Categories
Blogging

The Simple Truth About Blogging to Grow Your Business Online

blogging-for-business

Let me guess..

You’re completely confused.

Flummoxed.

You’ve read the hype about online marketing, especially social media marketing.

Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube.

The whole world and his mother has heard about “having a conversation with a brand”.

You’re probably frustrated too.

Because it seems you can’t get any traction.

Social media is noisy, and your voice is drowned out and ignored.

Does it ever feel that you have walked into a big rowdy party, stone cold sober, and know nobody?

Imagine having a plan to grow your business online, a systematic plan that you know works. With simple, easy to do steps, which only requires some smart focus and consistent effort.

By the time you get to the end of this piece, that’s exactly what you’ll have.

The problem with relying solely on social media marketing

The big problem with social media marketing is the sheer volume of noise. Just take a look at your Twitter stream and you’ll see what I mean.

It’s practically impossible to get noticed.

And there’s another big problem.

Social media properties are not your properties-you’re a cybersquatter.

Staking a claim on somebody else’s property. If you’re Irish, you will know all about being a tenant.

And you are completely at the mercy of the whims of Facebook, Twitter, and the other powerhouses of social media who, understandably, have to satisfy their shareholders on Wall Street.

What happens is that the rules change, completely out of the blue most times, and there’s not a single thing you can do about it.

Just take a look at Facebook now and you’ll see that since they changed the rules about who sees what you share in January, 2015 about 10% of your fans see your stuff.

If you want the other 90% to see, you have to pay.

Imagine spending all that time building up fans on Facebook, year after year, and now you can only reach between 10-15% of them, unless you break out the credit card.

Twitter is heading the same way, and if you think about it, it makes sense. These platforms are not charities, and they have to make a profit.

Why blogging works

Blogging works because to grow your business online, you need to become an authority in your field. A blog with good content allows you to demonstrate that authority.

To sell online, you also need to build a “know, like, and trust factor” with your potential clients/customers.

And to do that you need to start a conversation with them.

Makes sense, right?

A blog is a great conversation starter and allows you to develop a relationship with your readers.

And this relationship can be further developed through email marketing.

Building your list, a list of subscribers to your blog, is probably the best reason of all for starting and running your own web property.

Your blog, of course, can, and should, be your own property too-you decide on the content you create and you make the rules.

No more worrying about Facebook changing the rules again.

What you can learn from the world’s leading social media gurus about blogging

The leading social media experts in the world-Chris Brogan, Mari Smith, Michael Hyatt, Michael Stelzner, Ann Handley, Peg Fitzpatrick, Jay Baer, Laura Fitton- are all agreed on one thing.

The best asset you can build online is an email list-a list of subscribers.

And the best way to build this list is on your own blog.

So, these social media “gurus” have, as their primary goal, getting you onto their email list.

Ignore the irony here for a minute.

They know this gives them the opportunity to build a real relationship with you, and not have to worry about trying to communicate with you in a noisy environment like a Twitter stream of Facebook feed.

This is the power of email marketing-your subscriber has opted in to receiving your messages into their email inbox. Then you don’t have to compete with all the other distractions in people’s Twitter or Facebook feeds.

How to get started

You can actually start a blog for free. WordPress.com, Typepad.com, and Blogger.com all offer free blogging platforms.

But they are probably not the best option for you, because you may still have the problem of building your web property on someone else’s platform.

The sharecropper syndrome.

The best option is to get your own hosting account and set up your own blog on this account. LetsHost.ie is who I use and can recommend them highly. A hosting plan starts at 7.95 euros per months so there is no excuse for not taking and maintaining control of your own web property-your blog.

What to write about

What questions are your potential clients asking? How can you serve your market? How can you provide value and demonstrate your expertise and authority?

What frequently asked questions arise repeatedly in your market?

What can you or your business do to make life easier for your potential clients?

What have you done in the past for your clients?

Have you case studies you can share?

What new developments have occurred in your market in the last 12 months? What’s expected to occur in the future?

There are 3 types of posts which people love and which are incredibly, consistently popular:

  • short list type posts
  • long list type posts
  • how to type posts.

So, let’s assume you are an accountant or tax advisor. You could write

  • 3 Costly Mistakes All Small Businesses Make in their Tax Returns
  • 21 Critical Considerations When Choosing an Accountant
  • How to Register a New Employee With the Revenue Commissioners

The art of blogging

I’ve written before about how blogging has been a monumental part of my growing my solicitor’s practice.

