down the page to the “natural” search.

Natural search are the results that DID  NOT pay to get moved to the top of the page.  These pages are here because they actually contain the words “appliance repair” combined with “[my city + state]”.  Fortunately for these businesses – none of which have an ad displayed – those who DID pay to have their ad displayed couldn’t convince me in 30 seconds or less that they had a solution to my problem.  Because paid search failed me – now I’m off through a hunt through the “natural” search.

THAT IS THE KEY TO USING ADWORDS: You’ve got 30 seconds or less for the page to load and to convince me YOU are the business I need to call.  You’ve paid to be bumped to the head of the list – take advantage of your one time only shot at my business!

Before I get to the “true” natural search, I see Google’s “local business results.”  This yields a better quality of options for me.  After all, there’s a map so I can SEE that each of these businesses is located near me.

I like Google’s local business result.  In order to sign up, the business owner must fill in a form with essential information.  Instead of assaulting me with an audio/video extravaganza – I see the essential facts I need to know – like what brands they service.  I can choose to click on the link and go to their website – or I can click the “click more button and see the results of the form they filled out to open the account. Without exception – I use the “more” button because the web sites are so poorly done.

I begin dialing and call the three businesses listed on local search which service my brand of dryer.

This is the moment of truth.  Across my city, phones begin ringing as I try to become a member of an appliance repair company’s “tribe”.

At this point, I could launch into a rant on customer service.  I’m getting answering machines at 9:15 AM on Monday morning.   These are the people who will be bitching about how the poor economy is killing their business.  Here’s a tip – it’s NOT the economy – it’s your lack of attention and commitment to your business.

Finally I get a busy signal.  It’s a welcome relief.  At least they’re in the office and answering calls – and other people are calling them as well.   I may have a winner – but I have to wait.

As I wait – I move on down the list of results to my search query and find a Superpages.com listing.  Oooo – the all inclusiveness of the yellow pages delivered online.  This sounds promising!  I click and am greeted with a page that lists 15 different paid ads.  FIFTEEN!!!  Many of these are for other search sites.  Just what I want to do on a Monday morning – go on a wild goose chase!

I scroll and scroll until I find the business listings.  However, this positively cryptic when compared to the local business results offered by Google.  I get out of the Superpages site and get back to the number which was busy 10 minutes ago.

BINGO!  The phone is not only ringing – it’s manned by a living breathing person who speaks English fluently.  RELIEF!  I am willing to wait until tomorrow for my dryer repair person if it means my search is over.

Thirty minutes ago, I thought my dryer would be fixed by nightfall – now I’m just glad to know I’ll be seeing someone this week.

By the way, I had to have my oven repaired about 5 months ago.  I was thrilled with the service, but I don’t remember the company name.  If they’d left behind a refrigerator magnet – I would have called them.  I remember the guy’s face and first name- but not the name of his business.  It’s too bad.  I liked him and he did a great job.

Which is why I had to go searching again.  I tried to follow the “path” I used five months ago – but none of the results I saw looked familiar.

Without a well defined, tightly targeted audience… well… Google Adwords then becomes just another way to drain cash from your accounts.  Before you spend one penny on an Adwords campaign, be sure you get inside your customer’s head and find out what they’re  REALLY searching for online.  AdWords is no play to launch a “spray and pray” advertising campaign.

Need help with getting inside your target customer’s head?  Pick up a copy of my book Beyond the Niche: Essential Tools You Need to Create Marketing Messages that Deliver Results for a step by step process you can follow to figure out the who, what where and most importantly WHY customers buy.