11.24.2008

LoGeDDy BlOg bLoG BLOg
This question arrived via email on Friday:

"Deb, I have a lovely web site with a blog linked to it. However it's starting to become challenging to keep the blog fresh. My intention was to use the blog to lure customers to the shop, not to add more to my plate. Would you please recommend some sites that might help me mix things up, like I am able to do with my merchandising? Thank you!"

Heidi
www.hihohome.com
www.hihohome.blogspot.com


Heidi, my dear, you find yourself in the same situation that so many other retailers and businesses do - trying to maximize your exposure on a dime, at the cost of your time. I think you are smart to utilize free marketing technology like a blog! I responded directly to Heidi in an email, but I thought that this subject matter was something that many of you are dealing with...so I'm sharing those ideas here.

Here are a few tips I can offer:

While it does take some time to manage, you can schedule it into your weekly planner - set it up so that you post regularly, like on Monday and Thursday morning. Then your readers will know when to expect a new post from you, and you can plan ahead with what you'll write about. Also, you can create several posts at once, and then choose the date & time that they will post in the future - this is really handy if you are expecting a schedule crush or vacation.

What should you post about? Try new products that have just come in - maybe show a photo of them peeking out of the shipping box, and announce that "they will hit the sales floor on Wednesday morning, so hurry in!". Post about close-out merchandise sales, or new seasonal product themes you are working on, maybe show a bit of the 'behind the scenes' stuff that makes retail so fun, like a stockpile of merchandise just waiting to go into your next window display.

How to structure posts: One or two great photos and two short paragraphs of text is best. (I am a very wordy gal so I often write long posts...I try to break them up into short paragraphs and sentences so they don't look too intimidating to read!) I also like blogs that offer captions under each photo, because I want to see the image and then read what it's about. But that's a personal preference! If you do use more than a few photos in one post, shrink them to small size. Viewers can click on them to enlarge, and it requires less scrolling to read a post.

Make sure you offer links in your blog - link to blogs you read and enjoy, and that you feel will inspire your customers. It's all about reciprocity, so leave comments on blogs you read, too - say you've added their blog to your blog links. People will visit!

Allow comments on your blog - this is a great way to get feedback on what you are offering, as well as building that customer relationship. You can have them emailed to your regular address, so that you can moderate them if necessary. While I really dislike getting snarky comments from anonymous posters, I've found that they are few and far between. And restricting anonymous comments also restricts users of other blog platforms, so it makes it frustrating for them to leave a comment on your blog. Not a good thing!

Promote your blog in your shop:
*Place signs in the window displays and at the cashwrap saying 'Visit our blog at hihohome' to let everyone know it's there. Even when your shop is closed, this info should be visible in your windows.
*Make small drop-in cards for each bag, and have new biz cards made with the blog address on it. (VistaPrint.com is easy, fast, and inexpensive!)

In all ads you place, even text ads, give the blog address. People are more likely to check out your blog than your website - web sites seem like a sales pitch, blogs are a conversation. That's a good way to remember how to approach it! Once at your blog, they'll see what you are all about - make sure you have a link from your blog to your web site, so they can easily go there.

Create a banner for your blog that reflects your business web page design, brand image, and logo. Your goal is to impart your business image and your own personal style. This is one venue where business HAS to be personal, as well as professional! You can change up the banner seasonally or at a whim - just make sure you always keep your brand image in mind. Same colors, typeface, logo, etc.

There are a few resources I can recommend to help you learn more:

http://www.freshblogtips.com/ Colleen of Fresh Vintage interviews business women about their blogs, offers hints & tips for maximizing your blog's impact & technology, and unearths info about the newest blogging strategies & widgets.

All of these sites/blogs provide tips for enhancing & maximizing your blog's appearance & impact:




I wish you much success, Heidi!

2 comments:

  1. Debi,

    Thank you so much. Your tips are wonderful and I appreciate all the time you took to organize a plan of attack for me. I guess I was a bit of a chicken when it came time to open the blog for comments...I'm thinking I'll remix a new header and then open for comments. I'll have to do more blog visiting before I add a list of inspiring blogs, but yours will be sure to make the list. Well you have done a great job of lighting the fire under me to continue on my quest to maximize HiHo's exposure. Gratefully yours, Heidi

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  2. Dear Deb,

    This is not the first time you have read my mind. It seems every time I have a question in my head, I pull up this blog and there is my answer. Well, thanks again...

    also, any tips on how we can get/change/make new banners? I don't even know where to start with that...

    missy

    P.S. I finally started my own blog to go with my website, so I guess I will put these tips to good use soon.

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