Quite frankly, it couldn’t have happened without blogging. And, funnily enough, it all started by accident.

I actually only started my first blog to have an easy to reference place to store my Law Society lecture notes, and as a study aid.

But the traffic that naturally began to come to the blog soon startled me awake to the potential if I really dug into it, studied what other leading bloggers were doing, and leveraged it.

You can too.

It’s not too late.

Not by a long shot.

Arguably, as social media channels become busier, more crowded, and noisy as a Moroccan street market, there is an even stronger argument for using blogging at the centre of your online activity.

So, what’s holding you back?

Write your first blog.

And most of all? Have fun.

 

I’d love to hear why you haven’t started, or if you have, what problems you’re having.

Categories
Blogging Online Marketing

The Biggest Obstacle to Selling Anything Online

selling-online-trust

The biggest obstacle to selling your goods or services online is not price, not technology, not lack of traffic, not paucity of Facebook fans or Twitter followers.

There is one fundamental element necessary to persuade your visitors, followers, fans, random surfers to reach for their credit card and buy what you are selling.

And that one element is trust..or lack of it.

Trust can be defined as a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.

On the internet especially this vital element is the one big barrier between your business and a sale or new client/customer or even a new subscriber to your website content.

Overcoming a lack of trust

Trust online, just like in the real world, must be earned. In the context of marketing your business online gaining your visitors trust must be one of your principle goals for your website.

Gaining your visitors trust firstly involves demonstrating your expertise or authority in your marketplace.

This is not a short term thing though-it involves a commitment to providing great value content on a consistent basis for your website visitors-publishing really useful information or tips addressing the very real problems that your visitors are seeking to solve or ameliorate.

It involves building a relationship with your visitors through various incredibly effective and ethical means. The two most important and effective methods of building trust and demonstrating authority are:-

1. Publishing great content consistently on your site
2. Email marketing-building and maintaining a relationship with your subscribers by firstly giving them something of value for free for becoming subscribers and just when you think you have done enough..give even more value.

You will know that you have succeeded when someone emails or calls you and asks you this question:

“what would you recommend?”

Aside: a number of years ago in the United States a tv company carried out an experiment outside a small town bank. They, with the consent of the bank, put a sign in the window saying “Bank closed for training- please give your deposits to the security guard”.

Outside the bank the security guard, resplendent in a new security guard’s uniform, accepted deposits for the duration of the experiment. This “security guard” was an employee of the tv company..

Over 90% of bank customers willingly gave their hard earned cash to the security guard. When asked afterwards why they, to a man and woman, pointed to the uniform and the sign.

“He looked official”.

This experiment demonstrates the power of trust and being the authority and is why police, army, judges, barristers and so many other figures of authority wear a uniform of sorts.

Fortunately you don’t/can’t wear a uniform online..

..but you can become the authority and overcome the single biggest impediment to sales online-trust.

Categories
Blogging

The Zen of Blogging for Business

business-blogging

Do you have a blog for your business?

Have you wondered about the most effective way of generating new clients?

Are you confused about the best platform for you and your business?

Nowadays there are many different places you could build a platform online, especially on a social media site. But, almost certainly, the best way-by a country mile- is by blogging.

That’s been my experience. Let me explain…

Digital sharecropping

Building your platform on someone else’s website-be it Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Pinterest-carries enormous risks-risks of these big companies changing their rules, their terms and conditions, and wiping out your hard work spent building an audience.

Starting a blog on your own self-hosted web hosting account is your insurance against this. All your hard work benefits you.

A blog allows you to position you and your business as an authority in your area of expertise.

Ultimately it will allow you to build a relationship with your readers, one which will ensure that they come to know, like, and trust you.

The biggest barrier to selling anything online is trust, or the absence of it. And the reality is that almost nobody will buy from you or your business the first time they encounter you online.

No, that will take multiple interactions over a period of time which allows you to demonstrate your authority and build the necessary trust.

That’s why blogging, combined with email marketing, is a lethally effective online marketing strategy.

 Content marketing

Don’t confuse “blogging”, though, with the early days of blogging when bloggers tended to use the “web blog” as a personal journal. Many people continue to do this and this personal blogging is not unlike keeping a diary, except it’s online.

Business blogging is slightly different and could also be described as “content marketing”.

