Business blogs are not only essential, but they are a nice touch for your audience as well as bonus opportunity for your company to be found more easily on the Internet. A business blog post is an all-in-one tool that helps potential customers find you and current customers keep in touch with you. It allows you to provide extra information to your customers at no extra charge to them, increasing their loyalty in your company and brand as a result.
A good business blog post will give extra information about your company’s policies and what to do with your goods and services. An even better post will offer advice above and beyond the typical search results while remaining in the same realm of your company’s purpose.
Now that you’re convinced you should have a business blog, how do you write one? For starters, set up parameters for which topics you should cover. Think about these questions:
- Is this blog for current consumers or new customers? B2B? Can it be for all three?
- What is the scope of information I’m willing to cover? Relevant topics or specific ones?
- What sort of tone should I implement?
- How often should I post?
- What will my blog look like?
When you have these answers squared away, you can start mapping out a month’s worth of content and play to your company’s strengths within that month. If it’s June, think about topics related to summer plans and purchases. How is your brand connected to your audience during this time of year? Research what your audience is searching for online and base your editorial calendar off of some of those ideas.
The order you present information affects how well it will be remembered. The classic Five W’s + H (who, what, when, where, why and how) should be easily answered either in the first paragraph, or in the bold titles in the text. This way, if a person short on time needs to know where they can obtain the good or service you describe, they can easily find the information you put out as opposed to searching another website. A simple format to follow includes:
- A catchy yet descriptive title
- An introductory paragraph stating why the topic is important and in need of explanation
- At least three subtitles that are bold and summarize the paragraph in a few words
- An exit paragraph providing information about your business in relation to blog topic
Pictures are helpful, especially if you are talking about a product during your blog post. Just be sure the images are high-quality and given proper attribution if found online.
The “less is more” saying applies to online blogging more than you’d think, especially when the blog is business related. People only have enough time to find what they’re looking for as quickly as possible. If your blog posts are too long, they’ll skip to another site. If posts are too short with too much blank space, it’s not professional enough to garner real interest. Stick to paragraphs no more than 5 lines of text long. Cutting it close? Break up paragraphs with bullets.
Almost anything can become relevant with enough digging. Banks and credit unions can make use of summer budgeting posts while service industries can focus on using the warm weather to their advantage. The key to a successful business blog is to plan your topics in advance and learn what the audience wants in that time frame. Appeal to their needs with information they can’t get anywhere else. What does your business offer that they need for this topic?
Remember that a business blog post is predominantly about exposure for your brand, not necessarily selling products. Interject your products sparingly and only when relevant because blogs that are too salesy come off as advertising spam and your customers are inundated with that enough. Stick to proper grammar, spelling and appropriateness at all times, even if your tone is more fun than the average business blog.
After hours of slaving away creating the wittiest and most well-researched blog post EVER, it can be disheartening to discover that all of your hard work resulted in a whopping total of one or two clicks. You could write the most clever, interesting and entertaining post of all time but if no one is clicking on your links, sadly all of your efforts have gone to waste. With the rapid supply of information floating around on the Internet, getting any clicks at all can be a difficult thing to accomplish. But if you utilize a few simple strategies, pretty soon readers won’t be able to STOP clicking!
Choose Titles Wisely
When writing a piece of content, people tend to not put much thought into the way the title is written. But this is actually a key factor in how people determine whether or not they want to click and read more. The point of a title is to open up that gap in knowledge and make the reader wonder and want to learn more. Titles must never be too vague or too specific. And for SEO purposes, try to incorporate keywords whenever possible. The writers of Buzzfeed, one of the dominant forces when it comes to viral content, actually make a list of 25 different title ideas for each content piece before voting on the best one. This may seem excessive, but clearly it works!
Don’t Let Your Images Tell the Whole Story
When it comes to selecting thumbnail images to place alongside your title, it is important to peak the interest of the reader without giving away too much information. An image that represents the article topic too literally is predictable and will not entice the reader to click and learn more. For example, if you are writing an article about how vegetables are good for you, readers will move on when they see a static image of fresh vegetables in a bowl. Try thinking outside the box and opt for images that relate to your topic without giving it all away. Also, your title and thumbnail image should always play off each other.
