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….


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.

When the “right” answer isn’t the “best” answer.

Here’s a modern day business parable…

A business owner was interviewing applicants for a newly created position within the company. He decided to base his decision upon a single question which would be asked of each applicant, “What is two and two?”

The first interviewee’s answer was “Twenty-two.”

The second interviewee pulled out a slide rule and showed the answer to be between 3.999 and 4.001.

The third simply answered,  “Four.”

The business owner asked the fourth applicant the same question, “How much is two and two?” The interviewee got up from his chair, went over to the door and closed it then came back and sat down. He leaned across the desk and in a low voice asked, “How much do you want it to be?”

The final interviewee got the job.

The moral to the story?  Sometimes the “right answer” is not the BEST answer.

In the little parable above, four different interviewees had four different “answers” to the same question – and three of them were technically “correct”.  Unfortunately, having the “right” answer wasn’t the key to landing the job in this story.

The final applicant, instead of answering the question – dug deeper to find out the “WHY?” behind the question.  Why was the business owner asking him this seemingly simple question?

The final applicant would make a great business blogger.

When you’re creating content for your business blog – you have to adopt the same kind of mind set.  You have to go digging – get creative- and try to “get inside” the mind of your target reader to discover what the best answer is to the questions they’re asking about your product or service.

“It’s red”…. “It’s the size of a deck of cards”…. “It’s easy to use”…. those may be technically correct answers to the questions prospective customers are asking – but chances are they aren’t the RIGHT answers.

Often – there is no single”right” answer… and the various “best” answers could fill a book.

I hear that often from clients .  They look at their customer or client base and see a wide array of diversity staring back at them. The “best” answer for some is not the best answer for others. It can make creating a cohesive advertising campaign maddening for all involved.

It’s times like these when business blog can easily ride to the rescue… showcasing all the different “best” answers to questions being asked by your target audience about your business.

Building Business Blog Bridges

As I was updating WordPress for a client, I saw that someone had “discovered” her blog.  This is not necessarily a bad thing – but this person had decided to try to use the comments section of various blog posts for HIS sales message.

I can understand why he’d like to get his message out on her business blog. Years ago when we launched her blog, I worked extensively with this client to target the keyword terms which her prospective clients might use to search for information online.

We formulated a plan and she began blogging for her business.  Today she’s enjoying enviable SERPS which are the result of YEARS of consistent effort on her part.

Then this guy comes along and drops a few “turds” in her comment section.  Just because he left his name and URL doesn’t make his behavior any less “spam like” and doesn’t mean she should approve his comments.

How can you avoid committing this business blog faux pas?

So let’s say you have a business that needs some serious marketing help and you don’t want to work for YEARS building a business blog. I get it.  You’ve invested your blood, sweat and tears into launching this business and you need to see results like yesterday.

While it seems like a sure fire shortcut to success to hijack the comments section of a business blog with enviable SERPS… you’re more likely to burn potential bridges than build them.

Here are three easy steps to building bridges with successful business bloggers… and possibly EARN a chance to introduce yourself to an A list business blogger’s audience.

1. Launch your own business blog.

Every successful business blogger can remember a time when he/she were pounding out blog posts that no one was reading.  Believe me, you’ll be in a stronger position to ask for a “favor” if you’ve already demonstrated that you’re more than willing to go through the motions of building your own blog audience.

In my own personal experience, I’ve found that comments and guest blog post requests from business owners who are NOT actively blogging tend to fall into the “shamelessly self promoting” category.

See, a business blog post is not place for a “one call close”.  Your business blog is a place to woo consumers an to educate them.  While your ultimate goal is to seduce visitors into becoming your customers – you first must strive to earn their trust before you ask for their business.

That’s the nice thing about business blogging – it allows you to find the right “voice” while building an impressive library of useful web site content along the way.

Once you’ve launched your own business blog, determined your marketing strategy and created enough content to showcase your your own unique and authentic voice, then you’re ready for the second step…

2. Leave PITHY comments on other blogs.

Pithy means concise and expressive.  Your goal should be to add VALUE to the conversation at hand in the post – not to hijack it for your own sales pitch.  You’d be surprised how much “traffic” can come your blog’s way with a well reasoned comment or two.