This involves publishing good quality, informative, unique content on your blog which educates, informs, and helps your target market. The goal, and outcome if done correctly, is that you will position yourself as an authority and thought leader in your particular industry.

The cumulative effect over time is that people will come to know, like, and trust you-and most importantly recognise that you are actually an authority in your field of endeavour.

Content marketing is not restricted to writing text on a blog; you could also produce great, helpful, unique content with video, audio, powerpoint, interviewing leaders in your industry, podcasting, etc.

 Conversation starter

So, if you accept that your visitor will not buy from you on their first encounter with you what should be your strategy for your blog?

Your blog is a conversation starter. You provide a unique voice, one which resonates with your potential new clients, and which demonstrates that you know your stuff and are a worthy mentor to help them solve their problem.

Your client then becomes the hero of their own story, with you acting as trusted mentor.

Starting your blog-2 routes

Once you decide to start a blog you are faced with where to locate your blog:

  1. On your own hosting account or
  2. On one of the big blogging platforms such as Typepad.com, Wordprss.com, Blogger.com, Tumblr.com.

Hosting your blog on your own hosting account is almost certainly the best route to go, but these other blogging platforms offer some great benefits too. These include the simplicity of setting up your blog and the security you will enjoy against viruses, bugs, malware, and so on, thanks to the resources of the owners of these blogging platforms.

The blogging platform is not critical

The blogging platform you choose is not critical.

You can use any of the options referred to above.

What is vitally important is that your “blogs” or “posts” are ultra useful for your target market.

That you are genuinely helpful, informative, and sometimes even inspirational. And that you write in a way that is easily understood by the greatest number of people who might become a client of yours.

You don’t need to show how clever you are, or how deep your vocabulary is. You need to show you care and can help, and you have genuine expertise.

Showing passion and commitment can work spectacularly well too.

So, why not start now? Start simply by mapping out the most pressing questions and problems your target market face on a daily basis.

Continue by thinking about the external and internal pressures they face, and picturing in your mind your typical client.

Write for him or her.

You’ve got to get started first, though.

Get blogging, be consistent, and you will find that your blog will become one of the best, if not the best, marketing tools in your business.

Categories
Copywriting Online Marketing

2 Powerful Marketing Lessons from a Farm Safety Campaign by the Health and Safety Authority

the-power-of-story11

“Because McGeadys’ farm became the bank’s farm.”

There are not too many farmers around Ireland who could ignore a radio ad which explains how a family farm became the bank’s farm.

The beginning of this latest ad from the HSA begins:

“The story of how a family’s name got wiped off the map. Because McGeady’s farm became the bank’s farm.”

I’ve written recently about the power of story and how to persuade with story. I’ve also written about what you can learn from William Shakespeare to tell your story, and the formula he used.

We know that the human brain is hard wired for story. Our love of story and gossip and news goes back thousands of years and the neuroscience confirms the scientific basis for the power of story.

We know too that we are far more likely to remember a story-by a factor of 5 or more-than data and facts alone.

And we know that the starting point for any good story is conflict-have you watched Eastenders or Fair City lately?

Well, the conflict at the beginning of this HSA ad is guaranteed to get attention; because it talks about the loss of a family farm-McGeadys’-to the bank.

That’s enough conflict for any farmer to pay attention.

And in telling the story of how this happened it uses another powerful tool-it explains why. Just listen to the use of the word “because”.

It tells how

“the farm became the bank’s farm because the books wouldn’t balance because the cows weren’t fed because the silage wasn’t made because the farmer was paralysed because the handbrake failed.”

This is a simple, easy to understand, easy to remember, stunningly powerful story.

2 critical lessons

Can you tell a story, like this one, which includes

  1. conflict
  2. the reason why.

Can you tell such a story about your business or product?

Can you describe the conflict or obstacles you had to overcome to get where you are today?

Can you explain how you failed miserably? And what you’ve learned? And why you’re better now as a result?

Can what you’ve learned be put at the disposal of your client?

Can you explain why-the “because”- people should use you or your product/service? Passion mightn’t be enough, you know.

Can you tell a story like the HSA did about McGeadys’ farm?

Will your story make people more likely to use you or your service/product?

Once upon a time…

Categories
Copywriting Online Marketing

What You Can Learn From William Shakespeare to Grow Your Business

william-shakespeare

William Shakespeare, perhaps the greatest playwright in the English language, can help you grow your business.

What the fluff? Have you lost your marbles, I hear you ask?

