Faking it doesn’t mean you’ll make it

If you’re a small business owner – this post is for you.  In classic catch 22 fashion though –  if you’re a small business owner – chances are you’re not reading this blog even though it is written especially for you.  Instead – you’re busy running your business – oblivious to what’s happening online.

  • You don’t know that your business already has a free page one web presence with Google that you just need to claim to put it to work.
  • You don’t know that you have dozens of other “free” online directory listings – some of which are coming up first when consumers are looking for your business online.
  • You also are probably unaware that when consumers find these free listings – many times they have the ability to REVIEW your business.

This is a case of what you don’t know can hurt you.  Because if someone is “bitching” about your business online – you’d darned well better be there to respond.  Otherwise, all that is out there in cyberspace – the bitching and griping with nary a word from you.

However, there are a handful of business owners who are WELL aware of these sites – and even more aware of the presence of reviews on these sites.  So these businesses have gone to work creating fake positive reviews of their business online.

The NY Times reports in In a Race to Out-Rave, 5-Star Web Reviews Go for $5 that not only are people willing to “sell” you their positive review for only $5 but that businesses are scurrying to take them up on the offer.

Writing fake reviews for your business is like blowing your nose with tissues filled with sneezing powder.    Customer reviews set consumer expectations  and when consumer expectations are set to “high” then a transaction which could have earned a three star review is now doomed to receive a one star review.

I’ve always preached – I mean CHAMPIONED  here that the sure path to business success is to solve a problem that people are willing to pay money to solve.  So it should come as no surprise that there are people furiously working on ways to allow the bots which index the internet to discern between authentic user reviews – and fake ones.

There are already humans who are sharing how you can spot a fake online review.  Sandraparker wrote about her experience writing fake reviews on Money Talks and there’s another article on the site which offers11 tips to spot fake online reviews.

As more fake reviews hit these sites – the site owners will be looking for ways to weed them out.  Keep in mind that Google is a business with a dog in this hunt and they have the $$$ to not only find but implement any solution they find to this problem.

Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

In the past – when Google and the other search engines have discovered people trying to “game” the system of getting ranked in the SERPS – they have come down hard and fast – banning sites which used what are now known as “black hat tactics”.

If you’re tempted to hire fake reviews for your free business website – remember – the powers that be (a.k.a. Google, Yelp, etc.) are aware of the problem and seeking a solution.  When they implement that solution – you could very well find your online local business listing removed from the most visible sites on the web.

Your Brand – Your Business – in the Face of Disaster

Click on the image to make this your own - disclaimer it's not an affiliate link.

Yesterday- a disaster decimated this and many other websites across the web.  Websites whose sites were hosted on servers at the Colo4.com data center found themselves without a web presence for about 8 hours yesterday – from about noon – 8 ET in the US.

When a data center experiences an epic fail moment like this – it causes a chain reaction.   It not only affects the data center customers – who are web hosting companies -but it also affects the customers of the web hosting companies – and their customers – and  so forth and so on.

Now to make matters worse – it wasn’t oh so long ago that the forums on a popular web hosting discussion board shared tales of another hosting company which went belly up and left their customers scrambling for their website backups.  (It’s times like that when I LOVE Carbonite!)

Because I live with a level of anxiety that most people would call “crippling”  –  that’s where my mind went when my website went down.  I vividly remember the horror 12 years ago when my web hosting provider (who began his web hosting business in his basement – ah, those were the days)  sold out to a then major player who is now history.  The reason they’re history?  Because of stunts like the one they pulled when they acquired my then hosting provider.  My site was down for almost 2 weeks – while I and other web masters (as we were known as the time) wondered if the servers which housed our sites had been strapped to the backs of mules and transported from Kansas City to Atlanta as part of the acquisition.  They then raised the cost of the hosting and demanded prompt payment.  I responded by threatening to pay the bill in pennies.  (Cost to ship the payment was roughly twice what the bill was – it was the principle of the thing!)

Fortunately – that wasn’t the case in this meltdown.  However, because of the scope and magnitude of this disaster – my web hosting provider found themselves in the unenviable situation of trying to do damage control on the very popular web hosting forum. The forums were blowing up with reports of the outage.  Phones were ringing – emails were bouncing – and emotions were raw as  hosting providers and their clients were left wondering how long it would take to get back online.

