Home Back Issues July 2007 Marketing: blogging can boost the bottom line

Marketing: blogging can boost the bottom line

| Print |  Email
Archives - July 2007
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

Fast Food Slows Down

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY KIM MOORE

The ubiquitous fast-food restaurant may be on the decline.


Read more...

Powerlist: Colleges and Universities

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY KIM MOORE

A conversation about higher education with the presidents of the University of Oregon and Clackamas Community College, followed by September's powerlist.


Read more...

Buyer's Remorse

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Parents and students paying for college today are like homeowners who bought a house just before the housing bubble burst.


Read more...

What I'm Reading

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Kim Ierian, President of Concorde Career Colleges, and Deborah Edward, Executive Director of Business for Culture & the Arts, share their recent reads.


Read more...

Launch

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

September's Launch article features Orchid Health, BuddyUp and Inter-Europe Consulting.


Read more...

Register for 100 Best Companies survey

News
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
OBM-100-best-logo-2015 150pxwBy Kim Moore | OB Editor

The 2015 survey launched this week. It is open to for-profit private and public companies that have at least 15 full- or part-time employees in Oregon.


Read more...

Community colleges and sustainability

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, July 31, 2014
sustainabilityBY MARY SPILDE | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

Faced with the aftermath of the “great recession,” increasing concern about the environment and dwindling family wage jobs, we have some very important choices to make about our future.


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