Let me explain.

Have you ever heard of Freytag’s pyramid?

No? I don’t blame you.

I didn’t either, until I began researching the power of story in persuading people.

Story can go where data and facts alone are unable to travel: the human heart. Freytag’s pyramid sets out the structure of a dramatic work such as a play or film.

Freytag studied Shakespeare’s plays and ancient Greek drama and discovered that there were 5 steps or acts in a powerful drama:

  • Exposition/inciting incident
  • Rising action/complications
  • Climax/turning point
  • Falling action/reversal, with the protagonist/hero defeating the antagonist
  • Resolution/ending/happy ever after.

These, too, are the elements of a great story-one which will move the listener to action.

freytags-pyramid

Superbowl 2014

The most popular ad at Superbowl 2014 was an Anheuser-Busch ad for Budweiser. It lasted 60 seconds and cost in excess of $4,000,000.

It told a story about a pup and a Clydesdale horse that people loved, and has been watched over 58 million times on YouTube.

(Unfortunately, they have made the ad “private” and it is no longer accessible on YouTube)

The success of the ad came as no surprise, though, to researchers at John Hopkins University in the United States who, after a 2 year analysis of 108 Superbowl commercials, predicted the success of the “Puppy Love” commercial.

One of the researchers, Keith Queensbury, knew this ad would be huge because:

“People are attracted to stories, because we’re social creatures and we relate to other people.”

Queensbury also found that ads that told a complete story using Freytag’s Pyramid were far more likely to succeed, and be popular.

Neurological science

There are good neurological reasons why stories work to move people. During tense moments in a story, our brains produce a stress hormone called cortisol, which allows us to concentrate.

A happy ending to a story triggers the limbic system to release dopamine, making us feel hopeful and optimistic.

It’s easier to persuade someone who is hopeful and optimistic rather than pessimistic and devoid of hope.

In short, storytelling induces trust in the listener.

Storytelling is old-fashioned because it has been with us since the first man/woman walked the earth.

But it works. It works to move people to action, to persuade.

Aristotle knew this. Shakespeare knew this.

Moving people to action, persuading is what you are trying to do in your business, isn’t it?

Categories
Productivity Retailing Starting a Business

A Simple, Inexpensive Way to Take Credit Card Payments in Your Business

aking credit card payments

Are you a small business owner or start up who would like to be able to take credit card payments from customers/clients?

This used to involve a fair degree of expense because you would have to pay an ongoing fee for a dedicated phone line, for the credit card machine itself, perhaps for installation, and your ongoing transaction fees.

Well, that’s not necessary anymore as I discovered recently.

I wanted to be able to take credit card payments in my solicitor’s practice in Enfield as a service to my clients. However, I was concerned about the cost of providing this service and, therefore, did a little shopping around.

I came across a solution from an Irish start up: sum up.

The tiny card reader I needed to buy from them cost 79 euros and this was a one off payment. The only ongoing fee I would incur would be the commission fee per transaction.

I had to download an app to my phone or iPad. Once I did this, and setting up was easy, I could simply enter the amount I wanted to charge on my phone, insert the client’s credit card into the little card reader, ensure bluetooth was enabled on my phone to allow it to connect to the reader, insert the card in the reader, give it to the client who entered his pin, and the job was a good one.

So far, after about 3 weeks, I have had no problems whatsoever with it and would strongly recommend it as an excellent cost-effective option for taking credit cards.

You can check out sum up here.

Categories
Online Marketing

The Art of Storytelling in Business-How to Persuade with Story

business-storytelling

Once upon a time.

Does that phrase ring a bell with you?

What do you expect now?

A story?

You loved that phrase when you were a child, didn’t you? Your mother or father was going to tell you a story.

We all love stories, and share them in our lives every day.

Some might just be gossip, some might be a juicy tale from work, some may be dramatised and acted out on our tv screens-Coronation Street, Eastenders, Emmerdale, Fair City-, some may be shown online or on big screens in the cinema, some may be consumed on Netflix.

But the human brain seems hardwired, from time immemorial, for story.

Neuroscience tells us that the human brain is not hardwired to retain facts or data, but is easily able to retain stories.

Religions have been built on stories and parables. Early man communicated with story through cave drawings.

What are the elements of a good story?

What role, if any, has story in your business?

Robert McKee is one of the foremost experts in story in the world. He is a Fulbright scholar and one of the most sought after screenwriting lecturers on the world.

