The marketing world loves a buzzword, or a hot new strategy that every small business simply MUST employ. For a while now, the marketers have been waxing lyrical about ‘content marketing’ and more specifically the value of blogging.

So is this just another marketing fad that will come and go, abandoned in favour of the next big idea?

Not a chance.

Blogging for small businesses is an idea that has taken hold — for good reason.

Why bother?

There is no getting away from it; blogging takes work. You have to think of a topic, write an entertaining but informative post, format it, edit it, and post the final draft…

Honestly, who has the time? Who is going to read it anyway? What will you get in return? If you’re going to put in all of that effort, it has to be worth it. So what are the benefits of blogging?

You get to show off your expertise

Blogging is a fantastic way to position yourself as an expert.

You can display your knowledge of significant industry developments and, through your blog post, walk your clients through these changes. You can highlight common worries or problems your customers face and show that you understand these issues and have relevant solutions.

Over time, your readers — a potent mix of current clients and prospective clients — will come to view you, and your firm, as the experts. When they have a problem relating to their business finances, when they need the help of an accountant, they want to hire an expert. And you won’t have to convince them you’re an expert, because they’ll already know.

Free advertising

Advertising isn’t getting any cheaper and in the current economic climate, it makes sense to make the most of any opportunity for free publicity. Your blog is exactly that — free publicity.

Have you introduced a service that you think your clients would love? Have you taken on an amazing new staff member who will have clients flocking to you? Are you using new state-of-the-art software that will blow your competition out of the water?

Your blog is a brilliant, free way to let your audience know about these exciting new developments.

Improve client relations

You know how important it is to keep your current clients happy, but did you realise that starting a blog is an easy and efficient way of helping you do just that?

If, for example, you find a recurring problem with the way your clients are using your service, you can use a blog post to (politely and helpfully) highlight the issue.

Are they perhaps not delivering crucial information in time to allow you to meet deadlines? You could then dedicate a post to the benefits of submitting documents within the agreed timeframe and offer handy tips to make the whole process easier for your clients.

A blog is also an excellent way to make clients aware of the full range of services you offer. Perhaps they are planning to expand their business in the near future, or take on additional employees. Publishing blog posts that discuss these subjects will reassure your clients that these are areas of expertise for your firm. They will be more likely to get in touch and ask for help if they know that these are matters you are able to deal with.

How to make the most of your blog:

Blogging can have a hugely positive impact on your accounting practice but, if you want to make the most of it, there are a few things to consider.

Have a clear goal

Before you put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, work out your goal. Is your primary aim to educate your audience, to position yourself as an expert or to get more clients? It’s important to nail this aspect of your blog early on because it will have a profound impact on how you proceed.

Find your topics and set the tone

Only once you’ve established your overall goal can you formulate your content strategy. Think about what you want to achieve, about the effect you want your blog posts to have on your reader. Working back from this, you can decide which tone of voice might produce this effect and which topics are most likely to resonate with your audience.

Evaluate the results

If you want your blog to have the desired impact, it’s important to keep evaluating the results. Make sure that you’re setting metrics based on the goals you’ve put in place, and keep track of how your content is performing.

For example, if your primary goal is to get more subscribers, then track the size of your mailing list. Did you get a flurry of new subscribers after publishing a particular post? Use that information as you continue to plan your content. If building your brand is the ultimate goal, track your social media reach instead.

Promote your content

Speaking of social media, please don’t forget to promote your content! You won’t enjoy any of the benefits mentioned above if your blog posts just sit there with tumbleweed blowing past. So make a concrete plan for sharing your content — and stick to it.

And don’t forget to leverage the networks of your followers and supporters too! Encourage your contacts to share your content to amplify its reach.

When you’re already busy with the myriad tasks that come with running a business, adding blogging to your to-do list can seem like a waste of time. Admittedly, there is a learning curve in starting a blog, and you do have to expend a bit of effort to get things up and running. Once you get into your stride, though, the benefits to your business can be huge.

Posted by Darren Taylor

Darren is a Marketing Manager specialising in Digital Marketing