Why blogging is great in a bad economy

Many readers of my own blog have emailed me with concerns about the recession. If you read the news even poorly, you know that there is no end to the recession in sight. I know several small business owners who have complained about sales being down. It’s time for a change. It’s time to ramp things up a bit.

I wanted to share this post on the Headway blog, because in my opinion blogging can be part of the answer for you. In order for marketing to have maximum impact, there are two elements which have more power than any other:

  • High Touch/High Conversion Marketing
  • Referral-focused Marketing

Hands down, a blog is one of the most powerful ways to put these elements to work for you. Let’s discuss each briefly, and if you have any questions, I’m happy to answer in the comments.

High Touch/High Conversion Marketing

Print media is still valid in many situations. I’ve seen direct mail is making a comeback as well. But don’t forget that these mass media approaches will only engage your customers on one certain level. If you’re getting a 2-3% conversion rate on a direct mail piece, you’re doing pretty well, and if you’re going straight for a sale in that direct mail piece, then you can expect your conversion rate to be considerably lower.

I have pages on my site that convert over 40% of traffic into email subscribers. Not 2-3%. 40%. And what’s crazy is that this really isn’t all that uncommon. And guess what drives the majority of traffic to those pages? That’s right. My blog.

When I email my list, I typically get an open rate between 20-70%, depending on what it is I’m sending. This means 20-70% of the email I send to my list (which I built almost exclusively with traffic from my blog) gets read. Do you think 20% of your direct mail is even getting looked at?

Don’t count on it.

Why does a blog convert so much better? Because it’s more personal. I’m able to point people around my site to content that speaks directly to them. And once they’re on my email list, the marketing gets even more targeted.

In small business, we need more of this. The more personal and targeted you can make your message, the more effective your marketing will be. And a blog is the perfect way to put these elements to work for you. End of story.

In a down economy, people are tighter with their money. And they should be. This is why I’ve heard complaints from clients about sales being down around the country. It’s not that people aren’t spending money; they’re just more careful. Spend some time talking with them via your blog and email list. When you go the extra mile and your competition is not, you win. Every time. And when you win on this level, you’re not just making a sale. You’re taking the steps to build a seriously beneficial long term relationship with this customer.

And this all leads to the next marketing element you need to employ…

Referral-focused Marketing

What I’ve seen is that people just like to do business with people and brands they like. That’s it. It’s pretty intuitive. So be likeable. Why is a blog one of the ultimate ways to find customers and clients? Why is it worth the work to write articles and otherwise do the work it takes to maintain a blog? Because by doing this you’re enabling people to find you and get to know you on their own terms. You can’t force or rush trust, and trust is exactly what you need to employ referral-focused marketing.

If you refuse to do this work and only go for the sale, you’ll still make sales. Trust me, I’ve done that in the past. People will always buy stuff from vendors they don’t really care about when the terms are right for them. But you’re missing out on the entire power of referral-focused marketing.

When you take the time to really engage your customers on a human level and allow authentic trust to be cultivated, you’re not just creating the environment for a sale to be made. You’re making multiple sales all at once. You will get repeat business from that customer over time, because you were awesome to them and didn’t rush them. And when a customer is that comfortable with you, they will often become an advocate for you. Not always, but often enough that it truly makes a noticeable difference in your business.

I have clients who have come back to me over 10 times for more and more projects. And they tell several other people and encourage them to work with me also. Think about it:

  • What did I pay for all that word of mouth marketing? Nothing.
  • How much time did I spend having to make all those additional sales? None.

Have you noticed there is a recession? Is it affecting your business? Then it’s time to get better at marketing. In my case, I’ve found blogging works. It just does. And as I’ve said before, I’m NOT a blogging advocate. I’m a do-what-works advocate. The reason I teach it to clients is because it gets results.

Now I know a lot of small business owners who don’t have a blog. And many more write one only tentatively. I’m the last person to say anything black and white when it comes to marketing. Is a blog the flat out only way to put these elements to work in your business? You tell me. I’ve got nothing better at the moment. My blog continues to make all the difference in my own business. Just because the country is in a recession doesn’t mean you have to be in one.