I am still praising my Lord and Savior that my client’s sites are all safely hosted with a more reliable hosting provider and their sites were not affected by this outage. (Disclaimer: It’s an affiliate link.  I get paid because I’m staking my reputation on this hosting recommendation.)

As I closely monitored the board for news about the situation – I began to see postings from someone who seemed to have a lot of previous experience with my hosting provider.  I’ll be honest, I passed a lot of time researching where I would be moving my site to next and this person seemed to have a history with my provider.  So – I went to see this user’s profile and saw that this user had JUST signed up for an account on this discussion board. The ONLY posts by this user were taunting my provider about the outage.  What ever the goal was  – it failed because it was obvious this user was just a troll.

I did decide to give another web hosting company a try – and believe it or not – it’s one where the user representing the company actually stood up for my hosting provider’s company – assuring customers that this wasn’t my host’s fault but rather the fault of the data center and sometimes it takes an epic fail to realize you need a new data center.

Branding is something your customers do to your business and because of this fact – no matter what you did previously – your brand will forged during times of disaster. 

Many large corporations forged their “brand” with consumers in the South during the hurricanes of 2005.  As just one example, Tide brought in portable laundry facilities for victims of Katrina to do their laundry.   That my friends is how you build a rock solid “brand” – not some crazy stunt captured on video and posted to YouTube.  Those people will have warm fuzzy feelings about a Proctor and Gamble “brand” for the rest of their lives.

A disaster doesn’t have to destroy your business – even when you’re running a hosting company and your data center lets you down.

Whether or not I move my site to the new host I’m trying will depend upon how my hosting provider responds to this disaster.  Their response both during and after the disaster will forge their long term “brand” with me.  Maybe one day they’ll earn an affiliate link from my site to theirs … but for the moment, I and hundreds like me will wait and see how this story unfolds.

2 Simple Steps to a Solid Social Media Strategy

social media stages

The landscape of social media is shifting quickly – but it’s the touted “tools” we’re using to share which are changing – not our need to learn and share what we’ve learned.

No matter who the current “social media mega star” is of the moment – all social media products tend to follow a predictable life cycle. Today Google + is in the first “hero” spot – but don’t worry – like the weather – this too will change with time.

Too Fast – Too Furious

In case you haven’t heard, the “hip” ones – the “in” crowd – the “OMG – What’s my Klout Score” crowd are focused on Google + and creating circles which effectively divide their social networks into  friends, frienemies and followers.  Meanwhile everyone seems to be asking….

Will Google + turn Facebook into Myspace?   What happened to FourSquare?  What about Twitter?

While the hype level is high for G+ at the moment – it doesn’t matter which social media site is currently occupying the “king of the hill” spot if you’ve got a solid social media strategy in place.

This simple 2 step system to crafting a solid social media strategy is designed for business owners who spend more time managing their business than their website.

STEP 1:  Just remember – social media is about communication.

Every social media marketing tools is simply a communication tool.  These tools when wielded by skilled craftsmen and women can create “marketing magic”.  However, without direction, focus and an underlying strategy – they are at best distractions from the business at hand – and at worst an addictive time suck.

Ok – got that.  Step 1 is there is not magic here – only communication.

STEP 2:  Communicate the right message.

Social media is about communication – but it’s communication with a goal and a purpose.   Your goal is “the right message at the right time to the right people.”

If that doesn’t help, try answering this question: What do people need to learn about your business?

This is where the “original” social media magic communication tool- the blog – can really shine but is also where the waters get murky.  Way too many “WTF” business blog moments happen when business owners begin blogging about what they had for breakfast or other silliness.

For heaven’s sake start sharing stories on how your business has made current customer’s lives richer, sexier, better, easier and saucier.

Once you’ve got the right stories, then it’s just a matter of making it EASY for your customers to SHARE those stories. That’s when the current “king of the social media hill” comes into the picture. Then you simply encourage people to share this story – a story that features someone like them – solving problems they have.

