The Power of Blog Marketing

With the rise of the Internet, blogging has become one the most influential means of communication. People and organizations all over the world are building relatively low budget web sites created as a forum for sharing insights and trading ideas.

In the business world, the method has become an important tool for reaching current and potential customers. Businesses leverage blogging to raise the company profile, as a method for communicating with customers and staff, as a means to generate new ideas, or as a way to improve their image as a forward thinking company, among other reasons. The thoughts contained in a blog can spread like a virus, delivering powerful new ideas to hundreds of thousands of people in minutes.

For these reasons and others, blogging has become a powerful method that businesses can utilize for less time, effort, and cost than with traditional marketing and public relations. This Quick Guide will provide you with some effective techniques for leveraging blog marketing.

Monitor the Buzz
A good way to determine how your company is faring against competitors is to read public forums devoted to the products or technologies you sell. Doing so will help you understand your customers. You’ll quickly learn what disgruntled users and customers (and possibly even former employees) think about your company and the brand without spending a dime on focus groups or research.

Reach out to Bloggers
Marketing professionals familiar with blogging recommend reading all the blogs related to the products you sell. If you start your own company blog, it’s also a good idea to engage in dialog with users and others who regularly post messages. Though some use a Web log simply as a forum to let off steam, their ideas may provide valuable insight that can help you fine tune your messaging and improve customer service. Responding to the blog community is not only a good way to promote your product or brand, it also is an effective method for correcting false or inaccurate information. You can humanize your company with a corporate blog, either by having one or more employees and even upperlevel management personnel such as a CEO contribute to the blog. Companies of all sizes can leverage a blog to open dialog and thus build closer relationships with users and customers.

Advertise on Blogs
Targeting the audience of a blog relevant to the product you sell is a valuable form of advertising. Research shows that blog readers tend to typically read 20 other blogs daily. Thus any messaging aimed at bloggers spreads exponentially, maximizing blog advertising dollars spent.

Vary Your Banner Ads
Since users tend to visit blogs often, it’s important to change banner ad content on a regular basis. Banners and text copy should be relevant to the blog. If you’re starting your own blog, you could try creating a blog topic along with a series of related ads.

Helpful Hints for Creating Your Own Blog
If you’ve decided to develop your own blog, the following basic guidelines will help you create one that people actually read and respond to:

Create Interesting Content
To ensure readers visit your blog and share the information you provide, you must keep them interested. Therefore, it’s essential that you offer useful ideas and content. It’s also important that you develop a unique style. And don’t be shy about posting ideas that others will disagree with. That will only generate more buzz for your blog.

Post Blogs Often
Especially if your blog is popular you need to post comments and updates on a frequent basis. It’s often a good idea to post a minimum of five postings per week. And the more frequently you blog, the more chance that you’ll have in getting your blog listed in the
Google News index which is updated daily.

Don’t Forget About Distribution
Consumers and others new to blogging can have a tough time finding a blog, so it essential that you make it easy for them to find yours. Make it easy for news feed subscribers to locate your blog via web search engines such as Google and Yahoo, and using RSS search engines, including Google Blog Search, Bloglines, Feedster, and Technorati. This will ensure that your blog is well promoted.

Concluding Thoughts
I hope that you enjoyed this article and that it will help you supercharge your marketing effort, leading to increased sales. Thanks for reading!

A dedicated marketing professional, Michelle Kabele has been helping technology companies develop award-winning channel partner programs and marketing strategies for over 10 years. Michelle has worked extensively with small businesses throughout North America.

Michelle has an MBA from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management (Evanston, Ill.)

Podcast Marketing

Almost as soon as the original Apple iPod was introduced, people in the marketing profession began to realize the medium’s potential to carry brand and product messaging. Today, podcasting is popular method for communicating corporate information that enables businesses to deliver valuable content to listeners. Because the sound of the human voice carries emotion, the medium can deliver content more effectively than text. In fact, some marketing experts believe that podcasting is more powerful than other marketing media such as direct mail advertising. By developing and incorporating a podcast into their marketing programs, companies can, for example, educate listeners about new and upcoming technologies in their industry, inform customers about soon to be released products, and promote new services. Use the following guidelines for developing your podcast.

Plan Your Attack
Before you even begin to record a podcast, you need to decide what you want to say, what your target market is, and what your call to action will be. At the end of your podcast you may want to point listeners to a specific web URL that will drive sales and measure how many people heard your podcast. You should also develop a script that tells the person doing the voice over exactly what to say. And due to people’s generally short attention span, you should avoid creating a podcast that is longer than 20 to 30 minutes.

Get the Right Tools
To create your podcast you will need a PC and a microphone. Many computers already have microphones built in. But you might want to purchase an echo canceling variety to ensure the highest audio quality of your production. Headphones also are a good idea if you want to hear your recordings played back without hearing extra noise from your surroundings.

You’ll also need software for recording voice such as one of the basic or preloaded programs that came with your PC’s operating system. Or you can purchase a more sophisticated solution that enables you to edit the audio file such as ePodcast Creator or the simple to use and Windows and Mac compatible program Audacity. Audacity is available for free download at audacity.sourceforge.net.

Start Recording
Go the file menu of your program and select New. Test your microphone’s input level and then just click on the record button and begin. If you’re using Audacity, the software saves the recording automatically as an .aup file. However, some programs cannot open this format so you should export your podcast as an .mp3 file after recording.

Upload Your File
After you’re finished with production, you’re ready to upload the .mp3 file to your website or publish it to a blogging service such as Podcasting.com or Apple’s iTunes Podcast Directory. If you want to publish on a regular basis, you’ll need to create an RSS feed. You can do this with an easy to use program such as FeedForAll.

Publicize Your Podcast
To ensure you get a large audience, you should e-mail contacts in your company’s database that your program is available. Include some basic details that will attract their attention. And be sure to include a URL where they can download the podcast. You can also maximize your audience by ensuring your podcast is listed with web search engines such as Google and Yahoo and by using RSS search engines, including Google Blog Search, Bloglines, Feedster, and Technorati.

A dedicated marketing professional, Michelle Kabele has been helping technology companies develop award-winning channel partner programs and marketing strategies for over 10 years. Michelle has worked extensively with small businesses throughout North America.

Michelle has an MBA from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management (Evanston, Ill.)