Since I started blogging on the HubSpot business blogging platform on my own URL, I haven't claimed this blog on Technorati. Technorati Profile.
If you haven't claimed your blog, you should go do it.
Looks like there's some new capabilities over there I'm going to
explore a bit more.
Sales training expert and client, Tony Cole, sent me a note today. He pointed to Seth Godin's article about how technology, while sometimes making us more efficient, also gives us excuses to be less personal when serving our clients.
Tony asked, "Why doesn't Seth have comments? How can I leave a comment on Seth's blog?"
It's a valid question. I don't really read Seth Godin's blog (more on that later). If I had to gander why he doesn't have comments set up, it's because he's tired of moderating comments or deleting spam comments. Or it could be because he wants people to link to him and comment on his post in a post on their own blog. Or it could be for another reason. I don't know. Seth has commented on my blog a few other times. So, maybe he'll share.
Personally, I think comments make a blog much more personal by enabling interaction with readers, whether they're prospects, clients, partners or whoever.
However, I'm not Seth. As I posited here, Seth probably has a challenge having personal relationships with the 100s of thousands of fans he has. I have challenges having personal relationships with my 70 or so clients, 700 blog subscribers and 3,000 email subscribers. I can't imagine the deluge of conversation invitations that Seth receives.
And this is why I don't read Seth's blog. I might actually get to meet Seth next month, which'd be cool. He's speaking at the Inbound Marketing Summit and I'll be attending with the marketing conference equivalent of a backstage access. But, in normal life, most of us won't meet bloggers that have 100s of thousands of subscribers. Just like my wife has little chance of meeting Joshua Allen when she goes to the "So You Think You Can Dance" concert in Boston. And I probably won't ever meet Warren Buffet. In the same vein, I will most likely never have a meaningful business or personal relationship with any of these people.
The blogosphere isn't that different. The bloggers that have huge followings aren't going to interact with you in a meaningful way, unless you're very persistent and have something that they know they need. Or you agree to be their intern or something pretty silly like that.
So to answer Tony's question, if you really want to leave a comment for Seth, write a post and link to his post. However, I'd recommend initiating blog conversations with people who might be more receptive to mutually beneficial relationships.
Seth has great stuff to say. But, so do a few other thousand bloggers that write about similar stuff.
It's not really Seth's fault that he can't interact with everyone. I never really met Britney Spears either.
When I relaunched PC4Media as a project a few months ago, my goal was to create a network of businesses that blog. I've enrolled about 60 or so companies. All engage at a different level. Some are doing great like my favorite MA real estate attorney, Dave Lima. Some have too many other priorities in the way and haven't really gotten out of the gates.
Many businesses think that blogging is just about publishing information. It is about publishing information. But, a business that engages in a conversation through their blog generates much more value out of their blogging activity.
Here's what I wrote to describe my members:
The PC4Media network of businesses are all experts at what they do. But, more importantly, they are committed to publishing educational, informative and engaging information about their industry, their business and their experience. Further, they are committed to engaging the broader community online in a transparent conversation, while supporting each other as they each grow their respective businesses.
Rick just published a post called "Experts that Share" that says the same thing much more succinctly:
I enjoy the freeflowing exchange of expertise and ideas with people that are good at what they do and realize that collective thought is usually much more productive than the sum of individual thoughts.
I re-listened to the ClueTrain Manifesto
on my ride into Cambridge today. If you're "supposed to be blogging" or "thinking about blogging", you should pick up the book for some inspiration and guidance.
I wrote a post over at the HubSpot blog with tips on how to use your blog as a sales tool. Leave a comment over there if you have thoughts to share.
Here's the Summary:
- Subscribers Sell Themselve
- Answering Questions with Blog Posts.
- Invite Prospects to Write Guest Blog Posts.
- Highlight Your Client's Success. They'll Send It To Their Mom (and Everyone Else).
- Ask Your Prospects for Feedback in the Comments.
- Link to Your Prospect's Blog. Send Them Some Readers.
- Build a Community of Clients, Prospects and Partners On Your Blog.