Leaving regular, pithy comments on other business blogs is a great way to pave the way to the third way to respectfully use other business blogs to promote your own business….

3. Guest Post

Guest posting has the potential to be a “win-win” situation for both the blog owner and the guest blogger.  In my client’s case, if the author had launched his own business blog to promote his book – he could have contacted her and asked for an opportunity to guest post on her blog.

Assuming this author can write well – my client would get the double benefit of someone ELSE creating content on her established blog.  She gets a break from blogging AND still gets to offer fresh useful content to her readers.

Of course, if he has a history of leaving pithy comments on my client’s blog – this author would find my client is much more receptive to his offer to guest blog post.  By previously contributing to the conversation on her blog previously – this author would find my client more than willing to allow him a place to promote his point of view – and his book.

It’s a win – win – but only if the guest blogger has his own blog and has proven his ability to participate in a polite “blog style” conversation.

Guest blogging can be a GREAT way to introduce your products or services to a new audience.  On the other hand, it’s WAY too easy to delete shamelessly self promoting comments.

Business blogs are not SQUEEZE pages… don’t try to treat them as such!

Facebook is a Fad

What does Spock see when he looks into the scanner?  Why Facebook of course!


Is your business ready for the end of Facebook’s “fad of the moment” status?

If the thought of the fall of Facebook makes you nervous- if Facebook is acting as your sole web presence – it’s time for a reality check.

At best, Facebook should be one of many TOOLS in your social media marketing toolbox.  It should never be the ONLY way for consumers to find your business online.

If you think Facebook is forever -I’d like to remind you of a very popular social media site of  yesteryear – MySpace.

When Newscorp purchased MySpace back in 2005 – the site was at the height of its popularity.  Of course, the first order of business was to cash in – and cash in they did.  Unfortunately – the changes made to improve short term profits were made without regard to the site’s users.   As the user experience began to deteriorate at MySpace, Facebook opened it’s virtual doors to the general public and consumers fled-driving MySpace into obscurity.

User experience killed MySpace – and a similar fate awaits Facebook as well if they continue to ignore the “will” of consumers.

The biggest mistake any business owner can make is to build their business on the “free” internet real estate offered by Facebook.

Facebook’s greatest appeal has always been the fact that it’s free and it’s growth has been very “viral”.  One person recruits their friends and family to sign up… and those friends recruit their friends – and before you know it – over a half a billion people have created Facebook profiles.

It’s natural that business would want to have a presence on this popular site.  However, it’s important to remember that your business doesn’t own in any way, shape or form its Facebook page.  Heck, you’re not even paying to RENT to Facebook for this online real estate – which means your options are VERY limited should you find yourself in unknowing violation of Facebook’s ever changing TOS.

There have been more than a few internet pioneers who have discovered first hand that it SUCKS to build your internet marketing empire on internet real estate you do not own.

While Facebook is indeed a “fad” – social media is not.

Social media is more than just the sum of it’s parts.  Social media is bigger than Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, You Tube and the myriad of other mega social media sites combined.

The smart business owner will place his or her own “horse” in the social media race and maintain a business blog.  Then social media sites like Facebook, YouTube and Linked In can be leveraged to help bring readers (a.k.a. consumers) to the business owner’s blog. That same smart business owner will be watching the newest players on the social media scene to see if the businesses’ target customers are beginning to congregate at a new social media gathering place… like say Foursquare.

When you create and maintain a business blog – where prospective customers can find out more about the products and services you provide – you might discover that your business blog is the most profitable piece of your own marketing puzzle.

That’s better than a page full of “likes” any day!

Business Blogs Save the Day

I recently wrote about how great business blog content helped one of my clients land not one but two clients over the course of a few weeks.  That’s why most business owners begin blogging – they want to connect with consumers.

Connecting with consumers is the holy grail of online marketing.  Each day – thousands of people head online to search for information.  Many times – those searches are very, very specific.  That’s where business blogs really shine – because often those really super specific search queries are made by people who are actively seeking solutions to problems – problems for which your business offers a solution.

