Whenever new technology and new techniques become popular, people find a way to use them to promote their business or to make money. Remember when the Internet was still fresh out of the nest? There were clickable banner ads everywhere (and they got clicked!) and spam email became worse than traditional junk mail.
Blogs have not been overlooked by businesses as a way to build their businesses but in this fledgling medium, people are still trying to find their feet and discover what makes a good business blog and what doesn’t.
We offer the good, the bad, and the ugly (in reverse order) as practices to adopt and avoid to help you create a blog that people want to read.
Ultimately, that’s what it comes down to: Creating a must-read blog. But there are a lot of examples of “must-not-read” blogs out there!
Ugly business blogs provide heavy, impersonal sales-only material in a hard-selling format to support the current website. They basically function to point visitors to the main site. Frankly, they exist for no other reason than to provide a cheap link from one site to the main site as a way to build up a network of links. In most cases, the material on these blogs is exactly the same as the material on the actually website, forcing the visitor to wonder: “why bother reading the website?” These are updated rarely or not at all.
These blogs are never viewed and very ineffective.
Bad business blogs combine some industry information and some sales messages together. They rarely go outside of the narrow product-focus and always go back to selling the product. Some of the blog posts may talk about benefits and features but basically the blog serves as an impersonal, online sales brochure. These are updated infrequently or irregularly.
These blogs are rarely viewed and only mildly effective… if there are not better blogs out there.
Good business blogs provide product-supporting information to clients and prospects without a lot of sales messages. The blog does function as a brochure (talking about benefits and features of the products or service) but in a way that addresses the client on a personal basis, perhaps talking more as a user rather than a salesperson. Good blogs may even effectively use moderated comments to allow users of the product to post feedback, thus providing credible, non-solicited support to strengthen the subtle sales messages.
Good blogs also effectively use links to take visitors to appropriate web pages on the company’s site, but also to other sites that help support the primary business purpose. For example, industry sites, consumer advocacy sites, and even competitors sites!
Good business blogs effectively use links to take visitors to other sites that they would find helpful… but perhaps sites that exist on the periphery of the product or service. (A prospect is not focused only on your product or service, they have a life outside of the immediate purchase and your blog can solve a greater need by showing how your product fits into their life and how you care about their life outside of the sales transaction).
If you think of your website like a clean, professional bicycle store, the blog is the bulletin board of pictures and letters that people send in showing them enjoying their bicycle in various exotic locations, as well as sales brochures, brochures to related events that cyclists might enjoy, and business cards to supporting cycle- friendly businesses.
Good business blogs use a friendly, personal voice, with bite- sized text, pictures, and links to make an interesting package.
These blogs are viewed often and they are highly effective.
Just like banner ads and spam, it will be the users who ultimately determine how effective a business blog is to them. In time, the good blogs will float to the surface and the bad (and ugly) blogs will slowly sink in the mire. Make sure your business blog is a good blog and it will help you build your business!