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Most small business owners know that there are ways to use a blog for business, they just don’t know how to put one to use for THEIR business. It’s common for entrepreneurs, for example, to think along the lines of, “Well, it makes sense for a huge accounting firm that has a marketing department, because they have plenty of changing regulations and laws to write about – and the means to assign someone to do it. But I’m just a small … (fill in the blank: retail store, Realtor, ecommerce business).”

The truth of the matter is that almost every business can benefit from having a blog, and you don’t need to have an entire marketing department to create a good one. All you need is a plan!

If you’re one of those people who enjoys acronyms and easy-to-remember mnemonics, here are the three things to focus on for your blog’s editorial plan:

• Content (what you’ll write about, keywords to use, voice, length)

• Customers (who you’ll be writing for/distributing to)

• Calendar (how to develop consistency and unique topics)

Here are some specific steps to build your editorial calendar:

  1. Choose a spreadsheet program and create eight columns (the last 4 can be narrow columns since they’ll just be used to check things off).
  2. Label each column as follows:

• Column 1 = DATE

• Column 2 = TOPIC

• Column 3 = TARGET PERSONA

• Column 4 = KEYWORDS

• Column 5 = NEWSLETTER

• Column 6 = FACEBOOK

• Column 7 = TWITTER

• Column 8 = LINKEDIN

  1. Under the DATE column, fill in the dates you’ll post a blog. This should be realistic (perhaps twice a week to start) and consistent (say, Tuesdays and Thursdays).
  2. Under the TOPIC, choose a very specific, narrowed down subject that will give your readers at least a tidbit of advice. Think “lowest common denominator” here. In other words, if you’re a Realtor in Evergreen, Colorado, you could write about a specific neighborhood’s attributes (school district, mature trees, low taxes, low crime, etc.) So your topic might be: “10 Attributes of Evergreen Highlands.”
  3. Under the TARGET PERSONA, you’re going to list several specific readers you’d like to attract. In other words, who are you writing this for? In this case, since Evergreen Highlands offers a minimum of two acres (some zones for horses) and access to tennis courts, a pond and a barn, you might break “potential homebuyers” down to specifics like: “homebuyers with horses” and “retirees with incomes over $150,000 annually” and “wealthy homebuyers who play tennis and/or swim” or “wealthy homebuyers who enjoy seclusion.”
  4. Under keywords, you’ll want to think of search words and terms that your ideal reader might use: “Evergreen mountain property,” “Evergreen ranches for sale,” or “Colorado mountain property for sale” or even “Evergreen gated community.” (Remember, it doesn’t matter if Evergreen Highlands is a gated community; you’re putting yourself in the potential customer’s shoes for SEARCH TERMS.)
  5. The last four columns are for distribution purposes. After all, you need to let people know your blog post is up! You can add other forms of social media, of course, but Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are probably the most vital platforms to get your link out to the public. If you don’t have a newsletter, there’s no better time than the present to start gathering opt-ins! Be sure to include that option at the end of every blog post.

 

Remember, blogs aren’t about selling. They’re about providing useful information to position yourself as an expert. Keep your posts specific so you don’t run out of topics, include your keywords and search terms throughout, post consistently and don’t be afraid to see what your competition is doing, or better yet … not doing!

If you’re doing multi-platform marketing you should also be doing cross-platform marketing (a.k.a. cross-channel marketing). Chances are you’re already doing it to some extent. Do you put “Follow us on Facebook” in your print ads? Does your mobile website offer a direct link to follow you on Twitter? Does the QR code in your mailer take people to your fan page?

There are countless ways to link – and sync – traditional marketing (think TV, radio and print ads, flyers, newsletters, etc.) with social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, blogs, podcasts, YouTube, social bookmarking, Foursquare, email). Here are 20 simple but effective ideas:

  1. Include a QR code in your restroom door ad. (Smartphone users can scan it – even through the plexiglasscover.)
  2. Post your Facebook or Twitter address in your store window.
  3. Make it easy for customers to request your catalog, brochure or free samples via your Facebook fan page.
  4. Add a testimonial from a review site to your print media. (e.g. “Mike’s Plumbing was affordable and on time.” – Yelp.com user
  5. Offer printable coupons for people who “like” your Facebook page or write a review about your company.
  6. Use your social media sites to promoting your offline marketing efforts. (e.g. “Check this Sunday’s paper for a special discount.”
  7. Promote your social media sites – with clickable links – in your e-newsletters. Promote your social media sites – with spelled out sites (www.Facebook.com/EasyChairMedia) – in print newsletters.
  8. Post photos and videos from store events on your blog, website, YouTube, etc.
  9. Mention your mobile app, blog, Facebook site, etc. on radio and TV appearances or commercials.
  10. Get opt-ins for texts, emails and/or e-newsletters at business expos, job fairs and other events.
  11. Include a QR code on all receipts that takes customers directly to a forum, review site or your Foursquare site.
  12. Create a special for loyal customers to use in your store and promote it on Foursquare.
  13. Create a contest for fans to videotape themselves using your product or service. Have them post it on YouTube then promote it using social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
  14. Mention your social media efforts in presentations, classes and promotional videos.
  15. Promote your social media sites on signs, banners and billboards.
  16. Use podcasts to complement offline marketing efforts. For example, a Realtor that uses recorded information (e.g. a for sale sign that instructs potential homebuyers to tune in to AM 1340 for more information) may also want to reference podcasts that provide more information on the home or buying and selling in general.
  17. Promote virtual tours in traditional media. For example, a travel company may want to videotape a virtual tour of a tropical locale.
  18. Create opportunities in your brick-and-mortar store for customers to share deals and promotions with friends. For example, a customer can scan a QR code on a coat’s tag using her smartphone, then easily share a photo and price with a friend (via email or Facebook).
  19. Create photos of your inventory and post them on Pinterest.
  20. Join online forums to answer questions relating to your products, service or industry with a signature line that includes your website and phone number. For example, a wine expert may answer questions to position himself as an expert, then include contact information for his winery for those who wish to follow up or order wine.

How do YOU sync social media and traditional marketing? Share your tips here.