Keep Them Wanting More
When constructing social media posts, never give everything away right then and there. If you are posting a link to your blog post on your Facebook page, do not post a 5-sentence summary of your article within your Facebook post. If you do this, you have already given them a synopsis of what your article is about so they will feel that reading your entire article is not necessary. Instead, try to leave the reader hanging. Build up the excitement and give them a reason to click and read the full story. Give the impression that you have something of value to offer your reader and that the information you provide is worth seeking out.
It’s not surprising that many websites are currently following SEO practices that are out of date, considering how fast Google changes its protocols on the matter. What is surprising is how long it takes for so many websites to change their SEO management in order to make the most of Google updates.
In the realm of Google, if you snooze – you lose. If you still think spamming pages with bold and italicized keywords will get you to the top of a Google search page, you’re snoozing. While there is more to search engine marketing than SEO, here are a few common errors that you will need to keep in mind if you’re ever going to stay awake:
Make Keywords Count Instead of Counting Keywords
Throwing keywords at your web page works about as well as throwing mud at a wall: sure, some of it will stick, but at the cost of mucking up the rest of the content with what viewers will read as spam. For example:
“Troy’s SS Digital Media online digital agency is the best online digital agency for all of your online digital agency needs. To contact our online digital agency, click here and start enjoying the benefits of an online digital agency.”
Generally a good rule of thumb is to ask someone to proofread the content and see if they can immediately pick out the keywords. If they can, rethink your wording and opt to make the keywords count instead of counting keywords. A high-quality website is more likely to earn an editorial link from a reputable source than X amount of keywords smashed into the page is perceived to rank on Google.
You Can’t Game the Game
SEO has rules – no matter how much you think you can get away with manipulating the system, it has more safeguards against exploitation than you can imagine. And they’re always evolving to keep up with the next SEO schemer. Don’t bother trying to trick the search engines into believing your least popular pages are somehow incredibly relevant with fake links and other tricks of the trade. Spend that time creating valuable content that will earn its place in the ranks with other reliable information.
In Regards to Metadata: Unique vs. Optimized
Creating one solid meta description and using it across the board for all of your Web pages is a waste of time and valuable real estate. Regardless of how optimized the meta descriptions are, it’s always in your best interest to make each one unique for the page to which it belongs. They should be short enough to fit in the 160 character limit Google provides but impactful with keywords that are relevant to the specific page. If every page has the same meta, users are less likely to believe the site’s authenticity. If the meta is too long, it looks cluttered on the search page. Think neat and unique.
Run from SEO Scammers
“We can make you rank No. 1 in a month with just one keyword for the bargain price of $49!”
If you are ever pitched this “guarantee,” you run, run far away. SEO takes a lot of time and effort and is not guaranteed to get your rank to No. 1 overnight, if at all. A one-and-done approach doesn’t work for long; any progress your business makes in the first month will likely be lost as time passes. There are plenty of good SEO companies and they’re the ones who will tell you like it is: if you want better SEO, you’re in it for the long-haul.
We have a saying around the office: do whatever it takes to please the Google Gods. An appropriate addendum would be to do it before everyone else realizes their mistakes. Keep these freebie notes in a safe place and take charge of your SEO.
Here’s a quiz: Can you recite the top 10 phone numbers you frequently call without your phone in hand? If so, you’re likely in the minority. A recent report stated that nearly 1 billion smart phones are in global circulation and 143 million of them are used here in the U.S. As a kid I can remember being able to quote dozens of my friends phone numbers, birthdays and even street addresses. But today my smart phone makes it incredibly easy to just hit a button and recall any piece of info.
“More than 50% of mobile phone users, use mobile as their primary Internet source”
Now before you dismiss where I’m headed, let me give the disclaimer that I’m an avid user and fan of my smartphone, smart car, smart toothbrush or any other device that helps me get through the day efficiently. But our dependence on our devices begs the question, “Is your smartphone making you dumber?” As a creative for a branding and advertising firm I’m always looking for ways to increase exposure and engagement between a product and consumer. And our ability to now provide relevant and actionable information to the fingertips of those looking for it is a game changer.
Consider the following:
- Mobile consumers spend 15 hours a week researching products, deals, and services.
