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The Dumbest Excuse SMBs Use for Avoiding Blogging

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We all know the top excuses SMBs (small and midsize businesses) use for failing to blog: Not enough time in the day; nothing of interest to write about; and an absence of internal writing talent.

Each of those excuses is short-sighted, but today let's just focus on the Mother of Non-Blogging Excuses, the one to which every multiple-hat-wearing, over-extended, harried, hurried manager can relate: Not enough time.

Next to money itself, time is that most precious of commodities and the yardstick against which SMBs measure their daily outlay of resources. For a variety of reasons, blogging rarely makes the cut---a short-sighted decision that seriously damages the market prospects of these organization.

So let's spend a moment looking at---and ripping the guts out of---those rationales, so that you are never again tempted to buy the excuse that your company "doesn't have time to blog."

The Conditioned SMB Mind


Many of today's SMB owners and managers were schooled in the power of direct marketing and sales. If you weren't knocking on doors, making calls, hitting the conference circuit, and pressing the flesh, networking, etc., you weren't succeeding. Logically, then, those were the activities that merited the lion's share of the organization's time, energy, and resources.

Today, that is known as swimming upstream, the stream being the Internet. Studies consistently demonstrate that the majority (70% or more) of the modern sales process takes place behind the scenes, meaning consumers and businesses alike are out there searching, surfing, browsing, and listening long before deciding on the products and services they want. (Think of a retail clothing or automobile customer who steadfastly avoids the sales reps until he or she has decided to try on an item or test-drive the car.)

So, by the time the direct-sales process is engaged, those customers have largely made up their minds. Which further means you'd better hope your organization is producing lots of compelling, viable, informative content that search engines and customers alike find relevant. Otherwise, you're going to have to force your way into that customer's sales cycle, convince them to change their mind, and then sell them.

Who has time for all THAT?

Speak When Spoken to


By personality and temperament, SMB executives tend to be outspoken evangelists (aka prophets and barbarians) far more comfortable in the world of oral presentations, sales pitches, cold calling, and so on. Any writing (other than the company's initial print brochures and Web copy) is limited to proposals and contracts at the end of the sales cycle. Those things take a lot of time, of course, but it's what the SMB executives are good at.

Unfortunately, those self-educated customers don't want to hear from you. They want to read from you. Then and only then will they determine whether they want to listen.

In other words, the old marketing and sales equation has been flipped on its head and the smart SMBs not only recognize it but are actively seeding the Web with lots of compelling content to feed that covert sales cycle.

Delayed Gratification


The aggressive, hands-on style of the typical SMB manager is, to some extent, predicated on the kinds of immediate gratification such behavior elicits. The hand-shake agreement, the oral commitment, the business card exchange, audience applause, the delivery of a marketing package or sales proposal---those are the standards of measurement SMBs use to gauge effective use of their time.

Which helps explain why so many SMB executives, after only a few weeks of blogging (at best), dismiss the practice as a waste of time, the empty comment fields and spartan Web traffic proof-positive that blogging is a waste of time.

But blogging is to farming what direct marketing is to hunting---two entirely different enterprises. Blogging sows the seeds for a large harvest months later; direct marketing goes for the single kill, repeat daily. Yet the SMB is attempting to measure both activities the same way, and doing so is something that will never work.

Blogging Puts Time on Your Side


Like it or not, modern marketing is changing dramatically. Which is why I believe blogging is a cause for celebration, a unique opportunity afforded organizations that otherwise would be wholly dependent on the algorithmic alchemy of search engines.

Remember that today's self-educated buyer actually shortens the sales cycle because, if you've laid out the digital breadcrumbs by blogging and performing other content marketing strategies, folks are coming to you. Moreover, by the time the buyer arrives he or she is educated, pre-qualified and ready to make a decision. In some respects, your life has gotten immeasurably easier.

But to reach that point, the SMB must recognize and embrace the changes that are taking place. Empower the customer in her sales research through a steady diet of compelling, informative blog posts; don't expect to actively engage until the buyer is ready (respect the process); and don't expect to measure success the way you did in the past.





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Doug Rekenthaler Jr. is a marketing content provocateur for small- to mid-sized businesses in need of outstanding white papers, blog posts, Web content, media articles, marketing collateral, and more. You can follow him on Twitter @DougRekenthaler.

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Comments

  • by Michael Wed Dec 5, 2012 via blog

    Pardon my ignorance, but what does SMB stand for?

  • by Veronica Maria Jarski Wed Dec 5, 2012 via blog

    No apology necessary! SMBs means "small and midsize businesses."

  • by Edwin Wed Dec 5, 2012 via blog

    As a business coach, these SMBs will spend hours on either talking about their marketing difficulties or spend time on actions that produce very little ROI. I have found that no one has really proven to them that this is the new method. Like any addiction, it is habitual and produces blindness. I believe that we need to instill this new method through educational efforts and case studies.

