A Sustainable Plan for Blogging

Bangui_Windfarm_Ilocos_Norte_2007It’s the most common question from small business marketers who want to make good use of the internet. It goes something like:

What can I write about? Where can I find content ideas? Or, How can I blog if I’m in a really boring industry, like insurance for truck drivers, or warehouse fulfillment?

If you feel stuck there in a content-less fog, not wanting to start blogging or writing social media posts because you think your field is uninteresting, you haven’t really thought things through.

For starters, what are you doing slogging away day after day at something you find boring? (I’m not accusing you; just urging deeper examination. I have certainly done my share of employment for organizations that I didn’t highly value. It’s something to work through, for sure.)

But never mind that, suppose you just innocently must admit that there’s not a lot that’s universally fascinating about roadside garbage collection or a tax preparation firm.

And you’d be right. If you look straight at the subject, isolated from everything else, it will indeed appear to be void of interest.

But Oh My Gosh, the truth is that no matter what the subject, possibilities for riffs on it are endless. [Read more…]

Content is Collateral

Tyler.MeyerIf you’re having trouble understanding why the new standards in marketing require you to blog and post social media updates and pictures and all kinds of stuff about your daily business and life, this blog post may help. Because if you use the internet to market your small business, the first thing you learn is that content is collateral.

It’s almost like currency. Businesses used to market, purchasing attention with cash. Now we garner that attention through publishing. We used to count on advertisers to create clever slogans. There did not need to be a close relationship between your products and the slogans; you only needed the ads to be attractive in themselves. Many a corporation still uses these old methods (for instance, what does Geiko’s gecko have to do with a good insurance deal?)

But the internet introduced a different kind of marketing, one that’s closer to publishing than advertising. Online marketing counts on the value of a brand to be a deep well of useful information for the customer; and on the staff of an organization to share that information regularly. [Read more…]

Sourcing Content for Your Small Business Website

jason-odonnellYou probably know the current terms everyone’s using to qualify the word, marketing. You’ve heard of social media marketing, internet marketing, inbound, permission, and content marketing and maybe more.

Do you know the differences between these different approaches to marketing on the internet?

Since any use of digital media to communicate with a market is inherently multi-layered, and these specific applications of the term marketing further complicate the matter, you may not have defined  your options in any specific way when it comes to branding your small business online .

But as a small business owner, you probably do have at least a vague idea that marketing nowadays is about content. You are aware that maintaining a website and staying current with social media networking are important activities for your business. Your daily regimen, you notice, is salted by a new responsibility: besides running your business, you now must share its daily life on digital media, reporting, assisting, explaining, serving, publishing like never before.

How can the owner of a micro-enterprise manage the everyday demand for content without undue stress? Serving the internet’s bottomless thirst for captivating content can seem like slavery. How can you turn it around so that it’s an easy routine that you love doing?

I suggest starting with your definition of the word, content. What is it and what purpose does it serve?

Possibly every entrepreneur’s definition is different. Content to Sam may be exciting images while to Sonia it’s killer copy and to Steve it’s tutorials.

But these are the media with which to deliver content. The more basic question concerns the meaning of the content: why are exciting images a better choice for you than for someone else? Simple: because your content targets your market, and your market  demonstrably loves rule-breaking images. Great copy may be a better choice for someone else because their tribe loves stories most of all. Another person may not care at all about pictures or stories, but they are a sucker for detailed how-tos.

Once you define what ‘content’ means to your business, the only remaining issue is how to produce it.

This is where you can get really creative. By thinking outside the box regarding available sources for your content, you access endless ideas and inspirations.

In addition to your Google alerts, social media keyword tracking, and general ear-to-the-ground alertness, consider some of the following sources.

  • Other people – Friends, subcontractors, staff, or vendors: interview them and/or ask them to write posts. Take a camera into the street and poll passers-by on questions of interest to your field. Distribute a questionnaire to colleagues and blog their responses. Answer FAQs from customers.
  • Diversions – You know what your market needs from your business, but besides that, what do they like? If you sell outdoor gear, maybe your crowd would appreciate some gentle guitar music or recordings of nature sounds; if you’re a hair stylist, your followers might love your fashion suggestions. Use what you find on other sites to inform your audience.
  • News – What’s going on in your field? Serving as source of info about your industry can attract a  large following. Or tying your content to something big in the news can be powerful. To use an example from today: Paula Deen is dropped from her TV network. If you’re a chef or restaurant, this is fodder for branding content. Create a simple survey and involve your tribe by asking their opinion.

What sources do you turn to for content?

Small is Beautiful

Gustav on top of FreddieThere are five posts so far on this new blog, and I intend to add two more to complete the series of seven posts that constitute the ‘pillars’ of my theme here – i.e., the large impact small businesses can have through online branding.

But today I am taking a small tangent to explore an even more over-arching theme. I have nurtured a pet theory for some years and with the  establishment of this website I hope to advance these researches. Because again and again it becomes clear to me that social and business problems might be solved by minimizing process/distribution/expectation.

The core idea is that we can set things straight quite often simply by simplifying, by reducing the size. Small is beautiful. Schumacher said it many years ago. He talked about economies, and that is mostly the way I mean it too; though I admit to loving all kinds of small things, from babies to flower buds to my little Chihuahua mix, Gustav. I’m not a small person, but I appreciate the efficiency of small systems. And I’m beginning to see that promoting small business is in the interest of all of us.

“Think global: act local” appeared as a bumper sticker 25+ years ago and yet we still have a long way to go in manifesting that excellent directive. Especially, I’m disappointed that the internet hasn’t been adopted and exploited by small businesses as much as one would expect. Probably the learning curve related to using online tools efficiently has proven too much for most in-the-trenches entrepreneurs. Still, potential returns are so great that we really should keep at it.

The internet can make or break our initiatives; and at the same time, making effective use of online tactics can strengthen our business strategies, communications, and confidence.

Allow me to explain that last part. When we figure out how to interact socially on the web, building a following while at the same time promoting our services/products, we figure out how our business answers real needs in actually helpful ways. This translates into

  • vehicles for articulating your USP while remaining personable;
  • building relationships that result in loyal customers;
  • while at the same time managing reputation and putting out fires with ease.

So if you are a small business owner or entrepreneur, you will benefit from savvy use of the internet for marketing and communications. The process brings new customers and also shows you clearly the true value of your offerings, along with the best ways to characterize them. This is worth many times its weight in gold!

SBOB is here to help small businesses with their online marketing. The bigger picture is that we want to support, champion, and advance small business, small economies, small politics and communities. Small houses, towns, markets, and gardens. A small perspective in counter-point to the digital age’s voracity for scale.

Scale isn’t always desireable; and possibly it’s mostly destructive.  In many cases we may be far better off with a less-ambitious goal in terms of size. Maybe goals aimed at quality, human service, improved lifestyle, or other values will return more satisfactory results.

What are your small business goals in terms of growth and size of operations/scope?  I’ll return often to this theme because I want to look at case studies: actual stories of entrepreneurs who control size in the interest of life quality. Do you have a story relating to this subject? Please share it in the comments, or contact me directly.

Home | Privacy Policy | Contact | Site Map