Unless your new business venture involves a branch campus of the Illuminati, you probably want your small business to get noticed. So what do you do? Set up your business in a high-traffic area? Great. Get a big sign? Fantastic. Set up your website and social media sites? Even better.
While many small businesses consider this a great place to stop, they don’t realize that they are actually missing a very crucial element.
According to a recent study done by GE Capital Retail Bank, 81% of consumers will engage in online research before making a major purchase, a number that is up by 20% from 2012.
This means two things for you, the small business owner. First, you need people to find your company amidst their research. Second, they need to like what they see. But how do you do that? How do you differentiate yourself from other companies that are in a similar field and make your business more visible?
Thankfully, the answer is not as elusive as it may feel, and doesn’t involve spending copious amounts of marketing cash or hiring a pothead teenager to spin your sign on a street corner. Simply put, start a blog.
Not the answer you were expecting (or wanting)? Before you begin throwing rotten cabbage at me, please consider a few things. As much as we enjoy Mad Men, marketing has taken a dramatic shift in the 21st Century. Our means of connection and interaction have moved to the digital universe, and thus, we need to meet our customers there.
If you are aspiring to grow your small business and beat out the competition, blogging is a non-negotiable. Below are 4 reasons your small business needs a blog… right away.
1. Search Engines Will Love You
Teenage romance movies seem to be all the rage these days. If you have seen any of these movies, you notice a trend. Though the themes may change (vampires, sports, inner-city life), the plot basically stays the same:
- We are introduced to a socially-outcast girl at a local high school
- We also meet a handsome boy (often a jock) at the same high school
- Socially-outcast girl makes a reference to an upcoming prom and how she plans on not attending
- Due to some unforeseen incident, the boy and girl have to partner together in a class
- Both hate each other and frown upon the others social identity
- Through shared experiences and time together, they soften toward one another
- At the night of the big dance, socially-outcast girl shows up without glasses and in a beautiful dress
- Boy realizes that he loves her, renounces his prom king award, cheerleader girlfriend and Princeton scholarship (that dad forced on him) and confesses his affections to her
If Google is the handsome jock, then your small business needs to be the prettiest girl at the dance, and blogging will help get it there!
Search engines love fresh content. As you add new and regular content to your website, search engines will begin to move you higher on their results page. Is your website regularly getting new content or is it stale? If you want to be seen you need new (and regular) content!
Your blog is the easiest and most effective way to regularly add content to your website. This isn’t a ‘one and done’ exercise. You need to be consistent with your posting. It may feel daunting, but your business will thank you for it.
Don’t make your clients wade through 12 pages of ‘search results’ to find you!
2. Potential Customers Have More Opportunity to Find You
When your company begins to embraces blogging, not only will customers be able to find you more easily, they will also be able to find you more often. The reason is simple: diversification.
When you regularly post to your company’s blog, you are creating another opportunity for potential customers to come across your website. The reason is twofold:
- More Posts = More Search Engine Results
Let’s say that you run an independent insurance company and recently set up a website. At that point, your only hope of being found online is if a customer Google’s “insurance company [your city]”.
However, if your company is also embraces blogging, you make yourself more available. A certain customer may have never heard of your insurance company, but when they Google “Should I use an independent insurance agent” they will likely find an article about that subject… written on your website. Why? Because you are blogging about your business and industry. In an instant, you went from an unknown company to an entity that is educating someone as to why they should use your services.
- More Posts = More Social Media Exposure
On top of search engine results, regular blogging will also give you a stage on various social media sites.
One of the keys of good marketing is networking. If you want to see more success in your business, you need to connect with other people that will help your company grow. Since the rise of social media, this has never been easier.
As your company begins to take advantage of blogging, it would benefit your company to show its blog posts on your social media sites.
Not only does your network of peers get to see your work, but they may also share your post with others who may be interested as well. Going back to the 81% of people who do online research before purchases, testimonials and personal endorsements via “sharing” a post goes a long way.
Additionally, your blog can even begin to collect a following of readers and subscribers. This will drive regular traffic to your website via dedicated followers.
3. You Establish Expertise
Here’s some truth: In order to be trusted by the public, your business needs to prove itself. And that’s fair. You may know that you are one of the best in your field, but that doesn’t mean much to the consumer. If you want the public to give you their business, you need to show them why.
Can you guess what the remedy might be? Yep, blogging!
Blogging is one of the best platforms you have as you seek to display your expertise. Write about your industry, whether it is current events, ‘how-to’s’, tutorials, helpful advice or things of the like. And do it often. Show your customers that you are well versed in your field.
But be careful. If you’re attempting to build your credibility and expertise (which you should), make sure that you are giving correct information. Your credibility can take a huge hit if you are known to supply shoddy work. Remember, trust is hard to gain and easy to lose.
4. A Blog Gives Your Business a “Personality”
Not only will a blog help get your company noticed, it can also help put your customers at ease. For many people who fear the unknown, even walking into an unfamiliar business can be anxiety-provoking. What can you do to help?
Keeping a regularly updated blog can help to set a tone for your business that will benefit customers. As you blog about current events happening in your store and in your industry, as well as ‘how-to’s’ and other relevant topics, do not be afraid to infuse some personality. Not only does this make good writing, it also helps your customers feel comfortable with you and your company.
The idea of starting a company blog can feel daunting; that is understandable. Amidst all of the other work you have to put into your business, writing a blog can feel like a hassle. But the truth is, you can’t afford not to blog. If you are seeking to be found and noticed on the internet, a blog is necessary.
If you really feel like you do not have time to blog, hope is not lost! There are still avenues you can take to have a thriving blog:
- Delegate writing responsibilities to a trusted employee
- If your budget allows, hire a freelance writer(s)
- Consider posting on a regular, but less frequent, basis (2-4 times a month)
So if you’re ready, take the plunge today and start your business blog! We want to hear your feedback. How has your small business benefited from blogging? Please leave a comment and share your experience with us!