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Blog dammit!

NB: This is step 5 of a 5 step series – Step into 2008 with more fun.
5 Steps for 2008

Everything I’ve outlined in the previous steps in this series points to the evolving small business concept of “marketing as a conversation.” Well, few things are as effective at pulling this concept together as blogging. (Click to see the entire series)

In an effort to get your attention for this post I’ve even added a curse word to the title. I know it’s a rather tame one, but my parents never cursed around me so if one slipped out I knew they were serious – and yes, I’m very serious about the fact that every small business should have a blog. I don’t care if you’ve grown tired of hearing about them. A small business blog may indeed become one of your most effective marketing tools.

You must start and grow a blog in 2008!

Here’s why:
1) It makes it very easy to update your web presence – easy is good because easy gets done
2) Locally you can use a blog to gain exposure that your competition can’t
3) Search engines love blogs (still) and will reward you with better search results when your prospects go looking
4) The daily and weekly chore (that may be how you initially view it) of producing written content will make you a much better communicator, marketer and salesperson – it’s the killer activity

Here’s how to get started
1) Read blogs – go to Bloglines.com and search for blogs in your industry and subscribe to them for free – then read
2) Get the software – even if you just mildly techie you can set-up a TypePad or WordPress blogging tool. Personally, I use WordPress on this blog and love it, but I’m also watching the new MovableType Community Solution to see how it evolves. (Search on the TypePad or WordPress sites for design and technical help if you need it.)
3) Start writing – keep a journal or use a service like Jott to send yourself notes every time a good idea for a blog post pops into your head. Once you start thinking this way, content will reveal itself all around you. Don’t forget to use the questions your customers and prospects ask you throughout the course of business as content for blog posts.
4) Start networking with other bloggers – Link to sites in your posts, write relevant comments on the blogs you read (including those of the journalists you have targeted), and create a list of the blogs you like with an eye on trading links
5) Get your community involved – think about ways to get your customers reading, subscribing to and commenting on your blog. Invite your best strategic partners to create guest posts. Re-purpose some of your blog content into other marketing pieces.

    3 blogs I recommend on blogging

  • Blogging Tips – multiple authors and lots of handy tips
  • ProBlogger – best source for moneymaking blog tips
  • Chrisg.com – the business of blogging and some good technical hacks

Tell me the top 3 blogs you would recommend!

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  • http://www.trumpuniversity.com/blogs/marketingmaestro/index.cfm Josef Katz

    John,
    I completely agree with you here. I read some of the same blogs you listed.
    Here are three blogs I would recommend:

    Seth Godin’s blog
    Copyblogger
    White Noise
    and of course my own…
    Marketing Maestro

    Bob Walsh wrote a good book on the subject titled Clear Blogging and he has a blog by the same name.

    Have a great New Year.

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  • http://clearblogging.com Bob Walsh

    Good post John!

    One thought to add: Posts and comments are the two sides of blogging. Before you start your blog, start commenting (adding value) on posts of people you read in your industry/interests. Comments count: that’s how I found this post! :)

  • http://www.retirement-quotes.com Ernie Zelinski

    Hi John:

    I resisted blogging for a long time but I have realized how powerful it can be. I started my Retirement Quotes to Help You with Your Retirement Planning Blog to link to and promote my new website The Retirement Quotes Café and hope to get the website to the top fold on page 1 on Google for the search term “retirement quotes.”

    I want to use the website to promote my book How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free. After two months, the website is still around the 95th entry on the 10th page in a search on google for “retirement quotes” but the blog is the 7th entry on page 1 (out of 244,000 webpages for this search
    term) on Google. Interestingly, the new blog is more powerful than my new website in promoting my retirement book.

    Incidentally, go to http://www.Amazon.com and type “retirement” into their search feature. You will see that How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free appears in the number 1 position — out of over 175,000 listings for retirement books! This is in large part the result of the my internet and blog marketing of the book. ( For the record, the book was rejected by 35 publishers and largely ignored by the media.)

