Sponsored by Energy Trust

Marketing: blogging can boost the bottom line

| Print |  Email
Sunday, July 01, 2007

{safe_alt_text}

These days, you can’t go online without encountering a blog. The user-generated websites, typically a series of journal-like entries listed in chronological order, turn political gaffes into big news stories, help new writers land book deals and display a glut of personal information. But blogs aren’t strictly for hobbyists. Many businesses are using the online forums as marketing tools to accomplish a variety of tasks, from shaping a company’s image to testing the viability of new products.

How can you determine if a blog will benefit your business? Take a look at the big picture, especially your overall marketing strategy. Blogs should never stand alone as a tool, says Jim Olson, senior vice president of the Digital Strategies Group at the public relations firm Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, but as a companion to other marketing campaigns.

Just as many of your marketing decisions are based on connecting with a specific audience, so should your strategy when it comes to blogging. “We always ask our clients, ‘who’s your target audience and how do they consume information?’” Olson says. “Where are the online conversations about your company taking place and what’s being said?”

For example, if you’re a startup working with new technology, your audience might be more web savvy and expect your blog to be updated regularly and have an in-the-know tone. Or, if you’re a restaurateur, the way local foodie bloggers discuss new restaurants might help your chef craft a buzz-worthy personal blog of her own.

RESOURCES

How to get started

You can find plenty of free blog software online, including WordPress, Moveable Type and Textpattern. Or consult a web designer, who can help create a blog format that works with your company’s established website.

If you’re curious

Check out the most popular blogs on the web, as determined by Technorati. technorati.com/pop

Also think about what you want to say and how you’ll say it, now and years from now. Some of the most successful blogs provide fresh insights and, most importantly, relevant information. Posting that kind of material may require going well beyond promoting the company line. “Companies think they should be out there in blog form, so they take material that may not be pertinent and just shove it out there,” says Mike Heiser, president of YRG Communications, a Portland marketing and communications agency. “When material is pushed out like that, it sits, nobody posts new stuff, and the blog dies.”

Heiser frequently recommends blogging to clients because of the “communities” that form online. In lieu of traditional one-to-one marketing, blogs can reach a large group of people who share common interests. And thanks to the comment feature that most blogs employ, one-way dialogue is replaced by informal discussion — a valuable environment for taking the pulse of new ideas or products long before release dates.

Notice how your intended audience interacts online so you know what to expect before you begin. If you’re not prepared to have a real, open dialogue with those people, you may not be ready to have a blog, Heiser says.

But what if a rogue community member decides to pan every single one of your posts? While blogging might seem unpredictable in comparison to traditional marketing approaches, most types of marketing involve risk, says Jim Olson. “Think about taking your CEO out to lunch with someone from The Wall Street Journal,” he says. “You don’t have total control over the final story.” In the blogosphere, that lack of control can establish credibility and trust among readers. “The people you may be trying to reach might trust the information on blogs much more than in a paid advertisement,” Olson says.

Frank Shaw, president of Waggener Edstrom, has been writing a blog called Glass House (http://glasshouse.waggeneredstrom.com/blogs/frankshaw) since April 2003. Shaw covers business and communication issues by linking to news stories and other blogs. Glass House helps increase Waggener Edstrom’s visibility with a large online audience, give the company a face and show clients how a business blog can function by example.

While the direct results of a blog may be difficult to determine (did that rise in sales really happen because the company blog got 50,000 hits last month?), the low cost of entry makes blogging a good option for startups hoping to increase their Google ranking and companies willing to invest time into a burgeoning medium.

— Lucy Burningham


Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

More Articles

Corner Office: Timothy Mitchell

January-Powerbook 2015
Saturday, December 13, 2014

A look-in on the life of Norris & Stevens' president.


Read more...

What I'm Reading

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Peter Lizotte at ACME Business Solutions and Roger Busse at Pacific Continental Bank share their favorite reads.


Read more...

Editor's Letter: Power Play

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014

There’s a fascinating article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review about a profound power shift taking place in business and society. It’s a long read, but the gist revolves around the tension between “old power” and “new power” as a driver of transformation. Here’s an excerpt:

Old power works like a currency. It is held by few. Once gained, it is jealously guarded, and the powerful have a substantial store of it to spend. It is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. It downloads, and it captures.

New power operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it.

The authors, Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans, don’t necessarily favor one form of power over another but merely outline how power is transitioning, and how companies can take advantage of these changes to strengthen their positions in the marketplace. 

Our Powerbook issue might be viewed as a case study in the new-power transition. This annual book of lists provides information on leading businesses, nonprofits and universities in the state. Most of the featured companies are entrenched power players now pursuing more flexible and less hierarchical approaches to doing business. Law firms, for example, are adopting new technologies and fee structures to make legal services more accessible and affordable.

This month we also take a look at a controversial new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring public companies to disclose the median pay of workers, as well as the ratio between CEO and median-worker pay. 

Part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the rule will compel public companies to be more open about employee compensation, with the assumption that greater transparency will improve corporate performance and, perhaps, help address one of the major challenges of our time: income inequality.

New power is not only about strategy and tactics, the Harvard Business Review authors say. “The ultimate questions are ethical. The big question is whether new power can genuinely serve the common good and confront society’s most intractable problems.”

That sounds like a call to arms. Or a New Year’s resolution. Old power or new, the goals are the same: to be a force for positive change in the world. Happy 2015!

— Linda


Read more...

See How They Run

January-Powerbook 2015
Friday, December 12, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

Studying ground-running birds, a group that ranks among nature's speediest and most agile bipedal runners, to build a faster robot.


Read more...

Tackling the CEO-worker pay gap

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014
BY OREGON BUSINESS STAFF

An SEC rule targets the disparity between executive and employee compensation, reigniting a long-standing debate about corporate social responsibility.


Read more...

Powerbook Perspective

January-Powerbook 2015
Friday, December 12, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

A conversation with Oregon state economist Josh Lehner.


Read more...

The clean fuels opportunity

News
Monday, November 10, 2014
111014-dirtyfuel-thumbBY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR

A market for low-carbon transportation fuels has a chance to flourish in Oregon if regulators adopt the second phase of the state’s Clean Fuels Program.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS