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BroadVision Marketing Blog

Effective Blogging for Your Small Business

Posted by Jon Sooy on Tue, Feb 24, 2015 @ 04:21 PM


Take a listen to Jon Sooy on Backing America's Backbone. He was interviewed on "Effective Blogging for Your Small Business":


Lotus:                         This is Lotus Abrams, and I’m speaking with Jon Sooy today an Inbound Marketing Consultant who is a partner at Broad Vision Marketing based in Petaluma, California.  Today Jon will be speaking with us about why it’s important for small businesses to incorporate a blog as part of their marketing strategy.  And he’ll share some tips with us for making it as effective as possible.  Thanks for joining us Jon.

Jon:                            Thank you very much Lotus.  Happy to be here.

Lotus:                         If you could start and tell us a little bit more about your background and the services you offer, particularly of small businesses, that would be great.

Jon:                            Sure, no problem.  Well going back 25-30 years ago, if it was that long ago I’m not sure, but basically the early 90s I got my first glimpse of the internet, and I can remember turning to my friend and saying, “Do you have any idea what this means?”   And I just have always been one of those people that’s like an early adopter.  I usually get bored with things, and I’m usually the first to try out the latest and greatest before other people.  And with the internet and inbound marketing the great thing about it is that it’s changing all the time.  So it’s almost impossible to get bored because daily things come up that you’ve never heard of before or never seen before, and it’s great. 

                                    So basically what we do, we work with what most would consider medium and small sized businesses.  Usually they’re companies that have grown to where they don’t know how to take their business to the next level.  Inbound marketing or even just one of the components of inbound, like content marketing, creates a new revenue stream for a company or a new sales funnel.  You know, a lot of times small businesses have an owner that started the company, and they are basically the rainmaker.  And then when they grow to where they can’t get passed the capacity of that one rainmaker, they’ll try and hire salespeople.  They’ll try and do other things, you know, to try and go to the next level. 

                                    Well a lot of times it’s not sales that they need.  It’s marketing.  They need more leads.  And the internet has just become a tremendous place to make that happen.  And if you know how to do it right, you can really create some great leads from the internet.  So like I said we do full inbound marketing which includes marketing automation using HubSpot, to basic content marketing and social media services for the smaller client, you know, who’s budget is tighter.  Typically those people are not on HubSpot. They’re usually just on WordPress or another content management system. 

                                    I believe there’s a digital marketing plan that will fit any budget from a few hundred dollars a month to $20,000 a month.  It doesn’t really matter.  Basically the more you invest the bigger the results and the ROI.

Lotus:                         That’s great.  Let’s dig into one component of this a little bit more deeper, and that is the blog.  You know, a lot of companies have blogs and many small companies do not.  They may not see what’s the point or what’s the benefit.  So if you could start by just telling our audience a little bit about what the benefits are for small business owners to starting a blog.

Jon:                            Okay.  Well basically your blog is an asset that positions you as a thought leader.  So if you have industry specific information to share, a blog will help you earn people’s trust and stay top of mind, you know, in your community.  It’s estimated that B2C companies that blog get 88% more leads per month than those that don’t.  And B2B companies get 67% or 68%, something like that more leads than those that don’t.  And basically people, the amazing shift that’s happened in our world is that the consumer is in control like never before, and they’re going to search engines to find answers to questions or problems.  And if you can align your website with those questions and answer those questions, they will find you.

                                    So it’s a matter of figuring out what those questions people are asking, writing about those things, much like you as a person in a business would talk to other people about what problems you solve, you do the same thing on your blog.  And you will end up becoming the thought leader.  And the thought leaders bubble to the top of internet searches.

Lotus:                         Those are some pretty strong reason to get going with a blog for sure.  What are the key decisions that business owners need to make before they start a blog?

