Your Business Blog is Good for Business

I’ve been saying for a long time that business blogging is by far the best investment of time/energy/resources you can make for your business.  Well’ now it’s official –  a recent study proves that your business blog is good for business.  Emarketing commerce reports:

Majority of Business Blog Traffic Comes From First-Time Visitors

Two-thirds of respondents to a survey conducted by Compendium Blogware found that more than 80 percent of all of their blog traffic was from first-time visitors.  For the survey, Compendium Blogware, a social media and search platform provider, gathered data from 266 companies about blogging traffic, visitor trends and Twitter usage. … First-time visitors come from two major sources, Compendium said: referring sites and search engines.

These results are hardly surprising.   Blogs – especially the WordPress variety – are extremely search engine friendly in their architecture.  Combine that with the fact that the act of blogging about your business tends to create content which is rich in the keywords your desired prospective customers/clients are using to find the very solutions you and your business offer.

However, the fact that your business blog can be found more easily by your ideal customers is just the tip of the iceberg.   Once those prospective customers/clients discover your business blog – the blog posts you’ve created over the months/years go to work establishing your authority.

So if blogging is indeed good for business – why aren’t more business owners blogging?

One of the most common objections I hear from business owners about blogging is that they don’t have time to blog.  Sometimes this objection is based upon the mistaken belief that to “blog” means to write incessantly – creating multiple blog posts each and every day.   However, it’s been my experience that most objections about perceived time poverty are instead a cover for the “real” objection to business blogging: not knowing what to write about.

In Unseen Business Killers, I offer a sure fire way to determine if  “I don’t have time to blog” is a reason or an excuse.

It’s easy to determine if “I don’t have time to blog” is an excuse or a reason.  If you really don’t have time to blog for your business, you can either

  • hire someone to blog for your business or
  • hire someone to assume some of your duties so you can find time to blog.

It’s just that simple.  You can usually find time to do what’s important – and blogging is important for your business.  It’s a great way to get found by prospective clients/customers – and it’s a great way to establish enough trust with them so they’ll take the next step and contact you.

The act of business blogging can be as simple as reworking emails you (or members of your staff)  have sent to both current and prospective clients/customers. As a matter of fact, sometimes the subject lines of those incoming emails make GREAT blog post titles.

Once you’ve got a great blog post title that gets your blog found by the search engines, then get to work creating relationships.  Once people find your business via the search engines, they then needed to form a relationship with the people behind your business.   Building a relationship is part of  the whole TRUST thing I go on about here.  Building trust is what social media does best.

THAT is why business blogging is so darned good for your business.  Not only can those blog posts act as bait to bring in first time visitors who are seeking the solutions your business provides – those same posts can also carry some of the “trust building” weight as well.  Prospective clients/customers find your blog – read your blog posts – and decide after reading a few dozen articles that – yeah – you really can help them achieve their Goals – quench their Desires – or solve their Problems.  In other words, not only can your blog posts act as bait – they can also start to work on establishing your connection to your prospective client/customer’s GDP.

No wonder business blogs are so good for business!

Creating Authority with Your Business Blog

I’ve talked a lot about how your business blog can be used to build trust with prospective clients – especially if you’re in the business of “selling your knowledge.”  However, there’s another term which is emerging which may be an even more compelling reason to begin blogging for your business.

That term is AUTHORITY and it’s becoming a buzz word in the world of business blogging because business blogging is a powerful and effective tool you can use to establish your authority.

Authority is powerful stuff.  According to Dictionary.com, one of the definitions of authority reads:

“right to respect or acceptance of one’s word, command, thought, etc.; commanding influence: the authority of a parent; the authority of a great writer.”

Think of authority as the natural next step in the whole “trust building” process.

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

There have been lots of behavioral studies surrounding the power of authority.  One of the most cited works on obedience to authority is the Yale study conducted by Stanley Milgram.  In the study, inspired by the trial of the Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann, Milgram sought to answer the deeply troubling question of whether authority could cause a person to contradict their deeply held beliefs.

