Blogging for Business

Most people think about a local foodie or a crazed political extremist ranting on their blog but blogs are a tremendous if not completely under-utilized tool for businesses. We create content for small businesses and here we'll share some of our more interesting findings.

Understanding search engines

Russ Fluty - Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Have you seen ads or had someone call you promising they can get you to the top of the Search Engines with a few simple clicks and a wave of their hand? Chances are if it sounds to good to be true, it is. My friend and I were having a conversation over dinner about this a few nights ago. He owns a small business and runs his own website. He was complaining about how quickly (did I mention expensive?) these self proclaimed Search Engine gurus tried to sell him on their service before they spent time explaining to him what they were actually doing to improve his site. He had heard that while this worked for some businesses, it was only a quick fix, because the exposure eventually dwindled and besides, it ultimately failed to drive in any real customers. 

Naturally he asked me what I thought and I told him he was on the right track. I explained to him that there was a huge difference between paying someone to trick a search engine into thinking you're a reputable site and actually building a reputable site that search engines openly recognize. This is because search engine optimization isn't just about moving up on a Google search; it's about showing Google that your business is a locally trusted brand that deserves to be on top. I could tell my friend understood what I meant but thought that I was making it sound too easy. 

The truth is pleasing search engines isn't all that complicated, especially when you're already a locally trusted brand that maybe just needs a little more know how and help online. The big misconception here is that search engine optimization is some complex process that goes on in a back room behind a closed curtain, it's not that at all. Just keeping your website simple, relevant, and easy to use will help your popularity and improve your online presence. And if you don't understand something or need some advice, it never hurts to ask, the right people are always willing to help.

Quality service just isn't enough

Brian Ostrovsky - Friday, June 24, 2011
Service failure at its best

Are you or your employees hanging this sign around your business's neck? My family and I were visiting my in-laws recently and had an experience that would make any small business owner wake up in a cold sweat. You see they were having sod installed and the workers broke nearly every cardinal sin a company that provides home services could break.

Where to start? Well, we took our dogs with us to their house and fortunately there is a small dog run that we can put them in while we're there if a gate is going to be open to keep them from wondering off. Well, the workers let our dogs out and one of our beagle's ended up getting picked up by a passerby walking down a very dangerous road.

Next, my father-in-law told them to help themselves to a drink or two from an outside fridge. It was a warm day and they were doing manual labor so this was a nice gesture. The 5 guys managed to work through 3 or 4 Redbulls, about a dozen sodas and nearly as many MGDs... that's right, they didn't let being on the clock at the customers house stop them from having a cold-one.  Even beyond the alcohol consumption, there's a difference between accepting a gracious offer and abuse it... you need to make sure your employees know the difference.

Finally, we get to the actual work product. The sprinkler that they fixed when laying the sod and which caused my father-in-law to dig up the new flagstone walkway he laid just the night before still failed to work because of a clearly careless repair effort.

Mistakes happen and customers understand that but as a business owner you need to take responsibility for your employees behavior, as it applies to the work at hand and in their general interaction with customers. In this electronic era most people won't be as gracious as to omit the service providers name as I have been... you'd be wise to ensure you set ground-rules for your customer-facing employees.

Building Communities Through Conservation

Russ Fluty - Thursday, June 23, 2011

It can be as simple as saying hello when walking around town, or thanking someone for holding that door open a split second longer as you enter a local store or business. Those small but important details are just one of the ways people use conversation to build a sense of community. Even some local businesses are getting in the act too. You’ve probably walked into your local coffee shop or convenience store and noticed up in the window or maybe on the countertop there are some cross promotional materials whether it be flyers, cards, or whatever. Those are the things businesses do to build conversation in their local business communities.

Now wouldn’t it be great if we could find a way to connect the two? Building community through conservation can be made simple online. You can give people the power to keep on talking instead of directing them to a website that does not allow them to interact in any real kind of way. A local online community where anyone can find their unique interests, share their experiences and interact is a resource that people will recommend to friends and keep on coming back too.

