You might wonder what churches, blogs, and Internet marketing have in common. In fact, I would be kind of surprised if you did! In order to explain myself, to explain the link between these three entities, I have to give you a little background. So here goes!
Every night, TuffGuy (my little Puggle) and I set out on a midnight stroll around Lakewood. Lakewood is a semi-urban community just west of Cleveland on the southern shore of Lake Erie. Interestingly, many people refer to this area as the “North Coast,” when in fact it is just the opposite. Perhaps that is a topic I can use in a future article, video or blog post? Who knows? But for now, suffice it to say, Lakewood is a medium-sized, semi-urban suburb just west of Cleveland.
So, every night as the clock strikes 12, this 54-year-old grandpa and his little dog, TuffGuy, set out to do what would have been impossible only a year before. By that I mean, a little over a year ago I was in a wheelchair, permanently catheterized, or so I thought, with little hope of making it to the end of my driveway, much less completing a 5 mile walk… little dog or no!
Interestingly, the walks have become one of the high points of my day, a time to reflect, think, plan, set goals, and create. Whether it is because of an increase in activity, with the resulting increase in oxygen and blood flow to the muscles and the brain, or simply more than my fair share of endorphins and enkephalins being dumped into my system, the walks have become a very productive part of my day, my mood at times bordering on euphoric.
Not only have I experienced more than my share of physical benefits, as the result of my increased activity, but the thoughts and observations experienced along the way yield a constant stream of new, and often very profitable ideas.
The other night, I noticed something about the churches I passed; and, I was immediately struck by the contrast in their appearances. Not only the contrast, but how the contrast seemed appropriate to me as a blogger, an Internet marketer, a marketer in general, and as an entrepreneur.
Let me explain!
We pass approximately 15 churches along our route, from the huge Roman Catholic Church they are trying to save with the incredibly ornate marble columns (another lesson), to the store-front Christian Church just beginning the long road towards a home of its own and a congregation.
The striking thing about the churches, and their respective appearances, is what the appearance says about its caretakers, without a word spoken…hallelujah or otherwise!
At the risk of sounding like ex-president Richard Nixon:
“Let me make one thing perfectly clear!”
This is not an article about religion, and it is certainly not in any way meant to disparage or diminish anyone’s personal beliefs, it is simply an article about observations made, and the associations along with them.
Okay, back to churches, blogs, and Internet marketing…and how they are related!
As stated above, the variation and the contrast in appearance from one church to the next is striking. Once noticed, my mind simply took the next step, the leap forward, and made the connection with blogs and Internet marketing. You see, the churches are very much like blogs, they are made up of congregations and they reflect the attention of their owners…or pastors.
Simple but immaculate, the sidewalks weeded, the hedges trimmed, the stone work well maintained, and the marquee out front updated.
The next church, less than 100 yards away:
In a sorry state, the contrast between the two immediately apparent, its woodwork peeling and in need of paint, the sidewalks cracked, weeds growing up between them, the marquee’s message dated and it’s letters mismatched.
The welcoming look of the former replaced by a less than welcoming, almost deserted look to the latter. This goes on block after block, church after church…not only in Lakewood but across the region, probably across the country and around the world.
The symbolization, the metaphor of blog for Internet church was striking, immediately apparent, at least to me!
Go with me for a moment, think about this!
A perfect vehicle used to take a “walk” through the Internet community, the figurative “Lakewood online,” with TuffGuy or your own little dog, is StumbleUpon!
Let’s stay consistent and type ”religion” in as the search term, or rather the “stumble” term we want to pursue. We can, in fact, do this for any term and come with a myriad of blogs, all related to our keyword, our search.
Once again, immediately apparent is how similar the trip down StumbleUpon Road, Anytown, USA is to the trip down Detroit Road, Lakewood, Ohio or NetSurfer Road, Anytown, USA or anywhere else…churches and all! Some…no, all…reflect the attention of their owners, some inviting and even welcoming, while others seem almost deserted, not really the place I want to hang my hat, much less do business with.
Hence the final component, the thing that pulls this all together. Whether as a church in the temporal realm, or a blog and/or a website on the Internet, appearances, and particularly first impressions are crucial if one is to survive as a community…much less as an Internet marketer. Even if you are simply creating a vehicle for individual expression, a hobby and little more, a blogger with no real interest in making a living, an audience would still be nice. If, like the churches in a general state of disarray, you are less than welcoming in your appearance, what hope do you have of ever attracting an audience? On the other hand if you are a well-groomed, well-maintained, even beautiful “church,” you will have little trouble attracting new “members” to your “congregation.”
The secret here?
If you can call it a secret?
Take care of the little things, the corners!
Take care of the corners, as an old business partner of mine used to say, and the middle will take care of itself!
If, like the churches along my walk, your blog or website is in a general state of disarray and/or disrepair?
If you have weeds growing up through the cracks (broken links going nowhere and outdated banners)?
If you have a marquee with a dated message (poor or dated content and a poorly designed SEO strategy)?
It is imperative you hire a “landscaper” or a “handy-man,” even if it is someone from the “congregation,” to make the necessary repairs.
You only have one chance to make a first impression, make it a good one and your congregation will grow…fail and you will fail right along with it!
See you on our walk through Lakewood…or Anytown…TuffGuy and I, that is!
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