From the comments and emails I've received, the benefits I described in the first half of Blogging's 11 Big Payoffs have hit home but also helped you think of new ways that your blog can help you build your business.
I liked the issue raised in a comment by SaveMoneyCostCutting from last week. Sometimes it is a fine line between too much marketing and just enough. It is important to establish a position on this that will work based on what you're selling and to whom you're selling it. There's no one-size-fits-all on that one. Blogging is a tool you can use creatively to get out what you need to say to the world, and/or as a serious business tool for driving leads, creating advertising inventory (aka traffic), generating sales and building a brand. Just be true to the brand and the tone you establish.
I also like jimfracis' comment that blogging helps him "shape his convictions". As I mention towards the end of the "Credibility" paragraph helping you to actually articulate what you know or believe is definitely a big benefit.
If you think that blogging might be a great leads or revenue generator for your business, the problem is how to justify the fact that blogging is *really* time consuming, especially when you consdier that typically you'll spend at least the same amount of time marketing your blog as you do writing it, often more, sometimes, 2-3 times more.
So to help you to decide whether to blog or not to blog, I'll outline the final 5 of Blogging's 11 Big Payoffs.
I think many people don't understand what it really means to "network" (not that I'm a guru). But instead of focusing on "networking" I'd like to talk specifically about "how to build" a network that will educate you, inform you, support you emotionally, and tell you about opportunities, and one that will also enable you to inform, support, provide opportunities for and educate it. This is a network that serves your needs 360 degrees. When you're building a network it's critical that people in your network know what it is that you need, and what you have to offer. Regularly publishing content that makes clear your areas of focus is a great way to help people very tangibly understand why they should connect with you. It's one thing to say you're an expert, it's another thing to write 50 articles about it that are read, appreciated, forwarded, reposted etc. Making it very clear what how you can help people is ironically also a great way for other people to figure out how they can help you.
Customer Loyalty, Customer Service & Customer Education
Product details, how-to instructions, usage hints can all be smart content to provide to build both sales and loyalty especially if your product is technically complex or has a lot of hidden features. A blog can be used like individual FAQ posts to answer both old and new customer questions. And just like FAQs, your posts/answers can highlight features that customers don't know about, or help customers understand the best way of using your product or service.
One of the greatest benefits of Case Studies is self-identification. Case studies offer detail and context about a specific situation your product resolved and provide more information about the customer you worked with. This is wonderful for potential customers, enabling them to see themselves and see their specific needs, situation, challenges not only laid out in front of them and tangibly understand that you can fix it.
Social Media Content
Social media strategies and campaigns are built around content. Whether the content is video, images, or text, those businesses who invested in the idea that "content is king" now have a leg up in creating social media strategies because they have a store of content that can be used to support, encourage and extend dialog. If you have a blog you also have the beginnings of a wonderful social media strategy.
Presuming you blog with some regularity, blogging, like all social media tools, has the excellent benefit of helping you strengthen more of your weak ties by communicating with large numbers of people frequently and with relevance.
Not that I created this list in any order of priority, but I do advise making a mental note of how far down on the list this one is (at the bottom). While generating significant revenue from your blog by selling advertising can still work for some bloggers, these days it is a difficult way to justify the investment if advertising revenue is the only payoff. You have to either have a significant amount of traffic (I'd think about 50,000 page views minimum) or have a captive audience of readers who are extremely difficult to reach else where, or both. While Google AdWords are great it generates tiny amounts of monthly revenue for most bloggers so don't assume that's all you'll need!
So Now What?
You may have looked at this list of payoffs and recognized several that fit squarely into your business strategy. So now what?
Armed even with knowledge of what reasonable goals are, I find that businesses trying to dive into the world of blogging are still somewhat at a loss for how to start. How on earth do I build an effective blog? How much time will it take? What tools are available and which ones make the most sense for our needs? How do I actually get all the payoffs?
Stay tuned — next time we dive into the technical side of blogging and how to get started.
Till then I look forward to hearing more about blogging benefits and what you get out of blogging for your business.