Business Blog Ideas to Increase Sales

Business blogging can be great for your business… but only if you’re creating the “right” kind of content.

A “Mommy blogger” has dozens of places from which to draw inspiration for blog posts.  A mommy blogger can compose a blog post about the cute things her kid said – or the destructive antics of her dog – or her outrage over what’s happening in the world of politics.  But as a business blogger – those kinds of posts usually aren’t very productive unless you can find a way to “weave” them into a compelling and selling story promoting your business.

Your business blog has a job to do – and filling your business blog with “fluffy” stuff usually leads to a business blog that isn’t doing ANYTHING towards increasing sales for your business.

What your business blog needs is plenty of timeless compelling content with a SIDE of “sweet fluffy” posts. 

It’s better to NOT create a blog post rather than create a blog post that you’ll regret in the morning – or next year.

I know that this is in STARK contrast to the recommendations of a few business blog experts.  There is actually a school of thought which advocates approaching your business blog posts using an approach similar to Triumph the Insult Comic Dog….

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-TfZslHKoo&feature=related[/youtube]

I’ve got to admit – I’m puzzled by anyone who advocates actively antagonizing and insulting your target customer as a way to achieve success.  It’s a technique that may get you noticed – and it may get you inbound links – but I’ve never seen it lead to increased sales.

Isn’t increased sales the reaosn why you’re spending time blogging for your business?

With that in mind – the following are business blog idea starters for a business owner whose goal for his/her business blog is increased sales. 

Business Blog Ideas to Increase Sales

  1. Look no further than into your email “sent” folder. Your email sent folder is full of answers your current customers/clients are asking – so what better source could there be than digging into those outgoing emails and rewriting them for the general population. 

  2. Your email inbox is another blog idea goldmine. 

    Once again, there’s nothing better than looking at the questions customers/clients are asking and then providing a public answer on your blog. An added bonus feature to looking to your inbox is you can often find blog post titles which zero in on the terms your target audience is using to find information about your product or service – which is often blissfully free from “industry jargon” and “insider speak”.Inbound phone call logs can provide similar inspiration.
  3. Win friends by lambasting a sleazy compeitor. 

    I’m  assuming you’re not in some rarified niche sand box where everyone plays nicely, no on throws sand and most importantly – no one is currentily performing the marketing equivalent of turning loose a herd of cats into the marketplace sandbox.   If one of your competitors isn’t playing fairly – or are making promises they never intend on keeping – you can respond by creating your own version of a”To catch a predator” kind of post.

    Creating blog posts which serve to educate consumers about questionable tactics employed by your competitors is a great way to build trust and gain credibility with your audience. You may(wisely)  decide not to name names – and instead provide a list of questions prospective clients should ask before signing a contract with any one in your industry.  If one or two of those questions expose a sleazy tactic being used by a competitor – all the better.

    If you decide to name names in this type of blog post- you might want to check with your attorney before you click “publish”.

  4. Interview a satisfied customer

    Nothing sells as well as success… so take a look at your client list and work up a series of questions which help to illustrate why your products/services are the best of the best.  Then send this list of questions to your best customers/clients and “interview” them about their experience with your business. People love to read stories about other people who are like themselves – and no story is better for your business than the one your current customers can tell. 
  5. Address common misconceptionsWhat’s the biggest misconception held by outsiders about your industry? Set the record straight with your business blog.

  6. Write a problem solving tutorialPeople have problems – and when your business offers solutions to those problems – then marketing becomes as easy as shooting fish in a barrel.

    Create a business blog post on how your products or services address a common problem for your target audience.  This is prime “timeless” content which can keep on gaining strength LONG after you’ve hit the “publish” button.

These are just six ideas on how to create business blog posts which increase sales.   Feel free to share your ideas on posts you’ve used to build your business with your blog.

Social Media Mistake #3: Forgetting what it is…

social media marketing

Probably the most common social media mistake made by both business owners and individuals is not having a clear understanding of what social media is.  When you forget (or don’t know) what social media is  – that is the time when the biggest mistakes are made.  So what is social media –

Social media is conversation!

True – it’s a unique – technology aided means of communication – but when you strip away the shiny metal surface – social media is simply communication between people who are not face to face with each other.

Because it is conversation – the typical rules of making polite conversation apply.  With the way some people treat social media – I wonder how many dinner party invitations they receive – because their manners online are atrocious.