    Ernie Zelinski

  • http://BoycottSoftwareSweatshops.com Raza Imam

    I’m an entrepreneur addressing an issue that I see other entrepreneurs increasingly grappling with. So I created a blog as my tool for getting the word out.

    More and more businesses we talk to are unhappy with their offshore partners. Small businesses are looking to outsource more than ever, but the problem is that finding a reliable offshore partner is incredibly difficult. Many companies are seeking the cost-benefits associated with outsourcing, but most get burned in the process. I own a Chicago-based outsourcing company and decided to create an humorous blog about this phenomenon http://www.BoycottSoftwareSweatshops.com I wanted to make it funny, relevant, and insightful. It shows that we don’t take ourselves too seriously, but we’re dead serious about what we do.

    I started it a few months ago to liven up my brand and it’s been my main lead generation tool. It’s very hard to differentiate myself from the dozens of “Bob’s from Bangalore” that call on the same prospects I’m after, so I decided to make fun of my entire industry.

    The results have been phenomenal. In a crowded marketplace, I all of a sudden stand out. It ain’t safe, but it works.

    Mentioning my blog to people helps break the ice because it’s funny. I’ve gotten new clients all over the country, and even one in Belgium because of it. I publicize it like crazy at events and even wear buttons with my blog logo. When I make cold calls, I tell people to visit my blog. I tell them that I’m making fun of my own industry. It differentiates me and has been the main reason for my growth.

    I’m not a fancy PR person, but I’m convinced of the power of business blogging to get clients and media attention. Make it edgy and have fun.

    Raza Imam
    http://BoycottSoftwareSweatshops.com

  • http://www.internetprofitplanning.com/blog Angela

    I totally agree and many more people should be blogging! There are a lot of people who are blogging who don’t realize that people want to hear from you often when you blog as well. Don’t update your blog once a week, most cases that’s not enough – I try to update my blog daily but don’t always make it but usually get in at least 4 or 5 posts a week.

    Oh, and quality content on blogs is important too. I love blogging :)

    Angela Wills

  • http://www.communicators.com Georgia Patrick

    Perfect timing, John, as is your style!! Thank you. We have been inspired to get out blog launched in January 2008 and it’s looking marvelous. It’s our whole team here at the firm as a consortia of authors on a niche that we can cover better than anyone. Plus the crosswalk with Duct Tape Marketing is exactly what you’ve advised.

    Thank you for being a good teacher. This is exactly what my team needs for their blogging lesson this week.

    Georgia Patrick

  • http://www.thepra.com.au Sam

    Thanks John for such a concise but potentially powerful 5 Step action plan.

    Looking forward to more of your advice in 2008!

    Cheers

    Sam

  • http://www.gimmees.com Fred333

    Those are some great suggestions. I will have to implement them. Thanks!

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  • http://mlmbreakthrough.com Diane Voisley

    Blogging is a great tool for Network Marketers because you can often get important tips and ideas for just about any business. My blog at http://mlmbreakthrough.com generally targets Melaleuca distributors but also address the issues in any network marketing enterprise.
    Diane

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  • http://www.goodwithwords.com Ingrid Sapona

    So right! Indeed, being more active on my business blog is one of my goals for 2008 — so far I’ve improved a lot in terms of the regularity and frequency — but I’ve still got a way to go. As importantly, I realize, is to more actively read (and comment) on other blogs. Thanks for the “encouragement”. (Yes, it’s Feb. 27th and I’m just checking out a Jan. 1 posting, but hey… I’m getting there!)

  • http://www.sunglassesuk.com/Giorgio_Armani_Sunglasses.asp Armani Sunglasses

    I totally agree with your thoughts..
    Nice list, this will really help a lot..
    i'll be back for more.. Keep posting..

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    Small businesses are looking to outsource more than ever, but the problem is that finding a reliable offshore partner is incredibly difficult. Many companies are seeking the cost-benefits associated with outsourcing, but most get burned in the process.

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    Small businesses are looking to outsource more than ever, but the problem is that finding a reliable offshore partner is incredibly difficult. Many companies are seeking the cost-benefits associated with outsourcing, but most get burned in the process.