Tips for Local Business Blogs
Since the beginning of blogs, there have been two kinds of small business bloggers: the ones who shine and the ones who can’t figure out what to write. It could be argued that filling the pages of a business blog should be easy; however, one might forget that the owners of said businesses are not generally veterans of the marketing profession. In fact, they often feel like there are hardly enough hours in the day to get done what they have to get done, let alone another hour to sit down and write a blog post. Here are a few tips for a wide variety of business owners–from doctors to real estate agents to local concrete contractors–to get the creative juices flowing.
Tip 1: Turn the Customer Inquiry Emails Into Blog Posts
If you have an email address, your customers probably email you with questions. You probably even get the same questions more than once. Those questions that you get most frequently are the ripest for turning into blog posts, but really any question can do.
What are your hours of operation? This isn’t going to be the most interesting blog post in the world, but you can write it. “Our customers often ask about our hours of operation,” you could begin. And then you could explain the hours, where you’re located, whether there are any exceptions to your posted hours, and maybe a little history of why you opened this business. Is this blog post going to change the world? Most definitely not. But it’s one to keep in your back pocket for a slow news day or a time when you’re long overdue on writing something.
However, there are far more interesting customer inquiries, and it’s important to read and answer them knowing that you can mine these for blog posts, too. Always turn specific questions into more general, generic questions when you’re blogging. Remove any information that could potentially identify the customer who emailed you. If you can do this once or twice a week, you’re probably going to be ahead of the curve.
Tip 2: Turn Employee Training Materials Into Blog Posts
While customer inquiries can be one gold mine for blog posts, your onboarding program for new hires can be another. Obviously, you won’t want to publish sensitive or confidential information, but much of what you teach your employees is information that they will, in turn, share with customers.
Do you have printed training material? The next time you’re having a difficult time coming up with a new blog post, flip through these documents and see what you can do with them.
Just off the top of the head, here is an example. When an employee starts work at a restaurant, she is required to learn certain information to pass a health department-administered food safety test. The information is standard, and it’s not anything new to most restaurant employees. However, your customers might find it interesting. There is something called the danger zone from 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit. Restaurants do not store food at this temperature because they don’t want their customers to get sick. Your blog post could be called “The Danger Zone and How We Avoid It.” You could discuss how your restaurant’s training goes above and beyond the required minimum standards and steps that you take to ensure that your customers are only served food that has been properly prepared.
Tip 3: Turn Insider Secrets into Blog Posts
This is one of the more controversial ideas for business blogging, and it has been argued widely. One side of the argument is this: If you give your secrets away, why do your customers still need you? However, the idea behind blogging about Do It Yourself (DIY) topics is that it creates interesting content that readers will want to share with each other. When people share your blog content, you gain exposure. The percentage of all the people who see your content that will actually follow-through on the DIY project (as opposed to hiring you) is small. The prevailing argument is that your business will actually grow from sharing these secrets. To continue with the restaurant example above, you could post a recipe and step-by-step instructions for how to make something from your menu.