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Are Blogs A Meaningful Tool For Startups and Small Businesses?
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Where once companies controlled most marketing messages through mass media channels, consumers are now developing their own consumer-generated media online.

A majority of buyers, consumers or B2B buyers, use search engines as a starting point for their purchasing search process. And in the majority of cases, customers will click on the organic section of a search engine like Google to find a product. The best way to get a high ranking in search engines is to develop a lot of relevant content, have other sites with related content link to your site, and make sure your site is accessible for indexing by search engines.

Blogs help companies achieve all three factors to gain high rankings on search engines. Those rankings translate into leads and sales.

Any start-up or small business can easily establish themselves on the web with a blog, by generating a lot of content, and also getting links to their site without having to beg from a Webmaster. Blogs therefore perform a dual purpose; they give any company, especially start-ups and small businesses, the opportunity to establish themselves as thought leaders in their industry, that position translates into more links and higher rankings.

--John Cass , Backbone Media

How emphatically can I say YES!? We are only beginning to harness the powerful marketing capacity of blogs for growing businesses. If you are an independent professional, a solo-preneur, or small business owner, you are now able to play in a larger arena on the World Wide Web.

Blogs are truly leveling the playing field for all businesses, no matter the size. You can now have a loud voice on the Web, not one based on capital or numbers, but one based on quality of content, targeted communities, and valuable resources and services.

A blog is a valuable way to communicate with potential clients and to create credibility, trust and relationships with readers who are interested in your services or products. No matter what business you are in, letting people know about your expertise, what you can do for them, and who you are is essential for attracting new clients. There is no better medium for doing this than a blog.

Blogs are ideal communication vehicles for creating good customer relationships. Your readers will feel they know you, long before they pick up the phone to call you for services. And, your sales lead time can be considerably shorter. After all, they are writing to you, or calling you, not the other way around. But in order for this to happen, your blog must look professional and reflect your business, your knowledge and your personality.

It boils down to this: if you are in the business of helping people or organizations through the services or products you provide, you need to communicate who you are and what you can do for your potential clients (your readers). You've got to find a way to let people know you. Demonstrating your expertise through a blog and addressing the needs and concerns of your prospects will attract them to become your clients. I guarantee it.

--Denise Wakeman , Build a Better Blog

Blogs are a meaningful tool for small businesses and will grow in their importance in the next few years. They work as an effective mechanism to inform and create relationships with online readers. They also are a way for business owners to easily create online content and make a website more search-engine friendly.

To be effective, a blog has to be updated on an ongoing basis. Most people don't visit blogs that aren't regularly featuring new content. Therefore, if a small business owner (or one of their staff) wants a blog to be an effective part of their marketing efforts, they must make a commitment to update it on a regular basis. As with any component of a business marketing strategy, the blog must also have information that appeals to a specific target audience.

Blogs can be used for product updates, company news, and any other type of information companies want to get in front of their audience. The blog content can be used to drive people to specific offers. It can also be a great tool to get feedback from customers in the "Comments" section. However, a blog must contain helpful information and tips - not just sales promotions; otherwise people are much less likely to return repeatedly. Blogs are a relatively new phenomena and we are all still experimenting with their parameters.

My vote for small business owners: if you like to write and you are willing to make the time...then add a blog to your marketing bag of tricks.

--Wendy Maynard Kinetic Ideas

Carl Weinschenk is the Editorial Director of SmartBiz.
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