Which brings me back to the beauty of blogging for your business.  Business blogging allows you to create hundreds of just such stories for your business and monitor which ones “engage” and which ones “fall short”.   It’s why I love business blogging for the entrepreneur who is bootstrapping while building a business.

When you use these two simple steps to form the basis of your social media strategy – then it really doesn’t matter which “social media tool of the moment” is occupying the top spot because in the end – they’re all just tools which help your customers share the stories of your business.

Why use Groupon when you can blog for your small business?

money making business

If you’ve considered using a Daily Deals site to promote your small business – read on and see why blogging might be a more sustainable – and more affordable alternative to growing your customer base.

As a”recovering” advertising account executive – I see Groupon and other daily deal sites differently than most people do.  In my opinion, Groupon’s success lies not in the “great deals” nor their ability to deliver those deals inexpensively to consumers by using email.  (By the way – interest in email marketing is way, way up thanks to Groupon’s success.)

The real key to Groupon’s success is a double edged sword of “deal tipping” combined with the prospect of “free” advertising for the merchant.

Deal tipping was a clever way to turn consumers who wanted to score big savings into the role of “brand advocates.” In order for any given deal to “tip” and become valid – there had to be X number of deals sold.  In the beginning – deals didn’t always “tip” despite the fact that early adopters of Groupon were actively involved in social media.

Social media + highly motivated consumers iso big discounts =  viral marketing.

However, the real “genius” in the Groupon model was to be found on the other side of the equation – with the business owners who were “lured in” by an irresistible offer.

Groupon offered merchants a flood of customers – while not charging a “fee” for the advertising.

I preach often on the value of “solving problems for your customers” and that’s exactly what Groupon offered to small business owners.  Whether it was a new restaurant in town or a spa with an empty parking lot – business owners were literally tripping over themselves to give the Groupon solution a try because in their minds – since they didn’t have to write a check – they had nothing to lose and only customers to gain.

The goal of any daily deal discount promotion should be customer acquisition but that isn’t a popular metric to track amongst startups.  David Skok is a serial entrepreneur and writes about CAC in his blog post “Start Up Killers

To compute the cost to acquire a customer, CAC, you would take your entire cost of sales and marketing over a given period, including salaries and other headcount related expenses, and divide it by the number of customers that you acquired in that period.

Few startups do this kind of analysis – and when they do perform it – they’re often shocked by the figure they see.  This is why my head spins and I spew pea soup when a business owner balks at the cost of blog hosting which includes automatic updates for the software. For less than the cost of a single monthly dinner out with your spouse and a few hours of your time – a small business owner can create a business blog which can be not only an effective – but a cost effective customer acquisition tool.

I have cut approximately 1000 words from the previous rant paragraph. Give me a moment while I clean up my keyboard and screen.

It’s been reported that Groupon rejects up to 70% of the initial “deals” offered by merchants.  Why?  Because merchants in general don’t want to create the compelling offers needed to win new customers.  That’s the difference between Groupon and ValPak.   When business owners use ValPak for coupons – they’re in control and as a result – the offers are less than compelling.

It’s understandable that a business owner who’s used to running his own deals – and seeing a 1-4% coupon redemption rate  – would be overwhelmed when confronted with a “real deal” negotiated on behalf of consumers by a daily deal site like Groupon.

Free rarely is whether its online or offline. For some, it’s a hard reality check to cash.

However, some business owners are getting “smart”… as reported by the Business Insider.

Joe Hargraves of Tacolicious said that he has probably gotten 40 pitches over the last year from Groupon and other daily deals salespeople. He refuses them all — his prices are already low, and he doesn’t think he’ll gain anything by one-time discounts to people who otherwise wouldn’t be interested in his place.

Instead, he takes the several thousand dollars per month he would spend on daily deals marketing and other forms advertising and makes regular trips to Mexico, which helps him improve his product. He also blogs about his trips, which creates a much more personal connection to his customers. (emphasis is mine)

Want to learn about Tacolicious – visit their website which – oh, by the way – is a WordPress blog. There you can read about the people – their stories – and the causes they’re supporting not to mention finding recipes and other special events.