Make the best decision for your business by offering people the chance to build a community through conversation online. Improving your business can be simple when you have a partner who understands you don’t just want results today, you need sustainable growth and a vibrant face in the local community that will leave a lasting impression. 

The sunk-cost fallacy

Brian Ostrovsky - Monday, June 20, 2011

A friend of mine purchased a new lawnmower a few months ago, it was a nice simple push mower that was just right for his suburban front yard. Just a few days ago one of his buddy's bet him $10,000 that couldn't mow the front yard of every house in the neighborhood once a week for 3 months. These two guys love to wager and like finding ways to help other people with their bets. 

My friend was in a situation where he was going to spend 12 hours every Saturday mowing the neighborhood with his push mower until his buddy suggested he buy a riding mower which would reduce his workload to 2 hours. My friend could afford it and the price would be more than covered by his 'winnings' but he decided not to buy the new mower that was a better fit for the job at hand. He told me he was planning on getting a riding mower anyway but wanted to get his money's worth out of the push mower first. Of course, by the time he get's his money's worth the bet will be over and he will have spent about a hundred hours mowing lawns.

So, what does this have to do with small businesses? Sometimes it makes perfect sense to skip buying something new and continue using what you've got but sometimes it's just foolish not to replace something that is no longer right for what you need. Whether your needs change or the market moves staying relevant should be your top priority. I run into this frequently with magazine publishers who was to work as a Locable.com affiliate which includes a new website with technology specifically developed to help them exploit opportunities that can't even begin to pursue today and beyond technology we provide a sweet of services that they are not able to do for themselves yet I often hear, 'I just built a website (a few months/years ago) and want to get my money's worth before switching to something else.' To be clear, there are times you simply cannot afford an upgrade but for all other instances you should evaluate each decision on it's own and ask yourself - 'Which is the best option given what I know for what I hope to accomplish?

Don't let your past decisions unduly influence your future ones. Learn from them, leverage what you can and then act in the best interest of your business.

Blogging for Business

Brian Ostrovsky - Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Writing a blog is a powerful marketing tool


If you're a small business owner you may be thinking, 'how can a blog benefit me?' You probably haven't seen much benefit from even having a website beyond providing a place for customers to find your phone number, business address or hours of operation.

If this sounds familar it's likely because you're viewing your website as a necessary evil and not a part of your marketing and sales toolkit. A blog, if done right, is the vibrant, active, and living piece of your website. A persistent voice that welcomes your site's visitors and helps them better understand who you are, why you're unique, and why they need to buy/call/schedule with you.

If your site is already well written and clearly articulates your businesses value proposition and helps your visitors easily move from their first exposure to your site through to a 'purchase' decision then, well-done! You're already far ahead of most small businesses and starting a blog is one of the few remaining things to maximize your web presence. On the otherhand, if your site is a smattering of text with some images and lots of moving or flashing graphics that don't convey why your business is unique with each action then you probably need to start by tightening up your website as you think about enhancing it with a blog - after all, if people can't figure out what you're about and how to get around your site they won't bother looking at your blog to learn more about you.

With the right steps, and there shouldn't be too many, your site can appropriately reflect your business and start working for you. Then you'll be free to consider extending your presence with a blog.

3 Keys to your business blog

  1. Develop a content strategy
  2. Plan your writing cycle
  3. Actually write the content

It's really that simple. A Content Strategy lays out what the blog will be about and why you're bothering - hint, it should include a major consideration of why people who come to your site would care to read it. Planning your writing cycle sets internal and external expectations around the frequency of new content appearing - say, twice per month to start. The write! After all, with 1 & 2 it's just time isn't it? Well, if you're like most small business owners then time isn't something you have too much of. Locable.biz has been created explicitly to serve small businesses who don't have the time, energy, or expertise to develop a content strategy (for their website or their blog), plan and manage the writing cycle or write the content.

If you'd like your website to be an asset that drives leads, advances customers through the purchase funnel and even stands as a tool you can use in your offline sales efforts then please contact us today to learn how we can work for you.