Think back to the last really great meal you had, dining out. Remember the name of the restaurant? Great! Now, go online and type in the restaurant name into Google (or your favorite search engine). Chances are, 9 times out of 10, you will get a Yelp, Yahoo Local, Google Places or Urbanspoon listing.
Now put yourself in the shoes of the owner of that great restaurant. Wouldn’t you want your customer to know a little more about your business than just its name, address and telephone number? To make matters worse, most of these sites include reviews by past customers, over which you have no control. While you’d certainly appreciate great reviews that reflect the efforts you put into customer services, would you want a terrible review given by that rare dissatisfied customer to prevent new customers from coming to your restaurant?
I’m sure you wouldn’t. ;)
Most offline businesses that are not online in some form or the other yet, face this problem. Their brand image is crafted by 3rd party information that may or may not be to the best interests of the brand.
The reasons many offline businesses haven’t embraced the internet even today are usually the same: No money (for a website or online marketing). No time. No technical skills.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
What if I tell you that all these are but lame excuses? What if I tell you that the only way you can hope to grow your business in the future is by going online? The digital internet (comprising of the web and mobile) does not have to be this big scary place that costs a lot of money to be on. If you really care about your brand and its reputation in the online and offline worlds, you will go online.
And what is the easiest route to market if you want to achieve an online presence? A blog of course!
Allow me to walk you through the most important reasons why your offline business needs a blog pronto!
Be where your audience is
Even though you may be an offline business, your audience’s favorite hangout happens to be the internet. To ensure that your business stays relevant in today’s age, you’ve gotta be where your audience is. Take a look at the numbers from this infographic by Ignitespot:
- 77% of all internet users read blogs.
- 23% of all internet time is dedicated to blogs and social media.
- And the clincher: 61% of US consumers made a purchase based on a blog post.
Do you still want to miss out on the power of a blog?
Easy to set up and long shelf life
The major roadblocks to going online, that we discussed at the beginning of this article, are addressed with a simple blog.
With free blogging platforms like Blogger, WordPress or even Tumblr, you don’t need to spend a fortune to take your brand online. You can even have a blog with a custom domain name at a really nominal cost (starting from about $10 per year).
Source: Wikimedia Commons
You don’t have to be a tech-geek to set up your blog. Most blogging platforms are extremely user friendly and intuitive to help users exactly like you to create blogs that look and feel like they’ve been created by an expert. You can choose from hundreds of professionally designed themes and templates as well as a range of free tools and plug-ins that add that extra zing to your online real estate.
Most marketing activities are time bound. A blog is not. Anything that you put up on your blog is there for life (or till you decide to take it down) and keeps continually contributing to promoting your brand on the internet.
Build a reputation as an expert
Give your potential customers a reason to believe that you really know what you’re talking about. Most big box retailers are plagued with disinterested employees who barely know the basics of the products they’re selling. An expert touch does not just translate to lots of people reading your blog, it can actually compel customers to ditch large retailers and favor your business instead.
Source: Hendrick Terbeck, Flickr
Write about topics that would interest your audience and are related to your business. If you own a restaurant, talk about the various world cuisines that inspire your dishes. Post a couple of simple recipes that will be popular among your customers. If you own a pet store, you could talk about the latest in pet fashion – designer collars, doggie grooming products, the works. Why, with a free shopping cart plugin like Ecwid on your blog, you could even sell items that you stock in your physical store to an online audience! And to keep your finances and inventory updated in such a case, there are advanced but easy-to-use electronic POS systems such as Shopify’s that automatically sync your online and offline stores.
Sell online and offline in one stroke!
Higher reach and more personal than social media
Now you might argue that you have a Facebook page or a Twitter account for your brand, and you think they are good enough to engage with your customers online.
You wouldn’t be more wrong.
An average post that you put up on Facebook is seen by barely 6% of your fans, thanks to Facebook’s new algorithms and the overcrowded timelines that most Facebook users suffer from.
On the other hand, a post that you put up on your blog is visible to 100% of your followers and subscribers. What’s more, any random visitor to your blog can consume your content even if they do not follow your blog. How’s that for awesome reach?
Another key aspect that a blog excels in is making a conversation personal. Social media platforms have evolved into broadcast mediums. A blog by those standards still maintains a personal touch. You can personally interact with people who comment on your blog, follow their blogs to know what makes them tick.
The only truly free medium to promote your brand
Marketing – whether offline or online – comes with a price tag. Television, newspapers, radio or billboards have astronomical costs attached to them, with very ROI very hard to measure. Social media, which started out as a free way to reach out to customers, now relies heavily on paid ads to gain new followers or even make posts visible to existing followers.
Your blog is your home on the internet that does not cost you a dime. There’s a world of ways that you can promote and grow your offline business absolutely free of cost, by simply using a branded blog.
You could put up posts about upcoming events at your store or restaurant, blog about limited time promotions that you might be running, give out coupons that can be redeemed in your physical stores or even carry out contests on your brand blog. All of this without spending a penny!
You don’t need to be the next Mark Twain to create a readable blog. ;)
Just keep it simple and offer your customers value that your competitors cannot, and success will follow.
