4 things your small business should blog about

At Simplified Solutions, we help people tell their stories online and we use tools like WordPress and Twitter. One of my graphic design buddies gave me the title Chief Storyteller (obviously hacked from Chief Shoe-giver ala Tom’s shoes) when he was designing my latest business card. The title stuck and leads to a grin whenever someone sees it

We get the pleasure of telling the stories of some amazing businesses each and every day. A friend of mine Ron Stuart coined the phrase embedded reporter and it really does communicate what we do. We use new media to assist small businesses who have primarily used word of mouth to grow their businesses. Inbound marketing works well for word of mouth businesses, but not so well for those accustomed to interruption based outbound media. When those businesses use new media it often reminds me of Seth Godin’s book, Meatball Sundae. Your company needs to be built or changed to work with new media. When you simply put new media on top of an old business model you get whip cream and cherries on top of meatballs. Not too appetizing and a waste of money.

So when we do our embedded reporting, what exactly do “we” communicate:

(“we” is a team approach and collaborative effort- not just ghost blogging)

  1. We write about their story and their uniqueness. If they are just another “me too business” there is not much we can do to spread a boring story.
  2. We write about keywords that customers may use to find them on Google. We do it in a genuine way. We want to fish where the fish are. If we have what they are looking for, then we want to be johnny on the spot.
  3. We do educational marketing. We ask the sales team, the estimators, the marketing folks and the owner; what don’t prospects understand about your service, your process or your product? Then we craft content that educates.
  4. We have fun. We write about fun things. We mix it up a bit. You should too. Humor is powerful. Part of that fun is staging contests, promotions and creating engagement with customers, employees and raving fans of course.

The goal of it all is to make it easy for their product, service, or story to spread. We set up the platforms and (“in praise of slow” via Mitch Joel) create fertile ground for a community to build. This is all pretty new stuff so check back for updates and case studies. It’s part art, part science and part hope into the future. It’s better than hoping into the past though- pretty sure the old stuff isn’t coming back anytime soon. Thinking along the same lines? Contact us to start the conversation.

Linchpin, Rework and your small businesses

After polishing off Rework by the founders of 37 signals and Linchpin by Seth Godin in the past few weeks, I have an even stronger feeling about everyone being a story teller. Your small business or non profit needs all hands on deck. It’s always been a good idea to have all your employees marketing and selling for your business. After all nothing happens until someone sells a product or service right? I love a good cliche. Well if it was remotely true in a world of factories, cogs and the #gotoschoolgetagoodjobwork40yearsandretire mantra, then it’s vital now.

There really is no time to waste. Get your team organized. Let them know that they have a story to tell. The story is the uniqueness of your business. If it’s not unique, interesting or a purple cow (hat tip: Seth Godin once again); then start over with a new vision. Get a new plan. Rework the service. Fine tune the product. Make it remarkable, at least relative to your industry, and then organize your team to be story tellers.

The tools are there now. We can all self publish videos, blogs, pictures, audio recordings and we can all build an audience. No more barriers. That used to be the hard part. Advertising is expensive, even when it’s no longer popular. Even when demand is low. Plus who has the time to interrupt enough people day in and day out. Why not assemble your fans, organize them and let them loose sharing your story with the world- or at least a couple hundred to thousand people. That’ll do.

You can do this yourself if you’re a good listener, learner and have the time. If not we’d love to help, maybe. See it depends. Just like you don’t want just any customer, we’re seeking out remarkable small businesses too. It’s hard to help someone share a boring story. It just won’t spread.

Saying No Means Saying Yes

I just watched this video shared by Seth Godin over at his blog yesterday. It was linked up here and I’ve embedded it below.

This made me really think about how I’m communicating what I do and who I do it for. I hate to be selfish with a good thing. How does this apply to your business? How does this apply to your story? Have you said yes to everyone and no to everything? How about saying no to everyone and yes to everything? “Everything” is relative but it still sounds good.