At this point in The Age of the Customer, many people would think that defining a blog is an elementary task tantamount to explaining the wheel. But here in the real world, where Main Street small businesses live, some folks actually still have un-Tweeted thoughts. Consequently, since a blog for most small businesses is at once a powerful yet under-used customer connection tool, perhaps a little background and illumination would be beneficial.
Describing his online journaling, early Internet adopter Jorn Barger first coined the term “weblog” in 1997. As the practice became more widespread, the inevitable contraction, “blog,” made speaking about it handier and spawned at least two more new terms, “to blog” and “blogging.”
As blogging grew, innovators hastened to create new tools to make it easier to record and distribute ideas in the emerging—wait for it—blogosphere. Today blog readers can receive new posts over multiple platforms, plus begin commenting threads with the blogger and other recipients who have a point of view or question about the topic of the blog post.
Back to that “powerful but under-used” thing: Small business owners must appreciate the power of these three facts:
- Small business owners are experts on what they sell, how it’s used, the industry, etc.
- Customers want access to what experts know.
- Increasingly, customers expect a closer connection to experts.
Alas, even though blogs deliver all of this, we still hear two whiney blogging excuses:
Excuse 1: “I’m not a good writer.”
Truth: Research shows customers prefer the thoughts and benefit from the experience and wisdom of the non-professional writer they know—that’s you—than those of a smart alec wordsmith like me.
Excuse 2: “Don’t have time.”
Truth: Once your blog platform is set up (you won’t believe how easy it is), new posts and responding to customer comments takes minutes a week. Remember, a blog post doesn’t have to be an article.
Practically speaking, a blog can be better than a website because your posts can be added more easily, making your expertise more compelling. And here’s the blogging goose’s golden egg: Blogging about what you know delivers your authentic expertise, which helps you build online communities where you connect with current and future customers in a way that’s increasingly more relevant to them than your website.
Don’t worry; you still need your beautiful website.
Write this on a rock ... Start your blog this week and let the relevance begin.
Jim Blasingame is one of the world's leading experts on small business and entrepreneurship. He is the creator and award-winning host of the nationally syndicated radio program, The Small Business Advocate® Show. In addition to his weekly columns, Jim is the author Small Business is like a Bunch of Bananas, Three Minutes to Success, and his latest release, The Age of the Customer: Prepare for the Moment of Relevance.