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When the going gets tough, the tough work harder. Since it is clear that the country is in recession, the job of any marketeer just got exponentially more difficult. Your marketing initiatives have to be tactical, low-cost, with high return and high visibility; results are imperative. One of online media tools that has a potential to market your brand, build a community, increase public awareness and raise company profile is a blog.

Although, it may seem that blogs are everywhere, American Express, estimates that only 5% of businesses with 100 people or less have blogs. If you are one of the businesses in this category, it is time to step-up and take some pointers from Accenture, Adobe, Google, Best Buy and Dell. Those are only some of the top brands that use blogs.

Obviously, there is an explanation to why larger brands use blogging – they have the manpower to sustain an interesting and informative conversation. However, small companies can be quite creative in their blogging efforts, and gain all the benefits of blogging without overstretching themselves.

Blog consulting is one of the services we offer to a number of clients. Being in this business for a number of years, we have picked up a number of tips and strategies that can make a blog successful, and we want to share our findings. You will be able to decide if having a blog is right for you, get tips on managing blog effectively, and see proven ideas on how to make your blog remarkable. This is just a tip of the blogberg (blog iceberg); we would be thrilled to have an opportunity to work on your blog, and make sure it is aligned with your business strategy and delivers the needed results.

We can’t emphasize the urgency behind a marketing strategy enough.  Your blog should complement your strategy, and not replace it.

Here are Some reasons to have your own business blog:

    • Give a backstage pass to your potential customers. For example, let people know how your product is being made, this transparency will develop trust. People will know what hard work goes into making the product they are using, which will give them a certain appreciation for your company.
    • Share your smarts so that people will know what to expect of you, if they consider hiring you or your business. This specifically applies to consultants.
    • If you have a product, be very careful when you blog. Nobody wants to read a commercial. The alternative is to use your blog for testing grounds, and for asking consumers for advice and feedback. This gives people a voice, and develops an immediate connection with your brand. One famous athletic shoe company blogged about a new line of clothing, and asked consumers to offer their ideas for colors and slogans.
    • Give consumers tips on how to use your product.  One chocolate factory offered different recipes as their blog posts, later they offered blog readers to post their own chocolate recipes.
    • Share what you know about the industry you are in, offer your perspective on the current news. Your knowledge of the industry helps you sell yourself.
    • Use your blog as a customer service tool, let people know about any updates, bugs or new software editions. This is your new interactive FAQ. Nike has the feature “Ask Our Expert” on their corporate blog.
    • Use your blog to post what others have to say. A lot of companies ask other businesses to write postings on their own blog. This makes your blog a community, and gives consumers a broader outlook.

If you decide that blogging is for you, it is time to do some research. You want to find out what platform to use, what your competition is doing, what keywords in your field are most popular, and what blogs in your area are considered to be an authority. This is where we tend to help our clients the most: market research will help you build a blogostrategy (strategy behind your blog), and a strategy is a key. Your blog needs to answer a very simple question: what is the objective?  Consequently every posting needs to support this objective.

Once the objective and strategy are established, it is time to roll up your sleeves and start blogging.

Here a couple of recommendations we give our clients:

    • Learn from other blogs in the field: see which posts get the most comments and attention and what keywords they use. See what works best for them and utilize it. Install StumbleUpon toolbar, it will help you monitor the information in the field you are in.
    • Make a habit of monitoring what your competition does. Use free tools like Google Analytics and Site Meter to understand how people are finding sites and which key words are working.
    • If writing is not your favorite thing to do, start with capturing your ideas with short sentences and key phrases. It will be easier to put it together later.  If it helps, come up with a list of headlines, and then turn them into a story.
    • Prepare a couple of posts for later use. This will help when you do not have any time to blog.
    • Create a blog series, a series of blog postings on a specific title. People often like to monitor a series, it shows that you have a lot to say. Additionally, a series of blogs can be easily turned into an article to help with your public relations initiatives.
    • Ask your employees to write posts, you never know who has something valuable to say.
    • Your blog can easily add flare or character to your organization. You and your coworkers have a personality; this is what sells.
    • Follow the news, and offer short postings about recent headlines or review new books.
    • Many people ask us how regularly they need to post new content. There is no winning formula. Update your blog regularly, so people remember that you exist. On the other hand, pace yourself; you can’t publish quality content every day.
    • If somebody sends you an interesting email or good question, reply to it on your blog.
    • Link your posts to other sites and blogs. While you do that, let other blogs know about what you wrote and offer them to link to you. Additionally, try to include different forms of media in your post: embed an image, video or a presentation.

Once your blog is set-up and working, give it some time to blossom. Attention is a scarce resource, and it will take time for people to learn about your blog. Be skeptical of those who tell you that blog is a hidden treasure that will magically put your site on top of Google’s page rank. Just because Mark Cuban has it, doesn’t mean that you need to have it.  Your blog will help you with Search Engine Optimization, and will increase market awareness and sales in the long run. This will take some time and patience on your part.

If you decide not to have a blog, there are still several strategies for you to benefit from the blogosphere.

Here are a couple of examples:

    • Create a Feed Aggregator on your site. This tool will help you aggregate different blog posts and put all of them on one page. This greatly benefits a consumer, who can then read 10-15 blogs in one location.
    • Become a guest blogger. If you do not have the time to maintain your own blog, offer to write for other popular blogs once in a while. This way you can establish your own series.

If you are trying to understand whether to have a blog or not, how to create a blogostrategy or how to manage and continuously improve your blog, we can help. We would appreciate an opportunity to help your blog bloom. Please let us know if this information was helpful. If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel out this form http://infotrustllc.com/contact-us or email us at info@infotrustllc.com

To Your Continuous Success,

InfoTrust Team

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About The Author: Alex Yastrebenetsky is a founder (and CEO) of InfoTrust. Known as "The Brain" (Pinky and the Brain) around the office, he enjoy traveling with his wife and young children.