Christian Russell is the blogger behind Dangerous Tactics, a unique small business marketing strategies blog with no tolerance for B.S. His latest report, How to Get (a lot) More Leads from Your Website teaches you – surprisingly – how to get a lot more leads from your website :-)

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6 Responses

  1. I would like argue for a huge and important distinction in how we understand and describe what’s happening with the economy:

    We’re not in a bad economy, because it’s never, ever going to get better in the way we’re used to thinking of. This is not a recession, it’s a reset.

    To put it another way, we’re not in a bad economy—we’re in a new economy. People talked about the new economy during the dot com boom and thought the internet was going to change the world.

    Well, they were right, but not how they thought. Because that change and that new economy was longer in coming than they had fantasized about. But now it’s finally arriving, and something else is happening people weren’t prepared for: the scope and depth of the changes are far greater than anyone (well, most people) imagined.

    And it still feels like it’s only just beginning.

    Luckily, you don’t need to try and force a paradigm shift on yourself. If you begin blogging and diving into this new world, the realizations and understanding will come if you’re open to it. Hiring mentors, coaches and consultants along the way will accelerate that in many ways, not the least of which is you’ll have an example of the new economy working with you.

  2. Man you hit the nail on the head. Michael as you know, many of my clients are in real estate. A lot of people in that industry are waiting patiently for the market to “come back”, as if the insanity of the past 10 years or so was even a good thing or something that should be repeated.

    I think the opposite is true. Now is the perfect time to do real business and build real relationships in business for the right reasons. Blogging is just a powerful communication tool that fits perfectly into the new economy way of doing things.

    You’re also right that by diving in and doing it, hiring out for some consulting every now and then and earnestly focusing on reaching out to your clients and customers, you’re going to be lightyears ahead of others down the road.

  3. Great article! It is simply evolution. Just like we aren’t going back to the Golden Era of the 50’s and 60’s! It is crazy to think that we are going to return to a time that has already passed. There’s NO WAY that we will have another RE frenzy for a very long time. Even if the market recovered quickly, too many people will be scared to take action. The real problem in our country (USA) is that we have abandoned our responsibility to care for our selves. We live in a land of entitlement and expectation. Stop blaming the gov’t for the recession. It is your fault and my fault. Remember, when you point your index finger, there are four other digits pointing straight back to you. We first need to work on ourselves. We need to sharpen our skill sets. We need to increase our social skills. We need to become financially educated. We need to find a way to solve other people’s problems and provide value to the world. If I needed to find a job, I could do it in one day. It probably wouldn’t pay great. But hey if you REALLY want something, go get it! What is so exciting about this new economy is that it is going to force us as a society to go back to doing what got us here in the first place. Hard work, new skill sets, self-education, networking, communication, innovation and CREATIVITY! Sorry for the rant, but…. well no I ain’t sorry dammit! 🙂 Hope this inspires others to take ACTION!

  4. @SEO Phoenix

    I have to disagree with some of your points:

    1) You are in a cutting edge business where there will be plenty of demand in the future. Your income is secure. Many people who lost their job in this major recession will never again have the opportunity to hold the kind of job that once supported their families.

    2) The government, in particular the former Bush administration, screwed the USA royally by taking us into the Iraq War without provocation based on ginned up false intelligence. The cost of these unfunded wars and the tax breaks for the rich over his administration has buried this country for a long time to come. President Bush, as he walked out of the Oval Office, handed off the imploding country to President Obama who has done his best to turn things around. Hard as hell to make any progress with a Congress this intransigent!

    3) Sure, we have a social safety net in this country for those less fortunate than someone like you and me. However, the vast majority of people in this country are good, decent and simply want to work. It’s always easy to blame the victim, the unemployed or the uninsured when you are secure in these amenities.

    4) I’m not inspired by your rant but more repulsed by your lack of empathy for those less well off. I can’t help thinking that you live in your own little successful world and are blind to those around you who are really trying hard but suffering terribly.

    Hope this inspires you to get real and think what would happen if you could not provide for your family or God forbid illness or natural disaster took from you all that was precious.

    Respectfully,
    Peter

  5. Christian,

    I really like this article. Blogging is a committment. It takes discipline to research and write original blog posts to a regular schedule. So it’s good to know how it’s helping you get business. And I think this is more than a recession, it’s a depression, similar to the Japanese deflation they’ve had since 1990. The economic landscape has changed and it’s just beginning. But it can be a time of great innovation.

    Terry

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