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.

The New Top of Mind- 7 reasons to pump out content

Here is a quick list of 7 Reasons why you should start Pumping out Content for your small business, micro business or startup.

1) Because you can.

With a WordPress site and a premium theme ( of course I’m an affiliate) you are the director of “You” Publishing. It’s the ultimate in Bootstrap Marketing.

2) Because it’s fun.

What small business owner doesn’t get ideas in the middle of the night, driving down the road or in the shower. We all do. We care about our baby and even the most boring of us comes up with great ideas to promote his or her baby. Now you have the keys and you’re in control.

3) Because it educates and sells.

Want to get a point across to a prospect. Want to reinforce something to a current customer. Want to show your hand to a competitor. Want to tell your customers and prospects why they should look at your value propositions. Pump out the good relevant content.

4) Because you’ll be one of the first adopters.

No matter how much small businesses are chattering about inbound marketing, social media and blogging- very few are actually doing it. Want to get ahead? Then actually do it and stop just talking about it.

5) Because you’ll learn a lot in the process.

Creating good content for your site and blog is fun yet challenging. It requires you to rethink the way you run your business, the way you market your products and services and the way your community views you. Whether you’re recording videos and screencasts, snapping telling pictures, writing great posts or sharing key links- you’ll be forced to think and learn along the way.

6) Because you’re creating indexable content that can be referenced by you and search engines fo-ever.

Think about the difference between the web and sending a direct mail piece, running a print ad or buying a phone book ad. Print is finite. The web is not as of yet.

7) Because I said so.

I have your best interests at heart. I’m a nice guy and a lot smarter people than me are saying this too.

Why I use WordPress?

Let me count the ways … no that’s too cliche.

Here are the top 10 reasons why I use WordPress … no that’s too Twitter.

Please become a fan of WordPress on my Facebook page … no that’s too Farmville or whatever that Facebook game is called that everyone sends me and I ignore.

For only $19.99 get all my WordPress Secrets … too splash page.

Click here to download a free trial of WordPress … too spammy plus it’s already free.

Pick up the phone and call now and you’ll also get my bonus report “How I’ve made millions in 3 hours per day using WordPress” … too late night infomercial.

Ok seriously now, the reasons why I use WordPress are many. This post may just scratch the surface but WordPress is something I love to use and write about. I’ve also built a business around it. Did I mention [start of shameless self plug] that my wife downloaded a virus on her PC last week for the 2nd time this year. It’s toast this time (I use a Mac and she wants one too but wouldn’t this Netbook really hold her over for another year or so- I think so too) [end shameless self plug] and we could use a new Netbook.

WordPress has leveled the playing field in two big ways:

1) It has made Web Design way more affordable. You no longer are tied to a webmaster if you don’t need to be. You also don’t have to get a custom CMS (content management system) built. You can launch a website or blog in a matter of hours. With the amazing number of premium themes and plug ins you can focus your attention on creating compelling content and building a community around your product, idea, service or cause. Instead of focusing all your attention on design, functionality and technical stuff, you get to redirect that energy toward the things that truly drive traffic and create bottom line results. Plus it has widgets and you can’t go wrong with widgets.

2) WordPress has allowed you, me and anyone with a business, passion or hobby to self publish. You no longer have to wait to be published in a magazine, newspaper or journal. You no longer have to pay big bucks to broadcast your message on TV or radio. You hit the publish button everytime you post something in WordPress. If it’s good they’ll find it through Google. They’ll share it on Twitter. They’ll Digg it or Stumble it. The ball is in your court like it’s never been before. It’s the ultimate bootstrapping tool. It’s homebase. It’s better than the other blogging platforms and open source CMS’s because it has a legion of fans, developers, designers, writers, podcasters, video bloggers, visionaries and entrepreneurs making it better daily. It’s a movement. It’s a community. Did I mention it has widgets and that’s fun to say.

I heart it and it’s high on my list.

Thanks to WP Studio for putting on the contest and to ithemes and webdesign.com for all they do to make WordPress better.

10 simple steps for WordPress as CMS

Obviously, we know that WordPress has become much more than a blog platform. It’s won awards for the top CMS so you’re probably aware that it can work nicely for your website.- especially if you’re looking to Bootstrap your way to success. So what are some of the simple ways aside from blogging to keep your site fresh? Here’s a quick list of 10 to get you started.

  1. Add new links weekly to your link widget and display it in your sidebar.
  2. Add an RSS page template and pull in all your favorite feeds to that page.
  3. Embed your Google Reader share items in a page or widget.
  4. Embed your Delicious bookmarks RSS feed into a widget area.
  5. Embed your Google Calendar into a page.
  6. Pull in social media badges from Flickr, Youtube or Twitter.
  7. Change key widget areas on the home page with simple text widgets.
  8. Use a plug in like Billboard to easily update ads, sponsors or promotions.
  9. Add to your portfolio, case studies, testimonials or services pages.
  10. Blog- sorry for the obvious but it had to make the list.