- 81% of smartphone users will make instant and spontaneous purchase.
- Only 58% of PC or Laptop users will go on the spur of the moment.
- $31 billion will be generated by mobile commerce by year 2016.
So, Is your smartphone making you dumber? If you’re not taking full advantage of the business opportunity it provides maybe the answer is yes.
Sources: RichRelevance, Forrester Research
Will anyone born after 2005 even understand why the designated label for Microsoft Office’s “save” function is an abstract little box? Probably not, and who knows how long the next generation will use USB sticks before everything is automatically saved to something beyond “the cloud.” But if your business is still operating at the floppy disk level (the mysterious little box), you’re setting your brand up for failure before it even had the chance to be featured in a “fondly remembered items of the 90s” Buzzfeed article.
Recognizing a Stale Brand
Despite the face-paced evolution of technology, social norms and advertising strategies, it’s your responsibility to know whether your brand is at the front or back end of the race. Ask yourself these questions and compare answers with coworkers to see where you stand:
- Is your logo still relevant after 10 years?
- Does the logo represent current company ideals?
- Can your branding be easily distinguished from the competition?
- Has the company tagline become irrelevant after a big update?
- Have products or services been added or taken away that would alter the company’s branding strategy?
There are many more signs that your branding may be becoming stale, but you get the gist. If there is some kind of disconnect between the logo, the key messages and the ideals for which your company stands, it may be time to think about a total upgrade.
Implementing Subtle Changes
Undergoing an upgrade should be in the details. This one might be easier to explain with a visual aid or two, so we’ll begin logo upgrades with the help of the Miami Dolphins:
The evolution of this logo is a solid and popular representation of how subtle changes over a long period of time will keep the brand’s integrity stable. Notice that each passing upgrade is simpler than the last, but the details make a difference. The colors are so heavily associated with the Miami Dolphins that it wouldn’t make sense to ditch them, or the sun and dolphin motif. However, changing the shape of the dolphin is refreshing, making it seem stronger, sleeker and less like a droopy fish. Letting go of the literal football helmet was also a wise decision; more often than not, the literal approach is unnecessary. It’s the symbolism that stands out.
The Domino’s brand also simplified their logo because they no longer serve only pizza; the brand needed to be redefined to include its new goods (pastas, salads and chicken items). They assumed that by now, anyone can recognize the single domino as their brand without the extra push for pizza. Keep the simplicity in mind when redesigning your logo: if your brand can be represented by a single image, don’t use words to clutter it up.
Do it Before “They” Do
Every industry has a “they” and it’s “they” that you want to be ahead of in every aspect of your business, including upgrades. When the first company in an industry takes a huge overhaul to their business, everyone notices. When the second, third, fourth and so on make the same jump to “upgrade” their brands, it’s no longer perceived as “upgrading”; your consumers will think you’re just trying to play catch-up with the real innovators. If you have a feeling that your competitors are itching for new colors or an altered logo, you make sure yours are either absolutely perfect (refer point number one) or start making plans for your own upgrade.
A simple logo is just easy – easy to read, easy to pick out of a crowd (or perhaps on a busy magazine page), and most importantly, easy to remember. Simple is not always easy to make however. A truly great simple design can often be more challenging to create than a detail heavy one. Simplicity can ride a fine line between “a child could have done that” and “boring”. The middle ground, though difficult to achieve, can produce a breath-of-fresh air, often nostalgic, appeal and message. It is of no coincidence then, that the most identifiable and time enduring brands have a great simple logo behind them.
Brands – both established and new – that exemplify how a great logo looks and feels.
Design is like many other things in our culture – ever changing and often cyclical. Not unlike fashion, the look and feel of an earlier time is something that seems to always come back around in the world of design. What’s popular today can be outdated tomorrow. What was popular 50 years ago can be popular tomorrow. It is hugely important for your logo to be current and contemporary, while still maintaining a timeless and long-term sustainability – all without appearing old-fashioned. Sounds easy, right?!