The thing is – because they have a blog – if Tacolicios would ever decide they wanted to run a “daily deal special” – they could do so by simply creating their own email marketing campaign.   They could offer customers the ability to sign up for their email list on their blog and then – get this – REWARD those customers with their own discount offers.

Here’s where this idea gets really exciting.  See, the “deal” you have to offer via a daily deal site has to be heavily discounted – because you’re talking to people who don’t know your business.  You have to offer a HUGE discount to get consumers to take a chance and try your company.

It’s a lot easier to get people to come back to your business than it is to get them to come in the first time.

When you create your email list – and promote it to your current customers – you can offer them deals in much the same way Groupon does – only better.  These are people who know your business – so you don’t have to offer them an outrageous discount to get them to come back.  Even better –  even if you do offer an outrageous discount – you don’t have to give 50% of whatever they’re paying for your deal to the daily deals site.

Will the daily deal sites fade away?  It’s not likely.  As long as there are business owners desperate for customers and who are desperate to reach them- but not desperate enough to blog and build their own email marketing lists – there will always be fodder for the local daily deals site.

Blogging’s role in Branding your Small Business

Blogging can be one of the most powerful tools your small business can use to build your business’ brand equity.

This statement might be a bit confusing to anyone who thinks that “branding” begins and ends with logos, colors and images used on signage and in advertising.   Sure – those visual design elements are crucial elements in building your brand- but in and of themselves – these elements NOT your brand.

Rather – the careful creation and execution of those elements will help consumers identify your business – and help guide them on their journey to “branding” your business.

See -it is not your marketing team or advertising agency that builds your “brand” – but rather it’s your employees – the ones who have direct consumer contact – who are the “brand builders” of your business.

United Airlines learned this important lesson in 2009 when a social media shit storm arose from some exceptionally bad customer service – by not just one employee but many.  Social media is really great at telling customer service stories -and the root of “branding” is customer service.

You may THINK that your “brand” is a shiny logo, carefully chosen font and a tag line assembled in a committee meeting – but in reality – your “brand” is truly in the hands of your customers.

Just as the cattle who are branded are not wielding the  hot metal rod which marks their flesh – a business must accept that consumers are the ultimate “branders”.

Consumers have ALWAYS had the power of “branding” a company – but it’s only been since the web got “social” did businesses begin to sit up and take notice of that power.

So when you view “branding” and building “brand equity” through that lens – through the brutal lens of “we’re only as good as our last customer service transaction” – then and only then does blogging’s role become clear.

So often, business owners tend to look to blogging as a way to generate sales leads instead of a way to build trust with prospective customers.   Capturing sales leads is best done with a squeeze page – building trust is best done via a conversation.  Of course, the IDEAL situation is if you could sit down and talk with each and every prospective customer.  You could then explain in person why the customer should choose to do business with you and your company.  Even if you are able to do that today – count on the fact that you won’t be able to do that 5 years from now.   Your business blog posts can provide that information in a timeless manner.

Even better – those trust building business blog posts are doing double duty for your business.  Not only are they educating consumers to help build the trust needed to close the sale- they are also working hard to build your brand – a.k.a. your online authority if you’re a consultant or other independent service provider.

Whether you’re blogging for your business or not – your customers/clients/patients are sharing their tales of their interactions with you.  Good – bad – or indifferent – they are the ones “branding” your small business.

In the end – your business blog can act to support the good – upgrade the indifferent – and mitigate the bad.   So why aren’t your blogging for your business yet?

What The Next Food Network Star can teach you about blogging.

Season 7 of the reality television series “The Next Food Network Star” contains a powerful lesson every business blogger needs to know in order to blog successfully for their business.

You’ve got to know who you are and why you want to connect with consumers before you can successfully build your brand.

Justin D is a competitor on the show and began the competition by positioning himself as a younger version of Food Network’s own Alton Brown. Alton’s flagship show “Good Eats” is very “nerd friendly” and focuses on the “why” behind food and food preparation. When Alton originally pitched the show to Food Network, he described it as “Monty Python meets Julia Child”. The show is funny – it’s informative – but most importantly it’s successful because Alton knows EXACTLY who he is and the AUDIENCE he wants to target.

