Friday, April 6, 2012

What Can a Blog Do For My Small Business?

As a small business owner, contemplating the dive into the social media pool, you may have asked yourself this exact question. Numbers and stories help me understand the effect a well-executed blog can have on a business. Here are some statistics and an example to help understand why the pool is so popular. A recent study reported that:

  1. Nearly 40% of US companies use blogs for business purposes.
  2. Companies that blog have 55% more website visitors than those who do not blog.
  3. B2C companies that blog get 88% more leads per month than those who don’t.
  4. B2B companies that blog get 67% more leads per month than those who don’t.
These statistics are courtesy of HubSpot’s Ebook, “Introduction to Business Blogging.” And although the study did not focus specifically on small businesses, the numbers – especially point #2 -- should give every business strong reasons to focus their attention on their blog, or lack thereof. A separate study, referenced in this same Ebook, indicated that 71% of those polled say blogs affect their purchasing decisions. Hmm, that's a lot of people looking at blogs to help them make up their minds.

Use your company blog to earn trust, to become a thought leader, to be a problem solver and to stay in the forefront of your customers’ minds. Through a relatively small investment of resources and creativity, you can build a blog to engage your customers and prospects and drive traffic to your website. Ultimately, this traffic will translate into business. Using the power of social media to leverage the word of mouth effect that is so critical to small business success, you have the potential of doubling the number of visitors to your website! 

Volante Farms is a great example of a small business utilizing its blog to stay connected to its customer base, especially during a transition period when its business traditionally goes dormant. Volante Farms is a family owned and operated farm, headquartered in the Boston suburb of Needham, MA, with obvious seasonality to its business year. Within the past year or so, the farm rebuilt its greenhouses and tore down its large farmstand (envision an indoor farm stand with electricity, plumbing and attached greenhouses) to rebuild a new, larger farmstand offering a much wider array of products and services. Neither of these "farmstands" remind me of the ones I see back in my native state of Ohio, but they do display the glistening, fresh produce in deep wooden shelves and the exposed beams tell me I'm not at the grocery store -- the similarities end about there. It is a major business, backed by some entrepreneurial ingenuity developed at nearby Babson College, and a mainstay in the community. The new farmstand, which opened on March 31st, now includes “a seasonal garden center, produce market, local-centric grocery, bakery, deli and prepared food kitchen, flanked by a state of the art greenhouse offering home-grown annuals and locally hardy perennials.”

Volante Farms used its blog to keep its community updated on the new farmstand’s progress -- before the old one closed down, but also during the cold months when the shuttered farm is not usually top-of-mind among its customers. By highlighting its chef search, providing commentary on design decisions, various owner opinions of the progress, seasonal planting updates, recipes, Grand Opening plans, descriptions of new products and new store hours, the blog kept its community well informed and maintained interest in the closed farmstand which resulted in a terrific turnout at its opening celebration last weekend. If they can generate that much interest while they are closed, imagine what they will do now that they are open! 

No one buys anything online from Volante Farms, but they have learned to blog about what interests their community and to make their customer community feel like part of their family. And with the help of WordPress's great features, their blog acts as their website - very efficient!

Fresh, local and reaping the benefits of blogging!

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