To Blog or Not to Blog? That is the Question!

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3 Reasons Why Small Business Blogging Might NOT Make Sense

If you’ve been in business long enough, someone at some point has probably told you that you “must” blog. But like any other sort of “must” directive, it’s important to take a step back and consider all sides.

There are many good reasons why you should consider blogging. We’re not going to re-hash them here. Instead, we’re going to take the other side and give you three reasons why blogging might not make sense for you.
1. There’s no one to write content, and you don’t have the budget to outsource it. All successful blogs have one thing in common: they regularly publish great content. Sounds straightforward enough, but here’s the catch: great content doesn’t just happen. You need a thoughtful approach, one that takes into account your readers, your goals, and your company’s tone/style.

Creating an editorial calendar is a critical first step, but keeping true to that calendar is even more important. All this, of course, requires effort on someone’s part, and if you can’t identify who that someone is within your organization and you don’t have the budget to outsource to a writer, then blogging isn’t a viable strategy.

That’s not to say blogging wouldn’t be great for your business. But if you don’t have someone to regularly write compelling content, then all you’d have is an outdated blog, which can hurt you more than it could ever help since it gives the appearance that your company is woefully behind, out-of-date, or lazy.

2. You own a “hyper-local” business. By hyper-local, we mean you serve a defined geographic area (within, say, 10 miles) and you’re not engaging in ecommerce of any type. We’re talking Laundromats, dry cleaners, barbershops, pizza shops, even local oil companies, just to name a few. Think about it: would you travel beyond 5 or 10 miles from where you live or work to do your laundry or drop off your dry cleaning? Probably not.

Blogs serve a variety of purposes, but two of the ones you’ll hear about the most often are as follows: each blog post provides an opportunity to optimize for a keyword phrase and to get traffic to your site based on that keyword phrase. A blog post also tends to be a “top-of-the-sales-funnel” mechanism. You attract people with an interest in your company’s product or service via a blog post (most likely an educational piece) and then you (hopefully) encourage the reader to delve deeper into your site or to engage with you further (by downloading an offer, for example—this is known as pushing people down the sales funnel).

Let’s deal with the last point first. Does the local pizza joint need a blog post to convince someone to order a pie from them? Does the pizza joint need to provide some sort of educational offer before someone will purchase a calzone? Probably not.

And think about how people search. If you’re interested in ordering a pizza (and if you don’t already have a favorite place), you’ll likely do one of the following:

  • Ask people for recommendations on social media
  • Plug in “pizza” and your location into Google and then read reviews
  • Try a new place, based on a coupon or advertising offer you saw

In other words, it’s unlikely you’d place an order because of a blog post on the history of tomato sauce.

Now let’s consider the first point we mentioned above, the one about optimized web pages bringing in traffic. Again, you need to think about how people search for your particular product or service. Certainly, the more traffic to our website, the better, and this is true if it’s targeted traffic.

But the way people search has evolved over the last decade, and over the last seven years in particular, thanks to smartphones. When people search for hyper-local businesses using keyword phrases like “pizza Boston,” the pages that typically come up will include review sites, Google+ pages, maps, and home pages for pizza shops. Yes, a blog post that’s been optimized for “pizza Boston” might pop up. And maybe that post offers the history of pizza in Boston. Is that going to satisfy the person who’s searching? Are they going to have to click around to get the info they really want? Because studies suggest  that “products, prices, and proximity” are the info that people want up front and center when they’re searching for local businesses.

It makes sense when you think about it. When we’re searching for a dry cleaner, a restaurant, a movie theater, and so forth in our area, we’re looking for something hyper-local. We’re looking for no-nonsense “just the facts, ma’am” info, not endless articles on a blog.

That said, some hyper-local businesses—jewelers and funeral homes come to mind—might benefit from a blog. The difference is in the price point, which brings us to our next reason.

3. You own a “low-impact-on-the-wallet” business. What’s the biggest difference between a home remodeling company in ABC Town and a barbershop in ABC Town? If you said price point, you’re on the right track. Both are local businesses, and both serve a defined geographic area. But the home remodeling company carries the bigger risk, since any one of its projects is—by far—much pricier than a shave and a haircut.

A blog could be a smart investment for the home remodeling company. Why? Because people who are looking to renovate their homes typically conduct online research. They seek educational materials on a variety of subjects, like choosing contractors, budgeting, and bath and kitchen trends.

A blog post on one of these subjects could attract potential customers, effectively adding them to the top of the sales funnel. From there, the prospect might download an ebook on interior decorating tips or sign up for the monthly newsletter, which allows the home remodeling company to engage with the prospect further. Making a sale when you own a “high-impact-on-the-wallet” business takes more time, so this lead nurturing is important.

As for the “low-impact-on-the-wallet” business? The sales cycle is typically shorter, and sales are rarely decided based on the existence of a company blog. Think about it: if you’re considering two different dry cleaners, the items you’re probably comparing are prices, chemicals used, and hours/location, not witty blog posts.

We’re not suggesting that the local barbershop or dry cleaners or Thai restaurant shouldn’t market, advertise, or engage with prospects and current customers. Quite the contrary. We’re suggesting that marketing dollars be spent wisely and in the right place, and a blog is probably not it (but keep in mind there are exceptions to every rule, which is why we use the word “probably).

Instead, you’d want to spend your time and marketing dollars making sure your online presence is compelling, up-to-date, and optimized on places like Google+ Local, social media, review sites (like Yelp), and your website in general (especially your home page, contact page, and any relevant product pages, such as menus). You might want to invest in “newer” marketing technologies, such as QR codes and coupons sent via text message.

As for those items that would typically make great articles for blog posts (like the history of pizza sauce)? You can still use those wonderful gems elsewhere, like social media, or your monthly newsletter to an already-engaged set of current and past customers.

What do you think? Agree or disagree with our argument? Don’t be shy! Share your thoughts in the comments.

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