Connecting with consumers did not begin when Facebook opened its doors to the general public.  The goal of connecting with consumers was the goal of advertising agencies LONG before the first Twitter fail whale appeared on the scene.

Back in those days – it was a real challenge to make a connection with consumers.  Information flowed down predictable paths which were almost literally etched in stone.  You had to have pockets filled with gold to even consider charting a course down the well worn path of traditional media.

Back in those days – just as today – connecting with consumers began with an idea.

“Hey – I’ll bet THIS will really connect with our target audience!”

In those days – that “aha” moment was followed by creating a campaign which delivered that message.   Sometimes it was television – sometimes it was print – other times it was direct mail – but in every case the journey to making a connection began by opening up your business checkbook and writing more than a few checks. Production of your marketing message was only the beginning – because once the marketing message was produced it then had to be DELIVERED via your chosen media.

With all of this upfront expense – you had to be pretty confident that your “aha” moment – or the “aha” moment provided by your agency – would TRULY connect with consumers.

Even today – companies are still stumbling across such “aha” moments and connecting with consumers via traditional media.  From the All State’s Mayhem guy – to the Old Spice guy – traditional media campaigns are successfully making the initial connection with consumers. Social media is just an afterthought in those cases-  serving to fan the flames of an already roaring fire.

It’s “easier” for big companies to make that kind of connection via traditional media simply because they have the budget for it.  When a large corporation runs an ad campaign that falls flat – there isn’t the slightest possibility that it will destroy the company’s financial future.  When a big company runs a campaign that flops – they simply fire their agency and hire a new one.

But if you’re an SMB – an advertising campaign that flops can mean the difference between red ink and black ink on your balance sheet.  That makes it much harder to take that leap of faith and start writing checks to produce a marketing message that may or may not connect with consumers.

Which is exactly why a business blog can save the day for an SMB.

Your business blog allows you to “test” the waters economically with your marketing message.  Take your message – and post it.  Now take that post – and tweak it – and then post it again.  I’m not saying to “re-run” the same content over and over – that would be redundant and silly.  Take your message and “massage” it – shape it – try to view it from different angles.

Which is why business blogs can literally save the day for small and medium sized business owners.  Business blogs give you the ability to “tweak” your marketing message before you spend a DIME on production costs.   Your business blog can give you the confidence to invest in producing a television spot.

Not only can your business blog give you a heads up on which message really “connects” with consumers – it also gives you a place to “air” that spot on demand 24/7.  So once your television ad has done it’s job airing on television – it can still continue to “work” by providing information on your business blog.

It’s not just television ads which can be “re-purposed” for life on the web – but virtually any ad in any media can find new life – quickly and easily – on your business blog.

Business blogs really can save the day for SMB – effectively and efficiently providing a marketing beacon for your business.

Creating Great Business Blog Content

If you didn’t know by now, a business blog is a great way for your business to reach out and capture the attention of prospective customers or clients.   Business blogs grab the attention of machines (the search engines) and people alike and business owners are sitting up and taking notice.

Recently, I began sharing about the mechanics of creating a great business blog post and the fact that a great business blog post begins with the title.  The title delivers the promise of what’s to come – but that brings us to the next step which is actually creating the business blog content.

This is where the way gets murky.  This is the point where the questions a professional is going to ask you will get tough.  This is where you have to KNOW your product or service inside and out.  You have to KNOW the who, what, when, where and why.

Who? – Who is your target audience?

What? – What need or desire is the product or service satisfying.

When? –  When does your target audience plan to make a purchase?  Are they researching before they buy?

Where? – Where will they complete their purchase?  Some products simply can’t be purchased online while others can.  Sometimes – prospective clients are simply trying to find information and will make their buying decision in the “real world” vs online.

Why? –  Why are they online?  Did they log on with the intention of buying or did they log on searching for the answer to a problem they’re having?

A ready answer to these questions is essential to creating great business blog content.

I recently got an email from a client – very excitedly telling me that her business blog just helped her to land 2 new clients.   When I look back at our initial conversation – I realize that she had the answers to all of these questions at the ready when she began blogging for her business.

