Client's Social Responsibility Campaign Yields Big Results

Posted by Jeff Coon on Jun 27, 2013 7:37:00 AM

Create marketing that offers 3-for-1 specials

The other day I was at our local watering hole, enjoying its regular "Happy Hour 2-for-1 Special," when it occurred to me that the recent social marketing campaign we helped develop with West Bend Insurance to "Avoid Distracted Driving" was a super mega "3-for-1 special". Because when companies like West Bend support worthy causes, they create this "3-for-1" effect — with values and benefits that are passed along to:

  1. The Cause
  2. The Company
  3. Their Customers (or the general public)

One of West Bend's core principles is to give back to the communities it serves—its employees are very active in the community, so this campaign supported its culture and brand. At Stream, we believe in supporting like-minded companies such as West Bend, so to be a part of a program that offers this kind of value is personally rewarding. And it doesn't hurt that having a "meaningful brand" makes a brand stronger, more engaging and 120% more valuable, according to a study done by Havas Media.

The Campaign

This 5-week campaign, launched through the West Bend Cares program, featured the following content elements:

The Results

West Bend received a lot of positive feedback from their associates, customers and independent agents network. After 5 weeks, the results of the campaign elements listed above have garnered:

  • 1,200+ Page Views
  • 200+ Leads
  • 700+ requests for bracelets
  • 220+ Facebook Likes
  • 65+ LinkedIn Shares
  • 40+ Tweets

This campaign also caught the attention of a national safety organization that will be featuring West Bend and their commitment to promoting safety, recognizing West Bend as a thought leader in this area.

Marketing Takeaway

Businesses should continually look for ways to align their personal passions and company message platforms. In short, find a cause you believe in to support! If you don't currently have one, ask your employees — surely, they'll have one that is near and dear to their heart.

The benefits of social marketing can be:

  • Increased brand awareness/PR
  • Increased trust for your company, showing the personal side of your business
  • A boost in company morale (team-building at its best)
  • Positioning your firm as a thought leader
  • A warm fuzzy feeling deep within your soul knowing that you made a difference (and that my friends, is priceless)

In closing, do some good. Leave the world a better place and "Happy Hour" will lead to many Happy Hours for you, your company and your cause.

What causes do you support? How have your efforts resulted in a 3-for-1 special?


About the Author: Jeff Coon is a partner and creative director at Stream Creative, a certified HubSpot partner and full service digital marketing and design firm specializing in inbound marketing, web design and development, and social media.

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Topics: blogging for business, inbound marketing, stream creative, distracted driving

Crafting A Blog Post for Your Business: 4 Keys to Success

Posted by Todd Hockenberry on Feb 13, 2013 7:14:00 AM

crafting a blog postOnce you've got your salespeople to come around to the idea of inbound marketing, what do you do with their content ideas? If your salespeople followed the "notepad method" of content creation, then after a couple of weeks they should have plenty of ideas just waiting to be turned into killer content.  Check out this recent interview where I discuss this idea in detail.

But pages of questions, comments, and unconnected ideas aren't going to cut it in the content-centric world of inbound marketing. You've got to tie all of those great ideas into a cohesive whole. 

One of the best ways to put all of your content ideas into use is by turning them into blog posts. Blog posts are awesome because they:

  • don't have to be terribly long
  • tend to be written informally
  • allow you to offer up concentrating chunks of information
  • and the comments section gives you an avenue for interacting with prospects.

As great as blog posts are, writing a post can be challenging. There is no single "right" way to take an idea for a blog post and turn it into a finished product, but there are a couple of suggestions I can offer if you're having trouble.

1. Stay focused

You might have a hundred great ideas for blog posts, but I guarantee they aren't going to work if you try to shove them all into one post. Stick to one central idea and follow it through to conclusion. There's nothing wrong with a personal anecdote or digression here and there as long as they bolster your main idea, but try and keep it to a minimum. If your post is a series of unconnected personal stories, then your readers are going to lose sight of your point. One way to make sure all of your paragraphs and ideas work together is to outline your post. For example:

Introduction and Main idea: Pens are better than pencils.

