Whether you are a large corporate organisation or an independent consultant or small business, as you start a Business Blog, there are a number of elements that you need to consider in order to ensure that you give it every opportunity to be a success.
While the exact requirements will differ according to the goals and expectations, you should be able to answer the following questions from the start:
i) What do you want to do with your Business Blog?
Make sure that you have a clear vision of what you want to do with your Business Blog – it should have focus and you need to ensure that it does not become a “jack of all trades” and “master of none” – the more focused it is, the more successful it is likely to be.
ii) Who is your target audience for your Business Blog?
Avoid trying to make it be “all things to all people” – it isn’t possible. Once again focus is important, so decide on your target audience and write the blog for them with content they are looking for and a style that they will warm to. If you have lots of different audiences that you wish to appeal to then you might like to consider setting up separate blogs to cater for each area.
iii) What results are you looking to achieve?
What goals do you have for your Business Blog and just as importantly, how are you going to measure them? There is going to be time and effort involved and you need to show results at the end of it – therefore, from the start, you should know what results you are looking for. So decide on the criteria you want to work with and how you wish to measure them.
iv) How will it integrate with your other marketing activities?
Blogging is an excellent marketing tool, as well as having being strong in other areas. However, it is not a magic wand to cure all marketing ills, so it is necessary to decide how to best use it in conjunction with your other marketing, business development and customer service activities.
v) What Blogging software to choose?
There are a number of options available each with different benefits – by deciding what you wish to do with it, what it will be integrated with (if anything) and what degree or control or customisation you require, you will be able to focus in on which would be best for your needs. The best advice is to choose one which will grow and develop with you as well as fitting with your current business and technical requirements. Free hosted software (such as Blogger) will seldom do this or give you sufficient control, so look at WordPress (full version) or Typepad as good starter points.
vi) What to call your Business Blog?
Rule of Thumb: choose something which you are still going to feel comfortable with in a year’s time. Either let it reflect your company and branding, or make sure it contains your keywords … or preferably both.
vii) Host it on your website or on a different domain?
As a general rule, if it sits comfortably alongside your website and complements the information on it, then integrate it into your website. If, on the other hand, you are looking to present an objective view on your industry or want a separate identity for branding purposes then choose a separate domain name.
viii) What domain name or subdirectory name to use?
Try to use something descriptive – if you are using a separate domain, then choose a domain name which either reflects the branding you wish to achieve or contains your main keyword (or preferably both!). If it is a subdirectory then describe the purpose it will be serving such as “Information Centre” for example.
ix) Look and Feel of the Blog
If you are using it as part of your website, then integrate the look and feel with that. There’s no need for your visitors to really know that they are on a blog – remember it’s the benefits that blogs offer that is important, not the technology. If it is on a separate domain, then design your Business Blog with the image you want to portray but don’t use the default template = zero differentiation!
x) How to market your Blog?
You’ll need to look at how you intend to attract people to your blog and as you do so try to include not only online and blog specific marketing techniques, but also offline methods too. Easy start points are to put it on your business cards and email signatures – powerful but often forgotten!
With all of these elements in place then you are starting off on the right track and should have the foundations in place to create a successful Business Blog. By doing so, you will find that it will save you a lot of time and inconvenience in the future and will make the blog that much more effective in what you are looking to achieve.