He was interviewed on RTE radio’s “The Business Programme” on a Saturday morning recently.

What struck me about what he had to say about the role of story from a business’s perspective was as follows: it is virtually impossible nowadays for one business to differentiate itself from another.

One solicitor/accountant/management consultant/dentist/manufacturer of widgets can be pretty much like another, because of the ease nowadays with which one business can copy another and provide the same goods and services as the competitor. For example, if your business is in manufacturing there is nothing that cannot be outsourced to China or other low cost manufacturing countries.

These products and services are easily duplicable.

So, how do you differentiate yourself?

With story.

No two people or businesses have the same story. Each person’s and business’s story is unique.

Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon, has banned the use of Powerpoint presentations for meetings by Amazon executives instead insisting that executives come to meetings with a 6 page story, in order to make meaning out of life and their business.

McKee’s use of story in business is based on replacing the use of rhetoric-the use of data and Powerpoints alone and inductive logic-with story in order to persuade and move people to action. The use of rhetoric is like the use of science to build an argument with one important exception: science will include all data whereas rhetoric will leave out the evidence which is negative in terms of supporting the argument.

Story is a different type of logic-the logic of cause and effect- because it allows, unlike the use of data alone, the use of all the forces of life-social, physical, inter-personal relationships, family, friends- to explain why things are the way they are, and to make sense out of life. It does this by allowing the reader to step back and look at the inter-related forces which shape events in life and influence the future.

Story doesn’t exclude data though; it includes data within the story to explain how and why what is, is.

And it is the telling of story with the consumer or client as star/hero-at the centre of the story- which allows you use story to market your business and have the consumer choose you because you are different.

And because you/your business/your brand, as mentor, allow your client/customer become the hero of the story.

Story as a tool of persuasion

McKee tells us that there are 3 ways of persuading:

  1. Rhetoric-use data, PowerPoint, facts leading to a deductive conclusion: “therefore”. But you will have left out everything negative, and the audience know you are distorting the truth and being selective with your data
  2. Coercion-use seduction, abuse, bullying. But coercion is short term and won’t work in the long term because once you turn your back the old behaviour will resurface
  3. Story-take all the facts from rhetoric and all the emotions from coercion and tell a story which stars you/your business as an underdog, admitting to the negative, to setbacks, and ultimately succeeding-the hero’s journey.

There has to be negative, though, in any credible story. And the mistake many businesses make is in telling only the positive, and ignoring setbacks, hurdles, and failures which had to be overcome.

4 elements of a good story

McKee says there are 4 critical parts to a good story:

  1. Trouble and strife

The starting point of all stories is a moment of disruption. A negative event throws the protagonist’s life out of balance, hooking the audience’s curiosity: How will this turn out?

How will he restore the equilibrium? Will he be able to restore things? Will he be changed as a result?

  1. Where’s the underdog?

For a story to engage the feeling side of its audience, it must draw them into empathy or identification with a protagonist who, like the audience, is up against very powerful forces of antagonism.

  1. Don’t star yourself

The line between autobiography and bragging is thin. Therefore, at those times in business when you must talk about your life, try to tell your story from someone else’s point of view.

If you were to talk about your university years, for example, tell the story of how an inspirational professor opened your eyes to a profound truth. Make the professor a star and you a lucky bystander.

  1. What do you want the reader/listener to do?

Start with the action you want your listener to take.

Then ask yourself: “What kind of story would trigger that action in that particular person?”

From there you follow your imagination and the arc of the story back to the beginning: “What event would throw my protagonist’s life out of balance and launch a series of actions aimed at that trigger action?”

With those two posts in the ground, you build a bridge of story to suspend between them.

Here’s a link to Robert McKee’s article on story on LinkedIn, which is strongly recommended.

In summary, a story will have the following 5 stages:

  1. An inciting incident for the protagonist-can be by accident or design-which must hook audience /readership; the Quest then is for the protagonist/hero to restore balance involving objects of desire
  2. Progressive complications
  3. crisis
  4. climax
  5. resolution

Another way of looking at the stages of a good story is provided by Conor Neill, an Irish guy teaching about persuasion and communication at IESE business school in Barcelona (http://www.conorneill.com) This blog is well worth checking out.