- Track What Prospects Read, What Comments They Leave, How Often They Visit.
- Be a Resource. Link to Other Relevant Articles.
- Promote Your Blog Via Email.
- Promote Your Blog Via Social Media and Social Networking Sites.
- Blogging Supports Search Engine Optimization.
- Blogging Creates a Discussion and You're the Host
My buddy, Greg Gershman, founder and chief architect of blogdigger, one of the first blog search engines has sold his business and landed a nice gig.
I've been talking and blogversating with Greg since the beginning. I can't believe it's been 5 years. When Greg started, blog search was nascent, but I enjoyed covering the space because I figured it'd be big. Greg and I had lots of email conversations passing ideas and feedback back and forth. He thanked me over email when I congratulated him today. However, I played a very very very small part. It's very cool seeing him be able to take what he's doing to the next level. In other situations, maybe I could have played a bigger part. But, it's satisfying to me to see a 1.5 man startup take a project, turn it into a self sustaining business and then use it to build a career at a potentially game changing startup. Greg stuck it out. That takes a lot of sacrifice and committment. Something most would-be entrepreneurs completely underestimate.
I don't think the promise of real time blog search and discovery - so that true serendipitous blogversations can happen - has been fulfilled yet. But, I'm glad Blogdigger and Greg have landed at a place where he can continue to work on it.
And congrats to your wife too, Greg. :-)
The Worcester Business Journal ran an article about online advertising the other day quoting 3 local marketing agencies about online advertising.
The majority of the article quotes Laura Briere, owner of Vision Advertising, which is good. Laura actually knows her stuff quite well. Not as well as she thinks she does, but if I had to pair someone up with a local full service marketing agency who gets the web, Laura is a good bet. She doesn't make the mistakes that marketing agencies outside of Central MA stopped making in 2001. (I haven't used Laura myself so I don't know what she does and doesn't know. But, on the surface, she's dangerous with this stuff.)
The other two are pretty hopeless. They're still placing online ads on newspaper sites, designing banner ads and all flash websites (SEO no-no #1) for their clients instead of doing search engine optimization, pay per click advertising, blogging, landing page optimization, and leveraging social media successfully. (Not just expensively.)
I am sure this problem is not unique to Central MA. But, if marketing agencies want to stay relevant they better learn how to shift their thinking of "how do I spend my client's advertising budget effectively?" to "How do I do things that generate a predictable and measurable ROI for my clients by generating leads that turn into business for them?"
If the WBJ wants to provide informative articles about online marketing to their readers and help Central MA businesses really leverage the web effectively to grow their businesses, they should look for some more experts past 495. Maybe even hire an online marketing expert to do the writing. This is such an important thing to get right for the future of the region's business health.
It's been awhile since I've ranted or called anyone out. Sorry, in advance, for those that I've offended. You deserve it, even though it should be privately directed.
I'll be returning shortly to educational blog posts about online marketing and my networks' activities.
Mike Langford, at our seminar the other day, was talking about networking for small business owners. He said, and I'm paraphrasing, "network with people who have already achieved what you want to achieve".
I couldn't agree more. I also like to network with people who are equally ambitious and dedicated as I am too. It keeps me sharp and positive.
At HubSpot, I've never been around as functional, dedicated and extremely intelligent group that is this large. I've worked with some of the smartest and dedicated people I know at other places. But, EVERYONE at HubSpot has a passion for making themselves, their team, the company and their clients successful. It's inspirational and motivational.
However, of all the people I hang around with, the smartest ones that I know are my friends from WPI. My buddy, Darryl Pollica, is leading the development of fuel cell systems at a one of the leading fuel cell companies in the world. My buddy Josh Brotherton leads implementation of biopharmaceutical process control systems for majorly important biopharmaceutical companies. (And beer companies too.) My buddy, Jeremy Olszewski, is VP in charge of about 60 people at Fidelity's Acturial Services group. He's an actuary with a personality, although we're still working on his dance moves.
