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Bob Sandidge & Anne Ward: The work required to blog pays off for business

We had to check in with a favorite blogger today: Thomas Mahon, at EnglishCut.com. Mahon is a Saville Row tailor. As you may know, Saville Row tailors make custom men’s suits. One at a time. By hand. Let us say right away that we’re not in the market for a $4,000 hand-made suit (no matter how stylish and comfortable it would be).

We enjoy reading Mahon’s blog because we delight in his passion for the craft and artistry of his chosen profession. With 20 years of hand tailoring experience, Mahon is one of the youngest tailors on Saville Row. And, because of the blog he started writing seven years ago, he’s also one of the most famous. During that time, Mahon went from struggling with rising rent payments to owning a three-story building.

In 2004, he felt fortunate to be able to travel to New York, where he might sell two to five suits per visit. Within six months of starting his blog, he sold more suits in one trip to New York than he sold the previous year, and he now meets customers in several cities in the U.S. and Japan. All because he wrote a blog worth reading for people who love fabric and fit and a unique cut and personal attention.

Mahon’s blog is an unfolding story about a life devoted to mastery and elegance.

The best business blogs educate, inform, even entertain. Because they’re interactive (readers can leave comments), blogs build relationships. Some of the best build a sense of community among regular readers. We expect a blog to have a personal voice. We should get to know a real person in addition to a business by reading blog postings through time.

According to the statistics, the work required to blog regularly pays off. In 2011, according to Hubspot, 57 percent of blogging companies reported that they acquired a customer through their blog. Blogging is one of the best ways for smaller companies to raise their search engine visibility. Google, especially, sorts for fresh, unique, relevant, and frequently added content. Since 44 percent of online shoppers start with a search engine, that might account for the fact that businesses that blog receive 55 percent more website traffic and have 97 percent more inbound links. Your ability to be found online easily is key, as 70 percent of search links are not paid, but organic.

According to a survey of 4,000 companies, businesses that blog 20 times per month get five times more traffic than those that blog fewer than four times per month. So design a strategy to make blogging as easy and automatic as possible. If you’re not already blogging, your goal should be to start by making a list of at least 20 blog topics you can write about and committing to a regular schedule for posting. Once a week is great for a start. If you’re not into writing, that’s OK. A good list (10 tips for Tuesday, three questions to ask teens), a simple video, or a captioned image work as postings.

As you make your topic list, think about your audience: your ideal customer. When you tell people what you do, what do they ask? How are you different from other companies in your industry? Research the search terms customers enter to find information about your industry. Feed people hungry for knowledge and then pique their curiosity to learn more. Post a review of a product, company, another blog, or event. These can help you gain readership as people search on those subjects.

Post before, during, and after events including trade shows, company milestones, and charity events. Post industry news followed by your explanation of what it means to your readers. Charts and graphs make great posts as do process steps (seven steps to an organized office, A perfect brunch in 30 minutes). The more you look for potential blogging topics, the more you’ll find.

Our last recommendation is to leave the selling to your website, your brochures, and your salespeople. Allow your blog to show your company’s personality and philosophy so your customers learn why they want to buy from you. And then they will.

• Anne Ward and Bob Sandidge, CreativeCore Media in Algonquin, are marketing, communication, management and training consultants who help small business and non-profits overcome the marketing and motivational myths that are keeping them and their businesses from unbounded success. AnneBob@CreativeCore.com – www.NLPeople.com .

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