  1. Begin stating the moment in time
  2. Introduce the situation and key characters
  3. Something out of the ordinary occurs
  4. Allow the tension to build – pause, add detail to the complication
  5. Resolve the complication

4 elements which must be clear

  1. What’s the goal of the story?
  2. Grab attention with a hook
  3. Engage-what makes the story compelling? Is there a protagonist with conflict?
  4. How is story enabling action?

Greg Power, a Canadian expert in communications for 30 years gave a TEDx talk about the power of story. (Check it out here).

3 attributes of great stories:

  1. Irresistible-make it dramatic and remember, drama is about conflict
  2. Believable-cultural relevance-how do they see the world? What are their beliefs/motivations?
  3. Unforgettable-feelings drive decisions; unconscious mind driven by emotions; emotions are oragnised as story narratives

Emotional narratives rule and are easily recalled, unlike facts and data.

What’s your story?

Have you a compelling story that people will relate to?

Have you failed? That’s a good start for a compelling story that people can easily relate to.

So, what’s keeping you?


Categories
Blogging Online Marketing

6 Common Reasons Why Many Small Business Blogs and Websites Fail to Deliver Results

business-blog-mistakes

Is your business blog or website failing to deliver any concrete results?

Do you struggle to attract visitors and traffic?

Are your conversion rates poor?

There are a multitude of reasons why many websites and blogs of small businesses fail to deliver any effective results.

Here are 6 common ones that I encounter regularly:

1.     Poor or inadequate content

There are two aspects to this cause of poor blog performance-one is insufficient content or information on the site. You simply cannot rank well for search phrases or topics that do not appear in your website’s content.

And if you don’t rank well you won’t attract visitors because searchers generally only visit the results on the 1st page of Google; they are very unlikely to go deeper into the results and are more likely to carry out another search rather than visit page 2 or 3.

So you need to rank well for a wide variety of search phrases that your ideal reader is using to find information and a solution for her problem.

The second element is a failure to optimise what content is there for the search engines to ensure the best chance of ranking well.

This is called “on page search engine optimisation” and is a fancy way of describing some basic rules for presenting your content well for the search engines to help your blogs rank well in search engine results.

 2. Poor or nonexistent call to action

Lots of sites make it hard for visitors to make contact or make an enquiry-the contact details are only available on one page and you have to search around to find them.

Make it incredibly easy for your visitors to contract you, and give them a range of options such as phone, email, contact form, Skype, Google Hangouts, or walk into your office.

Some people are happier emailing for more information, some like to pick up the telephone, some may even want to text you to make initial contact; regardless, you need to make it incredibly easy for your visitors to contact you in whatever form they like and respond promptly to their query.

3. Failure to promote your site effectively

Unfortunately the notion of “build it and they will come” will not work-you do need to promote your content and your site.

And promoting it does not amount to asking people to “check out my latest blog”-you need a little more imagination than that. You also need a systematic approach to using social media to get your message and content out there.

Which platforms are best for your business will depend very much on your ideal reader and client-for example, professional service providers such as accountants, consultants, and solicitors may find an interested audience on LinkedIn while a hair and beauty therapist may find a more receptive audience on Facebook or Twitter.

You need to give people a reason to read what you have written and answer the question of “what’s in it for me”, which the reader is asking.

There are far too many competing distractions on the internet for a boring, bland request to “check out my latest blog” to have any real effectiveness.

4. Cluttered and busy site design

Many sites are simply too crowded and cluttered to ensure effective outcomes from visitors-you should have one or two preferred actions that you want your website traffic to take.

And you then need to make it incredibly simple and glaringly obvious to the visitor as to what they need to do next.

Leonardo Da Vinci said: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

5. Content-failing to cater for what people are actually searching for

Yes, back to content again-because website content is the single biggest problem for most small business blogs and websites.

This aspect of the problem is the failure to target the specific words and phrases that people in your market are actually searching for, and failing to understand what motivates your ideal reader, what worries her at night, what common problems he faces on a daily/weekly basis.

This failure is a serious one because if you do not know what worries your ideal reader and what motivates her, you are unlikely to provide content that interests and inspires her; and your visitors are unlikely to view you as the person who can help them.

If you are not addressing your readers’ worries and concerns, if you cannot demonstrate that you are a person they can trust and who knows their stuff, and if you cannot persuade them you are a person or business they can feel comfortable working with,  you can be sure that your competitors are working hard on this.

Catering for your ideal reader is something that I have written about before: How to Generate an Endless Supply of Business Blogs that Will Grow Your Client List and Your Readers Will Love and addresses the critical importance of writing to help your reader.

