Blogging Develops Knowledge
The topic of how to generate more value from business blogs is a big reason that people hire me, so, I give this topic a tremendous amount of thought. And the one insight that leaps out the most, while also providing the single biggest surprise is that by operating a vibrant business blog, you as a business owner are much more likely to know your business better.
For this reason alone it makes massive sense to begin to actively run a business blog. And when you think about it this actually is totally logical. A big piece of running a meaningful business blog is focused on crafting very intelligent, well-thought-out, and highly relevant content. In order to accomplish this by necessity it is required to think a great deal about your efforts before hitting publish. It is through this process that the beginnings of an elevated understanding of one’s own business really come forward.
A Quick Look Back
So far in our ongoing series on Better Business Blogging we have covered a great deal of ground. We’ve analyzed concepts such as branding, examining your blog through the prism of marketing, by looking at SEO for blogs and we have covered more human directed efforts such as using your blog to tell stories about your business and also using your blog to help share the personality of your business.
It is been a journey. And if you have been following along throughout this journey you are probably well aware of the fact that not all of these ideas line up neatly nor are they intended to do so. In fact if there is one big take away from this entire series, it would have to be that there is no exact right answer.
The truth is the more effort you direct in a particular effort, the more likely you are to see a return on that particular effort. Applies to blogging as well as countless other things.
A View Forward
As a result of you already having reviewed the previous posts in this series, as a business owner you directly enhance the impact of your blog on your own business, but by necessity you’ve also analyzed the impact of your business blog from a variety of other angles including how technology will interface with your blog, how site visitors will feel about your business, and even how your visitors will embrace and share your core values.
All of this information will continue to provide your business with added value. Over time, the greater your understanding of your market, the more you are likely to be able to anticipate and meet future needs, the more likely you are to be able to craft a compelling overall message that provides value to your prospective buyers, and the more likely you are to see a big increase in repeat business.
Knowing Your Audience
One of the tremendous benefits of blogging is that it affords bloggers an amazing opportunity to connect with their audience. For businesses this type of relationship with their customers is literally the type of magic that every business owner dreams of. Of course sometimes a vibrant relationship with your customer base takes time to develop. Sometimes developing a relationship with your customer base means finding the right customers.
In other scenarios as a business owner simply knowing how your audience responds to different ideas is immensely valuable. You might measure the value of these ideas through clicks, through opt in, through in person comments, or even through sales but the idea that you are now offering yourself another opportunity through your business blog to obtain valuable information about your customers is immensely valuable.
Further as you continue to develop a relationship with your audience you might find that the deeper you go, the deeper they will go. In these rare instances where as a business blogger you have managed to create and nurture such a wonderful audience, you will see a very meaningful return. Suddenly your audience will transform from customers into a virtual sales force!
Of course, this takes time. A great benefit to the journey is of course you are providing your audience with a front row seat to what among the most exciting pieces of your business – communicating with your customers! Along the journey of audience discovery you are likely going to uncover a number of audience segments, and there is a great opportunity to really redefine the way in which you company communicates. Business blogging as a gateway communication drug!
Knowing your Market
Another big benefit from running a serious business blog is that by virtue of doing so you are making sure that you are hyper-aware of what is happening within your market, at least as it relates to online efforts.
By doing so you are ensuring that at minimum you will not be blindsided, but realistically you are allowing yourself an opportunity to continually pivot either in response to how your particular market is behaving, are perhaps you are affording yourself an opportunity to continually stay ahead of the curve and to literally define your market, whether that is a local market or a virtual market the principle is the same.
This idea of knowing your market through your business blog is something that continually surprises business owners. Often when a business owner is new to business blogging they are quickly overwhelmed by the massive amounts of information that others are sharing and more so they are amazed by the relationships that many of their either direct or indirect competitors have managed to establish with their own audience.
Any business owner that tells you it lack of information is a good thing is of course lying right to your face. Business blogging allows you a very on the ground opportunity to continually make yourself aware of how your entire space is developing. Not only do you have the opportunity to see how other operators are moving forward, but you also have tremendous opportunity to see how audiences are responding to various efforts.
Learning by Blogging
While it is great to assume that we all know everything about our businesses, the truth is often very far from that. Businesses are complex. Consumers are even more complex. The idea that any business owner is going to have an absolute and final understanding of their own business is frankly not realistic. We all learn things along the way. As a result of running a sustained and meaningful business blog, business owners and their stakeholders are all in a position to continually explore and to develop new ideas that have the potential to have a huge impact on their bottom line.
Some of these new ideas will provide a nice return. Other ideas will actually do quite the opposite and will offer absolutely no return, or possibly even a negative return.
There is of course value in both scenarios as without exploring it would be hard to know for sure one way or another how to direct the remainder of your efforts.
Cost Effective Learning
Further, another benefit of espousing a learning by blogging approach is that is relatively low-cost and in the event that a business does make a misstep a few easy remedies might be to revise your original post or to consider offering up a follow up response post. The idea of being transparent and of expressing apologetic sentiments from within your blog are more often rewarded rather than serving to further penalize a mistake.
To the larger point though, business blogging offers business owners an extremely cost effective way in which to develop ideas and to also test the value of those ideas. Whereas before the only way to test an idea was with a “spend”, in today’s digital environment by utilizing your business blog you have a great, and relatively low cost opportunity to really begin to put into place much larger ideas. Should an idea gain traction perhaps you’ll want to further develop a larger campaign around that idea either online or even in-store, but should a blog post fall flat that might be a very early indicator that perhaps that particular premise will offer less value.
In addition, while not the outright premise of this particular series, it is also worth noting that there is tremendous utility is introducing the concept of low barrier learning into your business provided you are willing to couple these insight with actions. This premise in large part is driving the movement towards “Agile” that so many businesses are beginning to embrace.
Knowing with Data
What of course is so wonderful about business blogging is that while much of the effort is focused on human interactions, we also have the benefit of clicks to help really add context to how we have done.
With the benefit of analytics, and the ability to directly attribute sales revenue to various actions we are well placed to begin to really understand what is happening inside our businesses. Business blogging is an amazing entryway into this entire space, and with an effective business blog you as a business owner will be providing your business with a wide variety of data opportunities from which you will then be able to make many other decisions.
Using the data you obtain from your business blog is a wonderfully efficient way in which you can also impact items like purchasing, campaigns, advertising and even how you segment and target your different audiences.
Simply Knowing Your Business Better
Often when I work with and when I talk about business blogging I take tremendous joy in watching how various audience members and clients respond when I explained to them very matter-of-factly that simply (and yes – we are saying this again):
It takes a moment but then the reality sets it. This idea of knowing your business better by writing about it makes complete sense. The more you think about something, the more you analyze something, or you examine the various nooks and crannies of an idea the better you will come to appreciate and understand it. This of course is very applicable to your business.
What is amazing is that after first hearing this idea the result more often than not is an abundance of enthusiasm and confidence for the whole process of business blogging. It is at this moment that business owners quickly begin to internalize entire process and to then circle back and really focus in on many of the other ideas we have covered throughout this series.
And so with that I encourage you to make the most of your business blog. There are an abundance of reasons to move forward, but if not for any other reason than the simple idea that as a result of blogging about your business you are going to position yourself to actually know more about your business should be a very compelling reason to move your business blog forward.
Note: This post was originally publish in Oct. 2012 and has since been revised.