If there were two days that contributed most to my achievement as an entrepreneur, they were:
- June 5, 2006, the day that I put in my notice at my corporate job, and
- September 21, 2007, the day I published the first post on my current blog.
Over the years, blogging has become so tightly woven into my identity as a professional that I don’t think about it much — it’s just part of who I am and what I do. But as I’ve been talking to business owners recently about my new book Blog for Business (affiliate link), I’ve had a lot of people ask me how and why I started blogging in the first place.
Regular blogging has contributed to my business in many practical tangible ways but for the purposes of this post I wanted to focus specifically on one: sales and relationship-building.
As a young business owner, it took me a long time to really get comfortable talking to clients, especially during the sales process. I’d get nervous, fidgety and sometimes even defensive answering questions and objections that I should have been able to field effortlessly.
Blogging helped me through that in a big way and I don’t think that I’m overstating anything when I say that I might not have a successful agency today — or possibly even a business at all — had I not started a serious blogging initiative.
Not only did blogging help me organize and refine my thoughts on issues that were important to my clients but it gave me scripts and talking points that I could keep in my head and prevent me from “going rogue” in a client meeting. Most importantly though, it created easy ways for me to follow up with clients and prospects during the sales process.
Early on, an email follow up after a meeting with me went something like this:
It was really nice meeting with you this week. I’m working on that proposal I promised and I will have it for you by Tuesday.
Pretty lousy. It’s tough being the guy that’s missing whatever gene it is that enables the capacity for easy small talk. But blogging allowed me to easily write follow-up messages like this:
It was really nice meeting with you this week.
You mentioned you were thinking about starting an AdWords campaign to support your new product launch. I’ve been posting a lot about Search Engine Marketing on my blog lately and so I thought I’d send you a couple of helpful resources that will help you get it right if you decide to pursue this:
http://mysite/blogpost1: This one will show you how to properly budget
http://mysite/blogpost1: There’s a simple Q+A here that will help you figure out if you’re a good candidate for AdWords in the first place.
I’m also working on that proposal I promised and I will have it for you by Tuesday.
Many times, this type of value-added email would start productive discussions and help me transition myself from “vendor candidate” to “trusted partner/advisor.” And I closed a LOT more business as a result.
Emails like this have also helped me retain more clients over the years.
When you’re running ongoing online marketing campaigns for small business clients, there are periods where clients get squeamish about the process — Are things happening fast enough? Is the growth we’re experiencing normal? When will I see ROI from social media? How can we get more conversions from our landing pages?
Blog posts are similarly useful in those circumstances, helping to provide valuable context for our methodologies, the decisions we make and the strategies we employ. Our content helps clients see the big picture when they are focused on the nitty-gritty details.
For me, blogging remains one of the most useful and versatile weapons in my marketing arsenal. It’s why I recommend it to clients and why I wrote a book about it.
If what I’ve written here is of interest to you, you might also find a free chapter from my book helpful. If so, feel free to download it by clicking here.
Erik Wolf is the author of two books including the award-winning Marketing: Unmasked. He is also the founder of Zero-G Creative, an online marketing agency serving small and midsized business clients exclusively.