If you run a small business, there is a good chance that you have something important to say to your buyers. Whether it's about your products or services, best practices, or even shopping tips, there are opportunities on the Web to not only help your customers make better buying decisions but also for you to earn additional credibility that could directly lead to future sales.
Online content, in all of its various forms, is causing marketing and PR to come together in ways that don't really exist offline. Unfortunately, many small and independent business owners have the misconception that online content such as blogs and news releases are only useful tools for large companies and Web-based firms. The roughly 10% of small brick and mortar shops that do venture online to promote themselves are perhaps on the right path. When your buyer is searching on the Web for something, content is the same regardless of how its dressed up, so don't worry if you aren't versed in the latest Flash techniques. Moreover, in the interconnected Web world we all live in, it is content that drives action.
If you hold specialized knowledge in your field, or have simply picked up a few things over the years, why not share this information online and bring targeted traffic to your site? The fact is, every business has information that can contribute to the education of the marketplace. You need to ask yourself, "How can I get that information out there?" Adding a simple weblog--also known as a blog--to your company's site could, over time, generate significant traffic, additional credibility, and ultimately new customers. But you shouldn't limit yourself to daily or weekly contributions. Make a decision to dedicate at least 45 minutes a day online, posting meaningful comments, answers and questions of your own on forums and blogs related to your industry. Positioning yourself as an authority in your industry will drive solid traffic to your blog or website as long as you provide a link. In fact, over time, you could develop an expert's reputation within your niche community.
Just as important as it is to get out there and drive traffic to your site through generating relevant and quality online content to your audience, it's equally important to create a call to action on whatever landing page or blog site is hosting your article.
In The New Rules of Marketing & PR by David Meerman Scott, this point is emphasized:
Companies that understand the new rules of marketing and PR have a clearly defined business goal - to sell products, to generate contributions, or to get people to vote or join. These successful organizations aren't focused on the wrong goals, things like press clips and advertising awards. At successful organizations, news releases, blogs, Web sites, podcasts, and other content draw visitors into the sales-consideration cycle, then funnel them toward the place where action occurs.
Lesson learned: At America's Best Companies, we strive to educate the point-and-click generation of today so they can recognize the unique products and personal services that small businesses offer. Because it's the local shop owners who are the masters of their trade, they are the ones who we, as consumers, want to hear from when we browse the Internet for information on things like hair care products, bicycle maintenance, cooking tips, gardening, home improvement and more. So for the small business community, it's time to speak up.