Jon:                            Definitely do the strategy work first.  At Broad Vision we say structure follows strategy.  And frequently most websites that are built are built as a brochure, and that was fine 10 years ago, and 20 years ago it was fine.  But now a website that just lays there stagnant, it’s much like a car driving off the used car or the car lot.  As soon as it gets off the lot, it has less value.  The same thing happens with the website.  It kind of degrades over time. 

                                    So accept that if your strategy is to drive leads to your company and you’re going to use digital marketing to do it, that starting your blog needs to start with a strategy.  And so what we typically do is we will start with, you know, a keyword analysis and figure out what’s in alignment with what you want to be found for.  And remember that your posts are for humans, duh, but it’s also critical that they be search engine friendly and that they’re optimized. 

                                    You can learn how to optimize posts online.  You know, it’s just like anything else, Google it and you can find the answer on how to do it.  More is better.  The more you write about your expertise, the faster and more frequently you’ll be found in organic results as the expert.  The other thing you’ve got to consider is budget, and not just time, not just money but both.  It’s an investment and it should pay dividends.  A small fraction of business owners or people in general have the skill set or stamina to keep up with the frequency of blogging, and you’ve got to look inward and say gosh can I really do it. 

                                    I’ve had people hire us after they’ve tried to do it themselves when, you know, three months in they can’t think of anything else to write about.  So one major thing to consider is consider hiring a firm.  We do pay for ourselves.  I mean that’s the great thing about what we do is we are an investment.  It’s much like you’re working with a financial advisor.  Within three to six, sometimes nine months is when we usually start getting results. 

Lotus:                         So one thing you had mentioned was a little bit about the type of content that business owners should be focusing on, and also you mentioned about frequency.  Can you speak a little bit more about, you know, to give business owners some tips on what types of content should they be posting, and how do they decide, you know, how often should they be posting?

Jon:                            Okay.  Well the first thing the content they generate should, it should be in alignment with what they wish to be found for by the people who are searching.  It sounds very basic, but so many websites kind of miss this mark and so many blogs miss this mark.  You should be answering the questions that people are asking, and answering the questions that you want to answer because then you’ll get the kind of clients you want.  So be focused on communicating what your expertise is.  If you’re an electrician, you talk about all kinds of different things that are related to being an electrician; everything from ceiling fans to, you know, GFCI receptacles, to what to do, how to inspect your circuit panel.  All these kinds of things that you would, as a human being talking to another human as an electrician, you would communicate those things.  So do the same thing on your blog.

Lotus:                         So really focus on your expertise.

Jon:                            Absolutely, and as much as possible you want to blog as much as possible.  The frequency depends on your competition.  Most small businesses are local business, so you’ve got to look at your local competition and your national competition.  And really figure out how quickly you want results.  I’ve got clients that blog anywhere from one time a month, and they’re on sort of the slow train, up to two times per month to one time per week, two times per week, three times per week, five times per week.  The more you can write the better.

                                    You see the search engines come along and they scan your website.  They crawl your website.  And they’re trying to figure out what you’re an expert at.  They’re trying to figure out what it is that you do, and whether or not you’re the best at it.  The ones who are best at it will get served up higher.  So the more content that you generate, the more the search engines have to consume.  And also at the same time, the more people will come to your site because you’ll start getting found for more things, more keywords, and key phrases.  So the more, the higher.

Lotus:                         The more the better.  Yeah, the more the better it sounds like.  Now giving us an idea of how this blogging fits into an overall marketing plan, if you could give us an example of a business, a small business you’ve worked with and how they’ve used their blog as part of an overall marketing plan, I think that would give us a good idea of the larger picture. 

Jon:                            Okay, yeah, absolutely.  The smaller companies, I have several examples, but the perfect examples of just using one of the components of inbound marketing which is content marketing or blogging, and not focusing on some of the more, you know, deep dive things you can do with digital marketing.  But they really work, especially for local markets.