6. Font size too small

Many websites use a font size that is too small and virtually unreadable for older readers. They forget that when you use a 12 point font in a letter the recipient can hold it up as close to their eyes as they wish; they can’t do this with a computer screen.

Here’s an example of an excellent piece of content with a pathetically small font. Compare the size of the font on that page with this page or this one or this one.

Most people, when faced with such a tiny font size, will simply click away back to the search results. (I myself actually copy and paste it into a Word document and set the font size to 16 or higher, but most people won’t do this).

The good news?

The good news is that all of these mistakes are easily avoidable and can be prevented with

  1. Simple, uncluttered design
  2. Content that speaks to your ideal reader
  3. Smart, cost effective promotion of your blog content on the social media channels that are right for your business.
Categories
Blogging Online Marketing

How to Generate an Endless Supply of Business Blogs that Will Grow Your Client List and Your Readers Will Love

blogging-for-business

It happens the best of us, you know.

You’ve no idea what to write about on your blog.

You’ve completely run out of ideas for your blog posts.

Has your well of inspiration run completely dry?

This has happened the very best of writers too, from time to time.

It’s happened me too but what worked for me will almost certainly work for you too; the good news is that by the end of this post you will never run out of ideas again.

Business blogging

The starting point for your blogging with the purpose of generating new business and growing your client base should be your ideal reader. She, after all, should be your sole concern when you are blogging because ultimately you blog to help her and be seen as a genuine, trusted authority.

The best way to do this is by becoming a mentor for her.

Your business blog is not a journal or diary. Your reader doesn’t really care about you or your business-she has enough worries of her own.

Therefore, new members or staff or company news or takeovers you are planning are not what you should blog about.

Start with your ideal reader, who will, hopefully, become your ideal client.

What keeps him awake at night?

What are her worries and concerns?

What mistakes is he making that you can help him with?

What questions has she?

What internal pressures has he?

What external pressures and circumstances can you help him alleviate or eradicate entirely?

What really bothers him?

What you need to do is to educate, teach, and inspire your reader.

Once you become a trusted mentor selling is easy, and natural.

Types of blog posts

There are two types of blog posts that will provide you with an endless stream of content; it’s arguable that you could rely completely on these two types for your entire blogging career.

And in doing so, provided your content was good, you would not be short changing your reader in the least.

1.      “How to” type posts

How to posts are simply helpful posts which tell your ideal reader how to solve a particular problem. These types of posts never go out of fashion-they are evergreen.

Let’s face it: if you have a problem that really bothers you and is, perhaps, costing you money or preventing you from reaching your goal, and some blogger shows you clearly and concisely how to solve that problem, you are going to be delighted.

You are going to look more closely at what that blogger is offering and you will be more than willing to sign up for his free offering to get on his email subscriber list.

2.      “List” type posts

List type posts are immensely popular the world over. People like lists as they seem to promise a discrete, efficient way of communicating important information about a particular topic.

Here are 3 examples from this blog:

Analogies, similes, and metaphors

Analogies, similes, and metaphors allow you to approach a subject matter which you may have covered extensively in the past in a new, fresh way. It can be fun for you and your reader.

A simile is a figure of speech which compares two things using words such as like and as e.g. blogging can generate new business for you as fast as lightning or a good business blog is like a good salesperson for your business.

Metaphors are similar but don’t use the words which compare two things; a metaphor actually states that one thing is another, unrelated thing e.g. All the world’s a stage (As You Like It, W. Shakespeare).

An analogy is a comparison made to show a similarity e.g. Life’s like a box of chocolates. (Note that this analogy is also a simile, which is a common occurrence).

Examples, case studies, and images

Case studies, images, and examples of other people, similar to your ideal reader, finding solutions to their problems implementing the types of solutions you offer also give concrete evidence to support what you blog about and teach.

What now?

Start with your ideal reader, study closely what problems they face, offer them solutions and examples of your solution in action, and demonstrate why you are a natural choice as mentor and trusted advisor.

Don’t talk down to them, share your story-warts, failures and all-be authentic, and watch your readership and client list grow.


Categories
Online Marketing

How a Little Employment Law Blog Attracts Over 2,000 Visitors Per Day (and What You Can Learn For Your Business)

 

jan-nov-2015
Jan-Nov, 2015 traffic stats

If you were providing a service, and your blog or website was generating 2,000 visitors per day, could you generate many new clients for your business, do you think?