Of course, those with the worst manners are those who are trying to “game” the system.  These boorish oafs are akin to the person who shows up at the party and starts barging in on conversations, telling anyone who will listen about this GREAT MLM opportunity.  The only reason this type of person ACCEPTS a party invitation is to build his or her “down line.”  There is no room for relationships – only rubes.

The real “problem” most businesses have with social media is that their previous relationships with their customers were strictly one way.  The company spoke via television ads, radio ads, newspaper ads, etc.  The customer responded by whipping out his/her credit card and making a purchase.  There is little opportunity for feedback in that kind of “relationship” – and quite honestly it – it made it MUCH easier on the business when the communication was strictly one way.

Instead of dealing with REAL customer feedback – the business could simply speculate on what consumers thought.  They could sit in meeting rooms – drinking coffee and pouring over spread sheets and try to interpret the WHY behind their consumers behavior. In the days BEFORE social media – the only other way to gain this valuable data was to resort to focus groups.  Focus groups are where people are brought into an artificial setting and asked about their opinions.   It’s phony – it’s forced – but a decade ago it was the best way to figure out what was going on inside a consumer’s mind.

That was then – and this is now.

Now we have a more “advanced” tool for gaining access to what’s going on inside consumer’s minds.  However, there are those who will try to tell you that [insert social media tool here] is the short- cut to marketing success.  Just set up a Facebook Fan Page – or a blog – or begin Tweeting – and you’ll be amazed as you watch your business revenues skyrocket with throngs of customers hungry for your product or service.

Don’t get me wrong – that certainly CAN happen.  There’s nothing better than working with a client who has a clear vision of their customer’s GDP (Goals, Desires, Problems) who wants to get involved in social media marketing.   On the flip side – there’s nothing worse than trying to work with someone whose social media marketing goal is revenue without relationships.

There are many ways to communicate with your customers and potential customers.  The biggest difference between social media marketing and “traditional” marketing methods is that the prospective customers can – and WILL – let you know what they think.

Come to think of it – consumers are doing the same thing via social media when it comes to traditional marketing methods such as television advertising as well. So when you think about it – there really is no escaping the fact that social media will be shaping your business whether you like it or not.  You can make the biggest mistake of all which is ignoring social media – or you can try to manipulate social media when you don’t like what your customers are saying – but in the end, remember that social media is merely communication aided and abetted by technology – and nothing more.

Any “magic” you find in using social media for marketing is definitely provided by YOU!

Creating a Website that Does Almost Nothing.


business successs secrets

I’ve worked with hundreds of business owners in creating websites for their business – and often discover during the process that there’s a lot of “magical” thinking out there when it comes to web site development.

Many business owners just assume that by simply creating a website, they’re going to automatically experience floods of traffic from qualified prospective clients/customers.

They expect the website to collect and process leads while acting as a 24/7/365 sales force that never sleeps.

Of course all of the above is possible – but only if you build the website with accomplishing those goals in mind.

In Steps to Starting a Small Business, I advise small business owners to:

Remember, when you’re starting your own small business everything is going to take longer and cost more than you planned.

Chances are, you aren’t a MASTER at all of the jobs you’re going to need performed in your small business, so you should probably plan on farming out at least SOME of the work.

One of the jobs I recommended you farm out is the development of your website because there truth is, unless you’re an experienced web developer, the first website you create is going to be a piece of shit.

(Sometimes even experienced web developers need a little help at seeing “the forest for the trees” which means, it’s possible for an experienced web developer to create a piece of shit for themselves – even though they “know” better!)

Whether it’s your first website or your first blog, you wil no doubt be FILLED with pride when you complete it.    If there were such a thing, surely your website would win the “good for a beginner”  award.

The problem is, no one is “grading” this project.  This is your BUSINESS we’re talking about!  If your business is small, then you REALLY want to do everything you can to make your business look – professional, established and trust worthy!

If money is tight, the last thing you want to scrimp on is your web presence!

Here’s one of the first websites I ever created – talk about long ago and far away: WADERS.  I created these web pages by hand using Notepad.  I thought WYSIWYG HTML editors were for the weak and addle minded!  (Turns out they were MAGIC for those who charged by the hour!)  The site was created when you accessed the internet via dial up and a 28.8 baud modem was FAST!

