Ask Score: Make your small business blog more manageable
My last column stirred good feedback. For example, "Dean, the tips you gave about attracting new business customers really boiled down to using good "content marketing," but my question is does this include blogging and how does a small business like mine make this task manageable?"
The short answer is yes definitely. Blogging can be an important aspect of your content marketing. But I need to expand on that and give you some suggestions about how to do this and make the task more manageable.
First, some incentive facts. According to Hubspot, business-to-business marketers who use blogs receive 67 percent more leads than those who do not. Also noteworthy: companies who blog, providing relevant content, receive 97 percent more links to their websites due to others sharing it.
That’s a rather strong incentive to start and maintain a blog for your business, yes?
Blogging is an important part of a small business content marketing strategy and can help you by:
• Increasing your online authority, thereby building trust and credibility as readers see your expertise and knowledge of your industry.
• Improving your chances of ranking better in online searches. Websites that generate new content regularly are favored over those that do not.
Blogging, however, does take time, creativity, and effort. In a 2016 study by Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs, 60 percent of B2B marketers said their biggest challenge was creating engaging content and 57 percent said they struggled most with producing content consistently.
As with any content marketing effort, blogging requires consistency to provide results. If lack of topic ideas or time constraints have prevented you from maintaining your company blog, here are a few ideas for making those obstacles less of an issue:
• Look to your customers for ideas. What frequently asked questions do they ask about your products or services?
• See what others in your industry are talking about. Why reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to? Provided you don’t copy their ideas, unique perspectives, or wording verbatim, you can address the same topic by providing your own take on the subject. (Note that including a mention and link to the blog that was your inspiration can generate goodwill — and it will likely result in that person/company sharing your post, too.)
• Share a customer success story. Consider reaching out to your clients about being featured in posts. Featuring how your products or services have helped a customer solve a problem demonstrates your effectiveness in a way that doesn’t appear self-centered.
• Capture ideas promptly in either a good old-fashioned notebook or in an app like Evernote. With so many other aspects of running your business on your mind, you might forget those amazingly brilliant topic ideas as quickly as you thought of them. Write them down immediately.
• Schedule time on your calendar to work on your blog posts. If you make your blog a part of your professional routine, you’ll be more likely to stay on track.
• If you have an employee who is adept at writing, consider delegating the blog responsibilities to that team member. Or consider contracting a freelance writer who will ghostwrite your blog posts for you.
• To save time writing, use a speech-to-text app or the feature in Gmail on your mobile device to dictate an initial draft that you can go back and edit later.
While these tips won’t make blogging effortless, they will hopefully help you in your efforts to generate ideas and gain efficiency.
Your goal is to build consistently effective content. Unique, high-quality content might seem difficult to create, but it doesn’t have to be. By creating a replicable process and following a few steps, small business owners and marketers can create engaging content that nurtures prospects from start to finish.
For more guidance about blogging and content marketing, consider contacting your local SCORE chapter. SCORE mentors bring expertise and experience in all aspects of starting and growing a business.