If you just want a recipe for meatloaf – you don’t want to watch Good Eats.  If you want to know why you should never cook your Thanksgiving stuffing inside your turkey – or the role osmosis plays in cooking – then Good Eats is the show for you.

If you want your business blog to success – you too had better know exactly who you are and the audience you want to target.

Contestant Justin D began the competition struggling despite the fact that he has the brains – he has the cooking skills – he even has the quirky “look” needed to be a memorable television host.

Justin D got cut in episode five for one simple reason:

He didn’t know “who” he was and what audience he was targeting – as you can see in this video clip:

Throughout the competition – Justin kept “changing” who he was and what his show would be.

The final straw was when he put on a “hip hop artist” persona to entertain a crowd during a 4th of July cooking demonstration.  First he’ “Alton Jr.” – then he’s “Harry Potter Cooks” – then he’s Marky Mark.  The judges were left scratching their heads wondering exactly WHO this young man really was.

When Justin began the competition – he openly admitted that he didn’t know WHO he was.  He often said he was trying to “find” himself during the competition – which was not the time nor the place to do so. Since he couldn’t know WHO he was – he also didn’t know who his audience was either.

By the way – I find it very interesting that one of the stronger contestants this season is a seasoned “food blogger” – Mary Beth Albright.  The judges have commented more than once on how her experience blogging is a real asset in her quest to become The Next Food Network Star.

Unlike a reality television show – when you begin blogging for your business – you don’t HAVE to be “camera ready”.  You can’t expect to “hit the ground running” when you start blogging. Even if your first blog post is a masterpiece – even if you have already “found” your voice – if you’re like every other blogger on the internet – you’ll get better at blogging over time.

Chances are – if you haven’t started blogging yet then you really haven’t had an opportunity to “find” your voice.

Blogging is definitely a skill – one that requires practice to perfect.  You won’t master your golf swing in six weeks – you won’t master the piano in a few easy lessons – and you won’t master business blogging quickly or easily either.  However, with time, patience and perseverance – you will find your blogging voice and this is a VERY good thing.

See – your business blogging voice is really just a personalized version of your “marketing” voice.  If you’re struggling with what to write about in your business blog – I wouldn’t be surprised if your marketing message isn’t a little “murky” as well.

However, something “magical” happens after a few hundred posts.  There really is an almost magical metamorphosis that happens  when you blog for your business.

I recently had a client tell me that I “scare business owners off” with my talk about hundreds of blog posts… yet that comment was followed with “but you’re right… it does take TIME to master this whole business blogging thing.”

She shared that she enjoys the challenge of finding new ways to write about her core business message and that blogging for her business has helped her in more than just marketing her business.

Writing with your customers/clients/patients in mind can really help keep you focusing on what’s important – not only in your marketing but in your business operations as well.

Fortunately – business owner’s don’t have to be “camera ready” when they begin blogging.

Business blogging can be a way to not only “find ourselves” but also find our clear, unqiue and authentic marketing messages as well.

The importance of keywords in branding

One hundred years ago – branding meant heating an iron rod and scarring the flesh of the animals you owned with your “mark”.  Not so long ago – that term was picked up by advertising and PR professionals to describe the process of creating a unique “footprint” for your business.

When marketing people use the term “branding” they use it to refer to the way your business presents itself to the world.  It was not so long ago that branding activities centered around visual design elements such as logos, images, colors and fonts.  Forward thinking entrepreneurs would begin the process of “branding” their businesses by carefully choosing a business name which would support the developing “brand”.

Creating a “brand” for a business – especially a brand for a new small business – has never been easy.  You can work for years to build a brand for yourself based on a unique combination of words only to find someone else comes along and tries to steal your branding which is surprisingly easy to do if you haven’t “established” your brand with your own business blog.  However, until recently – you could rely upon your own “senses” so to speak for guidance in the journey of branding your small business.  Many a branding decision has been made on “gut” instinct and when the business owner has a real feel for his/her target audience – those gut decisions are usually right on the mark.

However…

In the words of Bob Dylan – the times they are a changin.

