Why Entrepreneurs Should Drop Their Pens And Pick Up A Blog (Part 1 of 2)

19Nov06

There are only so many blogs you can read before reaching critical mass and say, “Damn, this stuff is so easy to do, I’m gonna start one of my own.” And you’re right. You ought to start your own blog. But it’s not that easy to do, unless of course you know what you’re doing. And realizing that starting a blog has become a necessary evil for any business-minded individual, places you half-way towards attaining blogging success.

3Cs Of Blogging 

Today, an enterprise just cannot afford to setup a static company website and hope to tap into theBillboards vast business opportunities the Internet has to offer. This will be the equivalent of setting up a billboard, smack in the middle of downtown New York – vast amount of human traffic, but nary a care by those who zip by. That business might have as good a chance of getting the same result with running an ad in the Yellow Pages with half the cost.

It’s a basic principle of economics called marginality at work here; where people make decisions on the margin, choosing higher marginal utility over lower marginal utility. Translated to ‘business speak’, it means creating value worthy enough to grab the attention of the busy consumer. Slapping a static homepage detailing your company’s illustrious history into the world wide web is not going to cut it in a world where attention has joined the ranks of ‘common sense’ in my list of the TOP 10 THINGS GOING THE WAY OF THE DODO BIRD BY 2010 (an advertiser’s worst nightmare). Don’t get me wrong, having a website has its place in any business toolbox, but like most toolboxes, a variety of tools are needed to get the job done. Complement your website then, with a blog.

A blog completely  blows open the lines of communication between owner, and prospective buyers or clients, tearing down corporate walls, shifting the tectonic plates of ‘corporate speak’, to engaging in the conversation with the consumer who demands nothing less today. It doubles as a feedback system for your company; throwing open the floor to your buyers and clients, allowing them to clear lingering doubts and exorcise their frustrations on your blog, a far better option for them (and you), than taking up the issue with the Better Business Bureau. Richard Edelman, CEO of the world’s largest public relations firm, raises the point of the ‘paradox of transparency’:

“Business should embrace the “paradox of transparency” (term coined by Shell public affairs executives). Rather than hold back knowledge of a product’s benefits and risks, be open with your stakeholders, engage them in conversation and allow them to contribute to the solution. Sure, there is risk of competitive response but is that worse than the consumer outcry that can undermine the eventual acceptance of a product concept? The days of buying consumer approval simply through mass advertising are over. Today the runway for successful brand take off is effective public relations, which provides the strong base of credibility on which advertising can build. The average person like me is demanding a seat at the table, the true democratization of the purchasing process. Smart companies will recognize that ceding control is a central aspect in earning trust.”                       

(Co-Creating and the growing power of ‘average person like me’)

Blogs reel your customers in like fish on a hook because now, you’re actually viewed as more receptive to engaging in a conversation. Because it’s usually very difficult to walk away from a conversation, customers tend to develop a certain sense of loyalty and liking towards you, even if they had no previous inclination of ever doing business with you in the first place.

In ‘blink‘, Malcolm Gladwell sprung a rather surprising revelation about highly skilled doctors who got sued a lot for malpractice while doctors who made many mistakes were not. Upon further analysis into this puzzling data, it was discovered that patients never usually sue a doctor who had taken the time to talk and listen to the patients’ problems. But, patients will not hesitate to lay a lawsuit on a doctor who had treated them poorly and callously, however skilled he or she might be. Therefore, we can come to the understanding that, it was not really the surgery or medical treatment itself, but what occurred before that, which triggered the act of litigation.

From this, we can gather that treating your customers with the care and affection they feel they deserve, brings about a certain, profit windfall for your business. It might not really matter (to a certain extent), if your product was to their liking or not.

The implications of having a blog therefore cannot be understated. It’s a key strategy to building business success in a world where consumers are signing up in droves to declare themselves self-appointed evangelists for products that appeal to them. You can rest assured; the customers of today are a savvy bunch. Most of whom understand the concept of social networking, both offline and online, working the tools of communication like blogging, vlogging, instant messaging, moblogging, vidcasting, podcasting, to build web communities and networks. This makes it so easy to conduct their own research on products and share opinions amongst themselves in quick time. Consumer empowerment anyone? You better believe it!

David Gee, head of worldwide marketing for HP software, felt the brunt of this empowerment when he deleted a comment on a blog critical of HP. What happened next was probably something very few expected. Word got out so fast into the blogosphere, brewing a hot stew of criticism for this ‘rash’ act on the part of HP, that David had to reinstate the ‘comment’, publicly admit that HP had made a mistake in censorship and actually ‘lived’ to blog about it:

“This was a good learning experience for us and we strive to maintain honest and open communication with our customers. If we are going to use blogging as a legitimate connection between us and our customers, we need to choose either to be in all the way or out. We choose to be in. We want to hear from you.”       

This was headline news in the blogosphere last year and for what? A mere comment that was deleted by an unsuspecting HP exec (you can get the full story here). Facebook, the hugely popular social networking site for high school students, college students and beyond, got a taste of what the blogosphere could dish out as well when they failed to involve the community of Facebook users in the creation and launch of its new features. The blogosphere spoke. Wanna guess the outcome? A mea culpa was issued by Facebook’s creator, of course. 

Ripples Of Influence

Online communities are fast gaining notoriety for their collective influence on what they’re passionate about. It’s a clear sign of the shift of power and who wields it, and HP and Facebook have experienced this first hand. If more case studies and statistics are something that you might find useful in your business on the subject of the power of influence, you might want to try getting hold of, The Influentials: One American in Ten Tells the Other Nine How to Vote, Where to Eat, and What to Buy  by Jon Berry and Ed Keller.

If your budget has imposed restrictions on your expenditure, then let me help you out a little here. Findings from the book revealed that an average American has over 100 relevant marketing conversations per week and about 50 brands or more are discussed each week (another clear indication of the scope of communication attributed to products, companies and brands being exchanged between average Americans) . How then can businesses seize the opportunity to become part of this daily conversation? I think you know the answer to that…

Part 2 to follow soon.

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3 Responses to “Why Entrepreneurs Should Drop Their Pens And Pick Up A Blog (Part 1 of 2)”

  1. I was reading Debbie Wei’s book on corporate blogging and she gives many reasons why corporations should start blogging and even has a list of reasons one can give his/her CEO to ‘plead’ the case for blogging!

  2. Oops, sorry -typo. It’s Debbie Weil.

  3. Yeah, you’re right about corporate blogging. It should made mandatory for every CEO to blog. It just makes plain business sense, but I guess to them, golf makes better business sense. Well…

    But Debbie Weil’s book is a great read for corporate bloggers, and that’s why I have her on my blogroll.


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