In the study – volunteers were recruited and told they were part of an experiment which tested memory and learning in different situations.  The “administrator” was dressed in a lab coat and armed only with a clip board. and  the “student” was actually an actor.  The true subject of the study was the volunteer – who was assigned the role of “teacher” in the experiment.   The volunteer was instructed  to administer increasing electric shocks to the “student”.  The results of the experiment were sobering to say the least… 26 of the 40 volunteers went on to administer the maximum (fatal) voltage three times, despite the student’s pleas for mercy and apparent impending death.   Only one participant refused to administer shocks to the student.

That’s the power of authority.

In the study – the stage for the administrator’s authority was planned carefully.  The administrator was dressed in a lab coat and given a clipboard.    In later subsequent studies, it appears the “uniform” is an important control in creating the appearance of authority.  While the uniform in the original experiment was a lab coat and clipboard, subsequent experiments and a few well known scams have used police uniforms to create the authority required to quickly gain the trust needed to influence people to act in ways they would not without the misuse of the  power of authority.

Blogs are the “uniform” of authority on the web

So if you’ve been wondering what all the “fuss” is over business blogging – it’s this:  Business blogs are great tools for building authority.  Bloggers in every niche are constantly being cited regularly as “reliable sources” by various media outlets.  Search is a tool used by journalists worldwide – and blogs are very search engine friendly.

Which is why – blogs are quickly becoming the “uniform” of authority on the web.

However, it’s important to remember that trust – and the resulting authority – are not earned quickly nor easily.  The newly minted police officer who abuses the privileges his uniform imparts is quickly dismissed from the police force.  The same is true of your business blog.

Blogging authority does not come from a single blog post.  It doesn’t even come from a dozen or so blog posts.  In many cases, it comes from literally HUNDREDS of blog posts on a specific subject.

The path to authority begins with building a foundation of trust.  You gain the trust of your blog readers by providing lots and lots of quality content.  You answer the questions your readers are struggling to answer with your blog posts.  You give behind the scenes “glimpses” of how you solve problems.  You demonstrate your expertise time and time again through your blog posts.

Lather – rinse – repeat.

That’s how you “earn”the uniform of authority via blogging on the web.  It doesn’t happen overnight – but it does happen – one authority building business blog post at a time

Trust: Essential Element in Word Of Mouth Marketing

social media love affairFrom the “have a heart attack and die from NOT surprise” files… marketing charts reports that according to new research from Mintel – real-life referrals are more influential to consumers than those received online.

In essence, the report reveals that our buying decisions are influenced more by people we know and trust than by strangers we encounter randomly online.

Stop the presses!!! (Talk about an antiquated term…)

We need a research study to tell us that a referral made by someone we know and trust is more “influential” that the recommendation of an unseen, unknown and untrusted STRANGER?

Such is the state of existence for the corporate marketing drone . Fortunately when such information is gathered, it is shared via the internet.

Again – this should be a “have a heart attack and die from NOT surprise” type of revelation.    But then again, I guess this might come as a surprise to those who believe that social media marketing is supposed to be magic.

The “magic” inherent in social media marketing is provided by YOU!

Social media marketing is a powerful marketing tool – but just as Superman’s amazing powers were the result of our yellow sun – the power inherent in social media as a marketing tool lies in the ability to make a connection with people – a.k.a. prospective customers.

If you want to discover social media marketing Kryptonite – treat social media marketing like a sales call instead of a cocktail party!

Social media is great a building a connections with people.

Trust is an essential element in the successful word of mouth marketing campaign.  People aren’t going to refer other customers to you if they don’t trust to you.  Word of mouth marketing does not happen without a strong foundation of trust.

Building connections is an ESSENTIAL part of developing trust.

In 1997, Maxine Clark founded Build-A-Bear Workshop, a teddy-bear themed retail-entertainment experience. In the link to this MSNBC interview with Maxine – she talks about passion – she talks about  first impressions – she talks about dreaming big and possibilities – and then she finishes by talking about making CONNECTIONS.

