22 July 2007

Business Blogging (Part III)

Enter the Conversation

The world of business is intertwined with conversations.
  • The industry is talking, your customers are talking, your competitors are talking
  • You need to be a part of those conversations. If you don't, your market will pass you by. If you stay silent, people will begin to look at you as uninventive, arrogant, or secretive. I will argue for the importance of these conversations and how you can enter in a positive way.
A conversation is authentic communication with the aim to build a relationship over time. The relationship involves give and take (shared linking and comments, for example), but also much more.

You need to be a part of the conversation

Your customers are asking to be a part of your company. They are actually demanding it. Your customers are no longer satisfied with seeing your brand - they want to see the people behind your brand.

If you cannot foster dialogue with your customers, how do you expect to retain them? You need a relationship now to both sell your product/service and to retain your customers.

In gratitude for you taking a genuine interest in them, your customers are more likely to be loyal to you, to spread positive word of mouth, and to give you insight on how to improve your product.

How do you enter the conversation?

The blog is your conversation. Here are some great tips on how to make your blog your most effective communication tool.
  • Be authentic
  • You need to care about the customer enough to take down some walls. Be clear, be honest, and be real.
  • Blogs are real time - if a post takes you an hour, it's taking too long. You are crafting far beyond your authenticity.
  • Customers value transparency. This means that you should admit when you make mistakes, be open if there are problems, talk about your successes, and make an effort to post regularly and with some passion.
  • Invite interaction
Your customers are knocking on your door to talk to you. And this does not mean they want to phone you up or complain. They might just want to know what's new, what you think, why you are the leader in what you do, and that you care.

Blogs are a very easy tool. You have your comment box. Your customers will use it. And the media will also get involved here too. If you show them you know your stuff, it will pay off.
  • Make sure to watch your comments - interact back online so others can see. At the same time, take it to the next level by sending off an email.
  • Say thanks for the comment - get that conversation going to the next level. You never know when it will pay off for a big sale or a great article about you.
Track backs are your conversations too. It's your way to jump into a conversation - you link to others in your topic, they link to you. Suddenly you have a web of knowledge.

How can you post to invite conversation?
  • post relevant information, fairly often (it's best to start posting a lot at first to attract the spiders and your biggest readers)
  • offer some insight and opinion
  • ask questions
  • link to people who've talked on the same topic - supplement their arguments or go against them, either is fine
  • linking out attracts linking in
  • weigh your posts as a mix of short timely posts and longer more authoritative posts
  • use your strongest key phrases in the titles of your articles
  • although your content may revolve around your industry, leave self promotion to less than 25% of your posts
The Best Tip - write with energy and a passion for what you do.

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