By Martin Zwilling
The writer is a veteran startup mentor, executive, blogger, author, tech professional, professor, and investor. Published on Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc, Huffington Post.
Now that the number of websites on the Internet worldwide approaches two billion, how do you expect anyone to find yours? Equally important, if someone does find your site, your content must stand out above all similar sites, to keep visitors engaged, close a sale, and get customers to return. I have found that publishing a regular blog can give you an edge in making all this happen.
Most business owners already believe they have the best offering, but based on my experience as a new business advisor, I find that a great solution is necessary, but not sufficient, to build a great business. Marketing is a critical element these days, and it can take many forms.
One of these is blogging, to let people know about your brand, provide links to supportive articles, and generate back-links to your content from other sites. It’s never too early to start marketing to define your brand. Thus I recommend that every business publish a website and start a blog even before they have a product to sell, enabling the following benefits:
Get Google to work for you in highlighting your site. Through SEO (search engine optimization) techniques on your site, and help from good Content Marketing platforms such as “Link-able,” customers will be drawn to your site to expedite the building of your brand. Also you should post to industry and other popular sites for more visibility.
Market your ideas and expertise early for customer feedback. After a few blogs about your idea, you will know from reader feedback, positive and negative, whether you really have something to offer, before you spend big money on it. Every business person should count on at least a couple of course corrections before they get it right.
Build relationships with potential business partners. Blogs are a great way to establish credibility and meet future strategic partners and key vendors. Your reach with a blog will make you visible to key relationship-building channels, including LinkedIn, industry forums, and worldwide business executives. Let them find and appreciate you.
Attract supportive team members and employees. Every business benefits from having employees who understand and support your mission. If they like the messages you are delivering in your blog, their efforts will more likely be complementary, committed, and more productive for your business. You need people who really want to work for you.
Your blog followers will be your best customers. Good marketing is all about building excitement, suspense, and value in the mind of potential customers. These days, customers want two-way relationships, and people who follow your writing will feel this bond. Use it to find customer requirements, new revenue streams, and build your brand.
Hone your writing style for all communication. Writing improves with practice, and real reader comments, so blogging is a valuable learning process or every business communication you need to do. I still see many marketing pitches, and even contracts, which ramble on without hitting key points. A good blog is short and tightly written.
Blogging is a good hub for all your social media outreach. You will learn to promote your blog through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media sites, and soon you will be able to assess which of these channels has the biggest return for you. It’s also a short step from blogging to podcasting, videos, Instagram, and others platforms.
Establish your identity and control your reputation. The best way to build a positive reputationand identity is to do it yourself with positive blogging, before some random review strikes with a negative. When somebody finds you online, you want to make sure that they get an accurate and complete picture of who you are and what you’re all about.
All of this is possible on every small business budget, since all the major blogging platforms, including WordPress, Blogger (Google), and Tumbler are free. Obviously, blogging does require an investment of your time for the writing, but even that may be contracted out to someone you trust, or to one of the many blogging freelancers accessible via the web.
I do find that blogging is most effective as a “pull marketing” tool, meaning that people should be pulled to you via the value they receive from the blog, rather than pushed to your products. The resulting credibility and visibility will make you and your business stand out above your competitors, and open the way to exponential growth. That’s a win-win situation for everyone.