Supporting detail 1: Pencil lead smears, but ink doesn't smear after you let it dry.

Supporting detail 2: You don't need to sharpen pens.

Personal Story: Short paragraph about that time I couldn't write down a number because I had a broken pencil.

Conclusion

You don't have to write out an outline, but keeping a format in mind while writing can help keep you focused and on topic.

2. Let SEO Be Your Guide

If you find yourself casting around for something to write about, or you're drowning in too many ideas and don't know which to focus on, choosing one or two high ranking keywords to use as a guide is a great way to gain focus. Do the leg work and research the keywords that have clout in your industry, the keywords you rank for, and the keywords that you want to rank for. Once you know the keywords that you want to go after, dig into your pile of ideas and create posts around those keywords. Creating blog posts around keywords is a great way to work on your SEO and get content out there.

3. Stay Calm

You aren't writing an academic paper, you're writing a blog post; you don't need to overawe your readers with four syllable words and a formal tone. Write in the same tone that you would speak in as if you were talking to a prospect. If you're having trouble getting into the right frame of mind imagine that you're having a conversation with a prospect. What questions would lead into the point you want to make? What would the normal progression of ideas be if you were having a conversation? If it makes sense, you can set up your post in a question and answer format. If the best way to explain your point is with a numbered list, then format your post so that your points are in a numbered list. Write your post in whatever way is the most natural and clear.

4. Write

The best suggestion I can give is simply to write. You don't have to have a perfect post the first time through, but you do need to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). If you find yourself putting off writing your next blog post, then I recommend scheduling yourself time to write. Block off a half an hour or an hour just like you would for a meeting, and don't let yourself do anything else until you have your first draft down on paper. You can always edit later, but the most important thing is to get your ideas out.

Salespeople are excellent sources of content for blog posts and they can then use them to build credibility with prospects as they progress through the buying process. Salespeople that are also blog authors build a reputation as thought leaders and establish themselves as helpful resources and not just order takers.

About the Author: Todd Hockenberry is the founder of Top Line Results, an inbound marketing agency that specializes in leading top line revenue growth at small and medium-sized companies with a focus on manufacturing, technology and capital equipment.

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Topics: how to start a blog, blogging for business, Top Line Results, content creation

How to Enhance Inbound Marketing Planning With Creative Visualization

Posted by Ryan Malone on Nov 27, 2012 12:50:00 PM

inbound marketing planning visualizationWhat do golf legend Jack Nicklaus, basketball great Michael Jordan and decorated Olympian Michael Phelps all have in common? They have all embraced creative visualization to become better athletes.

In fact, visualization is widely embraced by athletes in nearly every sport. Terry Orlick, a noted sports psychologist and high-performance coach to thousands of Olympic and professional athletes in more than 30 sports, states in his book, In Pursuit of Excellence, that most Olympic athletes and world champions practice at least 15 minutes of visualization daily. 

Don’t mistake visualization for hokey, self-help speak. It is one of the most widely accepted methods in sports psychology and is supported by significant scientific evidence. And it isn’t only applicable to sports--visualization is a practice used by successful people across a broad range of professions.   

We use visualization technique to drive our strategic planning and the planning of inbound campaigns for clients and ourselves. Why? We’re all busy. And many of us get sucked into tactics all too frequently – sacrificing the planning team that can bring our marketing to the next level.

What is Visualization?

Most simply put, visualization is a technique for creating a mental image of a future event. It involves focusing your mind to visualize yourself in a certain situation and succeeding in that particular situation. Through the practice of visualization, we train our brain to believe that attaining a desired goal is possible. For instance, a golfer may visualize the perfect stroke over and over again to mentally train muscle memory.

According to David Yukelson, Ph.D, sports psychologist for Penn State University, “when you vividly imagine yourself getting ready for competition, your central nervous system becomes programmed for success. It's as if the activity you visualized has already happened.”

