By Jenn Danko
You are a skilled professional in your trade, but how do you get the right clients to notice you? For many business owners, a static website with pictures and contact information will not generate a sufficient number of leads. To gain more online attention for your company, consider adding a blog feature.
What could be a more optimal digital avenue than maintaining a blog, asks Jay Palter. As principal of Palter Social Media in Edmonton, Palter handles social media efforts for a wide range of clients and says that a regularly updated a blog can be integral in exposing your business name and services to target customers.
"For commercial services professionals, blogs provide an opportunity to establish your expertise in a particular area and show off your unique value as a service provider," Palter says. "Offering a less formal format, blogs also allow you to present your services to potential clients in a more personal and engaging way."
Jacqueline Cannam certainly understands the benefits of business blogging. As the marketing coordinator for Klondike Contracting in Vancouver, she has managed the company’s blog since joining the team in August 2010. The blog itself, she says, has been active since 2008.
"A blog acts as a place of dialogue and commentary, where our online followers and clients can get to know us in a more personal way—something that is not easily accomplished on a static website," Cannam says.
Since she began management of the company blog, Cannam says her efforts have expanded online brand awareness and prompted clients to enlist in Klondike for their contracting services.
"From a kitchen and bath renovation to residential maintenance work and tenant improvement projects, I can see that the blog is one of the last things clients look at before taking the step to request a quote for Klondike’s services," she says. "This is all tracked through web analytics."
As part of its format, Klondike taps a slew of contributors to pen pieces related to their areas of expertise—from in-house industry professionals to suppliers and subcontractors. For instance, a recent post on smart uses of space and money for kitchen remodeling featured Klondike’s designer and project manager Alexis Rule who offered quick points interwoven with photos of the finished product.
Palter says it’s this type of engaging and informative content that is essential to a blog’s success.
"High quality content, not quantity, is the key to being successful with a blogging strategy," he says. "The more frequently you can post the better, but consistency is always critical."
Quality content—properly formatted and threaded with keywords and terms that are relevant to your business—will attract attention from search engines and serve as a primary channel through which prospective clients will become aware of your services.
"Good quality, topical content improves your ranking in search engines and provides reasons for other websites to link to yours, which also boosts search engine optimization," Palter says.
As part of her strategy, Cannam posts to the company blog twice per week, but says she would like to do more. Other authors supplement her posts and, so far, she has been able to consistently attract between 50 and 70 new visitors per week.
In order to stay current and relevant, Palter recommends businesses publish good pieces at least every two weeks. Each post should be about 250 to 500 words long. He also says to be patient and have a long-term vision when looking ahead at a blog’s return on investment, as collecting solid results will take some time to manifest
"Think of at least a year or two as your time horizon for return on your investment and effort," he says.
To make your posts more reputable, consider interviewing well-known experts in your industry or even referencing popular blogs in your posts.
"I have started to incorporate interviews with industry professionals into my blog posts," she says. "I love getting the inside scoop on new products or what a specialist feels is a great solution to a common flooring issue, for example."
That type of engagement will show your company is on top of the latest industry trends and adds credibility and marketability to your company by establishing your blog as a source of industry expertise.
"Blogging is a great way to start the dialogue with your client-based business community," says Cannam. In positioning yourself as an authority now, clients will automatically look to you as one in the future.
Be sure your professional personality shines, Palter says. The personal touch will bring business through your door.
"Traditional marketing materials tend to use impersonal language to describe what you do; yet people do business with you because of your personal traits," Palter says. "That includes attention to detail, reliability, and commitment to service and satisfaction.
Write about what you know, and share stories that show what you care about."