Dear SMBs: Don’t complicate blogging

It appears as if the years and years of shameless self-promotion, and an overly important view of itself, is catching up with the Internet marketing industry. I say this because, as we sit here in 2010 and race toward the world of mobile, we haven’t even scratched the surface of helping the vast majority of people execute some of the online basics. The only thing that is really being scratched are the heads of regular workaday folks who just want to get a reasonable Internet marketing foundation in place. They search for simple answers and explanations, but they get industry double-speak and a weird glance by “consultants” because they “don’t get it yet.”

I think the place where this is the most evident is in business blogging, especially for the SMB (small and medium business). The industry has made this simple concept so convoluted (in order for consultants to charge a fee of course) that most small business folks are afraid to step out and even attempt a blog.
The Internet marketing industry talks about blogs generating leads, helping to perform market research, building relationships with your customers, helping with search engine rankings, etc. All are basically true to some exten,t and can be valid points. But they are the classic cart before the horse scenario also.
Why? Because most SMBs have been trying to advertise to “tell their story” for years on end. They sit and wonder why no one seems to “get” who they are and what they do just from their advertising, and become resigned to the classic “I get most of my business from referrals” line. They then look to other ways to “generate” business, but are sold a bill of goods about the complexities of Internet marketing. As a result, they are scared into inaction. Now they wonder why the business is not doing well in the new world order.

Complicated sign

Image by ➨ Redvers via Flickr

Don’t get me wrong. Internet marketing isn’t “easy peasy” by any stretch. I posit, though, that it’s not nearly as complicated as we (the industry) make it out to be. Which brings us back to the blogging thing. It’s not as difficult as it seems, and here’s why. Here’s the big secret. Ready? Here it goes! Just tell your story.
You see, as an SMB, your blog needs to tell stories about who you are, what your business is, and how it helps people. You do not need to approach your blog the same way that a Fortune 500 company does. In fact, I would completely discourage that, because if there is ever anything that dehumanizes a good story, it’s how Fortune 500s tell them. How many customer case studies (which is a STUPID term anyway because no one wants to be a study, they want to be a story) have you read that make your eyelids heavy five lines into it? Do you want your small business to sound that way too? I hope not.
So what’s the point here? Stop worrying about the “objectives” of your blog. Start worrying about telling your story. As an SMB, your business is about referrals and relationships, right? Talk about your customers’ issues and concerns. What better way to cement a strong referral (which, by the way, is someone else telling YOUR story) than to have a blog that expands on the trust that was conveyed in that referral in the first place?
While I am not advocating that you ignore all the various measurements of success for your business blog, I am saying that none of those metrics will even be measurable if you are trying to obtain a number rather than to tell a story. Your business story. The one with the happy customer endings.
Worry less and tell your story. Now that’s a business blog.

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