22 thoughts on “5 Compelling Reasons Your Offline Business Needs a Blog”
Very rightly said Rohan, majority of offline businesses especially in developing countries are still new to online marketing thing. A blog will help them not only drive traffic to their main website but also help them in collecting targetted email leads which they can form a relationship with and monetize in the long run.
Great Post Rohan totaly agree that all the companies need blog. If you need exposure or want to target the markets then you would surely need to connect people through online.
Very thoughtful article. I agree with you. Having a website/blog for business would be quite beneficial.
These days almost everyone use internet, so it’s the best way to promote the offline business.
Thanks for sharing!
Hi Rohan, thanks a lot with this inspiring article. I’m really a new rambler on the blogosphere. Actually, I was convinced by my husband to make a blog for something that I’m passionate about (while try to (maybe can) monetize it), and now by reading this, I’m more encouraged to do better. Otherwise bothering your time to explain, does it no good if put up banners on the new blog just like I have?
I do completely agree with your blog post.Apart from Social media engagement , a business website definetely needs a blog for taking the website to the next level
I am very happy to see another great blog post in All Blogging Tips after a long time.
You have very convincingly conveyed a point that, in today’s time, small businesses do need to go online to make their business grow.
I too try to explain my relatives who are small business owners that they must have their own website but they don’t pay attention and give “lame excuses” mentioned here. But the situation is changing gradually and very soon all small businesses would have online presence.
By the way, you are brilliant at using images on your blog posts. Can you tell me how do you find images for your blog posts?
Thank you, Nitin. Please remember to use only those images that are Creative Commons licensed. If you don’t know what that is, please read up on it.
Here’s how you can find images that are free to use and share:
I claim to have isolated this particular shortlink on Google, so I’d appreciate an RT/follow on Twitter
To find good images, I suggest you don’t search for exactly the term you’re looking for; search for a synonym or related term instead. For example, for the “Build a reputation as an expert” section, I searched for “guru” which can mean expert too. And then chose an image that indirectly portrays what you mean.
Hope this helps.
Rohan, it was an awesome article indeed.
For every small business there is a need to establish online presence through blogging. You can even double your business simply through blogging and online presence.
Even politicians with more online presence tend to win elections in this online world!
I think more and more business owner come to realize that the online presence is essential for the business to grow and catch up with the competitors, that said, I personally think that trying to build a brand now in the social media world and not having a webpage is a no no.
Cheers for the article
Opportunities are there to be made good use of, and of such is the internet.
I really think a small business who want to expands needs to make good use of this meduim due to the opportunities that are abound there.
But on the other hand if it is not applicable to you then i think you should be more cautious because you don’t want to out your money where you can’t profit from.
Really nice post, Rohan.
Glad you liked it, Uche.
A blog is not something small businesses should always look to “profit from.” It’s their voice on the web. It’s an intangible asset that gives ROI on “effort” more than “money.” :)
Blogging is an inspirational journey, full of encouragement, desire and passions. Perhaps, when we do talk about an offline business we do always recommend to have a blog, truly said Rohan Ayyar – having a blog for offline business can help to reach beyond the thoughts and perhaps too it has a strong conscience for branding.
Thanks for the encouraging and motivational article, have a great weekend.
– Bishal Biswas
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Bishal.
Good read! The reasons are compelling enough! :) Indeed, blogs will be a great addition to any offline business. As specified in the article, many times, the online presence and reputation of businesses and brands rest on the shoulders of 3rd party services. Often, the results won’t favor the business! As mentioned in that infographic, blogs are indeed powerful tools to change fortunes of businesses.
Thus, it sure makes good sense to create a blog and take online reputation matter into our own hands, rather than relying on 3rd party services!
The advantages are many. It is free, easy to promote, will take interaction to the next level! And the technical expertise required is not too high!
On one hand, the advantages are many. On the other hand, the expertise required is less. It’s a good deal, at the end of the day! :)
I found the link to this post on Kingged.
Nice post, a business without blog is incomplete.Nowadays even blogs makes more money than a business if we consider about small business.
Fantastic writing here. I love your all writings. You write mind blowing articles. Blog makes very important role to interact with our users/customers.
I’m flattered, Nisha. Thank you very much for the kind words! :)
I agree fully!
And your restaurant analogy hits home so much.
Last week I wanted to go to my favourite Indian restaurant – it was a Sunday, but was unsure what time they opened on a Sunday.
I googled the name and town, and all I got was a directory listing – which didn’t have the information I required!
WE DIDN’T GO!
Because we were so hungry, we actually went and ordered a takeaway pizza. So they LOST about £50 ($76) just because they have no online presence.
My town is also a holiday town (it is by the sea). How many people before they visit my town, use Google to research where they may eat when they are on a short break?
And how much custom do they lose because again – no online presence!
So yes, it is SOOOOO important.
Thanks, Richard. Speaking of restaurants, do you know of this latest update from Google – if you’re in the US, you can now filter your restaurant searches by price, ratings, cuisine, and if it’s open right now:
Great post, every business should need a blog. It has great power to capture the leads of targeted audience. Blog have many positive benefits for small as well as big businesses.
Yes, Nikhil. And while all businesses need a blog, they need a strategy for their blog too!