And Seth. There's Seth Popinchalk. Seth is the man. He's one of the most intelligent people I know. Not just at his job. But, he's a role model. He inspired me through some times in my early twenties when I was pretty lost. And he's always been a step ahead of me in terms of making big life decisions. He's the guy that goes first and reports back. He's an amazing husband, dad and he's super smart at all things physics and math. He's one of the most curious smart people I know, constantly tinkering with things. Well, he's been telling me he's been tinkering with his blog for the last six months. And he finally launched it. It's quite technical. So, I'm sure you might not get what he's writing. My physics and differential equations, etc are a bit rusty too. So, I don't think that I'll read it regularly.
Nonetheless... he seems to be showing promise among math bloggers and his first post has 34 comments already!
So, maybe I'll have him write a guest post about "what i takes to start a blog at a big and booming company" like Mathworks.
I have about 600 subscribers that I've accumulated over the years. Many I know personally. Many I don't. But, most are either people in the tech biz or small to mid sized business owners. I started small and I've stuck with it. Like anything, it's not easy and it takes committment.
Small & Mid Sized Business Owners and Marketing Professionals who are considering starting a blog are usually hesitant for a lot of reasons. Most of them very valid.
- They're afraid of how much work it's going to be. And they're already strapped for time.
- They don't know if they'll be able to write interesting stuff.
- They don't quite understand how it will help their business grow.
- They don't know how to grow their readership.
- They don't know how to get one set up on their website or are afraid it's going to cost a lot of money to do it.
- They're afraid that there will be more people that criticize them in their comments than will complement them.
- It's not really something that people in my line of business do. (I hear this a lot from financial and legal people.)
- If you have any other reasons, please share them in the comments.
However, I think the biggest reason not to start a blog, is because they don't know how to get started. I usually tell them to find interesting blogs, start subscribing and reading them via a feedreader. Then, start leaving comments on those blogs. Eventually, you'll write a really long comment and you'll realize that you should post your thoughts to your own blog instead of in someone else's comments.
But, some people still hesitate. So, I have an offer for any business owner, sales manager, web manager or marketing manager that wants to take me up on it.
If you have some insight and can write a genuinely educational article (on any topic) about your product, service, business or whatever, you're invited to write a guest post on my blog. You can even link to your website.
There's no charge. There's no catch. Your post will have to pass a little bit of editorial review and you must lean more towards educational than promotional. But, all you have to do is apply by filling out this form.
At HubSpot, we help people set up blogs for their business. But more importantly, we guide them in using blogs as a strategic marketing tool to attract prospective clients to their websites and engage prospective clients in a conversation on their websites.
Done right, I honestly don't think there is a better marketing tool - that is applicable to almost any small or mid sized business - than a blog.
Before starting a blog, the first step should be to do search engine optimization keyword research. Blogging allows a business to create as many pages on their website as they want in an organized and navigable way - since every post becomes a page. And since every page on a business's website is an opportunity to rank in the search engine result pages for a given set of 1-3 keywords, blogging creates the potential to rank for a whole lotta keywords relevant to the business.
However, blogging is not just about publishing content to the web. (Great writing is critical though.)
Blogging is about participating in a transparent and public conversation where anyone and everyone in the world is invited to participate. I like to call them blogversations. But, think about going into a networking event filled with prospects and suppose you could talk to them all at once, say as the featured speaker. That's what a blog is. It's actually better. Imagine if you could pause time and have 1 on 1 conversations with people w/out the rest of the audience knowing. Then, resume your speech until the next person wants to talk to you. Then, imagine that this went on forever 24/7. How could you not get business out of that.
So, businesses should treat it like a conversation.
The hardest part that most businesses have when starting a blog is not coming up with the content. It's finding the first few people to have a conversation with.
Which is why you should immediately find a business blog buddy. Your business blog buddy should be:
- Someone who has similar interests or has a similar kind of business. An example of a blog buddy for a realtor would be a mortgage broker or a home inspector. If you do facial plastic surgery in Manhattan, find someone who doesn't do facial plastic surgery who does aesthetic surgery in MA. If you blog about online marketing, find a blog buddy that covers sales management or sales training.