If you were to ask her about business blogging – she would tell you how EASY it is – because she simply began composing blog posts with her target audience and their problems in mind.   To be honest, she created this content regularly for a few months and then quit blogging.  She ignored her blog for more than a year – and then – one day she checked her log file analysis  and saw that she was getting hundreds of views a day on a particular blog post.  She began writing blog posts again and VIOLA – she started to get potential clients leaving comments asking for her to contact them about her service.  Two of those initial conversations have resulted in long term client commitments.

So if you’re wanting to create great business blog content – begin by examining your target audience.  Answer the questions above – especially the “why”.  In my client’s case – she KNEW that her prospective client wasn’t logging on with the intent of hiring her.   She KNEW they were looking for a solution to a problem – but they didn’t know exactly what that solution was.  Because they weren’t searching for a solution – she simply wrote blog posts about those problems and then artfully wove how her service helped to solve those problems.

That’s where the power of business blogging lies.  Sure, you can optimize a blog post for specific keywords that YOU think are important – but if your customers aren’t using those words to find what you do then your efforts are wasted.  When you create a business blog post addressing the specific problems consumers are facing – problems your product or service “solves” – you may find as my client did that the web is FULL of people who need your products or service but don’t know it yet.

When you start blogging for your business – those people can not only find you – they can also get to know more by reading your other blog posts.

Anatomy of a great business blog post

I’ll begin this post with a disclaimer.  Most blog posts of this nature are pure Pablum –  general enough in nature to be completely worthless to anyone who truly needs help in this area.   Such posts must be so general that they tend to be worthless because each business blog post is simply a single MARKETING TACTIC which is performing a role in your overall MARKETING STRATEGY.

Launching a business blog is not a marketing strategy – it’s a marketing tactic.  The business blog posts you write have a job to do – and that’s to carry your business’ marketing message.

The reality is that a great business blog post for one business is not a great business blog post for another.  Business blogs not only have to be different than “regular” blog posts – but they also differ amongst themselves.

That’s why it’s really hard for me to offer “quick and easy” one size fits all advice on how to create a great business blog post.

However, I can share one common element of every great business blog post.  The one thing ALL great business blog posts share is a great blog post title.

The business blog post title

The words you type into the title box of your blog post are the hardest working words on your site. Assuming you’ve tweaked your blog’s permalink settings, the words you choose to type into the title box above your blog post become part of your blog post DNA. Those words become part of the url – and that plays a huge role in how the search engines will “view” your blog post today and for years to come.

Pleasing the search engines isn’t the only reason to create a creative blog post title. Because while it plays a role in how your blog post is seen by the search engines, even more important is how that title affects the HUMAN visitors to your site.

The blog post title holds the promise of the content to come – it’s what entices human visitors to click and to read more. In the end, we must never forget that the only reason any of us CARES what the soulless programs that index the web do with our content is because those soulless programs can bring us the eyes of soulful human beings.

The blog post title is the first point of connection. Those words will often be used to spread your post to the social media network. Whether it’s through Twitter, Facebook or even through your RSS feed – your blog post title is often the foundation for the message which is spread.

Your business blog post title sets the reader’s expectations – and puts the content contained within the post into context for the reader. Without a great blog post title – the best blog post in the world will be overlooked and ignored.

So what makes a great blog post title?

It’s one that grabs the attention of your target audience.

“Rats” – you may think.  “There she goes again – prattling on about targeting your audience for effective marketing.”  (I thought writing a book –  Beyond the Niche – would help end my endless ranting  on the subject- but it hasn’t.)

You can’t create a great blog post title if you don’t know your target audience intimately!

Your great blog post title catches the attention of your target audience  and entices them to read more – the more being your compelling, tightly targeted content which was created as part of a sound marketing strategy.

Your business blog post title is the “headline” that will excite, entice and motivate your target audience to go further and read the post.

This past weekend – an email listserv of which I am a member “blew up” because of a well titled blog post.  The post title acted as a literal lightning rod – causing one member of the list to share the blog post title on the list which drove hundreds of other members to the blog post.

A well worded blog post title created a lot of traffic.