Logo design has seen a dramatic shift over the past few years. The glossy, 3D beveled and embossed look of the early 2000’s has given way to minimalistic flat vector based principles. You don’t have to look much further than arguably the biggest brand in the world to see this movement:
You will change your logo. It is just a fact. Almost all of the biggest brands have tweaked their logos over the years. The key here is they are often just minor changes that avoid damaging the true values of it’s design. Having a solid core logo from the beginning is thus critical to avoid a future overhaul which may put your brand, and it’s relationship with your audience, at risk. Brands such as Coca-Cola, Volkswagen, Shell, Walmart, and Pepsi have all successfully done this throughout the years – because their original design allowed for it.
So whether you’re a startup looking for your first logo or an established company contemplating a new look, be sure to think broadly about about the sum of the parts and how your decision now could affect you down the road.
So typically I write my blogs about the latest tips or trends in the digital advertising industry, but today I wanted to just take a few minutes to really talk about what being an entrepreneur means to me.
Growing up, my biggest role model was always my grandpa. He really had it together, I thought he had it all–boat, nice big house, multiple cars, property… I was always so proud. The one thing I’ll never forget is that he told me that he had never been rich. Ten-year-old me thought that was crazy. But it was the truth. He was a musician who dropped out of college, but he was also a sailor, a veteran, eventually a graduate, and a business owner. The point in all of this is that he was smart and had a great business mind. He saved, he invested and essentially he succeeded.
Now, I find myself surrounded by a lot of the same type of people. People who don’t always go by what society says, people who think outside of the box, and most of all people who take risks. I don’t think being an entrepreneur is about college, your job, punching a clock or even what someone can teach you or tell you what to do. It’s a lot bigger than that. I think it’s about people who can see something out of nothing, who will work for what they want, and continue to break barriers.
What Being An Entrepreneur Means To Me
It definitely starts with the little things. It’s about showing up early to work, not because you have to but because you want to. It’s about talking about work more than anything, not because you hate it but because you love it. It’s about coming up with new ideas or addressing concerns and not just talking about them, but actually doing them. You take the extra responsibility at work, not because you are going to get a raise or a bonus, but because you actually want to do it. I find myself very passionate about the digital advertising industry, and I think the passion stems from helping other businesses grow and succeed, and truly being a part of it.
In the four years that I have been with SS Digital Media (or what used to be Skislak Digital Advertising), I have seen some amazing things happen. I have seen individuals succeed, the company succeed and overall I believe we’ve made an impact. What once was just me and Nick has grown into 3x the accounts, 3x the revenue, more employment opportunities (at our firm and at the companies we work for), more students with real-world experience (and actually getting jobs!) and limitless possibilities for the future.
Entrepreneurs Are a Different Breed
Someone close once told me that there are two kinds of people in this world. Doers and talkers. People who talk about doing big things and people who actually do big things. I am definitely a doer and I think that’s what my grandpa was, and who the people I surround myself with today are.
There are two different types of people in the business world, people that understand why digital marketing is a must and those who just don’t understand it. First, the people that have identified the value of digital marketing are way ahead of the game. We are the early adaptors of the Internet who saw a global market and jumped in headfirst, and continue to work with the constant changes of technology. Then there are those who have not truly seen the value of what digital marketing actually is. Digital marketing is engaging with your customers before, during and after your sale. You have a continuous store front that stays open 24/7 all while branding your business. Digital marketing is the new CRM because it provides analytics, engagement and real time data. Customer relationship management was originally created to help organizations understand customer behaviors, but social media, Google Analytics and other digital marketing tools have taken this to the next level without the pricey software.
Identify, Engage and MAKE MONEY
1. No Identity Crisis Here: Digital Marketing identifies who your market is, what their interests are, and what they’re searching for. Tools that can help you are Google Analytics, Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner.
2. Say “Yes” To This Engagement: All the social media channels that are available allow you to engage with your audience at all times. You can connect with your customer and potential customers like never before. Target their interests and connect; not only does it build trust it helps keep your brand fresh.
3. “Mo’ Traffic Mo’ Sales”: The more you build your online presence the more likely you are to increase sales. Your Web page can help build your reputation to result in an increase of sales, and brand loyalty to keep your customers coming back and spreading the word!
Customer relationship management has kept businesses flourishing for years. But, with technology comes change, and although CRM is still important the dynamics have changed. The concept is still to understand your customer behaviors to create brand loyalty and customer satisfaction, but without the pricey CRM software. Your customers are now digital and so should you.
