So . . .Make a difference – don’t just make money.
I’m going to make two statements that seemingly contradict each other:
- The best form of marketing is networking.
- It’s hard to get business from networking events.
Both are true. And my perspective is a result of attending a number of networking events through the years. When I attended my first Chamber of Commerce Networking Event (and this was true of a local networking Club that I belong to), I tell you I was shocked to see that most people’s idea of networking was all about “Me, Me, Me!” People were so impersonal and took the event as their opportunity to pass out THEIR business card and tell you about THEIR business and what THEY could do for me. The goal of most people at these events was to either get someone to sign up for their business opportunity or to find a new customer. I was amazed at this short-sighted and short-term networking idea. To me, networking is about building relationships—finding others that you can create a MUTUALLY beneficial relationship with.
The most effective result of networking is finding someone who reaches a similar market as mine and then trying to build a partnership. If you have similar, but non-competing products…you can work together. My most loyal customers are those with whom I’ve become friends and shared either information or something else that was of value to them–and that doesn’t mean trying to sell them one of my products.
Let me tell you a story. Way back in the late 70’s, I started and published a statewide Singles newspaper. In each month’s issue, I ran a photo of myself and a “Notes from the Editor” column.” My readers got to know me from the tidbits of personal information that I included in that column and from the help that I provided when they called me. Many were lonely and just needed someone to talk to. I didn’t care if they were running their “profile” in my paper or not. I was there if they needed me. As a result, singles in other communities throughout the state organized parties or dinners for singles in their area and invited me and my husband to attend. We always did–and got to know our readers and potential readers on a more personal level. We weren’t selling them anything. We were building relationships.
Fast forward 25 or so years. Today, we still are friends with many of those singles today. I’m in a totally different industry today — but those lessons learned from Arizona Singles are still an important part of my business philosophy today.
Offer friendship with no strings attached and you will build relationships that can last a lifetime.
If you aren’t blogging, why aren’t you? If you don’t know what it means– or how to do it–it’s time to learn. And I’m here to teach you!
What is Blogging anyway?
Blogging is an amazing way for you to share information about your business (or any other subject), state your opinions, and best of all, increase traffic to your website or local store. Blogging for business is a very effective SEO technique and often helps with building your online business.
A blog can be anything you want it to be. What makes it different than a regular website is in the fact that blogs are more of an ongoing conversation with the internet public, that is updated regularly.
The first blogs started as a way for people to record their visits to different websites that they liked or disliked. The early blogs were people discussing the interesting things they found online and then linking to those sites. These evolved into a sort of personal diary for some people. Take a look at The Confessions of a Pioneer Woman for someone who has done a great job of using her own personal experiences, photography, recipes, etc and is making money doing it.
She has a regular following of loyal readers. And you can too. Once people start enjoying or learning from what you write, the chances are good that they’ll return again and again. As you increase your content, and learn the few tricks necessary to optimize a blog for the search engines, you’ll begin getting higher and higher rankings.
And if you have advertisements on your blog, or links to products on another website, you can generate some good passive income. But what most ecommerce and gift company owners do when creating a blog is use it as a sales pitch for their own business. . . and this can be a waste of time.
How Can Blogging Help My Business?
Blogging is a way to build customer following and loyalty by personalizing your business and keeping the internet public infromed about all the new and exciting things going on with your company. Blogs are also great marketing tools but only if the the content is designed to BENEFIT the reader, rather than solely to advertise a product or service. Blogging provides another opportunity for people to find your site. Often times when people are looking for a product or service, they will FIRST look for information concerning the subject.
Blogging isn’t difficult. And it isn’t expensive. As a matter of fact, there are websites that offer free blogs for you to set up. Blogger.com and WordPress.com are two of the most popular ones. If you’ve never blogged before, this might be a good way to get your feet wet but there are excellent reasons not to use the free blogging services if you’re really serious about using a blog to build your business. We’ll talk about those reasons in a later post.
Having said that, you might want to just go ahead and get your feet wet by starting your first blog on one of the free blogging platforms. This will help you learn the techniques and develop the ability to develop content on a regular basis. By regular, I mean at a minimum of two to three times a week.
This isn’t my first blog. I learned by developing several others that weren’t nearly as successful as this one. Then I got serious about it and decided that I would create one the right way and add content regularly. That’s when I went looking for resources that would teach me what I needed to know. There are some technical (not hard, just things you need to know) things that can make a big difference in how effective a blog will be. I’m not an expert by any means and am still learning.
But throughout the coming weeks and months, I’ll be sharing some of this information with you. But if you’ve got the blogging bug under your skin, as I did, and want to get going at a faster pace, I highly recommend a blogging membership site that I stumbled upon. There is a series of free lessons you can sign up for but the membership is what takes you through the paces. And the lady who operates this site knows what she is doing.
So, if you want to step up to the next level and build your business with blogging, come back regularly as we begin stacking the building blocks to blogging success. Shortly, I will be compiling all the information that I’ve learned into an ebook that will be available for download. And, if you want to really get that blogging horse out of the starting gate and get a head start towards the finish line, check out my little secret.
“Four Star Restaurant and Coffee Shop”
These were the words in an ad in my local newspaper today for a coffee shop that has been open less than a year and has just begun adding dinner to their coffee shop menu. Perhaps I am alone (but I don’t think so), when my thoughts were, “Said who? You?”
Last week, I received an email newsletter from another local business. There was a glowing testimonial signed simply “Anonymous cosmotologist” .
Did either of these ads do what they intended — make me trust their business because it was recommended by others? No. And the reason is simple. You can create anything or anybody on the internet, on paper, or on the airwaves. But the creation is not what makes people trust you.
Trust comes with knowing that real people or real organizations endorse you. And those real people and organizations have to have names. Even then, the endorsing person or organization should have credibility and be trusted by those you are marketing to.
Testimonials are valuable marketing tools. But, all too often, we dilute the value of them, by making them seem make up rather than real. Anybody can write a series of glowing testimonials but by using initials or anomymous as the writer, you’re wasting your time. They aren’t believable.
The same is true when you list a series of names as references or past customers. Most people will never take the time to contact these references nor will the list create credibility. I could sit down and write you a long list of refences for this blog, but think about it? How many of you will contact those references? How many of those references have ever even read this blog? How many of those references are going to be positive? How many will be negative or neutral? The same is true when you list a series of names in your brochure or on your website.
Testimonials are the most valuable marketing tools that you can use to create trust for your business IF THEY ARE REAL AND IF YOU USE THEM CORRECTLY. So, go to those people who have used your business more than once and ask them for a testimonial. Ask for permission to use their name. If they won’t let you use their name, the testimonial is worthless.
And, if you’re a new business or have been in business for a short period of time, don’t use testimonials or references. They simply aren’t believable and don’t create the trust that you are trying for. If you’re new in business, there are other ways to build trust and believability. Use those instead!