18 visitors.

On the 1st of April, 2013 I started a little website focusing on a particular area of law in Ireland-employment.

It attracted 18 visitors on the first day.

Within approximately 10 months it was generating 800 visitors per day.

In September, 2014, it comfortably exceeded 1,000 visitors per day.

In May, 2015, it was attracting over 1,500 visitors per day during the week.

And in November, 2015 it was generating 2,000 visitors per day most week days (weekends always see a drop in numbers).

You will see from the screen shot that the number of unique visitors has grown in 2015 from 15,580 in January, to 32,629 in November.

All of this traffic is ‘organic’-that is, people searching for solutions to problems/information ‘on the internet’ and being sent to this website as a result of its search engine position in the Google results pages.

I started the site at the beginning of February, 2013. Just a simple no bells and whistles site on the free WordPress publishing platform which is provided with any hosting account.

Up to November, 2015 not one visitor had been sent to the site by any form of advertising. Around October/November, 2015 I began to dabble a little bit with Facebook advertising because an English marketing consultant-Ian Brodie– who I rate very highly, wrote about the great results he had seen with Facebook advertising.

So, I did a little bit of that for a few weeks in November and December with the object being to get people to sign up for my free report, 16 Common Employment Law Mistakes Most Irish Employers Make.

How Can You Use This for Your Business?

How has this been possible?

The key is very simple: good, useful, informative content published regularly on the site has led to the growth.

The proof of this is another vital statistic that you should always pay most, if not all, of your attention to: the ‘search keyphrases’ figures.(See screenshots). These are the actual phrases that people typed into the search box of their browser to find some information about their problem. It may have been unfair dismissal, constructive dismissal, disciplinary procedures, how to reduce wages, holiday pay etc.

Let me explain.

Keyphrases Used on Search Engines by Visitors

The source of all of this traffic is the search engines, particularly Google.

Most people focus on the ‘top 10’ search keyphrases that has brought visitors to their site. These are the phrases typed in by surfers when they are looking for information or to learn more about their problem.

The ‘Awstats’ program, which is very common and is most likely installed on your hosting account, lists the top 10 phrases used by people to find the site.

But in addition to this it also shows and lists all of the different keyphrases used by visitors who landed on the site.

Two things can be gleaned from this:

  1. It is the wide range of keyphrases/words that accounts for the traffic and not the limited strategy of trying to rank your website for only a handful of target phrases;
  2. The regular publishing of comprehensive, authoritative, useful content will be rewarded by the search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing in delivering traffic to your site.

The reason that this site ranks so well in the search engines and consequently is attracting growing numbers of visitors is, simply, the site’s content.

It is informative and authoritative, not shallow. Most or all of the blogs/posts/pages on the site are fairly comprehensive treatments of the subject matter.

This ensures that each piece of content is replete with synonyms, related phrases, industry jargon, bits of legislation, and so forth.

And Google recognises all of this stuff as a good signal that the posts/blogs are not ‘thin’ or shallow with a view to just gaming the search results.

Instead, they are genuine attempts to provide quality, authoritative, accurate information in this area of law which affects so many people, employers and employees alike.

In addition to the search engines finding this content and ranking it and delivering traffic, this type of content is shared around by people with friends, colleagues, etc.

And it gets linked to and referred to from discussion forums and some social media sites where people might be discussing one of the topics covered on the site.

This shows the value of having a lot of information/content/blogs on your website.

The Simple Strategy Anyone Can Implement

What is involved here is simple:

  • Find out what people in a particular market are looking for (Google will tell you with their free keywords tool)
  • Give it to them (provide the information that they are looking for and answer their queries and concerns)

For your business, think about the topics that your website or blog should cover as a priority. What are the huge concerns or worries of your target market?

Then think about a comprehensive “list” post you could publish on your site, eg “21 Surprising Facts About Your Lawn”, and commit to publishing interesting, authoritative content on a regular basis.

You will soon become a trusted authority in your industry and see similar organic growth in your web traffic numbers as I have.

If you want to take a look at the site: http://EmploymentRightsIreland.com

And remember: even though there are 92 posts on this blog/website now, it started in April, 2013 with 1.

Because the longest journey begins with a single step.

Click on the images to enlarge.

traffic-jan-april-2013

september-2014

jan-nov-2015

Update 2018

The daily traffic to this site is now 4,500 per day in April, 2018.