Apply this to inbound marketing planning and it means visualizing the metrics that will yield a successful campaign – literally seeing those results in Hubspot or whatever analytics tools you use.

How Does Visualization Work?

Research done using brain imagery suggests that visualization works because the neurons in our brains interpret imagery as the equivalent to taking a real-life action. When a person visualizes an act, the brain generates an impulse that tells their neurons to “perform” the movement. So when an athlete imagines him or herself performing their sport to perfection, he or she is physiologically training their mind and thus teaching their muscles to perform exactly how he or she wants them to.

Using Visualization to Become a Better Marketer

In today’s fast-paced business environment, so many marketers are guilty of getting wrapped up in the day-to-day minutia that it becomes difficult to focus on long-term planning and strategy development that will ultimately lead to our success. Visualization techniques could help you achieve your ultimate goals by improving your planning skills.

We’re all short on time but we can easily incorporate visualization into our marketing daily routines. It's something you’ll need to do outside of the office, where you can be alone and get deep into your thoughts. Try doing it on your morning run, in your yoga or spin class, when you take the dog on a walk or even on your daily commute. If you’re in California like we are, some time at the beach for lunch is a great way to isolate your mind and your thinking.

So once you have your alone time, how do you get started?

1. Pick a specific goal: That can be anything from increasing sales by 30% to becoming the leading blogger in your field to improving your lead conversion rate.

2. Choose your mental image: Really visualize your campaigns and their specific outcomes. Imagine writing your strategy; envision the steps you took to achieve this successful marketing campaign. See the words, the content and the metrics that drove your success. Hear the call where you share your success with your team, your boss or clients. Imagine yourself celebrating your success with your colleagues and imagine how it will feel to have reached your goal.

3. Visualize daily: See that image of success you painted in your mind and make that feeling very real.

4. Write it down: When you’re done, write down the key success factors you see and build them into your daily routine. Make them part of your planning.

Once you visualize all of the steps that it took to achieve your success, and the specific outcomes of each of those steps, you have a clear plan for your activities and how to create a successful campaign. Think of each of those steps and work backwards to what has to happen and it will help you develop your marketing goals, strategy and objectives, so that you can create a plan that will help you to become incredibly successful.             

Keep in mind that just visualizing your success isn’t going to get you to your final goal, but what it will do is give you an effective way to begin planning. And planning is something that a lot of us don’t do well. But if we can improve planning skills, we can stop wasting time on the little things and start spending time on the specific actions we know will help us reach success.

What ways could you use creative visualization to improve your marketing planning? Leave your comments below.

About the author: Ryan Malone is the founder of SmartBug Media, a California inbound marketing agency and Silver Hubspot Partner that help companies increase revenue and marketing ROI.

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Topics: blogging for business, business advice, inbound marketing, marketing strategy, marketing planning, internet marketing coach, inbound marketing agency, smartbug media, ryan malone, strategic planning

You Wouldn't Write a Book Report without Reading the Book, Right?

Posted by Pete Caputa on Sep 12, 2008 12:25:00 PM

Of course, in my day, there were many high school students that just read the cliff notes to do a book report. I am sure that today, kids just browse the web and cut and paste a report together. Either way, it's a shortcut that most teachers will quickly detect.

Readers of your blog, or the lack of readers of your blog, will know when you don't read other blogs too. 

You shouldn't write a blog unless you read other blogs. Reading, commenting and linking to other blogs are more important parts of growing your blog readership than writing great content is.

Get yourself an account at Google Reader and start subscribing to some blogs. Read them for inspiration. If you're human and you know how to relate to people, leaving comments and linking to other blogs will happen naturally. Guess what will happen next? People will start reading your blog, linking to you and leaving comments. Then, you'll have a successful blog.  Kinda like getting good grades helps you succeed too.

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Topics: blogging for business, business blogging

What Would Seth Do?

Posted by Pete Caputa on Sep 11, 2008 9:31:00 AM

 

I met Chris Baggott at the Inbound Marketing Summit, where I also saw Seth Godin speak in person for the first time. I twittered Seth's whole speech here. I have followed Chris's blog for a long time as he founded Exact Target, an email marketing software as a service company. 

