In last week's article I discussed what a blog actually is and its relationship to both your business and to your regular Web site if you have one.

The purpose of blogging in general, is usually to establish and/or support an existing brand with an understanding of how that brand generates revenue.

This week, as promised, I'm getting into the real payoffs. Why does it make sense to spend hours of time each month, writing content, then giving it away for free and if that's not enough, even more hours marketing that free content to make sure people will know it's there?

Here's what makes that multi-hour investment worth it.




I loved this advice from Oliver Vass on LinkedIn who according to his title, is not a marketing industry professional, but a customer and business owner.

In my village there are two shops that sell newspapers and sweeties for the children.

I use Gordon's shop. Why? Because when I go there he chats with us, he tells us what's happening in his shop, his life and the village. He doesn't push products or sell to us. He just makes us feel welcome and keeps us in touch. The other shop waits until I've made my choice of purchase, then takes my money and thanks me politely.

That's how business blogging helps a business. Engagement. Making your customers feeling a part of your enterprise. It isn't to get people to buy more, that'll be seen through as marketing. It is to ensure that when people buy, they do it from you, not your competitor.

I found this so wonderfully put and direct (erudite even) I had to give kudos. Thank you Oliver.

By posting content on a regular and even reliable basis, your blog can not only have a huge impact on your efforts to establish your brand, it can make your relationship with your audience and customers far more intimate. In mature industries where products and services become almost commoditized, the difference between Company A and Company B may be entirely built upon this intimacy.


Search Engine Optimization

Because you are writing so much content on a (presumably) regular basis, your blog can be an excellent way to improve search engine rankings. Note if you want to leverage your blog to optimize a whole Web site you really need to have your blog integrated into your domain name — so that your blog and your non blog content are part of the same Web site. So that means if you're a consultant and you want your consulting company's Web site to show up higher in search results, having a blog at just won't do it for you. Keep everything at -- install a copy of WordPress wherever you are hosting your existing site and build your blog, and your SEO rich content there.


Building Community

As I stated in an earlier post, every business needs a team or as Seth Godin would put it "a tribe". Being open with your content through a blog can help you establish one. When you share content you not only define your areas of expertise, you also create good will in addition to attracting relevant people to your brand. An added benefit is that simply showing that you have a community of people interested in your content can help that community itself grow in addition to growing your business.


Customer Research

The interaction you receive from your readers in the form of comments, feedback and emails is a great way to learn who your blog is attracting, but also what are your consumers interested in? What needs do they have and how can you meet them? What questions do they really need answered? Almost every company can do a better job of understanding the needs of its customers and a blog is an invitation for your readers (and customers) to help you do just that.



There's nothing like a blog to truly help people understand what it is that you do, what your area of expertise is, and that you are, in fact, an expert or highly knowledgeable. The simple fact of posting useful content, on a specific topic, that is of course also relevant to your target audience, and on a regular basis, will help people understand very specifically what you do, how you can help them and the depth of your abilities. One added benefit of this is that blogs force you as a writer to come face-to-face with what you do and do not know, and fill in any gaps in your knowledge. It can also help you to be able to articulate what you know (because you've spent so much time thinking about how to write it!). When I told my father that I would be writing this blog for Inc. and that my postings needed to be weekly, his response was "wow — do you really know that much to write about?" If I've managed to convince my dad I'm an expert, there really must be something to this blogging thing.



This morning I was on a live radio show sharing Internet Strategy tips for solo entrepreneurs with Ed Able the founder of (I'll post the link to the podcast tomorrow -- subscribe here if you'd like me to email you when it's up). The focus of the show was "differentiation". How can you differentiate yourself from all those competitors out there? I think you know what I'm going to say. BLOG! While blogging isn't necessarily the solution to differentiation woes anymore (because, well, so many people are blogging) it is a way to broadcast your differentiators once you know what they are. Because the point of blogging is to blog regularly, one of the best things a blog can do for you is brand you. Branding has many benefits and getting the point across about what makes you different is one of them. Choose carefully what you decide to cover in your blog and/or how you decide to cover it — it can be a great way to help you separate yourself from the crowd which again will help both your business and your blog grow.


More to come! Next time I'll cover the last 5 -- but I'd love to see you beat me to it!

Two important notes:

Get Your Blog Featured
I will be highlighting a variety of companies as examples in upcoming posts. If you've had success with your Blog and can describe results/back it up with real data, you can submit your Blogging strategy here.

Get a Free Blog or Web Site!
Even in a bad economy there's a silver lining. I'm giving away a free Web site! If you'd like to be the lucky business owner tell me about your business and why you should win here. I acknowledge I'll be choosing the winner purely based on my own discretion. Heck I may even choose more than one. I look forward to seeing your entry!