When you come to those pages “organically” there isn’t anyone explaining my beginning programming status.  There’s no commentary saying, “These were created without an WYSIWFG HTML editors.”  “Look ladies and gentlemen, she’s an economics major performing low level (HTML) programming!  Let’s hear it for her!”

Thank goodness the websites I later created for pay were better than those I created in my humble beginnings!

If you’ve read more than 2 blog posts on this blog, you’ll know that I’m all about “integrity”, “authenticity” and most of all “trust“. I believe that trust is the foundation of any successful business.  I am CONVINCED that “branding” and “TQM” are attempts at QUANTIFYING the trust a company has established with its customers.


The Exclusive Concepts website features a blog post headline:  Bad Advice in the Wall Street Journal: Creating a Website for Almost Nothing. Scott writes:

Instead, the title should have been, “Creating a Website that Does Almost Nothing.”
(NOTE:  YES, I STOLE THIS FOR THE TITLE – IMITATION IS THE SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY!!!)

The Wall Street Journal is offering bad advice to millions of small business readers by recommending an “on the cheap,” “don’t bother to think it through” approach to the 64% of small businesses (businesses under 100 employees) that don’t yet have a website.

I find it ironic that while the WSJ continues to tout the fact that the web is changing the world, the author, Vauhini Vara, would have you think that your company can capitalize on this by launching a cheap website that is nothing more than a hope and a prayer.

After reading the article it is clear to me that “objective” experts informed very little of the information provided. In fact, the first thing I did when I finished the article was to see if it was labeled as an advertising supplement.

Scott goes on to THOROUGHLY dissect and dismantle the article.    He’s brilliant, he’s articulate and he’s right on the money.

Because I recognize the TRUTH in what he says, he’s already gone a LONG way towards building trust with me.  Not because he’s referenced in an article oniMedia Connection – because he’s writing and sharing his expertise.  I recognize the truth in his analysis and truth leads to trust.

Building Trust is What Blogs Do Best!

Scott was inspired to share truth (one of the signs of a good SEO practictioner, according to Ron Belanger’s article) instead of hiding behind a veil of secrecy.   In doing so, he’s instantly gained my trust – while alerting me to a reason why the WSJ doesn’t deserve mine anymore.

There are SO MANY small businesses with websites that do almost nothing.  When they start looking for answers – they find websites that shouldn’t get an ounce of trust.  These peoploe don’t know what they don’t know, so it’s buyer beware time.  They’ll spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on empty promises.   If they survive long enough, they might find the answers they need.

It’s one thing when a no name nobody slaps up a one page sales page and buys adspace to promote this garbage.  However, when the Wall Street Journal presents it as “news” – well – this comes at a time when I thought my opinion of the press couldn’t get any lower!

 

Strategic Marketing is like Planning a Trip

Creating a marketing strategy is like planning a trip.  You have to know where you are and where you’re going before you can even BEGIN making a plan.

In my recent post Strategic Marketing Is Like Planning a Vacation, I wrote:

The first step of creating your marketing strategy is deciding where you are and where you want to ultimately be.   In this case, its as simple as you’re in NYC and you want to get to Miami.

Creating a marketing strategy CAN be just that easy.  However, creating a marketing strategy gets VERY difficult if you don’t know where you are (NYC) or where you want to go (Miami).

Notice how more more difficult planning your vacation becomes when you change the scenario above to read, “I live where it’s cold and I want to go somewhere that’s warm!”

So the first step in planning your marketing strategy is to determine where you are and where you want to be.  (Again, this SOUNDS a lot easier than it actually IS.)

Let’s go back to the “NYC to Miami” trip scenario.  In planning your trip, you have several options of how you’ll get from NYC to Miami.  You can:

  1. Walk
  2. Take the Train
  3. Take a Bus
  4. Drive yourself
  5. Take a Boat
  6. Take a Plane

So the first decision you’ll make as you plan your trip is basically one of whether you’ll make the trip by land, air or sea.

Notice how If you’re heading from NYC to Miami, then all of these are viable options.  However,  if you’re in Alaska and wanting to find warmth on the Serengeti Plain, then some of these travel arrangements are not viable options to get you where you want to be!

Internet or online marketing is just ONE way to get from where you are to where you want to be.