  • by Doug Rekenthaler Jr. Wed Dec 5, 2012 via blog

    Edwin, I completely agree. The fun (for me) is working with a customer who finally engages in blogging, discovers that it's not the impossibility they once imagined, and then starts to see results. (They also discover a slew of other benefits.)

  • by nathaniel Wed Dec 5, 2012 via blog

    well this guy clearly is an idiot ... since research has shown that a good blog can kill a 40 hr work week for an employee ... and some if not most SMB's may not have enough money laying around for them to pay someone "FULL TIME" to create good content ...

    at 8.00 per hour ... the employee only makes 1280 before taxes ... in a month ... the remaining half will go to petrol to put in the car ... which doesnt even cover the average rent ...

    the employer will now have to pay the 1280 plus an additional 2000.00 for health insurance ... so they are paying 3280 now ...

    and then there is the one legit reason ... they dont have time ... because they are busy doing their 40 hour work week ... if not more ... depending on their position ...

    clearly this guy smacked his thumb instead of the nail ...

  • by Kelly Wed Dec 5, 2012 via blog

    Doug is on point. Statistics indicate that business that blog get around 55% more web traffic.

  • by nathaniel Wed Dec 5, 2012 via blog

    where does it say that?

  • by Doug Rekenthaler Jr. Wed Dec 5, 2012 via blog

    Your numbers are, to put it bluntly, off-base. Blogs do not take a 40-hour work week to manage (though I'd love to see "the research" suggesting otherwise). And what SMB owner/manager works a mere 40 hours per week? These are not clock-punching roles.

    You also miss the larger point that the old ways of SMB marketing/selling aren't working as well because the sales cycle is being co-opted by the buyer. They are researching the SMB and choosing if/when to engage.

    There is a wealth of data confirming what I'm talking about and I see it first-hand with my own clients.

  • by Doug Rekenthaler Jr. Wed Dec 5, 2012 via blog

    Kelly is referring to an eBook from HubSpot called "Optimizing Relationships With Social Media," which in addition to noting that blogs generate 55% more traffic, also make it easier to engage in social media.

    Now your turn - where is the 'research' showing that, in your words, "a good blog can kill a 40 hr work week"?

  • by Jordan Bahnsen Wed Dec 5, 2012 via blog

    As someone who started blogging less than a year ago, I understand both sides. Blogging is time-consuming and initially that can be intimidating to a small business owner who has little time to spare. Like you said, you typically don't see immediate benefits, which is very discouraging. But if you stick with it, you eventually find your voice and niche and it becomes easier and less of a time suck. That's when you realize the time commitment of managing a blog is a small investment for the benefits received.

  • by Doug Rekenthaler Jr. Wed Dec 5, 2012 via blog

    Thanks Jordan, and that's a great point about 'finding one's voice.'

  • by Edward Fox Thu Dec 6, 2012 via blog

    So you gotta love the internet, everyone has an opinion or 3 ...to blog or not to blog

    I'm so confused.....

    http://www.406strategies.com/2011/09/28/blogging-is-a-waste-of-time/

  • by Doug Rekenthaler Jr. Thu Dec 6, 2012 via blog

    That article is an apples-to-oranges comparison. Sure, email marketing can be useful, but only if you already HAVE the addresses. How do you get them in a world where the customer increasingly is using the Web to do his/her own product/service research? Content. What's an effective tool for doing it? Blogging. If your site is largely static content, Google et al aren't going to find you very relevant. If you're blogging regularly (and my definition of blogging is providing thoughtful, useful, compelling, informative content) then you WILL be found.

    Once they find you, by all means convert them to your feeds and email lists. But that's a different part of the formula.

    The bottom line is that marketing, like it or not, is changing. A lot of companies are resistant to things like blogging because it's such a change from what they're accustomed to doing. I maintain if you commit to doing it and doing it right, you'll benefit (and not just in finding new customers).

  • by EA Thu Dec 6, 2012 via blog

    Sometimes I think people stumble on the word "blog" itself more than the writing it describes. Blogging used to convey the idea of a personal diary, say a travel journal for the folks to read while someone explores Turkey during their gap year. Singing cats didn't help the image.

    Now, I think "blogging," at least for business purposes, is almost interchangeable with "articles" and "op/ed" pieces, with some posts leaning more towards educational/informative content and others leaning more towards opinion and observation, with many of them containing a blend, like this one. Even so, many people I talk to who are not much into online marketing yet still think of blogs as "fluff" or "personal," not the serious business marketing tool that it is.