I’ve been working with a client who has a great blueprint in place for her new business.  She knows the GDP (Goals, Desires, Problems) of her target audience and she’s developing packages with the GDP in mind which is really the true foundation of any”branding” campaign.

Our first step is to determine the “right” domain name for her new business blog. The “right” domain name can give your business blog an unfair advantage with the search engines if you are crystal clear on your target audience’s GDP.  (I have a client who chose the “right” domain name about 4 years ago who has  tapped into a keyword term which continues to effortlessly deliver quality traffic to her business blog – even though she is not consistently blogging for her business. )  With this in mind, I always try to start with a great domain name for clients who haven’t already registered one.

In this case, my client is focusing on helping aging baby boomers stay productive, alert, active and creative as they age and she was in love with the term “ageless” to describe the process.  Naturally, she really wanted to incorporate that word into her domain name and had already created a Facebook page under that word for her new business.

Because I’m a digital dinosaur – I still remember the days when branding meant looking into the “human mind” and creating a human eye pleasing display.  Today – there’s another dimension to the branding process; discovering what a mindless robot thinks of your “branding” statement.

A little keyword research revealed that the Googlebot already has its own “idea” about what the term “ageless” means.  It thinks the term “ageless” applies to bio-identical hormones, beauty creams and other items promoted by the consummate practitioner of “big ol batch of crazy” – Suzanne Somers.

My client quickly abandoned her love affair with the term ageless and is now happily focusing on the term “successful aging” – which from the search engine’s point of view is more in line with her products and services.

Could we have made the “ageless” term work?  Of course, but had we stuck with the “ageless” keyword focus -my client would find her site appearing in searches where people were looking to change their outward appearance instead of their inner self.  Are those people who are searching for “ageless beauty” interested in changing the inside too?  Maybe – but why not position her business blog directly in the path of people who are searching for EXACTLY what she’s providing by choosing the “right” keywords in the beginning?

Keyword research- it’s not just for SEO anymore and is becoming an essential branding tool as well.

Can you recommend a good and honest one?

I’m a subscriber to a vibrant and active online group of homeschooling parents in my area.  Like most vibrant and active groups – members of the group discuss more than just homeschooling issues.  People on the list frequently ask for recommendations for doctors, chiropractors, insurance agents, auto mechanics and everything in between.  Those requests to list often end with the same line which closed a recent request for a recommendation for an orthopedic surgeon:

“Can anyone recommend a good and honest one?”

This is the BEST reason to maintain a business blog

One of the best reasons to maintain a business blog is so that when people offer their recommendation for you, your products or your services, they can also include a link to your business blog as well.  Ideally this business blog contains ample “evidence” that you are the expert who is ready, willing and able to quickly and efficiently solve their problem.

It’s important to recognize that requests for information are happening all the time – both online and offline.  Some of those requests for recommendations are happening “behind closed doors” – like the email list to which I’m subscribed.  The recommendations offered on the list are very powerful… perhaps the most potent “marketing” tool known to mankind –  the personal heartfelt recommendation – made without any possibility of compensation.

These recommendations are so powerful that several local businesses have joined the group with the sole intent of responding to requests like the ones above.  What keeps this list “vibrant and active” is that those who join with the sole intention of promoting their business are quickly removed from the list.

Such requests for trusted recommendations are also happening on “public” sites like Facebook and Twitter.  Recommendations and responses on public sites can play a powerful role in crafting your online reputation.

It doesn’t matter where those recommendations are made, they can become much, much more powerful when people can refer to your business blog – filled with helpful posts which illustrate your expertise.

When a visitor arrives at your business blog based on the recommendation of a friend or trusted co-worker -do you think they care whether or not the current post is 15 hours old or 15 weeks old?  The answer is almost always a resounding “no” – as long as that 15 week old post isn’t touting an event that took place 14 weeks ago.  😉

What the visitor is looking for is additional “proof” that this professional – whether it’s an attorney, a doctor, a chiropractor, a CPA or a even dog trainer – knows his/her “stuff”.

Providing that kind of content – content which exhibits your expertise in your chosen field – is the KEY to creating a business blog that really “works” for your business.

Providing  evidence of your expertise is probably the best reason ever to begin blogging for your business.

 

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.