I don't have as much of a man crush on him as he does on Seth, though. The video above is clever bordering on scary stalker dude. But, it has a great lesson about blogging. Anyone starting a blog should watch it. 

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Topics: blogging for business, business blogging

Do You Share Openly?

Posted by Pete Caputa on Jun 5, 2008 9:58:00 AM

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.
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Topics: blogging for business, business blogging, blogging

The Story of Starting a Brew On Premises Business

Posted by Pete Caputa on Apr 23, 2008 3:48:00 PM

A few weeks back, Ray Schavone, owner of Deja Brew, sent me a great guest post "how to" article about starting a brew it yourself business. It was a great post with a lot of lessons for any business.

I love "how-to" articles, but I like stories even more. If there's one thing a blog lends itself well to - it is storytelling. And people tend to relate to them. Maybe it stems from when our parents read us stories. I know that my son loves it when we read to him. 

So, here's Ray's story. It's certainly entertaining and it reveals some great lessons too: 

So you want to start your own business? Why? It's a lot more work than you might suspect. You'll have a jerk for a boss, and get to deal with everything, EVERYTHING, related to your business. You won't be able to call in sick, or take time off because the day is nice. And nobody, nobody, will sweep the floor as well as you will. Everyone else in your company will be an employee, and you know how much you care as an employee.

Yeah, I was told all this and more, but went ahead and did it anyway. In some ways, I was lucky in my choice of business (beer, who doesn't like beer?). So how did it all start?

Back in the middle ages, 1996 to be exact, I was down sized, right sized, laid off, use whatever term works for you, from the company I had worked for, for over 23 years. The company had been down sizing since 1987, and it became a rather depressing environment. I had been traveling to Canada on company business and had walked past a brew-on-premises operation one evening. It was intriguing to me as a home brewer, so I stopped in. Everyone was talking, smiling, having a beer or beers, good music in the background, and I fell in love. What a different environment from what I had been experiencing. So, a little bit of research, I found that there were some of these businesses operating in the U.S., and decided to check them out. I found one relatively close by, and spent a bit of time brewing there to get the feel for it. Same feeling to what I had experienced in Canada. It was a lot of fun...

But, that day in 1996 came, and it was time to find something new. So, with my wife's blessing, I embarked on the road to open my own business, a brew-on-premise. I contacted several of the BOPs operating in the U.S. and just started asking the questions I needed to ask, what equipment they were using, how they were doing, what they would do differently. I bought a software package to write a business plan, followed the directions, and Voila!, a business plan.

And so, shiny faced, full of enthusiasm and optimism, my newly printed business plan in hand, I gave a copy to a banker friend of the family, and anxiously awaited my funds. Well, the short story is he didn't approve my request or give me the funds. But he did give me some good advice; he told me that I needed an SBA loan.

So I called the SBA. They told me I needed to go to one of their regional Small Business Development Centers, and have them help me with my business plan (but I have one! And I paid damn good money for that s/w package too). Ok, so I called the SBDC at Clark University in Worcester. I met with a wonderful and enthusiastic lady there (unfortunately, I don't remember her name, it was 11 years and many beers ago), who said she'd help me.

BTW, if you are considering starting a business, I highly recommend contacting the SBDC at your nearest business school. What an incredible service they provide. FREE!!!

Away we go, this wonderful lady became my drill sergeant. Questioned me on everything I wrote in the plan. Ugh.. But, she did put me in touch with an excellent business tax accountant who spent hours with me developing the financials of my plan... FREE! America, what a country!

After a couple of months, my drill sergeant declared my plan to be ready. And off to the banks they sent me. They gave me a list of banks, with contacts, and I started calling. My first rejections were disappointments, but I was not fazed. By the 20th rejection, I was beginning to wonder. And then I read a story about Walt Disney being rejected by banks over 200 times for his Disney Land theme park. Onward I cried!

