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Blogging is good business -- if you have something to say
By Jim Kendall | Columnist
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Published: 11/19/2007 5:10 AM

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Blogging can help build awareness of your business

Should your business blog? Maybe. The blogging fervor has cooled a bit, and most days I think an e-newsletter may be a better marketing tool.

But business owners who are into blogging tend to like it. Blogs, they say, can help establish you and, by extension, your business as a thought leader in your industry -- assuming, of course, that you have something to say.

Blogging is "another way for a business to communicate with its clients," says Leslie Vickrey, a blogging advocate and president of ClearEdge Marketing, Chicago. "You can get in front of your audience quickly."

But Vickrey adds that a blog "must convey relevant information and express an opinion." It's the opinion -- yours -- that "sets you apart" from all those other messages on the Internet, she says.

Ray Silverstein blogs. President of the President's Resource Organization, a Chicago-based organizer of business owner peer discussion groups, and a sales columnist you can find at Entrepreneur magazine's Web site, Silverstein became a blogger because "blogging is a new vehicle to create awareness and credibility."

Part of that awareness and credibility comes from search engines. A blog "is meant to be (part of) your Web site," Vickrey says. If you're aware of Google key words and do some search engine optimization, the search engines, Silverstein and Vickrey agree, will find you -- and then searchers will find your site.

Even though the original blogging concept involved a sharing of opinions and ideas, don't expect much response to your blog. "We really don't get much feedback" to either the blogs ClearEdge ghost writes for clients or the ones posted on the agency's own Web site, Vickrey says.

Then why blog? Awareness seems to be the reason, though Silverstein says the reason to blog "depends on your business and what you want to accomplish. Blogging takes a certain amount of time," he says.

Based upon conversations with Silverstein and Vickrey, here are some general thoughts about blogging.

• Be a regular blogger. ClearEdge's own blogs go monthly. Entrepreneur wants weekly contributions from its bloggers, Silverstein says.

• As with any business-promoting communication, the list matters. ClearEdge Marketing sends its blogs to "a specifically targeted audience" that numbers about 160 people.

• Include a link to your blog in your e-mail signature, your e-newsletters and just about every other type of communication.

• Set a policy about employee blogging -- and make it part of your employee handbook. You probably can't stop employees from writing personal blogs, but you probably can restrict what they say about your company.

To get a feel for blog material, take a look at what Vickrey and Silverstein write. Get to Silverstein's blogs at http://salesbuzz.entrepreueur.com. Read the blogs Vickrey and her staff write at www.clearedgemarketing.com/blog.