Over the last year or two, the importance of utilising a blog for business has increased tremendously. Or, more accurately, the realisation of how important a blog is for business has increased and now more than ever small business owners are understanding how valuable a properly developed blogging strategy really can be.
An extremely versatile tool, many small businesses use their blog purely for communication purposes – and there’s little doubt that this is a great way to use a blog, because as consumers, we want to feel more engaged and interacted with organisations than ever before.
But there are in fact various other ways a blog can be of benefit to a small business and here we explain how you can develop you small business blog into a beneficial sales tool.
Don’t Use Sales Copy
And one of the very first things you have to understand is that you shouldn’t treat your blog as a traditional sales channel.
As strange as this may sound, seeing as we’re essentially talking about utilising a blog as a sales channel, you need to be aware that a blog is first and foremost a communication resource and so you therefore need to ensure any sales tactics you use aren’t as formal as you may use elsewhere.
A prime example of this is when it comes to the copy. While a bit of gentle product promotion may be suitable, a full-blown press release-style piece that has the aim of drawing visitors in and converting them into customers is going to do nothing but turn people away.
You need to keep it looking and feeling like a blog and make your sales tactics much more subtle than you may be used to.
Call To Actions Are Key
It’s for this reason why clear Call To Actions are going to be paramount to your blog’s success as a sales tool.
On your blog, you’re writing about your company, your products and your services. You’re discussing the industry, topical news items and general aspects that are going to be of interest to your target audience.
As you’re doing this, you’re improving how confident your audience are with you as a brand. They’re thinking of you as a close friend rather than an organisation and feel comfortable reading what you’re telling them.
Not wanting to break this level of trust with blatant sales tactics, clear Call To Actions can allow you to drive huge amounts of traffic to the pages you need without causing any adverse side effects, all because they appear to be separate from the blog post copy.
Imagine this. You’re reading post after post on building a swimming pool at home on a blog from a swimming pool product and installation company. You’ve found out some useful information, but have also come to realise that it’s going to be more difficult than you first anticipated.
Now if sales copy was used, it could jeopardise the relationship readers have with the company, because it makes them feel as though the copy has only been provided to lure them in – if a Call To Action was used in the sidebar, for example, it gives the reader the opportunity to find out more information about the products and services on offer, but in a way that doesn’t make them feel like they’ve been forced into doing so.
The Reader Needs To Make Their Own Decisions
And this leads us perfectly onto one of the most important points to note when developing your blog into a sales tool, which is to always give the reader choice.
As easy as this may sound in planning, it’s actually difficult to get right in practice, as you need to get the balance perfect between giving the customer the right amount of choice and ensuring that the choices they do make are the ones you want them to make.
Linked in with the first point here about not using sales copy, you need to use your blog to inform people and educate them. Your customers should want to come to your blog and find out information about your products, services and organisation as a whole. When they’re doing this, they’re making a decision – even if just subconsciously – about certain aspects of your small business.
It could be determining how they feel about a certain product you offer or it could be understanding your interpretation of a news item in the industry, which if fitting with their beliefs, could improve their confidence and satisfaction with your organisation. This results in them being more likely to go on to make a purchase from you.
Many people underestimate just how valuable a business blog can be. Without doubt a fantastic customer-company communication tool, a business blog is so versatile that it really can impact on a wide variety of different business aspects – and sales really is just one of them that it can affect fantastically.
This article was originally published on December 25, 2012.