By the time I followed the link – the blog post in question had over 300 comments approved less than 72 hours after posting.   The blog post author’s most recent tweet was expressing delight at the traffic her blog was getting.

By choosing the right five words – the author was able to “push” an emotional button in her target audience. By simply knowing what makes her intended target audience “tick” – she was able to create a blog post title which motivated her audience to not only take action – but motivate others to action as well.

What’s happening on this listserv is probably happening other places as well – including Facebook and Twitter – where people are sharing her blog post by simply sharing the title of the post.

I call this kind of blog post a Pillar Blog Post in the 8 Week Power Blog Launch course and your blog should definitely strive to include this type of attention getting blog posts – but expecting to create such blog posts – or blog post titles – daily is not realistic.   Trying to achieve that can lead to business blog paralysis  – which is the worst business blogging affliction of all.

Business blog paralysis is where you fail to create ANY blog posts for your business blog because it’s not “good enough”.  The blogger I mention here as been blogging for several years – and has made several “stabs” at connecting with this audience in previous blog posts.  Because blogging is so easy – she’s been able to “tweak”her message over hundreds of blog posts until she finally created one which hit it’s mark and called people to action.

However, because while the mechanics of blogging are “easy” the ART of blogging isn’t – this blog post wasn’t the author’s her first attempt to “connect”with her target audience.

It wasn’t her first attempt – but it’s obviously the most successful and it all began with a great blog post title.

Feel free to share your most compelling business blog post title in the comments below.

Indecent Business Blogging Exposure and other forms of TMI

a.k.a. yet another reason why your business blog shouldn’t act like other blogs.

Blogging is great.  It allows you to publish content quickly and easily to the world wide web.  That content will live on long after it’s dropped from the front page of your blog and will continue playing a significant role in shaping your online reputation for years to come.

Business blogging allows you to create a search engine friendly comprehensive information archive about your business.  You can share the answers to frequently asked questions and share testimonials quickly and easily.  You can also choose to share any other content via your business blog as well.  The 30 second television commercial you paid to produce can “air” any time and the digital copy of your brochure can be downloaded  instantly.

Business blogging is truly a marvel- but like any other powerful weapon – it has a dark side.

Business blogging provides ample opportunity to create TMI business blog posts.

For some mystical, magical reason – writing on a regular basis seems to have the ability to “reveal” more than what is displayed on the page.

It’s called a Freudian slip when someone says something which unintentionally reveals what they’re really thinking.   Austin Power’s movie Goldmember provides an exaggerated illustration of this concept:

Austin: “Now who has my father?”

Dr. Evil: “Uh oh! Someone has some daddy issues.”

Austin: “Nothing could be my father from the truth.”

Dr. Evil: “Oops! You said ‘my father’.”

Austin: “No I dadn’t.”

Dr. Evil: “Did too!”

Austin: “Didn’t! Did not!”

Dr. Evil: “Shebah!”

Austin: “For me, this is a dad issue.”

Dr. Evil: “Hooh!”

Austin: “Dead issue! Dead dad! Dead beat dad.”

It’s funny when Mike Meyers does it – but if you’re not careful, it’s very easy to commit such Freudian slips.

Business blogging is at its best when it is authentic.

Business blogging works best when it’s authentic.  As you blog, you’ll be writing in a distinct “voice” – just as when you speak, you speak in a distinct voice.  The way you write – the way you share stories – the tone of your writing all comes together to create your authentic blogging “voice”.  The more of you that you share, the more distinct this blogging voice will be.

Like every good thing –  authenticity can easily cross the line and become TMI which is a BAD thing. You must be aware of this “danger” and be careful, that personal turmoil doesn’t find it’s way into your blog posts.

Like most things I share here, this “lesson” is roote in personal experience. A few months ago, I was launching another business and asked a colleague to help with the branding and design elements.  She read the posts on that blog and assumed that I had hired a ghostwriter who failed to capture my “spark”.


I hadn’t hired a ghostwriter – but I was having serious reservations about launching that business.

