WordPress Bloggers – Are You Following This Key Strategy?

If you are a small business, you want your blog to increase your sales. If you are a humble blogger, you want your message to be out there for people to read.

If you have a blog, you are probably sold on the idea to an extent that it can increase your sales, or make you money. However, what may leave you scratching your head is exactly how WordPress is supposed to be the answer to all of your prayers.

You may have posted a few articles and had a bit of a dabble, but in essence, you are taking shots in the dark. What you need is some kind of idea as to what you should do, and how it can positively affect your bottom line.

It’s A Brave New World Out There

Jim's New Lawnmower
As you can see, Jim is delighted with his new lawnmower

Let’s say that Jim Smith’s lawnmower explodes one Sunday morning (luckily, nobody was hurt). He takes great pride in his garden, so getting a new lawnmower is a priority for him. What is the very first thing he does? That’s right – he hops on Google.

A few searches later and he has a pretty good idea of what he wants to go for. He has probably found a couple of review sites, and no doubt Amazon (because they sell EVERYTHING these days). He is an informed consumer. With his new-found knowledge he can go out and get himself a shiny new lawnmower. He probably already knows who the cheapest supplier is, and may just go ahead and order online if he can get comfortable enough with his purchase (having read lots of positive reviews).

Where did Bob’s Lawnmowers Co. come into this? Did it even feature in Jim’s decision-making process? Probably not. Despite the fact that Bob’s shop is just 10 miles down the road from Jim’s house, he was completely cut out of the loop.

15 years ago, it would have been a different story. Jim would’ve gone to his local directory, found the nearest stores, and headed out to investigate. He may even have received one of Bob’s flyers through the mail. But in 2011, Jim isn’t touching his Yellow Pages. And why would he pay any attention to a flyer when he can find a wealth of information online?

Welcome To The World Of Inbound Marketing

That is where you need to come in. You need to be the blog that Jim finds when he is searching for a new lawnmower. He needs to hit your blog and be dumbstruck by the huge resource he has just uncovered. Not only do you write in an open, honest and transparent way, but you’ve pretty much answered every question that Jim has. And of course, you sell lawnmowers! And you’re just down the road! Where is Jim buying from now?

Defining inbound marketing is pretty simple. Instead of going out to ‘find’ your customers (though advertising, mailshots, cold calling, and so on), you allow your customers to find you.

Wait…What?

We are talking about something that is both beautifully simplistic and incredibly powerful.

Make Yourself Heard
It's time to make yourself heard

In a nutshell, your blog becomes the voice of your business. And your voice is loud, clear, and honest. What are you writing about? Everything and anything to do with your industry.

The concept, in principle, makes an awful lot of sense – if you can become a trusted source in your industry, people will want to buy from you. Think about it – if you are a consumer and you need to buy a blue widget, who are you going to buy it from – Acme Blue Widgets, or Jenny’s Blue Widget Co., whose blog you have been reading for weeks?

You are essentially placing the decision-making process in the customer’s hands, rather than trying to force it upon them.

Is this starting to sound rather logical? Great. You’ve taken the first step. If not, or if you just want a little more evidence as to how powerful inbound marketing can be, fear not – I have a wonderful resource for you.

I won’t spoil the story for you, but I will say one thing – if you are a small business blogger and are in any doubt as to what blogging can do for your business, you need to check out The Sales Lion. This blog is run by a chap called Marcus Sheridan, who now runs one of the most successful and well-respected fiberglass pool companies in the USA. I’ll leave you to guess how that came about (hint – it’s something to do with the topic of this post). Read that blog, and become a convert.

Now you understand why you should be blogging, it’s time to start finding out what you should be doing. Joe recently did a great series of articles on how to turn your blog into an automated sales machine. Check the articles out here: part I | II | III | IV | V.

But It’s All So Overwhelming!

Inbound Marketing
The scope of your online efforts can be intimidating

Blogging can be. I get that. You have your blog – but then you have so much more. Facebook, Twitter, SEO…the list goes on. You have to have your fingers in a lot of different pies to have a real impact. For any small business owner, this can be intimidating.

This is where Hubspot comes in. It is a Godsend for any small business owner or determined blogger. Hubspot consolidates all of the aforementioned platforms and tools into one central ‘hub’. See what they’ve done with the name there? Clever stuff.

Check out this short video to get a better idea of what Hubspot can do for you:

But What About Me? I’m Just A Blogger!

Don’t worry – I haven’t forgotten about you! The funny thing is, you are already practicing a form of inbound marketing. You are writing to a target audience, and you want that audience to visit your site. That, in essence, is inbound marketing. Once you have attracted your audience you can decide what you want to do with them, but the key is getting them there in the first place.

And for those that aren’t necessarily business-minded, that is a key realization – if your blog is set up to attract an audience and you are not monetizing them, you should be asking yourself why. Check out these two recent articles on WPMU for ideas as to how you can monetize your audience: Smarter Ways to Earn Money With Your WordPress Blog and 3 More Money-Spinners For Your Established WordPress Blog.

Inbound marketing is for everyone. It is the future. And we are still at a stage where it is not valued by the majority of businesses. So now is the time to get involved and be part of the trend that is being set. The balance of power has shifted into the hands of the consumers. Rather than fight it, embrace it.

Creative commons pictures courtesy of TopRank Blog, billaday and oinonio