Social media can be a POWERFUL marketing tool – when you use it to MAKE CONNECTIONS.

Making connections is the first step in developing trust – the kind of trust needed to launch a successful word of mouth marketing campaign.

Word of mouth marketing is simply when people tell their friends, family and neighbors about your product or service for you.

The stated goal of every Build-A-Bear Workshop location is to make a CONNECTION with their customers.   That desire to build a connection with customers colors everything they do.

The result of that connection is an impressive word of mouth marketing campaign.  If you’re the mother of a girl under the age of 12 – if you haven’t heard about your local Build-A-Bear Workshop – it’s only because there’s not one within driving distance – YET!

Build-A-Bear has one of the most powerful word of mouth marketing I’ve ever encountered.    If you’re looking to build a similar word of mouth marketing campaign – you should know that these types of campaigns have their roots in the connections that have been made with customers!

Build-A-Bear doesn’t rely on recommendations in impersonal online forums- it relies on real people to carry their marketing message to neighbors – to family and to friends.

If you need email scams to sell your product or service – then social media marketing is going to be your worst nightmare.

If, however, you’re the kind who likes to make real connections with real people- then welcome to social media marketing.  It will never take the place of “real world” connections – but it can create new virtual connections which quite honestly, can be just as powerful when fully developed!

Trust is Worth Protecting

Hockey arenaThe first testicular guard “cup” was used in Hockey in 1874 -the first helmet was used in 1974.

It took 100 years for men to realize that the brain is  worth protecting as well.

There’s something that is frequently overlooked in the “rush” to sell people things – something that is important – takes time to nurture and is definitely worth protecting… it’s trust.  However, sometimes business owners, in the rush to “make a sale”, overlook the importance of establishing trust.

Establishing trust is the REAL reason why you should be using “social media. Social media tools such as blogs do a great job of building trust with potential customers.

In Persuade Someone in 5 Steps AJ Kumar over at Persuasive.net writes…

It doesn’t matter how good of persuasion expert you are, if the person you are trying to convince doesn’t trust you, you won’t sell them on anything.

Trust is tough to win yet easily lost.

In Effective Selling Using Social Media I wrote:

Trust – trust is the foundation of making sales in the new millennium.

Social media is as viral as it is transparent.  Just try being less than “authentic”  in the realm of social media and you’ll quickly discover how brutal the new social media based web can be.

While it’s never been a “good marketing strategy” to use deception – resorting to deceptive marketing practices in an age of social media is even more detrimental now than ever before in history.  Check out my post on Exposing Deceptive Marketing Tactics with Social Media on how social media is becoming a huge “whistle blower” when it comes to uncovering and exposing deceptive marketing tactics both on and off the web.

Relationships and trust are the KEY elements in social media marketing.

If there is any  “magic” in social media it lies in the fact that social media builds relationships – and relationships are the foundation for trust.

For a century hockey players did all they could to protect their “family jewels”.  It took almost a century before they began trying to protect their second most important asset.

As AJ points out – it’s almost impossible to be persuasive without establishing trust.   Since “sales” is just another way of saying “persuaded customers”…  then it makes sense for any business interested in achieving healthy sales needs to be equally interested in creating and preserving trust as well.

Effective Selling Using Social Media

transparency in social mediaLet’s face facts- the reason many business owners are interested in social media marketing and are Twitterpated by Twitter is not that they’re anxious to make a “connection” with potential customers but rather that they’re anxious to close sales.

For example, most business owners who are “hot” to learn more about Twitter,  have heard the tales of how Dell uses Twitter to close millions of dollars in sales.  As a result, most businesses are interested in using Twitter to boost their bottom line in a similar fashion.

The problem is, many businesses are so focused on making a sale today that they fail to recognize that closing sales in the new millennium requires establishing a significant amount of TRUST!!

Trust isn’t earned in a single “transaction”.

Social media is a GREAT tool to build trust – but in order to do so, you must first be trustworthy!!!   In my post The REAL reasons why you should be using “social media” I state that:

The REAL reason you need to be using  [insert social media application of choice] is to establish TRUST with other human beings.

