Blogging as a marketing tool

This may be the era of technology, AI, the cloud and many other innovations we either haven't heard of, or simply don't understand. But small businesses in South Africa are slow to make use of these tools to market themselves. Now is the time to explore new horizons to attract more business.

Blogging can be a cheap and simple way of marketing your company. The term "blog" is a shortened version of the phrase "web log". In a nutshell, it's an online journal of sorts where a blogger (the writer) regularly posts their thoughts, opinions, ideas and so on. Once published, it's usually open for other readers to share their opinions.

But other than a place where you can debate the latest celebrity divorce, a blog, if used properly, can be used to the advantage of a small business owner. It allows for the sharing of ideas and a two-way conversion, as opposed to someone just looking at your website and being left with questions. It can even be your web presence if you don't already have a site.

Whether you want to network with other SMEs, share ideas or leads, or simply attract more customers, weigh up the pros and cons before you dive into the Bloggosphere.

The pros

  • A blog allows you to network with like-minded people without leaving the comfort of your office/couch
  • If you don't have one, a blog can be a substitute for a website. It's much easier/cheaper to set up and maintain, and does almost anything a normal site can do
  • It can attract Internet traffic to your business's existing website
  • A successful blogger can attract a loyal group of readers, colleagues, industry players, etc
  • Fellow bloggers can provide great insights, hints and tips for improving your business, share their experiences, recommend certain options and so on
  • A blog allows you to establish a more personal relationship with your customer; get immediate feedback, answer questions or make suggestions

The cons

  • The biggest drawback is time. Blogs must be updated regularly in order to hold readers' attention. This can be a challenge for the average SME owner, since he's probable putting most of his time on his business
  • Depending on the industry, other entrepreneurs may also not have the time to read or respond to your blog
  • Once again, depending on the industry you are in, make sure there are other bloggers you will be able to connect with. It's pointless blogging to an "empty theatre"
  • Although it's more personal than a conventional website or advertising, it's still not face-to-face, which is the best type of networking there is

The idea of setting up a blog may still sound a bit daunting to you. But think about these pointers, research your target market's wants, needs, and behaviours, and give it a shot.

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