Eventually, I found a bank that was interested. About 6 months after I started with my first plan, I had a funding commitment. Before the bank would give me the commitment, I had to find a location, and have a lease in place.

And so the build out of the space began. It was undeveloped warehouse space. The building owner decided to pay for the build out. Sweet! The owner was building the space out for a couple of retail operations, and mine was to be the first.

I contact the local Board of Health to review my floor lay out. They are very confused. (What are you trying to do?) I provide them with contact names for the BOH where similar businesses are located. At our meeting I laid out my floor plans, build out plans and the sanitizing chemicals I'd be using. They look at me and say, you know if everyone who needed BOH approval for a business in town came to us first, like you did, our job would be soooo much easier, and their approvals would go much faster. We love what you're doing, and we think you need to put a mop sink in here. Meeting over, approved.

Find out I need a zoning variance for the business. Ugh.. Petition for the variance, go to the town meeting with the landlord, and my hot BOH approval. Variance granted. Yesss!

We started by measuring, and drawing chalk lines on the floor to separate the spaces. We took several half walls down, put metal studding up for the walls, and then one day... Bang! The brick façade came down, and windows and door went in. Hey, this is starting to look real!

Rough plumbing goes in. Hey! Why's the plumbing for the toilets next to the door, and the sink is on the far wall? Answer: We didn't want to jack hammer through 8 inches of re-enforced concrete to put the toilets on the back wall. BTW, did I mention the landlord was doing the build out? You get what you pay for.

The brewing equipment starts to arrive. Yeehaw! Time to get my contractors in and get everything connected. My brother in law is a plumber and he's doing the job. Free! Cost of materials only. Great stuff! And what a maze of plumbing is needed. Carpenter arrives, and my specific build out starts. Oh, I'm getting excited now...

Plumbing is complete. Get the plumbing inspector out.. Who did the plumbing? I tell him. He says, "Boy, those are great guys aren't they?" Confused look on my face. Yeah they sure are... Ok, so what does this do, what does that do type questions. I go through the entire water flow with him. Jeez, they do great work, he says.. Plumbing approval in hand.. I'm getting more excited every day.

My build out is finished, sign is up. It's spring time in New England, and I'm feeling good... I'm outside sitting on the tail gate of my pick up truck, eating a sub, and a man walked over to me and says "hey, you know what's going on here?" Sure do, and I proceed to explain it to him. He hands me his card. He's an advertising exec from a regional newspaper. We talk a bit, and off he goes. Now that the sign is up, this becomes a daily occurrence. Some one stops in, asks what's going on, and proceeds to tell me I *need* to advertise with them, it'll be great for my business. Oh boy, this is getting old fast.

So, I call the first advertising guy that stopped by, and talk to him for a bit. (BTW, if you haven't figured this out, this is a very unique business. I'm the only one in Mass doing this, and one of 50 in the U.S.) So, I play the news worthiness of my venture to him. He let's me know editorial and advertising departments are somewhat separate, but he'll talk to one of his friends who's a reporter for the town I'm in. He drops by, and writes an article on us. A very nice article too. About a half page in the paper. The phone starts ringing. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy... So, I call the advertising exec up, and let him know what happened, and that clearly, advertising in his paper would do me good. We set up a year long advertising campaign.

And so, I start this approach with everyone else that tells me I *need* to advertise with them. I'm very unique, do a story on me first. If I get a response, then you're a good advertising vehicle for me. Some are willing to do this, some are not. It's ok with me, if they want my money, they play by my rules. Hey, I'm really starting to like this owner position.

Last item is the fire inspection before we can open. They want additional sprinklers installed. Landlord calls the plumber to install them. Plumber cuts the water main to install the sprinklers, stops in the store and says, Sorry Ray, but we're not installing anything until we get paid for the rough work we did... OMG... We have no water, period. No flushing, no washing of hands, and certainly no brewing. Issue resolved, 2 days later the new sprinklers are in, and the fire department completes their inspection.

We are good to go!

