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Blogging for business

Most small businesses now have a website. But when it comes to the internet, many make the mistake of thinking only about their website, rather than about the wider opportunities on offer. In this article, we look at how blogging can benefit small businesses

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Most small businesses now have a website. But when it comes to the internet, many make the mistake of thinking only about their website, rather than about the wider opportunities on offer. In this article, we look at how blogging can benefit small businesses Few realise that the power of the internet is more about your web presence – how you use the entire web, whether that be social networks, blogs, Twitter feeds or audio and video podcasts. Customer touch points Marketing experts say it can take at least seven ‘touches' or communications from a company before potential customers will pay much attention to the product or service you are offering. If true, companies should aim to get those seven touches completed as soon as possible, so they can first build awareness in their target markets and then boost sales. Traditionally, such mass communication was expensive. As a result, only large organisations with hefty marketing budgets could ‘hit' their prospects again and again with advertisements, mailshots and telephone marketing calls. The good news for smaller firms is that the internet has opened the way for them to compete, with the key factor no longer being the size of their marketing budget, but how savvy they are with social media. Are you blogging? A key tool for SMEs is the blog (short for ‘web log'). Peter O'Donoghue, an expert in prospecting techniques, believes that if you or your company are not blogging, you are missing out on a great tool for accelerating your sales. "As a business or as an individual you absolutely must have a blog," he says. A blog can provide you with: Credibility in your marketplace – become an instant ‘industry networked expert' High search engine rankings for commonly searched terms relating to your business An opportunity to develop a long-term relationship with potential customers and clients A way for people to identify with you personally More business! Build your brand "You have heard the old saying a hundred times – ‘People buy from people' – meaning that they buy the product because of the message and, more importantly, because of the messenger," says Mr O'Donoghue. "Blogging allows you to instantly develop your personal brand online. Why is that important? Well, in this day and age, the first thing a potential client will do is search for you on Google." Blogging basics To establish an effective blogging strategy: Decide what specialism you want to be known for. For example, in Phil Orford's blog, the Forum's Chief Executive is clearly positioned as an authority on small businesses Buy your name as a .com or .co.uk – this is very important, as it is the most obvious way of getting your name ‘out there' Install the free Wordpress software onto your domain Research the free Google keywords tool to find out what people are searching for in your industry Write articles around what people are searching for Post the articles regularly – say, once a week. Creating and using a blog for your business is a great way to increase website traffic, while adding new content to your site regularly through your blog will also increase your search engine rankings. Blogs are inexpensive to build and can be easily attached to any website. Using the Wordpress system, it is easy for anyone with a basic knowledge of word processing to update and add content. So if you're not yet ‘blogging for business', now could be a good time to start. Phil Orford blogs at blog.fpb.org

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