Blogging for Business: Your Inbound Marketing Strategy’s Linchpin

Blogging for Business: Relationship Marketing 101

Currently, blogging for business is a topic of much debate. Interestingly, some of the individuals labeling it as “lame” and “ineffective” use it daily to promote their various online, and offline, business ventures. One or two have actually made their fortunes blogging! So, how “lame” can blogging for business be?

Blogs are used by businesses big and small to enhance their brand and communicate with their clients and prospective clients on a daily or weekly basis. There can be little doubt that blogging for business is here to stay, perhaps not in its current incarnation, but the premise behind it and its applications are incredibly powerful, its relationship building capabilities such that, at least in this author’s opinion, the blog and blogging for business are here to stay. We will discuss blogging for business here and in future articles, as it is the central hub, the linchpin of a well-thought out, well-constructed inbound marketing strategy.

As stated above and previously, one of the most effective inbound marketing strategies available for businesses, online and offline, both in terms of cost of implementation and in overall return on investment (ROI), is blogging. Why has business blogging become so important as an inbound marketing strategy? There are a variety of reasons. Blogging is conversation, it’s personable, and it’s informative. Blogging is attractive for both online and offline (i.e., brick and mortar) businesses because consumers (i.e., customers, clients, and patients) feel they are being told a story rather than sold a product or service; and, no one wants to be “sold!”

Significantly, clients and prospective clients become part of the conversation by reading the blog posts and leaving their thoughts and feelings in the form of comments.

Who doesn’t like being asked their opinion?

And, what business owner wouldn’t pay big money to know what his target audience is thinking, as well as what they react to and why?

A blog is a great way to show the world your expertise, thus establishing authority and demonstrating your competence in the marketplace and to your target market. People like to do business with business people they know, like, and trust. Prospective clients are drawn to businesses and business people who are experts in their field. Demonstrating competence enhances your image and makes the prospective client feel confident about their decision to purchase from you…you, as the expert in your field.

When properly constructed and implemented, an effective business blogging strategy is an incredibly valuable asset. Blogging for business is crucial, whether the business is entirely online or a combination of both, as is the case with most brick and mortar businesses today.

When well organized and written, a blog conveys the ultimate Internet image, an image that announces:

“This business is well run, this is a business I can do business with!”

A well thought out, well constructed blog, combined with an effective overall inbound marketing strategy, conveys a message, an image if you will, that this business owner is knowledgeable and cares enough to seek feedback about products and/or services offered from his or her clients and prospective clients.

A wise business owner values feedback, realizing there is always room for improvement, both in sales and service. Why not ask for feedback from the very people who use the product or service day in and day out? A blog can accomplish this for a business, creating a link both valuable and, ultimately, profitable. The feedback a blog offers is an often over-looked advantage; and yet, it is an incredibly powerful resource.

Significantly, the proper blogging strategy will provide a window into the thinking of your client-base and create a vehicle you may then use to improve your products and/or service.

The feedback from your business blog will also provide ideas and strategies for new products and services. Interestingly, you may even be able to gain a competitive advantage by learning what your clients and prospective clients like and dislike about your competitors, their products and services. Perhaps it’s a product or service you don’t provide but should? Perhaps it’s something to do with price? The blog provides the vehicle, the opportunities are there; and, it is up to the individual business owner to take advantage of them. A well constructed inbound marketing strategy, one that has at its center a well-thought-out and appropriately implemented blogging strategy, will put your business on track to accomplish all of the above and more.

One last word about inbound marketing, blogs, and blogging for business: photographs, audio recordings, and short videos are worth their weight in gold.

If you aren’t the greatest writer, and don’t have the money in the budget to hire a good copywriter, also worth their weight in gold, a photograph or short video can help you tell your business’ story. With today’s technology, a photograph, audio, and/or video is easy to create and it’s often the first item to catch the attention of a visitor to your blog.

It’s worth taking some time each day to blog. Think of it as going out to talk to the man on the street. Think of it as time well spent. You will find it to be a great investment in time and effort, the ultimate in ROI.

What is The Ultimate Internet Image? The ultimate online presence entails merging Internet, “inbound” marketing know-how with a traditional, offline, “outbound” approach to advertising. In doing so UII has created a revolutionary approach to marketing and advertising tailor-made for the current, search-driven, new media business climate.

Facing and meeting today’s economic challenges head-on, and by rethinking your overall approach to business building and traffic generation, The Ultimate Internet Image will demonstrate, by way of results, why an inbound marketing strategy created by UII is the logical, next-step in establishing your business as a major force in your competitive niche, as well as in your community, online or offline.

Contact us for an in depth consultation, including a competitive analysis. UII will help your business or practice grow!

John Zajaros
216-712-7004 (bus)
440-821-7018 (mobile)

What is Inbound Marketing and Why is it Essential to my Offline Business Survival?

What is Inbound Marketing and How is it Important to my Business?

You’ve worked hard on your online or brick and mortar business and feel prepared to offer consumers something they need, but how do you bridge the gap between those potential consumers and your high-quality content, products, or services? Inbound Marketing utilizes an understanding of how consumers actually use the Internet to seek information and make purchases, and applies this understanding to every element of content, advertising design, and overall marketing strategy.

Whether you have an established Internet image or are in the conceptual stages, working on your website, taking advantage of the Internet’s vast marketing resources can be a daunting task worthy of serious consideration, a perhaps the help of someone qualified. Even the web savvy can benefit from the professional assistance offered by an inbound marketing consultant. Ultimate Internet Image offers the advice and expertise you need to establish that ultimate Internet presence and build the consistent and convertible Internet traffic your business needs to survive and flourish.

How is Inbound Marketing Different?

