My Top Five Blogging Tips for Small Businesses

We all know that ‘content is king’, but when you are a small business owner with 101 things to get done each day it’s easy for blog updates to slip way down the list of priorities. Goodness knows I empathise. With all the other project work I have as well as a job, running a busy house and managing the diaries of three very socially active children, my own blog can be the first to suffer. Mine too is a question of time but I have found the following have helped:

 1. Develop the habit

Set aside a set time each week to write some content and stick to it. Be realistic. If it’s only 30 minutes – that’s better than nothing at all. It’s far better to update regularly with smaller pieces than sporadically with longer ones.

2. Sit down and write

It seems obvious but the act of sitting at a blank screen or paper is a great incentive to write something. Anything. I have found that I struggle to settle on a topic until I actually do this.

3. Read widely in your subject area

This can be happening anytime, anywhere but it will feed your ideas. Keep abreast of current trends and know the language your  industry and customers are using. As well as being great for getting ideas, this will also help with Search Engine Optimisation as you’ll know the keywords to include in your blog posts which will help your search rankings.

4. Write for one person

I have found this a great way to approach blogging. The art of good business blogging is based on writing content for each of your buyer personas for each part of their buyer journey. Buyer personas are semi-fictional characters based on your ideal customers. If you have done a good job developing your buyer persona, you’ll know who they are, where they hang out, what their pain points are and how you can help solve them. You will have given them a name and possibly even a photo. Pin it on the wall in front of you. Write to that person. Write something your buyer persona will find useful, relevant or just plain entertaining. Depending on the sector and your persona, you’ll know which the correct route is.

5. Write something for each stage of the buyer journey

Ideally, you should have content for each buyer persona for each stage of their journey. As a rule of thumb, the earlier in the journey, the buyer is, the more the content focuses on them. As they get closer to their decision, you can start talking about you and your products. So in the early stages, your blog pieces may not even mention your product or service, it could be more general tips or very general advice. For a reader who is comparing options, they may want product specifications etc. and finally for someone who is ready to purchase, they will actually need all that sales material in order to make that decision.

 

 

Some favourite Infographics

Since beginning the Graduate Certificate in Management (Digital Marketing) last February, I spend a hell of a lot of time online, so much so that my children think I might have a problem! Last semester one of our assignments was to produce a content marketing plan for a relationships  counselling service so when my youngest saw me checking out the ‘Support for Single Parents’ page one day, he thought the worst and suggested I might grow cabbages for a living instead! Now I’m not sure that cabbage growers are all happily married either but at least now if I do decide to grow cabbages, I’ll be able to market them digitally!!

But I digress. I tell this story to get across just how easy it is to immerse yourself in all the helpful content that’s available out there both for me as a student and for practitioners too. You literally could lose yourself for hours if you had the time. One way I’ve found that really helps my learning is to read the long-hand version first and then find a great infographic that crystallises the topic and presents the key data in a pleasing visual format.

In my last post, I talked about the advantages to marketers of using infographics and promised you my favourites so far. So true to my word, here they are. Needless to say, this is massively subject to change as more and more great infographics are produced. I like to keep my favourites together on my Pinterest Board so you’ll find more there but for now, here are my favourites.

 

The State of Content Marketing

State of Content Marketing 2014

State of Content Marketing 2014

The Secret Art of Digital Marketing

I must warn you it’s a long one but well worth the scroll.

The secret Art of Digital Marketing [Infographhic]

 

The last one is here because it made me smile.

Profile of a Twitter user

Profile of a Twitter user

 

The Power of Infographics

Infographics are a graphical representation of a wall of text usually including data or statistics. The idea is that, presented in this way, the information is easy to consume and fun to share.

We have all heard that a picture speaks a thousand words and I happen to believe that’s true. I have gathered my fair share of infographics on my digital marketing journey so far. When time is of the essence and learning is paramount, I’ve found infographics really help to cut through to the heart of a subject and present the salient points in a concise manner, aided by lovely graphics to help make sense of the data.

Marketers have realised this too and this has led to the rise of the infographic.

Infographics make great marketing tools. Why?

  • 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual
  • 99% of all sensory information is filtered out by the brain almost immediately.
  • Infographics are in that 1% that isn’t
  • The eyes are a physical extension of the brain.
  • 65% of us are visual learners

And now that you have processed this information the hard way, I’ve got a great infographic from NeoMam Studios which puts it across much better!  In my next post, I’m going to gather my favourites and share them with you.

The Power of Infographics

Why Infographics make great marketing tools.

 

 

HubSpot’s Inbound Certification

Being a post grad student of Digital Marketing has meant that I have had to grasp a lot of concepts, techniques, tools and realities and all in a very short time frame.  Content Marketing, SEO, all the Social Media, Email Marketing, Web Usability, Big Data, Web Analytics, Measurement tools – the list goes on.

There’s a lot to get through and as a seasoned marketing professional, I am always looking to align all these new topics with customer segmentation and the customer journey. In other words, who are our customers? And what do they need to know from us at this exact point in time that helps them in their lives and helps us as marketers achieve our business goals?

One of the best resources I’ve found for an aspiring (or even experienced) Digital Marketer who is looking for a framework to place the many digital marketing tools and techniques within this customer / customer journey framework is the HubSpot Inbound Certification Programme.

The cornerstone of HubSpot’s approach is to start by defining in detail your buyer persona/s  and this aligns perfectly with my own obsession for profiling the customer.  The course is then broken down into the 4 component parts of the Inbound Methodology: Attract, Convert, Close, Delight. Again, this provides an excellent framework for following the customer through their buyer journey and was something I could easily relate to.

The real value for me came from seeing where all the various digital methodologies fit into this framework, delivered in very informative and digestible sessions. I highly recommend to anyone who hasn’t done so to watch the series of 11 videos, even if you don’t want or need to take the exam.

On completing the course, you will be armed with alot of insights, many more than I have outlined below but the key takeaways for me were:

1. Clearly define your business objectives for each activity or set of activities at a high, mid, and granular level.

2. Define in detail who your ideal customers are. Create buyer personas and obsess about them. Know who they are, what they like to do, where they hang out online, what their problems are and how you can help solve them.

3. Create content for each of your buyer persona for each stage of their buyer journey which they will find valuable. In other words, provide the right content to the right person at the right time.

4. Promote the content widely and wisely to make sure that it reaches your personas.

5. Measure success against the objectives set out above. Measure and test, test and re-test. Iterate and try again. Do more of what works. Less of what doesn’t.

6. Don’t forget to delight your customers as well as attracting new ones.

 

HubSpot Inbound Methodology

HubSpot Inbound Methodology

Oh,  and  yes – I achieved certification – a great feeling! Thanks HubSpot.