Sunday, 1 April 2007

Using Blogs to promote your business? Can ah?

Hi everyone,

Sorry for not blogging for a few days now; this week has been absolutely busy on several fronts! Plus I've been feeling a bit fat these days so I've been hitting the gym... I remember a time when I used to think people that go to the gym have no life (c'mon people, do an outdoor sport, or something which has an "objective", like tennis, basketball, golf or something....) but I guess as I've gotten older, time is somewhat more precious and I guess also getting your friends' together to consistently do sports can be quite difficult these days, so going to the gym doesn't seem so bad anymore. Plus, it's quite good for people-watching. :-)

Anyway, I digress!! This posting is actually to talk about how some businesses can - and do, use blogs to promote their company, products or services. For many people, the idea of using a blog sounds a bit weird at first in that blogs are traditionally:
  • used to record chonological or time-relevant events.
  • used by mainly youths to express and share their musings, thoughts and for waxing lyrical...
  • you can't use a blog to sell anything!
  • if my product or service is constantly the same, then blogs are probably not a good idea?

These are some of the initial thoughts most people have, although you can probably think of a few more. While it is somewhat true that blogs generally are used by people with a lot of time on their hands (e.g. "life as seen through the eyes of my dog".....), or to share their non-commercial interests such as political thoughts, love-of-food, travel, etc., there are also many who have used blogs to express their business in a more informal and creative way. The ability for blogs to illicit responses also allows them to receive customer feedback which can be very insightful for them, if they are open to receiving good (as well as sometimes negative) feedback. I think if the feedback is constructive, all feedback is actually a good thing as it allows the business to have a chance to fix things that aren't as good, as opposed to only hearing the good things.

It's true that blogs are best to express time-passing events or activities, but that actually still applies fine for most businesses, if you think about it hard enough. In any case, aren't our life or business activities conducted in a chronological fashion anyway? If you were a restaurant or a bar then you can always blog about the latest food-promotions, new cocktails or events happening at your place (check out this place called Laundry Bar at this place in PJ called The Curve, where they post all their latest music gigs and upcoming events blog-style).

The same idea can also apply if you were selling hardware tools, where you can blog about your latest promotions on selected tools or even better, talk about your customers' use of tools and interesting stories which relate to tools (e.g. I had to make a customer house-call to repair a broken pipe and this bodacious babe (or guy, whatever your preference...) answered the door...tetetete!!!! ;-p). Haha!!

Jokes aside though... In some cases, some people's expression of their interest in their work or hobby is enough to stir up their readers' interest that makes it commercially useful for them to have a blog on the topic. For this lady, Sharon Bakar, she has found it really useful to blog about her interest in reading, publishing and creative writing. That in turn also benefits the bookshop that she blogged about called Silverfish, as her readers' would be interested to know more about the place.

Blogs are also not just the domain of youths; many renown bloggers are serious adults (albeit nothing wrong to be youthful...) and touch on a wide range of serious issues and businesses. Political & social-activist bloggers such as Jeff Ooi, Marina Mahathir and many others abound actively on the blog-o-sphere; Technology bloggers are super-active (too many to mention) as well as others with a commercial interest.

About the question to whether you can use a blog to sell something, very often it's a yes-and-no answer. Most blogs, by their informational-nature, do not have commercial and payment transaction mechanisms to allow you to buy/sell on the site itself. However, blogs do a very good "salesman" job of being persuasive and if you're looking to buy or know more about a product or service, you can always have micro website links or links to a conventional website that can perform e-commerce transactions. Take this site for example, which sells young men's clothing and links to their business website NewUrbanMale.com.

What do you think is the appeal of blogs anyway? Is it the informal way of writing that makes it more "believable" and "sincere"? Is it because users can offer feedback that makes it a much more of a conversational nature that appeals to people, rather than a one-way infomercial form? There is often more than one reason but we do know that blogs are increasingly becoming the choice for a lot of Internet-savvy readers. More on this in future blog entries.

Lastly, many potential bloggers get put off from blogging because they think that their business, hobby or life is too boring to be put up on public display - "it's nothing special what!!". You'd be surprised by how much traffic and interest your particular topic can be to potential readers, as The Long Tail of the Internet will likely surprise you.

As they say, Don't try and You Won't Know...(Borrowing with-pride the tagline from the Perodua Kelisa advert "Belum Cuba, Belum Tahu").

Anyway, here's to blogging, be it for personal-satisfactional reasons or for commercial money-making reasons! To get a free blog and to start blogging head down to Blogger, where you can get all you need to start blogging for free. It's also a Google-owned company, heh! Besides Blogger, there are also several other blog-creation sources such as Wordpress, Movable Type (note: Movable Type is a paid-service) and many others - one reference to a range of blogging services out there can be found here.