Lessons from General Custer: Why Should You Have a Business Blog?
There’s much talk and growing evidence that businesses that blog are realizing business benefits, including increased sales. Most business owners I talk to, however, are hesitant. They’ve heard about the "next big thing" before, so they’re not ready to get excited about blogging, and they have business to tend to. Their lack of excitement often takes hold after I’ve explained that it may take 6-12 months for blogging benefits to accrue to their bottom line if they do it well, which includes an 8-12 hr/week time commitment. If the results aren’t instantaneous, why bother?
I’m reminded of the classic cartoon [apologies to my Native American friends] in which a machine gun salesman is rebuffed by General Custer amid incoming arrows, saying "Can’t you see I’m too busy to talk right now?" What would you expect of a man who wore his hat so that the first wind that came along would send it flying? This is not a guy who focused on what was important.
The marketing landscape is shifting, or has already shifted, depending on who you talk to. Traditional "outbound" marketing—which includes print advertising, telemarketing, radio and television advertising, direct mail, email blasts, and non-interactive websites—are increasingly being ignored by consumers. Outbound marketing can still work if done effectively, but not to the degree it used to. When was the last time you opened a direct mail ad to see what the offer was? Or sat through the 10 minutes of commercials that accompany a 20-minute TV program? Or read a newspaper ad? You may have done some of those things recently, but if you’re like most people, you’re doing them a lot less than you did 5 or 10 years ago.
People have other options for finding information when they’re ready to buy. For an increasing number of people, their first step in a purchase is Google. If they’re looking for a book, which they can buy online, they probably won’t add a city to their search. But if they’re looking for a woodstove, they probably will. If you’re a local merchant who sells woodstoves and your website has a lot of recently added and updated content on woodstoves, you’re going to show up high in the search results. If you’re a local merchant who sells woodstoves and have a website with little useful information that hasn’t been updated since it was launched 5 years ago, or if you don’t have a website at all, you’re not going to have an opportunity to make the sale.
Increasingly, successful local businesses are the ones who are "findable" on the Internet. Becoming more findable on the Internet is sometimes referred to as "inbound" marketing. Blogging and other inbound marketing activities, accompanied by very basic Search Engine Optimization, are a proven way of raising the findability of your business and, by the way, they cost much less than outbound marketing. Let me help you pull that arrow out of your back (hold still!), then we really should talk about your business and how blogging can help it thrive.