In the past, if you wanted to sell a product or service, outbound advertising was your only real option. Expensive billboards, TV commercials, Yellow Page ads, trashy direct mail pieces, telephone prospecting, and radio spots where your only way of reaching consumers; and, this relationship was a one way street. There was usually no way to track how an ad was doing until the campaign was over, if then. How do you track a billboard ad? At least most of the ones you and I see every day! What happens to most direct mail? Straight from the mail box to “File 13,” the trash basket! When you received your last cold call, how long did it take for you to hang up? There are some marketing firms still engaged in this increasingly obsolete and incredibly ineffective method of marketing, outbound marketing, exclusively.

Ultimately, there must be a balance between inbound and outbound marketing; and, it must be trackable and the return on investment worth the risk. When all is said and done, all advertising has an element of risk. The task of a qualified inbound marketing consultant is to attempt to reduce or, whenever possible, eliminate risk.

Today, the consumer plays an important and active role in the buyer-seller relationship and marketing must reflect this transition. Consumers are identifying themselves, their interests, and their purchasing power, by way of search habits and Internet usage patterns, to anyone with the tools to listen. Your brick-and-mortar business or internet startup needs these tools and a savvy marketing consultant can and will provide them.

How Does Inbound Marketing Work and What are Some of the Key Components?

There are a number of ways to market products online. The Internet will enable you to reach potential clients, patients, and customers in a way outbound marketing cannot.

1. Search Engine Optimization or SEO – SEO is the method of organizing your web content to make it easier for search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing to “read” and rank. Search engines use “crawlers” (some call them “spiders” or “bots”), as well as other specialized software, to crawl your content in order to position your website pages on the appropriate search engine results pages (SERPs). By using the proper keywords and metadata, along with improving the website’s architecture, a previously obscure web site can improve its ranking across the Internet and improve overall visibility. This is the most cost-effective, long term strategy for building an online presence and, ultimately, you Internet image.

2. Social Media Marketing – Social Media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Friendfeed, and LinkedIn (to name a few of thousands) have members in the tens, perhaps hundreds, of millions. Not only does social media reach more people (i.e., consumers of products and services) than any other medium, users of social media organize themselves into marketable niches (i.e., Tribes or congregations). A well constructed social media marketing strategy will reach more people faster than the slickest ad campaign ever devised, and for pennies…or “for free!” An understanding of how people interact on these sites will help you take advantage of the biggest lead generator in the world. Interestingly, like people, these social media platforms all have their distinct personalities; and, there are rules to adher to. Unless you want to be tagged as a spammer, certain death online, the message must be subtle and the focus of your strategy needs to be one of relationship building rather than overt selling. While difficult to track, the results can be impressive, provided the proper strategy is employed.

NOTE: Social media marketing is something of an oxymoron! You do not overtly or aggressively “market” online via social media. Anyone who suggests you should is not someone you want to work with. Being tagged a spammer, as mentioned elsewhere in this article, is the quickest and surest way to being tagged a spammer…and that is a social media death sentence! Keep in mind that the big companies and the “successes” they boast about online have more to do with brand recognition. The results are not about social media marketing strategy, we are comparing apples and oranges because most businesses do not have that sort of brand recognition and must therefore develop brand awareness before they can expect the kind of results the “big guns” derive from their social media marketing efforts.

3. Blogging – Building and maintaining relationships with clients and customers has always been one of the biggest challenges for businesses, and marketers, trying to build a brand and a business. One of the most neglected, most profitable groups of clients, customers, or consumers for any business is their current client base, people who have purchased their information, goods, or services before. A blog is one of the best ways to cultivate new prospects, keep in touch with current prospects, and engage current clients on an ongoing basis. Full featured blog themes provide online endeavors and brick and mortar businesses (i.e., offline businesses) an opportunity to interact prospects, clients, customers, and patients on an ongoing basis, creating previously unimaginable channels for user-feedback, long-term relationships, and even e-commerce.

NOTE: The static website is becoming increasingly obsolete, as well-informed businesses are moving towards full-featured websites and blogs to take ful advantage of the relationship building tools available to them through what Seth Godin and others are referring to as the “new media.” In other words, the static website is rapidly going extinct as Web 2.0 and the new media emerge.

4. Pay-Per-Click or PPC – PPC advertising provides traffic the old-fashioned way, by paying for it. Search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, and many others will post your banners, ads, and other approved links and messages, charging you based on your campaign’s architecture and how effectively your ads generate clicks to your site (click thru rate) . Pay-Per-Click can also be very expensive, particularly if you don’t possess the know-how to convert user interest (traffic) into sales. PPC can be an incredibly effective method for generating traffic, leads, prospects, and sales but it must be focused and you must know what you are going…or it can get away from you fast. If you are a novice, you would be wise to spend some time getting a feel for this advertising method before jumping in or keep your daily budget (you are allowed to set a daily maximum spend) to a minimum until you have a sense fo what you are doing. The best case scenario is, of course, to hire a PPC specialist, sometimes referred to as an AdWords specialist, to run your campaign. Most full featured inbound marketing consulting firms will offer this service.

Only by balancing the elements and strategies above can you improve web traffic, and traffic to your business, online or offline; and, build new relationships, and establish a lasting, and ultimate, Internet Image for your business. The best strategy is always to use the experience of others whenever possible. Why reinvent the wheel? Find an inbound marketing consulting firm you have confidence in and allow them to get to know you and your business. In doing so, you will be on your way to what is known as The Ultimate Internet Image.

Don’t leave your business’ future to chance, get an in depth marketing assessment and then get traffic, leads, prospects, and sales!

Contact us today!

John Zajaros
The Ultimate Internet Image