Quick aside – Some businesses are like selling  encyclopedias door to door.  Back in the old days, prior to the internet, when someone purchased an encyclopedia set, it was a one time sale.  Few customers would be willing to buy a second set of encyclopedias no matter how happy they were with the original purchase.  These types of businesses don’t have repeat sales or repeat customers  and as a result, are tough to launch and then grow.

I hadn’t wanted to face the fact that the business I was preparing to launch was looking like it was definitely a “high tech” version of encyclopedia sales.  That internal conflict had come through loud and clear despite my refusal to acknowledge it.

Should you avoid transparency in your business blog?

I don’t think you can successfully blog without some element of transparency.  With that said, business blogging is too important to take a “I’ll wait to blog for my business as long as life is perfect” mentality.  It’s the most powerful social networking tool available and one that – like fine wine – improves with age.

If you’re waiting for the perfect time to launch a business blog – that time was five years ago.  You’re behind – get moving and get started.

However, if your business is in a state of turmoil – if your personal life is in a state of chaos – I would recommend that you hire a copywriter to assume your business blogging activities.

There are a lot of benefits to hiring a writing professional.  First and foremost, a true ghostwriting “pro” can write in your voice – without ever making a Freudian slip.

Your clients or customers may love you – but they don’t need to know the intricate details of your latest bout with the flu.  🙂 Just one of many things that are better left “unblogged”.

Why Your Business Blog Shouldn’t Act like Other Blogs

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery – and if you’re considering launching a business blog you might be tempted to imitate some of the top blogs online.  It’s a great strategy to imitate success – but if you do choose to imitate some of the top blogs online – you may very well find yourself wasting a lot of time and energy.

When it comes launching and maintaining a business blog, you have to define your goals carefully.   Long ago, I applauded Liz Strauss when she wrote, “Your business is not your blog.”   Those words of wisdom still apply for the business owner who wants to use a business blog to promote his or her business.

Today there are some blogs which are acting as a “business”.  If a business blog is classified as “marketing” – these blogs would have to be classified as “media channels”.

You’re already familiar with the concept of different channels offering different content through television.  What began as three national channels has exploded into hundreds of channels – each targeting a different demographic. Many of the top blogs have become their own “television network” so to speak.  The primary goal of these blogs is providing entertaining and informative content.  In essence they’re “competing” with other content providers – like the television networks.

In these cases – contrary to Liz’s word’s of wisdom – the blog is the business.  When it comes to this style of blogging – you’ll notice there are lots of ads being displayed.  Those ads are the way those blogs are paying the bills which is why – in these cases – the blog is the business.

In the 8 Week Power Blog Launch – in the first lessons I ask the bloggers to define their blogging goals.  It’s important to define your blogging goals because if you’re going to become a competitor for network television  you’re going to have to take a different approach than the business owner who wants to position his or her blog posts in the path  of prospective customers as they research an upcoming purchase.

Creating your own “network” with your own programming is a huge task – an insurmountable one if you’re trying to do it yourself.  These “network blogs” often employ full tine writers,editors and even advertising sales people.  The content of the blog IS the job.   So while you may be a huge fan of a blog which provides daily content and breaking news – chances are you won’t want to imitate that big time blog when it comes time to launching your business blog.

Instead – you’ll want to adopt the blogging style of writing informative blog posts which are written with the end consumer in mind.  If you’re selling widgets – then your business blog should be filled with articles on all the many amazing uses of widgets around the home or business. When that’s your goal, writing a blog post or two each week is often all you need to build that kind of business blog.

On the other hand, if your blog goal is to compete with Oprah’s new television network – that’s going to require full time effort by a team of talented writers.  You’re going to be churning out content on a daily – in some cases hourly – basis.

This is why you must first define your business blogging goal before you begin blogging.  In many cases, your business blog shouldn’t act like other blogs because it’s goal is not to become the go to source for widespread information rather the goal is for your business blog to provide great information for prospective buyers of your product or service.

Business blogging is a marathon – not a sprint. Keeping the goal in sight is a great way to keep your business blog on track and can prevent you from “burning out” before the race is over.

Succeeding in Social Media

You’ve got a business – and you’d love to find new customers online.  You’ve heard that social media can do that for your business- but you don’t know where to begin.

