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Blogging Basics: How You Can Use This Free, Powerful Marketing Tool!
Lisa Orrell, President of M7 Design, Inc. and a professional speaker/author known as The Chickonomics Expert™

Okay. So I realize most of you know what blogs are, but MANY people are not yet sure how to use them as a marketing tool. Therefore, this article is going to provide basic background info about blogs AND explain how you can use them to build your business.

Blogs have been around for many years, but mainly used "underground" by tech geeks. Now the world of business, including Fortune 500 companies, are taken notice and starting to use blogs in their marketing mix.

One thing you must realize: The use of blogs in business is in its infancy. Some of the most well respected marketing gurus in the U.S. explain that the ways to use blogs effectively changes on a daily basis and there are NO set rules. A tool like "print advertising" is pretty straightforward. Using blogs as a marketing tool is not.

Here is a Basic "Blog" Briefing

A blog is like a daily or weekly newspaper, or even diary, that you own. YOU are the editor/publisher/writer. There are blogs for everything...think of them like websites. You can find blogs about ANY topic in the world.

Some blogs are simply for entertainment, and some are used as a serious business tool. And you can choose to allow people to post comments about what you write, or not. So there are all kinds of people shouting out their opinions about all kinds of stuff in the blogsphere.

This is the main aspect that has the business community "scared". Typically a finely tuned marketing machine creates the messaging for a company. For as long as any of us can remember, companies have totally controlled their messaging. In the world of blogging, however, your potential customers and existing customers can post their true feeling about your product or service for the world to see. This, as you can imagine, makes companies uncomfortable.

But, as you###ll see in the next section, some companies are breaking-out of their comfort zone, and being really creative with blogging.

How You Use A Blog for Your Business

Let###s say you own a financial consulting business:

You could start "Jane###s Money Blog" and write about tips, investment trends, new investment products, etc. It would be like your OWN newspaper all about your company and the beauty/cosmetic industry, and you can write about, and say, whatever you want. However, DO NOT make it a big infomercial all about you. Bloggers will take offense to blatant "selling" and will post not-so-flattering comments. Like a newsletter, offer good advice and information.

Another idea: If you attend an industry tradeshow or financial summit, you can make a daily blog entry about the new trends that are being highlighted at the event. These are things that your blog readers may find really interesting!

You can promote your blog to existing clients, and share links with other related sites to generate more traffic to your blog. If you think "outside the box" you can find all kinds of uses for a blog for YOUR business. Blogs can really be a powerful marketing tool!

NOTE: Your blog will automatically be created with an RSS feed (Really Simple Syndication). That means that if someone goes to a blog directory site to search for blogs that interest them (like Technorati.com or Blogger.com), they may find you. Someone may enter "financial planning advice" and your blog will come up on the list of financial-related blogs. And if they like your blog, the person will then subscribe to it (for free) through an RSS feed. Now every time you make a blog entry, that person will be notified. You don###t even have to remember to tell people about your new entries. They will automatically be alerted!

I###m choosing to use my blog as an "informational" tool that hopefully my target audience (women who own small businesses) will visit and learn from. Your blog can serve a similar purpose as mine, or be totally for entertainment. You can check-out my blog at: www.chickonomics.blogspot.com

Simple marketing tip: Add a link to your blog in your e-mail signature. That way anyone that receives an e-mail from you will know you have one!

Really Creative Ways Companies Have Used Blogs

Here are some VERY creative examples of how some companies are using blogs to build business. I heard them on a podcast, and the guest was marketing expert Steve Rubell. I thought the examples he shared were great!

  1. The tourism board of a state in the U.S. invited several families to travel through the state and log their adventures and findings on the tourism board###s blog. All members of the families shared their opinions about different cities and attractions they saw, and anyone that was considering the state as a travel destination was able to read the blog.
  2. Vespa™ (the scooter company) gave away their scooters to several people and the riders wrote blog entries about their fun daily adventures riding the Vespa (to work, school, running errands, day trips, etc.).
  3. The manufacturer of high-end garbage cans (stylish ones that would go into a newly remodeled kitchen), and retail for $200, gave the cans away to homeowners. In return, the homeowners made blog entries about the cans (the comments guests would make, how the smell of the garbage never could be detected, how stylish they looked, etc.).
  4. Some companies send out their products to test groups. The testers offer honest feedback on the blog, which then leads to open dialog between company and customers. Other readers of the blog can also provide their feedback to what is being posted. Many times this enables the company to modify the products by implementing the suggestions they receive. This can save a company thousands of dollars on product development and shave time off of launching it to the masses.

 

This is FREE publicity that would cost you thousands of dollars with a PR firm. However, you may want to at least consult with a marketing professional for good advice about how to strategically use a blog as a marketing tool.

How to Set-Up a Blog

Setting up a blog is FREE and I created mine in about an hour. I went to Blogger.com, signed-up, picked a pre-made template/design, wrote my bio info, and the system placed the copy where it was supposed to go in the pre-made template I chose. Super simple.

I suggest reviewing many different business blogs to get a good idea of how they can be used. They are simply one more way to reach people and it###s free. Why wouldn###t you start a blog?

  1. © 2006 M7 Design Inc. All rights reserved. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners.

 

About the Author:
Lisa Orrell, The Chickonomics Expert, is a professional speaker and author who motivates and educates women business owners (www.LisaOrrell.com).  For 17 years she has also owned M7 Design, an award winning, marketing/design firm in Silicon Valley (www.M7Design.com). To inquire about Lisa speaking at your next event, or for information about her marketing/design firm, you can contact her at: LOrrell@M7design.com or 1-866-906-M7M7 x: 701.