- They have to be willing to link to you. You might not start out asking them to link to you. That's like meeting someone for the first time at a networking event and asking them to endorse you. You should start by reading their blog regularly, commenting on their blog and eventually linking to them. If they get it, and you're writing compelling stuff on your blog, they'll eventually start reading you, leaving comments and linking back. (If they don't ever link back, I recommend that you send them this post and tell them you're going to have to break it off if the blogversation doesn't go both ways.)
- Build your own network of blog buddies. When I started blogging, just like most new bloggers, I had no readers. I worked my way up to a few hundred readers - starting at one reader at a time. Once I made a blog buddy, I usually introduced my new blog buddy to other blog buddies. It's how Andrew and Noah met. It's how Greg got a job. As you start to build your network, most people will get it too. They'll start introducing you to others. Before you know it, you'll write a great article and 10 of your blog buddies will leave a comment or link to you from their blog. All of the sudden, their readers start to read your blog. Eventually, it takes off and your readership will grow a lot faster than one at a time.
- Don't stop reaching out to new people. Just don't stop making blog buddies like I did for awhile. They'll stay subscribed, but they won't be as active if you don't exercise your relationships.
- If you really want to grow your readership, fill out this form and start a business like PC4Media. All of my clients become my blog buddies. I'll happily show you how to do it. If you want to be my blog buddy, here's where you should apply OR just start linking to me.
I'm spending most of my time calling people who have expressed interest in HubSpot's strategic internet marketing platform. Sometimes, I don't have the opportunity to dig into issues a business might be having when I call them.
That's ok. Just in case it was a bad time, their boss just asked them to do something unreasonable, or their cat just died, this post might help them figure out whether I might be able to help them... when they have a moment.
Here's a list of things I help businesses with:
- Can you edit and add content to your website without paying your webmaster or waiting for the tech team to do it? Does your website go for months without anything new for visitors to read or for search engines to index?
- Is your online marketing strategy delivering results? Do you have one? Or does your website still look like the brochure you designed in 1999?
- Is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) something "you think your web
designer did" and not something you do everyday? Can you predict and
measure the amount of traffic and leads you get as a result of your
internal or outsourced SEO efforts? When you did keyword research, did you do anything more than brainstorm what your clients "might type" at google?
- Is your site visitor to lead conversion rate lower than 2%? Do you even measure that? Is your call to action a "Contact Us" button or buried at the bottom of the site?
- Do you have a blogging strategy that generates increased visitors and leads for your business?
- Do you know how to build links to your website that drive qualified visitors? How about links that increase your rankings in the search engines for the right search terms?
- Are you spending a lot of money on pay per click ads that send visitors to your home page instead of landing pages optimized to get the visitor to convert into a lead? Are you spending a lot on PPC ads without even investigating whether SEO could help you rank in the organic rankings?
- Do you have a strategy for Digg, Delicious, Myspace, Facebook and LinkedIn that again generates qualified traffic and leads? Have you even visited these sites to see how many of your prospects are interacting with your competitors?
- Are you still doing Public Relations primarily with a telephone instead of online SEO friendly wire services? How's that going?
- Are you tired of guessing what to do to market your busines online? Or worse, paying high-priced, do-little consultants to tell you what to do? Or even worse, paying very high priced firms to do things that you don't quite understand and they can't quite explain?
- Does your marketing department generate qualified timely leads for your sales people using the web? Do your sales people know how to support your online marketing efforts? Do your salespeople know how to generate their own leads from online networking?
- Do you have an email, web and webinar strategy that nurtures and educates your site visitors and prospects? Do people tell you, "I've been watching your company for a few months now. I'm ready to get started working with you."?
If they have one of these problems and they'd like to discuss how I can help them, I'm happy to make 15-30 minutes available for them free of charge to discuss their unique challenges and needs. If there's a fit after that, I'll also help them identify the business growth opportunities available to their specific business through online marketing. If we agree that I can help them solve their problems and there's sufficient opportunity to warrant an investment from them, I'll make an appropriate recommendation.
They should contact me through this form.