If that’s where you find yourself, then you must know that there are TWO things you MUST have in place in order to succeed in social media:

You need two – and only two – KEY elements in place to succeed in social media.

1.  You must have a plan.

2. You must be proactive.

First – you must have a solid plan.

I’m not talking about a “social media plan” or even a “social media strategy”. I’m talking about a solid business plan which includes as part of your business’ DNA a DESIRE to serve your customer base.

Social media sucks for the business running a “pump and dump” style business plan.  If you view customer comments as “noise” then chances are your “social media strategy” is going to focus upon making your customers SHUT UP and “kwitcherbitchin”.

The current “trend” appears to be that consumers voices are becoming more easily “heard” online that the many professional marketers.  Google is actively searching for online reviews and including them as part of the Google Places Page – a free page one website which business owners can claim and utilize.

In other words,  the search engines appear to be interested in magnifying the voice of the “little guy” a.k.a. the consumer online.  The wise business owner and CEO will keep this trend in mind as they plan for the future in ALL areas of their business.

Think of social media as a huge cocktail party where the conversations are being etched in stone and run your business accordingly.

Creating a free standing “social media plan” – one that is separate and distinct from the overall business plan – is kind of like a resident of Spokane, Washington  planning a road trip to Miami Beach and buying a map of  Florida to plan the trip.   While that map will help once you’ve actually arrived in Florida- but it’s not going to help you navigate the lower 48 and get you to the Sunshine State border.

The best social media plan is one that is integrated with your other means of customer communication… because that’s what social media is – communication with both existing customers and prospective customers.

Which brings me to the 2nd element needed for success in social media.

You must be proactive – not reactive.

Most humans don’t live proactively.  As a species – we didn’t immediately and universally adopt the habit of wearing seat belts and had to be “legislated” or forced into using them.  Sure, there were a few proactive thinkers who buckled up for safety – but these proactive thinkers were definitely in the minority.

So when I say “you must be proactive” when it comes to social media – that advice assumes you’ve already got a business plan that has customer satisfaction ingrained as part of your business DNA.   Then – being proactive simply means not only listening to consumers but actively ENCOURAGING them to speak positively about your business.  Giving consumers a place to be ‘heard” is a great start -but then the real job is cultivating the positive conversations.

When satisfying your customers is part of your business goals – then listening to your customers becomes a priority.  You want them to come back – you want customers to buy from you again – because you realize that it’s 5-7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to sell another product to an existing customer – you will eventually realize that listening to your customers is the best way to keep them.

In a recent article over at Mashable…Social Media Success: 5 Lessons from In-House Corporate Teams Amy Mae Elliott  interviewed Kerry Bridge, head of digital media communications, EMEA and global public sector at Dell Computers.    Bridge offers this simple reason for why Dell has been so successful using social media to generate sales for their business:

“Listening to our customers has always been at the heart of what we do.  Dell’s heritage of direct customer connections and online leadership are the seeds of our drive to be a social media success.”

Throughout the article – you’ll see the same “thread” repeated over and over again.

The Social Media Success Formula outlined in that article can be summed up as this:

Strong products + a sincere desire to improve customer experience + a proactive commitment to communicating effectively with consumers = social media success.

I get a lot of inquiries from business owners who want to “get started” using social media to grow their business.  They read stories where a companies like Dell have generated millions of dollars in revenue using the free social media communication service Twitter and they want to tap into that kind of business building social media action for their business.

These business owners are frequently disappointed to learn that the social media strategy is not a “set it and forget it” type of proposition.  While many of the communication tools which are an integral part of social media are “free” – using those tools takes time to learn to use – and they require a significant investment of time on the part of the business owner.  Companies like Dell, Ford and Southwest have teams of social media pros who work full time participating in the social media conversations online.

You may not have the resource to fund a full time social media team dedicated to communicating with consumers- but almost every business can launch a self hosted blog where consumers can come and share their thoughts.  Sure – you have to put forth a bit of effort in crafting those blog posts – and if you do that well then you might have to drudge through spammy comments – but if you’ll invest that limited amount of time into your business blog – you’ll find REAL gold in the authentic comments from actual consumers.