This article has appeared in WebProNews, MarketingProfs and CrainTech

 

Blog for Business – How to decide
if it’s right for your company

There’s something going on out there called Blogging and if you haven’t looked at it as a potential marketing tool for your business, now’s the time. Blogging is the practice of writing personalized, heartfelt (to varying degrees) content and publishing it on the Internet for the world to read.

Last spring I wrote to all my customers to suggest it was time for them to start letting at least their salespeople write blogs for their customers and prospects. It sounds radical to many managers, but there's no denying the power of authentic communication when it comes to building loyalty between people—and clearly your customers are people first.

Let's evaluate this idea using the PPC technique-Pluses, Potentials and Concerns-that’s described in Roger L. Firestein's book Leading on the Creative Edge):

Idea: Let your customers read blogs written by your salespeople

Pluses

• Customers will feel special (always a good thing).
• Customers will learn about your company in an authentic voice from the people whose main concern is helping your company make money (so they can make money)--not a bad motivation for creating positive content.
• The people you assign to blog will be learning as they write—affordable OTJ training.
• Salespeople enjoy the process and feel good about being able to be in touch with customers more frequently.

Potentials
• Your customers are so in touch with you that they think of you instantly when a colleague needs a referral for your product or service.
• Your customers feel so attached to you (through your sales reps) that they don't hesitate to share important information about developments in their own company—which means you can become proactive (perhaps way ahead of the competition) about responding to their needs.
• Your customers become even more excited about your R&D process and are more willing to help test new products/services.
• Your customers complain less because they really know and trust your processes and are more inclined to be understanding about any glitches in service or problems with products.

Concerns
• How might you control any tendency for salespeople to write content that might appear negative?
• How might you let go of any fear that someone will say too much?
• What review process might you institute so that trade secrets and other IP items are protected—clearly understood as off-limits for blog content?

Remember: your salespeople are out there with your customers every day—in their offices and plants and at conferences and in hotels. You have even less control over what they say in those situations than you do in a blog, so think trust.

The effectiveness of blogging as a marketing tool is no longer in doubt. In addition to all the advantages of a newsletter, it has the added power of the fact that people choose to come to it and read it. More than 3 billion pages are indexed on the Google search engine, yet people will find yours if it’s a topic of interest.—and they’ll pass the word to others! That’s virtually free promotion and the kind of unsolicited 3rd party endorsements every business owner dreams of.

Calculate the potential gain--both to your company and to your customers--against the potential risks. Be creative about ways to minimize or eliminate perceived risks. Once you’ve developed confidence in the power of sales blogging and comfort with the process your people follow, don’t hesitate to extend your target audiences to include vendors, trade and business editors and all prospects.

It’s free to start. Try services like www.bloghosts.com, www.blog-city.com, www.blogger.com or www.blogspot.com. There are many choices. Or you can set one up on your own server with CGI scripts or have one custom programmed.

No matter what size your business, this new Internet phenomenon is a mighty tool for unleashing creativity. Don’t waste any more time. Try it now.

Barbara Payne, managing principal of A ReallyGoodFreelanceWriter.com, writes newsletters, business blogs and feature articles for technology, medical and legal companies. She also publishes www.blogforbusiness.com and her newsletter blog GetMoreCustomers. You can reach her at 773.292.3294 or 216.472.8502.

 
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