The other day a well-established business owner asked me something that struck me as odd. Over a dinner discussion concerning social media’s role in marketing, he posed the question, “so what is a blog anyway?” With all the hype out there about social media, it is surprisingly difficult for business people to get a simple explanation.
What is a Blog?
A business blog is an ongoing series of (usually) short articles that you publish online. It is a way to indirectly market your products or services by sharing related value-added information and tips. Your blog is where you show your expertise to your market niche – it is where you educate interested individuals and give them information that can help them. This is not where you make a direct sales appeal.
Since a blog is a more informal type of communication, you can add your brand’s personality to the language of your posts. This relaxed interaction can help you build relationships with your visitors, clients and prospects so that when they are ready to buy what you offer – they think of you automatically.
Business blogs are usually hosted on a company’s website. Sometimes they are the company’s website, while other times they may be the personal perspectives of one of the key principals of the business (think Sir Richard Branson of the Virgin Group).
And a Newsletter?
Most people understand the old-fashioned newsletter, which once upon a time was – and sometimes still is – mailed out diligently every month to customers, employees, etc. The newsletter has found renewed life through email – reducing costs, extending reach and adding quick customizability.
Your newsletter, whether it’s produced in print or email, is a direct marketing tool. It gives your customers some educational information, but it also provides information about what you are doing and what is happening in your business. A newsletter shares with your customers the events you are participating in, big happenings in your business, any promotions, discounts or specials you are offering and a link back to your website.
Blog vs. Newsletter Tips
Here are some easy-to-remember guidelines on the differences between business blogs and newsletters.
- allows you to have an ongoing informal conversation with your audience
- explains a subject – perhaps something your customers are always inquiring about
- shares useful information from other sources
- provides evergreen (timeless) information about topics related to your business
- lets you communicate as often as you’d like – some people blog every day, others a couple times each week or month, and still others post a blog entry once a month
- usually takes a while to build an audience since visitors need to find your blog
- highlights a specific theme or message
- targets a specific audience
- offers special discount or sales coupons
- provides value-added information and tips
- shares timely information
- allows you to touch base with customers and potential customers less frequently (usually every 4 to 8 weeks)
- is only sent to those people who have specifically requested information from your business
Your thoughts are welcome!
Are you using blogs or newsletters in creative ways to help drive sales?