We have a soft opening, testing the systems, brewing some beer to sample at our Grand Opening.

Grand opening arrives, it's a pretty nice turnout, and about 200 people come through the door to see what we're about and sample the wares.

Day 1.. Do I hear crickets chirping? That's ok, we've just opened.

Day 2.. Damn those crickets are loud. Hey, it's just day 2.

Day 3.. Turn up the music, and can't hear the crickets. But, I'm thinking, what have I done? I've got a loan payment due the end of the month

Day 4.. Hey, let's play some cards, the music sounds good, and we've got some beer & wine.

Day 5... The phone rings! Our first appointment!! Another appointment and another!

Day 6.. More appointments.. This is starting to feel better..

10 years and 10 months later.. We're still here. We still have local towns people stop in and ask us how long we've been opened. Really? I've never noticed you before!

And oh, the stories we could tell over those 10 years. I do want to say, that the local town officials were incredibly supportive of us during our start up, and continue to be so. And we've got a great landlord, very responsive if there's a problem. We got to profitability pretty quickly, and remain so. One of the best things about our business is the people we get to meet. Our customers are with us for 2 hours during the brewing cycle, and two weeks later, are in for another two hours to bottle. We've made some wonderful friends over the years. Thank you all for all your support!

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Topics: small business marketing, storytelling, marketing a small business, blogging for business, business ownership

Members' Blogging Activity

Posted by Pete Caputa on Apr 10, 2008 7:49:00 PM

Here are recent blog posts from PC4Media members. A bunch more members are working on launching their blogs. I'm not sure I'll do this every week. Probably once/month or every other week.

Sales and Marketing

B2B Direct Mail Strategies

Are your salespeople memorable?

Best Sales Advice in a Single Sentence

Establish Expertise through Speaking Engagements

Social Media Marketing

Why 50 Cent is Smarter Than Most Fortune 500 CEOs

Positivity = Productivity

Everything Flows From the Message

Humorous History of Direct Marketing (Part II)

Who's the Real Beneficiary of a Good Referral?

Arbor Day Joins Facebook 

Health, Wellness, Medicine, Safety

Asian Nose Aesthetic Surgery

Quick, Comfortable, Pain Free Removal of Hemerrhoids

Soy Protein Powders

Why are AED Programs So Important?

In Case of Emergency (I.C.E.) Stickers And Their Importance

Eliminating Pet Obesity

Construction, Real Estate

3 Quote Experiment

Why You Need a HomeStead Act to Protect Your Home

HomeOwner Supplied Products Installed By The Contractor

Travel, Entertainment, Sports

Things to Do in Franklin, NC

Ellsbury on the Bench 

Finance

Retail Stock in After Hours Trading

Solar Stocks

I tried to categorize members into well, categories. Some are a little bit of a stretch. The sales and marketing category is obviously the strongest. There'll be one new entrant into the sale category soon, one more in the construction and one more in the travel. And my wife will be joining the health and wellness group. There's a few more that will be in different categories.

I'd like to find more blog buddies for my members. So, if you know of someone that does "similar" stuff as the businesses above, please send them a link to this post. They should start here.

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Topics: blogging for business

Blog as a Sales Tool

Posted by Pete Caputa on Apr 10, 2008 5:07:00 PM

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: 

  1. Subscribers Sell Themselve
  2. Answering Questions with Blog Posts.
  3. Invite Prospects to Write Guest Blog Posts.
  4. Highlight Your Client's Success. They'll Send It To Their Mom (and Everyone Else).
  5. Ask Your Prospects for Feedback in the Comments.
  6. Link to Your Prospect's Blog. Send Them Some Readers.
  7. Build a Community of Clients, Prospects and Partners On Your Blog.
  8. Track What Prospects Read, What Comments They Leave, How Often They Visit.
  9. Be a Resource. Link to Other Relevant Articles.
  10. Promote Your Blog Via Email.
  11. Promote Your Blog Via Social Media and Social Networking Sites.
  12. Blogging Supports Search Engine Optimization.
  13. Blogging Creates a Discussion and You're the Host 
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Topics: blogging for business, sales, blogging