Trust – trust is the foundation of making sales in the new millennium.

Social media is as viral as it is transparent.  Just try being less than “authentic”  in the realm of social media and you’ll quickly discover how brutal the new social media based web can be.

My favorite illustrations of this principle are still Cash4Gold Social Media Meltdown and the Belkin Social Media Payola Scandal which both CLEARLY illustrate that when it comes to Social Media Marketing – authenticity is essential because transparency is not optional.

However, when you’re authentic – when you’re really serious about providing a product or service that addresses a customer’s GDP (Goals, Desires and Problems – you’re either trying to help them Achieve a Goal, Satisfy a Desire or Solve a Problem – learn more in my book Beyond the Niche: Essential Tools You Need to Create Marketing Messages that Deliver Results) then the new web – the social media web – can truly be the best thing since sliced bread for your business.

See, if your business model is based on “people are idiots – and easily parted with their hard earned cash” then you’re going to HATE the new web.  You’re going to HATE how people can share their experiences with your company.  You’re going to HATE how transparent and viral the new web is.

However, if your business model is based on truly meeting the needs of your customers or clients – well, then be prepared to work a little harder up front in building trust – because there are a lot of “slimy SOB’s” (that’s straight out of an email from a new client this morning) out there claiming to do what you say you do.  However, you can also be prepared to start getting new business falling into your lap thanks to the new web.

In her post “Selling isn’t Selling Anymore” Betsy Wuebker writes:

The masters of sales psychology […] have routinely stressed building rapport, listening skills, problem-solving, and other relationship-builders are a better path . The funny thing is, when you employ relationship-builders they – wait for this – build relationships. You become a colleague by virtue of the relationship you’ve cultivated. You don’t need to consciously ABC because you’re trusted. Trust will close the sale for you every time.

That’s part of the “magic” of social media.  Social media tools such as blogs, Twitter and Facebook are great ways to build trust with potential customers or clients.  Trust is the big kahuna – the big wave – the success maker.

Thanks to social media, I find I don’t spend very much time at all in “closing” new clients on my services.  They’re “pre-closed” thanks to my social media presence. It’s a beautiful thing – but it didn’t happen by writing 2 or 3 blog posts and then sitting back and waiting for my email to fill with client requests!!!

If you read the last line and thought “Doh!” then please, feel free to contact me about working together.  See, the 7th layer of hell in my business are the clients who expect to write two or three blog posts and then magically find those precious blog posts gaining top 10 SERPS on highly competitive keywords.

Social media doesn’t work like that.  Building trust doesn’t work like that.  If you can’t summon more than 2 or 3 blog posts on the topic which you claim “expert” status – perhaps you don’t deserve the “trust” of potential clients.

In the blog post Gain Readers by Selling Yourself, Barbara Swafford tells the tale of the days when she was employed to reach out and connect with customers – a.k.a. telemarketing.  She ends the post with a poignant admonition:

Today’s Lesson

For our blog to succeed, we must sell it. And, in selling our blog, we are also selling ourselves.

Yes indeedy doody.  Social media is ALL about selling ourselves.   You might think you work with “corporations” but trust me, you don’t.  You are an individual who works with other individuals employed by corporations.  Jason Cohen writes about this subject in his post “How to get customers to love you even when you screw up” and he writes:

If you pretend to be something you’re not, they’ll see right through it. Then what have you done? You’ve lied to those who would have loved you for who you are; that’s not how you build a relationship.

Relationships and trust are the KEY elements in social media marketing.

If there is any  “magic” in social media it is brought to the table – BY YOU!

Social Media Marketing can’t be “pre-packaged” and “canned”.  That’s not how social media works.

Years ago, when businesses started pre-packaging and mass delivering canned email marketing messages without any attempt to engage the end user or build trust – well, it quickly got dubbed as “spam”.

There are tons of tools being promoted to help you pre-package your social media messages.  Trust me, none of them will work nearly as well as sharing your true and authentic self.  That’s how you build relationships and trust that are essential to creating an effective sales tool.