If you're just starting with a business, there are many reasons you need an online presence. The best place to start is with a blog.
Startup marketing requires different goals and plans than typical marketing. Part of that plan should include “laying a proper foundation.”
Just how can you lay a proper foundation? There are many elements that go into the pre-launch phase of your business. However, one thing is certain, having a blog allows you a platform to start sharing information with potential readers/customers. It also gives you a place to connect with influencers in your industry.
“Blogging remains a valuable tool for startup.” – Sharon Hurley Hall
Sharon Hurley Hall, professional writer and content marketer, believes, “When it comes to making your presence felt online, blogging remains a valuable tool for startups and all businesses. There are multiple benefits.”
She further elaborates,
For example, when you create excellent content that's optimized to help people find it easily, your business can appear in search results to drive traffic and grow your audience.
And when people find you, having more great blog content can help you form a connection with your visitors, highlighting your expertise, and giving you a platform to tell the story of your startup your way.
Tip: Not sure where to start? Read Jerry's A-to-Z guide in starting a blog.
1. Building Your Audience
As mentioned above, a strong foundation is the key to a strong building. Before you start promoting online, you need an audience to promote to. However, you can't just throw up a blog page and expect people to come read what you write.
First, you need to understand the reasons people visit a website.
According to Intuitive Websites, the top reason people visit a site is because they are using the Internet as a research tool. However, you need to make sure you are the number one authoritative source on the topic.
- Have you backed up your ideas by quoting thought leaders?
- Did you research statistics?
- Is your post complete? Can the site visitor get all they need to know about the topic from your page?
To Scope Out the Competition
This reason shouldn't shock you as you likely did the same thing before starting your business. It's smart to scope out the competition and see what they have to offer that you don't and then offer that, but better.
When a competitor visits your site, he should think:
- Holy cow! How am I ever going to compete with this guy?
- This business is solid competition?
- He has a lot of unique ideas and doesn't steal material from competitors.
As an added bonus, if you accomplish those points, your customers will notice as well.
Potential Customers Looking for Information
Another reason people visit websites is because they are looking for information on a product or service. Your site pops up in their search query. If you're practicing solid SEO tactics, your site should rank near the to of certain keyword searches. Once you get customers to your site, you need to engage them.
- Check out Luana Spinetti's article that covers 37 Elements of User Engagement.
- Get them to sign up for a mailing list. Offer a free book, free consultation or something else to entice visitors to sign up.
- Make sure information on your service or business is easy to find and offers complete details.
Because a Friend Told Them To
According to Forbes, 1 in 3 website visitors go to a site because one of their friends recommended it. What does that mean for you?
- Ask those you know to recommend your site.
- Make it easy for people to share your articles on social media. You may want to read Vishnu Supreet's Top 8 Social Sharing Plugins For WordPress.
2. Become a Leader
If you were going to choose an HVAC repairman, someone to detail your car, or even find an instructor for golf lessons, would you want someone with a lot of experience and knowledge or someone just starting out without any credentials?
One of the great things about starting a blog is that you can begin to establish yourself as a leader in the industry.
A blog is the perfect place to:
- Highlight knowledge you have that others don't.
- Share insider tips from yourself, your employees and even other leaders in your industry. By showcasing other names that are well known, you show that you aren't afraid to seek information from others if there is something you are unfamiliar with.
- Write in-depth guides that are helpful to potential customers and show them that you have their best interest at heart and know the issues they worry about.
- Answer questions via comments or forums.
Let's say you are starting a business helping organize closets. Anytime someone in your tri-state area Googles “closet organizer in the tri-state”, your name should pop up. The browser should see articles by you on the topic, images of closets you've organized, social media profiles, YouTube videos with tips. You name it and your name should pop up under that search term.
Again, good SEO practices will help you rank in the top of the search engine results. The best way to get high rankings is by creating regular and valuable content.
3. Reach Other Influencers
Another reason to start a blog is to reach other influencers with complimentary businesses.
For example, I run a blog on home and garden topics. I have connected with a fellow writer who writes about craft topics. She recently mentioned an article I wrote about candy buffets and my site traffic spiked for several days. I plan to return the favor and recommend one of her articles with a little write up.
However, to connect in this way, you first have to start a blog and write some valuable content others will want to share. You also need to keep in mind that the blogging community is a very “scratch my back, I'll scratch yours” atmosphere in some ways.
If someone retweets you, shares your post, mentions you, has you as a guest on their blog, you should do your best to return the favor. Of course, you'll want to make sure their content/input is valuable to your readers first. At the very least, you should publicly thank them for the mention.
4. Topic of Conversation
When you are out and about in the community, having a blog makes it easier to connect with others and get them interested in your business.
Here is an example scenario:
You just started a consulting business helping medical offices become more time efficient. You decide to attend a couple of local dinners that will have a lot of doctors and medical office managers present. As you sit at the table with ten key figures in the medical community, one of the doctors turns to you and asks what you do for a living.
This is your change to share your new business. Sure, you will hand him your card, and you should, however, you'll also have your blog address on that card. Instead of just telling him you can make his staff work better, you are going to tell him that you just posted an article about how doctors can save $20,000 a year with one simple change to their record keeping.
You better believe he is going to visit your blog when he gets a chance. He is also probably going to talk to other people about it. This one contact could lead to several calls for your consulting services. After all, if you can save him thousands with an 800-word article, how much can you save him as his consultant?
5. Blogs Also Optimize Your Site
On top of setting yourself up as an authority and reaching new customers, starting a blog can keep your website fresh, current and full of excellent content.