Category Archives: Web Strategy

Why You Should Publish a Corporate Blog

The benefits of having a corporate blog are countless. Among them are the advantages of building corporate brand, enhancing customer loyalty, getting customer feedback, accumulating an email list for a newsletter, fresh content that generates link love for SEO purposes, crisis management and even the cultivation of your internal corporate culture.

Having this type of dynamic presence online is a way for a company to harness the power of the Web for a multitude of purposes and help shape the way the public interacts with your brand. Perhaps the most compelling proof that corporate blogs work is in the fact that many very successful companies have been producing corporate blogs with very positive results.

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Self Promotion

37 Signals is a textbook example of successful self promotion. While effectively highlighting the company philosophy, it mystically takes otherwise boring subjects and transforms them into engaging content. Here is an example of the writing style that captivates their readers:

As we watched Apple unveil iOS7, the 37signals Campfire room quickly turned to awe of what they had achieved. A redesign so shocking and deep bestowed upon a product so popular left many mouths agape. Whether you happened to like the final product wasn’t as relevant as marveling at the vision, drive, and sheer determination to pull it off.”

How is that for engaging content? Talk about tooting your own horn by tooting someone else’s! This isn’t just Apple fan boy syndrome; it’s a demonstration that 37 Signals recognizes and appreciates good design, and that they can speak poetically and competently about it. It makes me want to know more about their company and the type of corporate culture that inspires words like this.

Personal Interest can Engage Readers

One of the best large corporate blogs around is that of Bill Marriot, founder of one of the world’s largest hotel chains. He proves that a corporate blog can talk about unrelated topics and yet still build brand. The key is to make the content dynamic and interesting. One of his latest posts is somewhat of a personal human interest story:

“One of the benefits of being an old guy and living in Washington, D.C., is that I have had the privilege of meeting almost every U.S. President since Eisenhower.  Each is a remarkable leader in their own way, right for their times, endorsed through election by the American people.”

He then goes on to tell about his recent get together with Bill Clinton and many of his wonderful leadership attributes. You have to be careful about this type of name-dropping to not sound like a complete narcissist, but when done right you can establish yourself as a leader and authority; just have something relevant to say other than you’ve met some famous people in your sphere.

New Product Development

Starbucks has taken the blogging platform and made it into a global focus group. Imagine the power of having a huge brainstorming platform that invites customers to submit their ideas for new product offerings. To date, over 100,000 food, drink and other ideas have been submitted. With each new concept, additional comments from readers are added to refine the idea and test it against a huge audience. They are successfully crowd-sourcing product development through their blog, and probably even harvesting some great corporate talent that way.

Getting Inspired and Starting Your Own Corporate Blog

Writing a corporate blog can turn a lot of people off at first. This is partly because the content is not just flowing from an individual that is sharing life experiences or information about a specific interest or passion; anyone writing is also acting as a mouthpiece for the company, which carries its own risks. But managing those risks is doable, and worth it in my opinion.

One of the best ways to get inspired and to start the creative juices flowing is to analyze what makes other blogs so successful. In addition to the samples provided above, these successful corporate blogs are prime examples of companies who are doing it right:

  • Amazon
  • Whole Foods
  • Ice Cream Journal
  • Zappos
  • Bigelow Tea
  • BMW
  • YouTube
  • Zillow
  • Disney Parks
  • Dell

Any Size Company Can Benefit from a Blog

Regardless of the size of your company, a blog can be a productive way to communicate internally and externally. Write a few sample posts and run them by trusted associates and even some customers. As you begin to amass a following, the blog will probably take on a life of its own. Who’s to say what it will evolve into?

Mike Mann is a serial entrepreneur and author seeking to drive real-world change using profits from his many profitable business ventures. To learn how to make your own business a success, and to hear more about Mike’s charitable vision, read or download his book.

3 Business Tips for Success in 2013

By now you should know that there’s no magic bullet for succeeding in business; every industry is different and you have to find your niche. The only keys to business success you’ll find are sound principles that you can learn to apply in your daily life as an entrepreneur and professional. As we lay 2012 to rest, it’s time to start thinking about how we’re going to reform ourselves and our companies to compete in a business landscape where the ground seems to be constantly shifting beneath our feet.

