Sunday, July 1, 2012

Blogging For Business: Ideas

This is part three on my Blogging For Business series and follows on from  Part Two - How do I start blogging for business?

In this post I'm going to cover off on how you can approach presenting content for your business that focuses content on your industry.  In many professions it is not permitted to be offering advice online and this is with good reason. Financial planners and those in the financial sector generally, are required to give very specific advice only after they have met with the client and undertaken a thorough review of the circumstances for that individual. The same is true for legal advisors, and others in sensitive industries.

"I'm Not Allowed To Blog!"
When it comes to social media and in particular blogging, that can lead to people struggling to understand how they can post to their blog without getting into trouble.

The good news is that people on social networks are looking to learn, to be entertained, to find things they like, to get to know who is expert... there are many reasons they are using online resources and they are not looking to be served up advertisements. That means that the thing we can be most afraid of - is also the last thing we should be doing anyway.

So how does this play out?

What can I write about?
Think of your blog as your  place to show your expertise in your understanding of your profession and  your topic. What are the things that clients and customers are having problems with that they would like to fix? What are the issues around that which learning about can help them get better results? Let's look at an example.

Let's say Joe Smart is a lawyer. He works in family law and is involved in disputes with couples who are divorcing. Joe sees people come to him all the time with different stories and yet the themes are the same. What are some things that Joe might post about on his blog? And why would he want to do that, anyway?

Writing articles is a great way to showcase your expertise. With your own blog you can start collating a series of articles that cover the issues that you see every day and educate you readers on how they can best prepare, and what to expect when they are in this situation.

This collection of artcles - posts - is the basis of a bank of knowledge that you own and can use not just on your blog - but in other ways too.  If the local radio station is looking to talk to an expert in the field, you have presence online and a showcase of your writing to set you up as the Go-To person in your area. These articles help you gain better prominence in search online and they allow you to be visible and to be identified as an expert in your field.  If you are interested in public speaking then this is another way to help you move down that track.  While you may not have considered this until now, this too may be a good way to promote your business locally or even more widely.

Educating Your Customers
We can complain that customers don't always do themselves a favour when it comes to seeking advice or to work with a new advisor. With a bank of articles we can let new customers know how we work and how they are best served when approaching an advisor in our area of expertise.

Blog posts, once written, can also be used as information sheets in printed form or collated into downloadable reports to educate on a topic.

Blogs Are For Professionals
So Joe Smart writes a series of posts for his blog and covers such things as:

  1. understanding your rights in family law. 
  2. local services that are available to help in cases of domestic abuse. 
  3. what to bring when you first see your lawyer about divorce 
  4. what to look for when you are moving out and need new accomodation
  5. what the family court attitude is to custody issues 
  6. articles on improving relationships (these could be also by a Guest blogger)
  7. how to plan for change
  8. things never to do when you are in the middle of a case
  9. attitude to cultivate when you are going through separation
  10. how to deal with shared custody in a way that is helpful to best outcomes for the children.
  11. interviews with local identities involved around family matters generally
  12. other areas of law that families should know about  - wills, trusts, powers of attorney, guardianship
The list goes on and on. When you start to work out a plan for your blog you will uncover topics that are general but very important for clients who will be going through these issues. Joe is also  a good networker and so he can easily send a link to his latest blog to those people he knows who may have a friend that could use the article and post it to the business chamber newsletter or Linkedin group. His link can be sent to his contacts on Twitter and on Facebook (not necessarily at the same time).  Because of the general nature of the articles, they can be used any time and resent from time to time to new people or to the social platforms. In this case it is valuable to write articles that are not time sensitive and so don't go out of date.  Importantly they must serve some function and impart something useful to the reader.

What Happens Next?
So Joe Smart now has a blog. He is adding to his articles each week. Perhaps he will be asked to write an article for someone on a current topic that is in the news, or be a guest on a panel discussion or radio program. He may use the blog as a way to gain more visitors to his website and meet more friends-of-friends via the local networks of people he knows in the social platforms. His name is seen more often. He may start to run some information sessions that people can attend and slowly he builds his profile and his credibility in the public arena as the authority on family law matters.

But Joe is a bit of a big shot. He's a lawyer, wears a suit and not at all like Gary the mechanic. So how would Gary the mechanic use a blog?

Just the same way.

Blogs Are For Blue Collar Businesses Too
Gary could post a blog that educates his customers - people with cars - so they know who he is and feel good about using his service as they know he knows about his topic.

Gary writes about:

  • What happens when you get a service and why 
  • How to get good economy in your car
  • What petrol should I use in my car and does it matter?
  • How often should I change my tyres?
  • What's the best way to clean the car and keep it looking good 
  • What to do when the doors don't work
  • What to look for when buying a second hand car
  • How to get the best price for your car when you sell it 
  • What to listen for when your car is 'not quite right'
  • Car maintenance for women and un-handy men
And just like Joe Smart, Gary is a member of the local Chamber of Commerce, his business gets improved prominence on Google for people searching for a mechanic in the area.  Of course Gary could also be posting photos of great cars that come in, news of cars that his customers want to sell, or buy, and general items about collector cars, vintage cars, hot rods, car shows and just funny cars that he sees and photographs to post on the blog.

Let's Get Started
Work out a plan for your blog as you should be doing for your marketing plan. This gives you a schedule to follow and think about those 5 Top Things you want your customers to know about you and how you do business that sets your business apart from everyone else. At the very least prepare these to go onto your new blog.

Looking at our own business in this way is a bit hard at first. If you need help to get the ideas flowing, then get the help you need.

But do get on to your blogging. There's no time to start like the present and the sooner you begin the sooner the articles on your blog can begin to be useful for your business and for your customers. You can't get back the headstart you have given away. You can make sure you don't lose any more time.

Lindy Asimus

0403 365 855
Part One : Your Business Blog
Part Two: How To Start Blogging For Business

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