                                    A perfect example, I’ve got a local sign company.  Okay, they do banners, they do vehicle wraps, they do other custom business signs, etcetera.  And his company was what I consider to be invisible online.  He had less than 60 visitors per month.  We could see what he was being found for by using Google Webmaster tools, and he was being found for strange things.  He had never received a call from the internet.  The owner of the company was the only source of leads and sales.  The guy who created his website did a great job.  It’s a fantastic site.  It was built on WordPress, but with the SEO, you know, the basic SEO of the site.  He painted really broad strokes.  You know, he wasn’t really deep into doing search engine optimization, which by the way is very typical.  Not all, but many, in many cases that’s the case.

                                    So what we did was we interviewed the client, identified the personas of his ideal customers.  Again structure follows strategy, we did deep keyword analysis looking for the highest search volume, the lowest competition and several other factors.  There’s tools available.  We use paid tools to do this, but there are free tools that business owners can use to do that.  We identified the competition, local shops, national chains.  Identified a budget which was less than $1,000 a month.  And within three months our services were paying for themselves, and he now has a positive ROI.  And he’s about to increase his monthly spend on this because it’s working so well for him.  He’s even outranking national chains locally for many of the keywords and phrases we are working on which was even a surprise to me. He really is doing well.

Lotus:                         That’s great.  That’s a real success story. 

Jon:                            Yeah, we’ve got several of them like that.  And I love getting that call, that call from a client, you know, saying I’ve got four calls this week from my website, and knowing that one of those calls paid for my services.

Lotus:                         That’s great.  Finally I would like to just touch on some technology tools, some low cost technology tools that are available for small business owners to help them, you know, when they’re building and managing blogs.

Jon:                            Yeah, you know, there’s a lot of do-it-yourselfers out there.  I understand that.  Being a bootstrapper and getting a company going, you probably want to do some stuff yourself.  Do yourself a favor, if your website’s not already on WordPress, have a web developer build you a WordPress site.  Make sure they install Google Analytics because Google Analytics will give you all sorts of information about how well you’re doing in terms of search volume.  There’s another lesser known, but Google Webmaster tools is another free application that will actually show you what you’re being found for which is tremendous because if you’re not being found for what you want, then you probably need to change your plan.

                                    There’s other like Bing Webmaster tools, etcetera.  The keyword rankings, you know, that’s the kind of thing that’s a mystery to people.  They feel like they, you know, they’re showing up for certain search terms, but their phone’s not ringing.  Well they may be showing up for things that no one’s searching for.  So it’s important to try and figure out how many people are searching for things.  You can do that using the Google Adwords tool which is free as well.  You don’t have to do pay-per-click to use the tool.  You can actually go in there and do some analysis and figure out, you know, how many people are searching for an electrician in my area, an electrician in San Francisco or whatever it is.  You can find out how many people are searching and whether or not it’s a term that you should go after. 

                                    We have some really powerful tools that we use that are paid for, but again that’s kind of the free way to do it.  And don’t forget to participate in social media.  You know, push your blogs out there.  Publish them on your, you know, the link on your Facebook page, LinkedIn, Twitter, etcetera.

Lotus:                         And I know there are a lot of programs out there that can help you link these things more easily so that you’re not doing everything manually. 

Jon:                            Yeah HootSuite’s a great one especially on the social media side for sharing stuff.  You can even schedule things so that you don’t have to be on it every single day.  And then once you get to a spot where you’re ready, hire someone to do it.  I mean, you know, the thing that I found with most companies when they’re trying to do it themselves, it’s writing their blog post is the last thing they do because that’s not why they went into business.  They went into business to be a sign guy, to be an electrician, to be a contractor.  And it’s the last thing that they do.  So once you get to a certain size consider getting some help.

Lotus:                         Well thanks so much Jon.  You’ve given us a lot of valuable information, and I think definitely reinforced why it’s important to get going on this blog thing, if you haven’t already.  So if you would like to learn more about Broad Vision Marketing you can visit their website at www.broadvisionmarketing.com.  And thanks again Jon.  We appreciate your time.

Jon:                            My pleasure.  Have a great day.

Lotus:                         You too.

Topics: Small business marketing strategy, inbound marketing

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