Get Serious about Data Security

It can be hard to drive home the gravity of the world’s current vulnerability when it comes to technology. So, to drive the point home, let me frighten you a bit:

A friend of mine who works for a public accounting firm told me an IT security horror story about one of her clients. This company, which had millions a year in revenue, was running their entire accounting operation from a single computer running Windows 98. All their sensitive customer data was contained in unsecured Excel spreadsheets, on an outdated computer with absolutely no anti-virus software on it. The PC wasn’t even password protected.

Anyone with access to the building could have stolen all of that information, including client bank account information. If the company had been publicly traded, and it was known that this was their level of IT disaster preparedness, their stock would be worthless, and the shareholders might even sue.

The future is bright for businesses who take on the right strategies this year.

The future is bright for businesses who take on the right strategies this year.

My friend’s story is an extreme case of negligence in the IT world, but even large corporations with sophisticated IT security measures are experiencing significant data breaches. And the root cause of these problems is usually traced back to an improperly configured server or some other security flaw that could have been caught with a simple IT audit. Lax security is putting everything from your customers’ identifying information to your individual trade secrets at risk.

As your company grows, it’s essential that you have regular audits. You can’t simply trust a single IT professional to take care of all of it. A single significant data breach can expose you to huge liability that can easily sink a small or medium-sized business. You simply can’t afford not to be serious about protecting yours and your customers’ data.

Make Your Business a Marketing Extrovert

Many successful business people are accused of being narcissistic, but it’s that very trait of putting yourself out there on a consistent basis (hopefully in a non-obnoxious way) that helps you spread ideas, establish yourself as a leader and make sure people know your name. The same goes for companies. If your business only toots its own horn through traditional marketing channels, you’re going to get left behind. An increasingly digital world requires that we all become online marketing extroverts, spreading our message through web ads, PPC advertising, social media marketing, SEO and content marketing. If you’re not involved in these things, you might as well not exist to huge demographic swaths of would-be customers.

Start a company blog. Begin touting your products and your brand in social media, like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and anywhere else where your customers will start looking for you. A slick website and an online ecommerce platform aren’t enough for businesses to compete in the marketplace anymore—they’re the price of entry.

Start Defining Your Best Practices

Productivity is through the roof in most businesses around the country. And those where it isn’t may soon find some other, leaner, more agile company is coming up from behind to eat their lunch. While you’re first starting out, growing fast and just making sure everything runs smoothly, it’s easy to just let everyone do what works. But that can’t last once you’re past the startup phase. You have to define your critical operations and develop best practices for them.

In my book for entrepreneurs, I make the analogy that best practices are like weapons. The idea is that defining and reforming the on-the-ground tasks that are your everyday business, from one end of the company to the other, cuts the waste out of your organization. Taking a microscope to the way each department—each person, even—operates will help you identify week spots in your best practices, weak spots that your competitors may also have. Then you can reform your own processes and start to exploit that former weakness in your competitors in the marketplace.

The businesses that nail down a process for self-reflection and reform set themselves up to be on the bleeding-edge of innovation in their industry. That’s a good place to be. (This feeds back into being an extrovert. If your company has the leading experts in the field, make them blog about what they know; use them as a marketing resource to establish your authority in online spaces and build your brand.) When you’re constantly improving, you’re gaining on the competitors who are resting on their laurels, and the competitors who are behind you can’t catch up. It’s not a race, it’s a marathon.

As the New Year approaches, it’s likely that we’re about to experience a serious amount of growth in many sectors of the economy. If you’re ready to buckle down, refine your processes and start getting over the growing pains that so many new businesses suffer from, you can ride that wave through a year of prosperity and progress. Good luck.

Mike Mann, social activist and serial entrepreneur, is the author of MakeMillions.Com, a business book focused on making money in small business in order to better serve society. Read or download the book today for insight on his philosophy on wedding entrepreneurship and charitable goals