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Insights into the Online World

Dec182012

Editorial Calendar on paper (image supplied)

When should I blog?  This is often the most complicated W because it involves that precious commodity – time.

The old adage, “plan your work and work your plan” is particularly true when it comes to blogging.  We’ve talked about how to collect ideas, but we have not talked about how to organize these ideas into an action plan that you or your designated team member can execute with efficiency and enthusiasm.

Enter the Editorial Calendar.  This can be a wall calendar, a computer based calendar, an xl spreadsheet or shared Google doc spreadsheet if you want to get really fancy.  It can be any place that allows you to identify the dates you want to have a blog post go out to the world, and what the topic of that blog post will be. This also gives you a place to do some forward planning.  You can capture all your ideas, and plan forward for several weeks of posts.  A calendar also allows you to pre-plan for holidays and special events that need some publicity, so you have a visual roadmap of your upcoming editorial content.

Editorial Calendar on Google Doc (image supplied)

If you know that every Monday you want to have a new client profile post go out, then you need a note put on your calendar or in your spreadsheet to remind you.  You can have space for specific ideas you want to include, or it can just be – “Monday Dec 17 – West Side Storage” if that’s all you need to help you remember everything you want to say.  You may want to write your Monday blog post on the Friday preceding, so you have it edited, proof-read and ready to go for Monday’s deployment.

Editorial Calendar on Wordpress (image supplied) - Modern Earth Web Design - Online Marketing - Winnipeg Manitoba

You can train your readers to anticipate your blog posts by posting consistently on the same day, and perhaps even roughly at the same time.  That builds loyalty amongst your readership. If you have some timely information that needs to go out in between your “regularly scheduled” blog posts, that’s fine too!  Make sure you have RSS feed subscription buttons as part of your blog page template to allow people to either subscribe to your posts by email, or get them in a blog reader, like Google Reader or Bloglines. That way your readers won’t miss a thing.

The When of blogging is easy – capture the “What’s” on a calendar (either analog or digital), and get them written and posted on their due dates.  What’s your motivation? That will be in next week’s installment – the “Why” of Blogging.

 

Dec112012

What do I write about?

Well - let me ask you a couple questions.  What do you wish you could always tell your customers?  What do your customers need or want to know about your products or services?  What would make your interactions more effective with new customers, potential customers, returning customers?  

Here are some ideas:

For Any Business:

  1. Introduce your team
  2. Talk about your history/tell your story (in installments)
  3. Give your viewpoint on current events that touch your industry
  4. Discuss legislation/regulation changes that touch your industry
  5. Feature your community involvement
  6. Invite people to meet you at trade shows, networking events - and report on these events after they occur

For Product Based Businesses:

  1. Introduce an existing piece of your inventory - with product photo - information - how to use...
  2. Top 10 bestsellers for various themes that apply - seasonal - gift giving holidays - 
  3. Feature new products, preferential best sellers, forgotten classics
  4. Discuss warranty terms, 
  5. Do how-to use / assemble / clean / service posts
  6. Answer questions
  7. Upsell - if you need this, you'd like that

For Service Based Businesses:

  1. Help people prepare for their meeting with you by explaining your processes
  2. Walk people through filling out complicated standard forms
  3. Explain your terminology so people interact more easily with you
  4. Explain the how/why of any equipment that may be used - especially if you are bringing things into their home
  5. Upsell - if we help you with this, we can help you with that
  6. Answer questions
  7. Present before/after case studies so people see your results

Image of notepad from an iPhone

There's lots to write about!  There are dozens of things every month that, in the course of our everyday business life we think - "I wish my customers/clients knew this" or "I really should find a way to promote this" or "This is the 5th time I've been asked this question today" (that would make it a frequently asked question!).  You may want to find a way to capture these moments of inspiration to blog about later - carry a pocket notebook, or use the voice recorder function on your phone - you could even leave yourself a voicemail or email!  Many smart phones have a to-do-list app you can use to capture "flashes of blogworthy brilliance".  Once you get into the habit, you'll find yourself with a small stockpile of ideas at the ready.

In next week's post - we'll look at the "When - How Do I Know When to Blog?"

Dec052012

WHO needs a blog?

The short answer is “anyone who wants to communicate with their potential or current customers.”  That would likely be “you”.

Image supplied by ehow.com I get laughed at when I say that blogging can be like sending your customers (potential or current) a love letter every week.  But if you step back a bit, that statement is not far from the truth.  Blogging gives your “intended” a place to go to, to find out what sweet secrets you are whispering in their ear – about your products, services, accomplishments, community involvement…  

Inforgraphic supplied by www.sekari.com They can get to know your staff, get to know your place of business and how it operates, so they better understand how you meet their needs.  They can meet other people who love you (testimonials) and have their choice to do business with you validated and have any buying anxiety reduced or eliminated.

Every business – whether we sell products or services wishes that their customer “understood” them better, and has tiny snippets of information that they know would enhance the client experience.  That can be tips and tricks on how to use their product.  We can give them promotional material, but that gets lost or discarded after a while.  We can be available by phone or email to answer questions, but that may not be convenient to the customer when they are trying to assemble our widget at 1:00 a.m.

Inforgraphic supplied by www.sekari.com

For example, in a previous professional life before the days of the internet, I managed a brand name cosmetics counter at a major downtown retail store.  Our products claimed to be most effective if they were used in a certain order.  At the time of sale, we would do our best to educate the customer, and give them literature – but invariably, people would forget and phone me, or visit the counter to ask more questions.  Customer contact is in no way a bad thing, but it felt more inconvenient to them than it was to me.  If I had been able to write a blog post to say use Soap A, then lotion B, then crème C – they could have found that information online on my blog, complete with Instagram (if it had existed) photos of each step for that product line.

So, if you have customers, or want to get customers – a blog is a great way to reach out online and help them get to know you better.  Does that sound like you?

Next W – WHAT – as in “What do I write about?”