    In my experience, it takes at least a year, sometimes more (would you agree with this timeframe?) for an unknown entity to start seeing real marketing/business progress from blogging, coupled with other social media efforts, but it's pretty exciting once it starts!

    ea/

  • by Cindy Thu Dec 6, 2012 via blog

    Nathaniel,

    A "good blog" should never "kill" a 40 hr work week for any employee or contractor. Your figures are way off. I'm VERY curious to know where you got your "research". I also think you missed the point of the piece. But first...let's talk about the time and cost of a "good" blog.

    I'd say it should take anywhere from 2 - 6 hours a week MAX to produce 1 blog/week. And I'm counting in the time you spend reading industry pubs and opinion pieces (like this right here), talking to colleagues and collecting your thoughts about what you want to write about. Those activities don't necessarily take place sitting at your desk during a 9 - 5 workday. They can be spent in the car reflecting on a topic, talking to a colleague, walking down the street, listening to a podcast, reading an article on the train, bus or in bed for that matter...

    Becoming a habitual blogger is a mindset more than anything else. Once you decide you are going to share your thoughts and experiences as a person who ostensibly is a specialist or expert or just an enthusiast in any field, you find your topics pretty easily. And when you have a topic you're excited about, putting it in writing becomes painless -- even enjoyable. It really doesn't take that much time.

    The point is, for a minimal investment (much less than hiring a full or part-time telemarketer, sending a sales person out into the field, or mailing fliers) you can grow a large group of genuinely interested prospects that have a likelihood of converting to customers, instill trust in existing customers and establish your organization as a thought-leader amidst very competitive times.

    And by the way, this piece isn't saying Blogs are for EVERYONE. It's saying, if you have a good reason to blog (you are the kind of business that can benefit from points above), the excuses to NOT blog never outweigh the benefits of finding the time to just write and publish.

    But suit yourself, it's your business. This is just good, nutritious food for though.

  • by Cindy Thu Dec 6, 2012 via blog

    "to share every update or fragment of a thought in social [...]" flies in the face of what this post talks about.

    No one wants anyone to do that. What people are looking for is expertise. Insight. News and anecdotes. If you have confidence you are an expert in your field or services or have the best product (and therefore expect people to PAY you for those products or services) you should be able to offer SOMETHING of real value on a regular basis (be it weekly, bi-weekly or monthly) to people who may require that product or service.

  • by Doug Rekenthaler Jr. Thu Dec 6, 2012 via blog

    I'm the first one to acknowledge that the 'blogosphere' is filled with crap (aka 'noise'). You need to make a commitment to doing it right (if a corporate blog is little more than self-congratulatory promotion, it ain't going anywhere).

    Here are some well-established facts: Half or more of the modern sales cycle is now controlled by the buyer, behind the scenes, using Google/Bing, social media, forums and boards just like this, to sniff out the products/services they want. Which means if you aren't 'out there' with some fresh, relevant content on a regular basis, you run the risk of being less visible in these early customer inquiries.

    Certainly there are other marketing approaches as well, I'm simply suggesting that a GOOD company blog can make a world of difference in a company's marketing. I've seen it first-hand both personally and with some clients. And yes, it takes time.

  • by Doug Rekenthaler Jr. Thu Dec 6, 2012 via blog

    I read your post and agree - blogging definitely is not for everyone. But I'd suggest the title of your post isn't accurate - those aren't really reasons not to blog so much as reasons why a blog isn't succeeding. But let's take them one by one:

    1. Prospects and customers don’t read blogs or much else on a screen. Counter-opinion: As the HubSpot ebook noted, sites with strong blogs enjoy 55% more traffic, greater duration of time on site, pages viewed, etc. People read GOOD (e.g. useful, informative, helpful) content. It's the whole reason they're out there searching.

    2) There’s not enough return on investment to justify the cost. Counter-opinion: As the ROI on direct marketing declines, content marketing strategies like blogging are taking their place. Good blogs are a great investment if they're managed strategically.

    3) Every company is NOT a media company. Many successful companies make widgets or muffins or whatever and create no media at all. Counter-opinion: Obviously most companies aren't media companies. But they need to MARKET those widgets. The website is the face of the modern organization - static content will only take you so far both with search engines and visitors.

    4) Your “blogging voice” has an incurable case of blogarrhea and can’t stop itself from talking incessantly about the company’s great products, service and so on. Booooring. Counter-opinion: Again, this is a reason why your blog is failing, not why you don't need a blog. No company needs a crappy blog. So improve it.

    5) You never signed up to be a thought leader, and just want to be the best chimney sweep, pizza maker, social worker or writer of ads you can be. Counter-opinion: You don't have to be a thought leader to write about your industry. I have had clients in construction, in engineering, and other supposedly 'dull' industries write/share fascinating insights into what they do with the added benefit that content made them more visible and of interest to prospects, partners, etc.

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