Every local business owner I talk to asks me the same thing…
Do I really need to have a blog?
This is a frustration we can all understand. Very few local service businesses or professionals have the time or resources to regularly update a blog with accurate, relevant, and helpful information that represents their company.
I hear you…
But, the benefits of running a quality local blog are worth the time and effort required. Here are the 7 best reasons why every local business needs a blog:
- Establish Yourself as THE Expert
- Search Engine Traffic (Lots of Steady Traffic)
- Educate Your Potential Customers
- Handle Objections
- Convert Visitors into Leads & Customers
- Distinguish Yourself From Your Competitors
- Show Your Personality (people buy from people they know and like)
1. Establish Yourself as an Expert in Your Industry
Hopefully, everyone in your industry is an expert in that industry (although we all probably know one or two pretenders). Some fields are easier to distinguish the experts with degrees, certifications or licenses. Doctors, attorneys, and accountants are all licensed with years of education and degrees to prove their qualifications.
If you’re a plumber, wedding planner, home builder, or similar local service business, there is no easy way for potential customers to know if you’re competent or trained, let alone an expert in your field.
You have to demonstrate it.
Writing Unique Content to Establish Expertise
One of the most efficient ways to demonstrate your level of expertise in your industry is by blogging. Providing in-depth information about all aspects of your industry, shows your site visitors and social media followers that you know what you’re talking about, and care enough to share that information with them.
They learn to trust your advice.
Another way to demonstrate you are a leader in the industry, is to gather together and curate all the important information, news, and resources on a particular niche area of your industry.
Let’s face it – not every important piece of industry news, technique, or way of working is going to be a unique idea that comes from you. That would be absurd!
If you position yourself as the one person or company who curates all the other good ideas, news and resources for your customers in one easy to find place, then you become the go-to resource – THE Expert. People learn that anytime they need to know about your industry or have a question, they can come to you for the full scoop.
Which leads us to the second reason to start a blog…
2. Educate & Answer Customer Questions
Imagine it’s the middle of July, and about 95 degrees outside, and your home’s internal temperature starts to rise unexpectedly to 80 degrees. You realize your air conditioner has stopped working and your family is miserably hot.
You Google “air conditioner repair” and find 3 local HVAC technicians, all with 4-star reviews. You visit each company’s website looking for information about what to expect with ac repair. Is this a $200 job or a $2,000 job? Does it take a day to fix or a week?
We’ve all been in the position of needing a service, but being completely ignorant about what’s involved, how long it takes, or what to expect for costs. It’s a helpless feeling.
So, when all else is equal (reviews, location, etc), who are you going to call? The sites with generic information about the types of services they offer, or the site with frequently asked questions answered, pricing estimates, and in-depth information about common air conditioner problems?
Obviously, we would all choose the company with more information.
So, when you blog, educate your potential customers about their concerns. Here are just a few ideas…
- Frequently asked questions
- The Process/What to expect (of the appt, the installation, or service)
- Price estimates (explain what affects the price and the ranges for each service if its not a fixed price)
- Comparison charts with competitors
- Reviews of products or materials used
The Law of Reciprocity
When you educate your potential customers and answer their questions, you are also tapping into the Law of Reciprocity. This law of human behavior says that when someone does something nice for you, you feel the need to reciprocate or repay them with something equally nice or better.
People buy from people who take the time to educate them.
Of course, we’ve all experienced the manipulative side of this, where the pushy salesman lures you into their store with promises of freebies or a no-obligation quote, only to find out they fully intend to “collect” on your reciprocation.
So, don’t be that guy.
Gary Korisko from Reboot Authentic discusses the right and wrong ways to use the Law of Reciprocity in your business, so you maximize your leverage while building trust and credibility.
Providing free information, answering questions, and sincerely helping your prospects through your blog will build that good will and reciprocity.
3. Get Targeted Search Engine Traffic
As a local business, there are two ways to get search engine traffic:
- Local Map Results (3-box)
- Organic search results
A blog isn’t going to affect your snack pack rankings, so you don’t need a blog at all to rank in the top 3 local pack. But too many local businesses rely on local map traffic alone, and are leaving a ton of organic search engine traffic on the table.
Let’s face it – the local map results don’t display for every search term your customers use. What does get displayed for those terms are the regular organic search results. So how do you get into the organic search results?
Unique content published on a specific topic that answers questions, provides your opinion, reviews products or services, or explains how to do something are all valuable blog posts that can achieve top organic search rankings and traffic.
The Power of Long Tail Search Traffic
Many times a single blog post can get traffic from hundreds and even thousands of different search terms. This is called “long tail traffic” – 4 or more word search terms that you may have never knew were searched on, that you get traffic from.