Using online marketing may very well be the be the fastest, quickest and easiest way for you to take your business from where it is to where you want to be but it’s not the ONLY way to travel.  If online marketing is the “taking the plane” in our trip planning analogy, then be aware that taking the plane is only faster if you can get a direct flight and unless you plan WAY ahead, it’s definitely not the the least expensive method of travel.

I’ve got a client how has recently “returned” to the fold.  While we were working together, I kept hearing all about her “business coach” who is in name her “business coach.  In practice however, he’s a Make Money Online coach.   During the last month we worked together, I kept hearing, ” But, that’s not how my business coach says I should do it!”

So when her budget got too “tight” to continue working with me, I wasn’t surprised.  However, I WAS surprised when she contacted me via email a while ago, asking for help.

Because her coach is a MMO kind of guy who specializes in making the MINOR SALE, her “business coach” is all about Squeeze Pages.

Don’t get me wrong, a squeeze page is a great marketing tool – but expecting a squeeze page to magically attract loads of traffic is just not realistic.  Using it to try to make MAJOR SALES is definitely a case of using the wrong tool for the wrong job.

If you’re selling a product that only appeals to bloggers – such as the 8 Week Power Blog Launch – then your marketing methods are going to have to be web based.

On the other hand, if you’re selling a product that appeals to people who don’t spend 8 – 10 hours a day on the web,  then you probably should expand your marketing and advertising efforts BEYOND the web.

In the client above’s case, she LOVES performing.  Her limited funds combined with her inability to grasp the difference between an email and a web page make the web a REALLY poor choice of marketing vehicle for her business.  Instead,  I suggested she begin doing free seminars in her community to promote her business.  There are plenty of people who aren’t on the web in her home town who would LOVE to take advantage of her services if only they knew she was offering them.  However, she’s been sitting at home, waiting for her website and subsequent “squeeze” pages to deliver clients to her while her savings dwindle.

Contact your local radio station or television station rep and ask for a rate card.   You might be surprised how “affordable” offline advertising can be.  (Try running a PPC campaign and you’ll see how EXPENSIVE online marketing can get!)

If your prospective customers aren’t spending all their time on the web, maybe you shouldn’t put all of your marketing and advertising eggs in that basket either!

Strategic Marketing Is Like Planning a Vacation

Strategic marketing is like planning a vacation and begins by creating a marketing strategy.   This may sound simple, but like most things creating a marketing strategy is easier said than done!

Chasing marketing tactics without a marketing strategy in place is a waste of time and effort!  Part of Focus to Plan Your Business is creating a marketing strategy.

There’s a huge difference between a marketing strategy and a marketing tactic!

Creating a marketing strategy is as simple as setting a marketing goal and determining how you’re going to achieve it.  Knowing what you’re selling and who you’re selling it to is a great place to start!

Once you know what it is you’re selling, the next step is to define who wants or needs what you’re selling.  The act of marketing is really just about letting people know about the products and services you offer.  The way you let others know about what you’ve got to offer are  the marketing tactics you’ll use to achieve your marketing strategy!

Here’s a word picture to help you “wrap your brain” around the whole marketing strategy vs marketing tactic discussion.

Let’s say you’re living in New York City.  It’s October, and the weather is getting cold and you start thinking, “You know – I could use some sun and fun.  I want to go to Miami!”

The first step of creating your marketing strategy is deciding where you are and where you want to ultimately be.   In this case, its as simple as you’re in NYC and you want to get to Miami.

Creating a marketing strategy CAN be just that easy.  However, creating a marketing strategy gets VERY difficult if you don’t know where you are (NYC) or where you want to go (Miami).

Notice how more more difficult planning your vacation becomes when you change the scenario above to read, “I live where it’s cold and I want to go somewhere that’s warm!”

A critical element to crafting a marketing strategy involves defining the SPECIFICS!!!!  “I’m cold and I wanna get warm” can mean you live in Alaska and want to travel to Africa as easily as it can mean you live in NYC and I wanna go to Miami.

Once you know where you are and where you want to be,  you then need to decide HOW you’re going to get there.

So the first step to creating a marketing strategy is to define where you are and where you want to go.   This is the essential first step and it’s the biggest obstacle you may have to overcome to find business success.

In my work with clients, this is the place where most people get bogged down in trying to market and promote their business.

Stay tuned – there’s a LOT more to be said about creating a marketing strategy!