Archive for the ‘Website’ Category

4 Reasons to Start Your Own Blog

September 21, 2010

This post is focused on why an individual may want to start a blog. I will follow with another post on why a company may want to start a blog. The comparison is pretty interesting.

Reason 1: Learn a new skill

The first reason to start a new blog is that you will learn a ton in the process of doing it. Today those learnings are quite valuable. The world of online communities and opinion sharing have become a new way of life. A way to make connections, become educated and make decisions. Blogging has become a valued skill in the professional world and building your skills with a personal blog is a good place to start.

Reason 2: It’s easy to get started

There are many popular blog platforms. Two that I recommend are WordPress and Blogger (now owned by Google.) Both are free and both can be up and running within an hour or so. For some valuable advice on blog platforms check this post by Problogger.

Reason 3: It focuses your thoughts

The third reason to start a blog is that it forces you to take time to bring your thoughts together in a cohesive manner. In today’s frenzied world, having some disciplined time for focusing our thoughts is a win-win, and another reason to start blogging.

Reason 4: Shares your personality with the world

The fourth reason to start a blog is that your blog becomes a centerpiece for sharing your personality and point of view with the world. Sure, you can do this on Twitter in small bites of 140 characters, or you can do it on Facebook, but this is often only shared with people who you personally know. By comparison, a blog enables you to to share your point of view with the world as robustly or succinctly as you would like, and you will be exposed to people you otherwise don’t know and may never meet.

Extra/Bonus Reason: It’s not hard to decide what to write about

Don’t overthink what your blog should focus on. You can write about work or a professional topic or you can write about a personal topic – your family, a hobby, etc. A friend of mine is living through a medical emergency right now and her blog is one that I visit most frequently. It’s personal, it’s filled with her personality and it comes from her heart. Perfect ingredients for a compelling blog.

In conclusion my advice is don’t overthink it. Get with the program and join the blogosphere!

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B2B Social Media: Looking for People Like Us

March 10, 2009

Wow! Have I zoomed (okay, I admit sometimes I crawled) up the learning curve of social media in the past couple of months. This all started one day when a friend and I had a long conversation about why and how social networks matter in B2B marketing. Although both of us have been in B2B marketing for 20+ years, the benefits from and need for social media had not quite solidifed in our brains.

So I set off to get smarter, and have shared a lot of my new found knowledge with my friend. Now I share it with you.

Why should we care?

First, why does social media matter to B2B companies? A hard lesson to learn was that it’s not about marketing. What? Not about marketing? Isn’t everything about marketing in some way? Yes, but social media is really about dialogue, it’s about starting and participating in conversations about topics we care about. It’s about finding PLUs (people like us) who have interesting opinions, ideas and questions to share. It’s about being a good listener.

But there are certainly marketing implications. Marketing is all about being tuned into customers, and here are some reasons that B2B customers are drawn to social media:

  • Customers want to have easy and convenient ways to stay in contact with the companies who supply them with technology solutions.
  • Customers want to be part of a community with PLUs who have common interests – products, problems, job function, etc.
  • Customers want an easy way to learn from others, exchange ideas and information. They want to share ways they are overcoming technical challenges with their deployments.
  • Customers want an easy way to share their ideas, suggestions and critiques with peer customers and with their technology solution providers.

Are social networks and social media one and the same?

No, they are not. Social networks are Websites that enable computer users to create online networks and communicate with friends and colleagues (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace). Social media encompasses social networks as well as other online tools (blogs, podcasts, wikis, newsreaders, bookmarking services) that enable people to share content (posts, videos, photos, etc.)

The three social networks B2B companies should consider focusing their attention on first are LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. More on this in a later post. Until then, if you too are climbing the learning curve on social media for B2B companies here are some resources I found helpful:

Make it Easy for Prospects to Ask for your Attention

March 2, 2009

This is a quick topic and post. Something all of us should be doing. But something, in our rush to get the job done, we can sometimes overlook.

What is it we occasionally overlook or forget? We forget to make it extremely easy for our prospects to ask for some attention. This post is a reminder to make it abundantly clear to an interested prospect how they can request a call back from your company.

Some of our highest quality leads come from our Website. I use the analogy of a house. If someone comes knocking on the door (visits our Website) and wants to meet with us we should be polite, invite them in and tell them we would like them to stay a while. In fact, if they want to spend some 1:1 time with us, we need to make it easy for them to make this request.

Here are some examples of how three companies do this:

Symantec has a big yellow Talk to Symantec button on many of their pages. It really stands out and is easy to find.

Salesforce.com has a more subtle Contact Me on their left nav bar. The thing I like is that it’s always in the same place no matter what page you are on.

The one I actually like the best is an example from Oracle. They use a Have Oracle Call You button and when you click on it, up pops a very simple form where you enter your name, phone number and country. That’s it. Very easy!

No matter what approach you take, here are some best practices to keep in mind

  • Include a link to the request form on every page of your Website where it’s practical
  • Use color to help these links stand out on the page
  • When possible, put the link in the same spot on all pages so it is easy to find
  • Keep the request form as simple as possible

In summary, take the time to invite your prospects into your house and tell them you would like them to stay a while. You might find they take you up on the offer.