Building a Blogging for Business Network

Posted by Pete Caputa on Mar 28, 2008 10:10:00 AM

Blog networks are a big deal. For people new to blogging, the idea of a professional blog network was born around 2004. The idea was to pull together a bunch of blogs on different topics and have them share resources, and use successful ones to successfully launch new ones through cross promotion. Calacanis and Denton were the first ones to make it work with their respective networks: Weblogsinc and Gawker Media. Calacanis sold Weblogsinc to AOL in 2005 and it makes AOL a lot of money. Gawker Media is still independent and recently conjectured to be worth about $150M. However, there's lots and lots and lots of blog networks around now. I blogged for Creative Weblogging for awhile. b5Media seems to be thriving. TechCrunch, GigaOm, PaidContent and a few other blogs have taken their popularity and used it to launch other blogs, thus creating blog networks. Federated Media and Glam Media have pulled together blog networks by recruiting a bunch of successful bloggers to outsource their ad sales. 

There's a bunch of benefits to a blogger joining a blog network. Behind the scenes, there's a lot that goes into making a blog hum from design, building, hosting to ad sales, ad serving, research, fielding requests from public relations firms, writing, comment moderation, recruiting writers, payroll, etc, etc. However, the biggest benefit of being involved with a blog network is the cross promotion opportunities. A successful blog can quickly make a new blog successful by linking to them frequently, putting them in their blog roll and sometimes, just by association.

But, all blog networks to date are media businesses. They hire (or are started by) great writers and they sell ads. Their business model is gaining eye balls and selling impressions.

The bloggers in my network are not in the media business. They're in the asian cosmetic surgery business, the laser liposculpture business, the bulk mailing list business, the North Carolina whitewater rafting business, the sales force evaluation business, the aed implementation program business, the deformable mirror business, the museum exhibit design business, the after hours trading information business, the home renovation design businesss. The list goes on.  

They don't sell impressions. They're not blogging about Audrina from the Hills' topless photos just to sell more ads. They sell real products and services.  They have real knowledge and real experiences.

Why isn't there a blog network for them? 

Blog networks have historically been run like journalistic enterprises. They've beaten the newspapers. They beat magazines. But, the motivations of the bloggers in my network are different. The means are the same. They must establish credibility, build a community and draw in traffic from search engines in order to build their readership. But, they want to drive traffic in order to generate leads and make sales. Not sell ads. Their products and services help people solve problems and create opportunites. They're not just sharing ideas and information for the sake of entertaining and informing. They're sharing ideas and information to establish credibility and make a prospective client feel more comfortable doing business with them.  They realize they need to be informative and educational in order to build a readership. They realize they need to link to other bloggers and participate in the distributed conversation that is the blogosphere. They need to do all of the things that a professional blogger does.

So, why isn't there a blog network for them? Why shouldn't businesses have the ability to join a network and benefit from a little cross promotion? They're adding value to the web by sharing their knowedge. They are the true experts. They don't write about their topics for a living. They do what they're writing about for a living. Their writing comes from years of hard won experience as practicioners. 

Joining the PC4Media online business network is not much different from joining a Chamber of Commerce or other business networking group. The reason business professionals join those groups is because it's an opportunity to get to know other business professionals, build relationships, do business directly and help each other out by referring business to each other?

Why shouldn't businesses have a blog network that allows them to do that online? Why shouldn't businesses proactively join a network and link to each other, promote each other, use LinkedIn and Twitter together? Why shouldn't bloggers who blog to benefit their business have a network that helps them establish their blog readership quicker, increase their search traffic and traffic from social media sites quicker? Join the conversation quicker. 

Now they have that opportunity.  Stay tuned as this develops. I'm excited and a bunch of my members are too. We're going to be having a lot of fun as we support each other in growing our respective businesses. You're invited to join us

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Topics: how to start a blog, blog network, blogging for business, business blogging

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