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Response to “Hot Air” Article in The Business Ledger

A friend of mine forwarded me an article today, titled “Blogs: “Hot-air” or must have business tool?” that examines the value of blogging for SMBs in Chicago, but has a fatal flaw - they don't look at the forward value of the blog, being ahead of the curve and not looking at the intrinsic value of blogging.

The three questions the reporter asked were:

  1. Do you read blogs?
  2. Do you think of blogs when you need to solve a problem or find information?
  3. What are your thoughts about blogs?

Not suprisingly, her sampling of 100 business executives in the Chicago area replied overwhelmingly (98%) that they didn't read blogs and didn't consider blogs when they needed to find information. To the third question, the responses were more mixed.

The fatal flaw with looking at blogs is that a blog isn't by its nature any different from a website, except that it is more connected, easier to publish, easier to subscribe, and often has a more personal nature, including the ability to comment on articles.

For myself, I don't nessisarily think of “reading blogs” but YES, I do search for “tips on <topic>” and other queries … more often than not, these cutting edge topics are found in the format of a blog.

When I discuss with our clients the benefits of blogging and the requirements / commitments required to maintain a blog I stress that it is not a magic tool that will “poof” get them business. Instead, what I try to explain to them is that “blogging” is a way for them to easily communicate their information to the public, potentialy build links back to their website, and also use as an outlet to share their thoughts. In this way, it gives consumers an opportunity to get to know the business better, instead of relying on paid marketing materials such as advertisements or brochures to make a decision.

Is a “blog” the right tool for every business? No, probably not. HOWEVER, I can share one very good example recently of where a blog would have been very valuable in making a purchasing decision.

My wife and I are getting our driveway done and it is nearly impossible to sort out which bids are better than others - the range of bids from low to high is well over $1,000. Ultimately though, the bids are all about the same work that will be done. So it is up to us to try and make a decision based on a little prayer that we make the right decision.

I did some searching on google, yahoo, etc. to see if I could find SOMETHING about any of them and most had nothing out there.

This would have been a perfect opportunity for the paver to have a blog - show some of his work, share some tips on how to select a paver, and other similar topics that probably would have made me select that person, rather than one of the competitors who I couldn't find anything about.

Would I have “read his blog” or “remembered the name” ?  Probably not, but it would have been VALUABLE to him.  For the incremental cost of less than $100 year (or free with blogger!) and maybe an hour a month, this potential paving company could have landed a $5,000 contract. How many other customers over the course of a year could he win over other companies because they got to know him and his crew?

How many other people out there similarly search for service providers - electricians, plumbers etc? and find nothing?

In addition to not looking at blogging as what it is, the author misses the point that you have to be ahead of the curve to succeed in business. It would be like business owners in 1996 saying that they didn't see the value of having a website or that only the big companies need to have one. Blogging and social media marketing in general are in their infancy and as the “kids” get older they will EXPECT that businesses have blogs or at least a strong personal presence on the internet.

In defense of the author, she is right, not all businesses “Need” a blog, and most can probably get along just fine without one, but it is absolutely an important marketing tool to discuss with your CMO or marketing agency so you can make an informed decision.

Ultimately, this post in itself shows the value of a blog. Because I have this blog, I can respond to business news or articles that otherwise I wouldn't have a platform to discuss.

What are your thoughts?

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