By Gaea Honeycutt
A fellow entrepreneur (let’s call him Brian) was telling me of his disappointment over his blog — no one was visiting it! Now, I can certainly empathize. He’d been making time to write and consistently posted thoughtful articles. Even more impressive are the new ways he figures out how to speak about a narrowly focused topic. It takes a significant commitment and investment of personal resources to produce valuable content regularly over time.
However, Brian made a misguided assumption about the blogging medium. He considered it an end in itself as a marketing tool, rather than a means to an end. The purpose for his business blog is to draw more clients and create a body of work to spotlight his expertise. And, certainly, a blog can do all of those things. What Brian hadn’t considered was that blogging is publishing, which requires promotion to build the type of following that will undertake the end action he desires — engaging his firm.
Not to beat a dead horse, or get up on the proverbial soapbox, but as we all know, “If you build it, they will come” works for little else other than the field of dreams. You’ve got to go out and tell people what you’re offering in the blog, clearly demonstrate the benefit of your gospel through the content, and ask them to come read and share. As your audience begins to build, you’ll be able to relax a little on the marketing front…unless you have dreams of empire, then you’ll think of more and more ways to build that following.
He also failed to consider something many others miss as well. There is a TON of information competing for people’s attention. Not just other entrepreneurs writing blogs on the same topic, but a plethora of topics. What makes Brian’s blog distinctive is its pinpoint focus on a universally relevant topic, the creativity with which he approaches it, and the generosity of the blog — he shares information for which he could easily charge consulting fees. But, for the blog to be a hit, he must promote it.
This principle of building a following for something seemingly simple doesn’t just apply to blogs. It’s relevant in thinking about your website, face-to-face networking, social media networking, and nurturing customer relationships, among other things. All too often businesses give up on a tactic without having put in the proper investment of time, strategy and resources behind it. And, I fear Brian, too, may be giving up on his blog.
Is there something you’ve undertaken to build or promote your business that hasn’t borne fruit? My question to you is did you put enough behind the effort to make it a success? Breaking it down a bit:
- Did you create a brief plan for action that considers likely scenarios?
- How did you reach out to your target audience?
- Is there an employee assigned, or contracted, to make it happen?
- Did you identify and connect with influencers that can broaden your reach?
- Do you have a measurable vision of success?
Generally, you’ll need a “yes” answer to all of these questions. If you can’t answer in the affirmative, consider reassessing your approach and giving it another go before giving up.
Gaea Honeycutt is Co-founder & Past Chairman of the Northern Virginia Black Chamber of Commerce, and President & CEO of G.L. Honeycutt Consulting, LLC a business development and advisory firm.