Serious number significance is happening as I type. In honor of Pi Day, I’ve thought about this blog for 3.14 hours, & have typed it in 314 characters (spaces included, I’m not crazy) per paragraph. So whether you’d prefer your Pi apple, cherry, octo, or pizza; here are 3.14 things that I love about the Internet:
1. The Internet makes anything possible. The World Wide Web is at your fingertips, literally. The possibilities are endless. If I felt the need to exist in the forefront of people’s minds as Carol the 27 year old yoga instructor from Missouri, I totally could. I wouldn’t, but I could. Catfishers, I’m looking at you.
2. The joke’s on you – and you, and you, and me. Rumor has it that average joke intake per human lifespan has increased. But seriously, I can’t think of a better source for positive things existing in the world today than the people online who create all of the interesting, funny, punny, and clever jokes. Thank you!
3. What does Britney Spears look like with a dinosaur body? Now you can solve all of life’s greatest questions. There is no longer an excuse to leave your mind void of information. We are curious & nosey creatures. We just need to know things. Google doesn’t judge, it’s okay. Go for it. Usually, you don’t regret it.
First off, I have to admit; I’m not a true ‘Detroiter’. I grew up just north of Grand Rapids in the country. I moved to Royal Oak after college in 2006. But, as so many people do, I told all of my family and friends I was moving to Detroit. Their replies were all the same, “What the hell are you moving to Detroit for?” The reason was the only logical reason anyone would move from safe small town, Grand Rapids, to heat packing wild west Detroit, a woman. I should mention, it wasn’t just a woman, it was my wife. I didn’t tell many people truth about that, I told them I was going for the opportunities. I’d received my degree from WMU in advertising and told everyone that there was more opportunity over here, which is true. Thinking back I was naive, but very hungry, ready to work. Moving here was very intimidating for a kid from the country. The traffic, the culture, and all the people overwhelmed me. It took me two months of diligent phone calls to Campbell-Ewald before they finally hired me, I think so they didn’t have to listen to my phone calls and voicemails any longer. I lasted a year, got another gig for a smaller agency in Royal Oak, then started my own agency in 2008. I was 25 years old and didn’t have a clue about anything, about life, business, Detroit, nothing. I was just hungry and motivated and most of the time that is plenty. I remember making cold calls from my one bedroom apartment trying to drum up business, while the whole world was falling apart around me. I remember watching the news and feeling embarrassed, my friends from back home would call me after seeing Mr. Kilpatrick on the news and ask me what the hell was going on. I didn’t know, I just knew it wasn’t something I was proud of. Sex scandals, text messages, people dying, fires burning, housing market plummeting and the big 3 taking private jets to Washington to get money, I know, Ford went for support.
Somehow, I slowly became a part of it, and it felt good. I, as most business pros, have a certain level of self-torment we put ourselves through, never happy with the job we are doing, always feeling like we aren’t doing enough or doing it right. The misery going on in Detroit gave me something more to worry about, something to attach myself to, something I started to become apart of. Twisted, I suppose so, but I got a lot of satisfaction talking to my peers about the situations that were going on, and as you know, there was a lot to talk about.
As I read your book, I had to give myself breaks, so I read a few chapters and then picked up the Bible to reverse some of the effects. As I was reading, I remembered living through these events, there I was, 25, putting everything on the line to build a business and a life for my wife, and myself and the city of Detroit was making a mockery of it, a mockery of my work, my persistence and my new life here. When it was happening I told myself Detroiters did this to each other. My perception was that everyone was ripping each other off and now it was coming back around. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The pain, the damage and the corruption didn’t come from the people of the city of Detroit. The people Detroiters trusted to steer them in the right direction stabbed them in the back. That is one thing everyone in the country should grasp from this autopsy, it wasn’t on the people of the city. Detroiters have been stripped of everything, not just jobs and neighborhoods; I’m talking about pride, hope, love and community. These things are necessary to live. When people lose hope, people lose themselves. And when people lose themselves horrible things happen. These are the things we are working to restore today. This is why I’m still here. This is the Detroit of today, battered and broken hearted but hopeful thanks to the people of this city.