- Easier to Get – Long tail traffic is some of the easiest to get because there isn’t a lot of competition for them, and is usually obtained unintentionally through blogging.
- More Stable – organic search traffic from long tail keywords are some of the most stable traffic you can get, because its spread out over hundreds and thousands of terms. So if you drop off the first page of results for a long tail term there are still hundreds more. You’re not depending on one or two main keywords for all your traffic.
- Convert Better – in many cases, the 4+ word search terms are far more specific and targeted than the primary keywords, and actually convert into customers more often. Here’s an example:
Quality Blog Posts Generate Links
When you write unique, helpful content, other people are more likely to link to you from their websites or in social media.
Links are like votes – the content with the most votes is the most trusted and valuable in the eyes of Google. So, when you earn more natural links, your search engine rankings go up. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle of traffic!
4. Handle Objections Before they Contact You
How many times have you picked up the phone to answer the same questions, address the same concerns, and make the same sales pitch to prospective customers?
If you’re like most of us, its probably more often than you’d like to admit.
Why not cover those common objections in your blog:
- Price – If you have a fixed price, you can talk about how your price compares to the competition. You make the price shoppers job much easier with a handy chart and explanation of why the differences in the cost, or why one service is more than another. It also weeds out the tire-kickers.This was famously done by Progressive Insurance, who started publishing all the top national insurance company rates compared to their own. They weren’t always the cheapest, but customers appreciated the time savings, and valued the information enough to go with Progressive regardless of price.
- Process of the Service & Expected Outcomes – Describing the process of the service you provide puts your customers at ease. This gives them the information they need to decide whether they want to go ahead with your service. They’ll know what to expect at each stage of the service, whether for teeth whitening, filing for bankruptcy, or building a new home.
- Warranty/Guarantee – Do you offer a warranty or guarantee on your service or product? If so, explain what your promise is, how you compare with other industry guarantees, and why or how you can make such a promise.
Of course, all of these items can be on other pages of your site like your service pages, and the about us page. But, that shouldn’t stop you from adding more comparison type content on your blog with a more objective view of the industry standards, while weaving in your company’s approach. You don’t want to be promotional on your blog, but it never hurts to include benchmark information about your practices along with the others.
You can see how posting this content on your blog can save you and your team a bunch of time in handling phone calls, and online leads who already know how you work, what you charge, and your guarantee.
5. Convert Visitors Into Leads and Customers
Blogging allows us to reach a more targeted customer than we could have otherwise.
Think about the buyer intent of someone who Googles “dog trainer” to find your homepage in the local snack pack results.
Now think about the buyer intent of the search “Doberman obedience dog trainer”. This is a far more qualified visitor. And, if they arrive on a blog post with a complete guide to obedience training for Dobermans, they are much more likely to convert into a customer than a person who comes to your homepage from a generic search term.
While generating traffic is the name of the game, if your visitors don’t convert into leads and customers, then you’re wasting your time.
Blogging about relevant, specific issues your visitors care about will draw targeted, high-converting visitors to your site.
6. Convey Differences Between You and Your Competitors
When you’re trying to stand out among your competitors, it’s important to show the differences between you. A blog is a great way to do that.
Here are a couple examples of blog post ideas to convey why customers should come to you.
- “What to look for” posts – These posts allow you to set the criteria by which people should shop for their service providers. Here are a few examples:
- What to Look For in Your Cosmetic Dentist
- 7 Questions to Ask Your Landscape Architect
- The 10 Must-Have Qualities in a Party Planner
- Comparison charts – Everyone can quickly read a comparison chart with green check marks and red x’s at a glance to understand why your company stands apart from your competitors. Again, you get to set the criteria to highlight your best features. This is also a great blog post for people who like to skim (instead of read every word).
7. Show Your Personality
Writing for your blog allows you to show off your personality and style. But, you might be asking, “Why would anyone care about their plumber’s (insert job title) personality?”
It goes back to what Bob Burg is quoted as saying “All things being equal, people do business with, and refer business to people they know, like and trust.”
So, don’t be afraid to show your readers who you are, your quirks, sense of humor, and personal style. You can write more than just useful tips. Let readers get a peek behind the curtain to see how your company and team functions day-to-day.
- Company News – Adding or moving locations, new services, or ideas you want to run by your customers (people love to feel like a part of the company family)
- Team Members – welcome new staff, highlight life events for team members like getting married, having children, or moving
- Behind the Scenes – Here you can have some fun with office pranks, inside running jokes, and office pools or fantasy leagues.
- Local Community – Talk about community events you’ll be attending, sponsorships, or even the local softball games your company plays.
You can see that you can make your company blog a fun, informative, and engaging resource to establish yourself as the expert in your industry, differentiate your company from your competitors, and ultimately provide a steady stream of free targeted traffic, leads and customers.
Go start your blog today!