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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Small Business Blogging

In Colorado Springs, over 96% of the businesses are small businesses (according to the PPLD Business Research Librarian). Many of you are small business owners; entrepreneurs at heart.

I found this article interesting. Written by Dan Bricklin, the guy who invented the first spreadsheet program called VisiCalc, it addresses small business blogging. Written in 2002 I thought he was pretty insightful for writing it more than a year before I even knew blogs existed. His advice is still relevant and still something to consider

He makes the points:
  1. Blogging is great for consultants - Blogging is a way of showing your expertise and establishing yourself as a trustworthy authority without doing the travel.
  2. Blogging is great for Bed and Breakfasts - A blog can be very effective, especially given the attachment some people have to the areas where they vacation. Keeping previous guests updated on weather, events, improvements and local happenings will keep their emotions tied to you all year long.
  3. Blogging is great for specialty retail stores - Many specialty retail stores rely on regular customers coming in to talk and see what's new in the field as well as in the store. Customers just want to get a "fix" of their area of interest from a face they know. While they don't usually buy anything (or just a low margin consumable) during these visits, the visits are crucial to loyalty that leads to major purchases.
  4. Blogging is great for supplemental customer support - Frequently asked questions and tips can covered ("At this time of year everybody seems to have problems with their gutters..." or "With the continuing city drought regulations here's the best way to deal with those plants we sold in the spring...").
  5. Blogging is great for crisis management - Small businesses and organizations can't rely on press conferences and local media to tell their story the way a large national company can. (They also don't have some of the legal restrictions of publicly held companies to muzzle them.) A blog can be used to instantly respond to local news coverage, provide information to all interested parties, and have explicit written material for the press and others to refer to.

In summary, I think his underlying theme is that blogs create a way to take that personal touch that many small businesses thrive on and put it in cyberspace. Now a customer can maintain feeling connected one-on-one to you and your business without ever stepping in your store. It helps develop your personality as part of your organization.