20 Ideas for Small Business Blog Posts

Posted by Limelight Department | Posted in , , , , | Posted on 12:16 PM

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20 Ideas for Small Business Blog Posts
By Shaylor Murray, August 2008

Likely you’re reading this either because you want to know if you have what it takes to begin blogging, or you’re already blogging and want to put more into it. Congratulations, either way! Blogging is not a “hard sell” approach to winning over customers, rather it’s a way to help you connect with your regular and potential customers on a more human level. A blog is a chance to be less formal than you would in your regular business communications. A blog does require a bit of a shift in thought, though. You probably won’t make money from your blog, but you will eventually make money because of your blog.

One of the biggest challenges for the busy small business owner and blogger is coming up with ideas for posts. I’ve found that the most successful posts provide some type of value to the reader, allowing them to learn something new or think about something familiar in a new way. One of the most important lessons I like to share is that blog posts don’t have to be long. In fact, it’s often better if they’re not. Some new bloggers might feel that each blog post has to be the complete word on whatever subject is at hand. But extending your knowledge over a series of posts keeps readers interested, and is a lot less demanding on you than sitting down to write the first, last, and final word on any subject!

So now that you are relaxed and ready to write some short but inspired blog posts, here are a few ideas for when you run out of steam.

1. Make a Video

Tour your company offices, show your production line, talk to a couple of happy employees in your warehouse, introduce your staff, show how your product is made. This is a particularly effective strategy if you sell something that is hand-made.

2. Blog About a Mistake

You’ve made one or two over the course of your business, yeah? Don’t be afraid to share…it makes you human.

3. Frequently Asked Questions

There’s a good chance your website has a list of the common questions, but what about those that come up a little less frequently? Or so frequently that you answer them in every conversation?

4. Write a Book Review

Pick up a book on marketing and give it a spin. You say you’re too busy to read books? Then review a product, solution, or service that you use. Tell your readers what you like and dislike about it, and if you can recommend it or not.

5. Read the Newspaper

This one is almost as easy as it sounds. Is there anything in the current news that relates to your industry? Relate it to your business, and give your take on it. Position yourself as the expert with insider insight.

6. Talk about Yourself

Tell the story of how you started your business. Remember some of your mistakes and victories, things that were more challenging than you anticipated. “Get real” with your readers and go beyond your About Us page.

7. Solve a Problem

Have any of your customers faced a challenge in ordering from you? Maybe they needed some customized solution and you provided it. With your client’s permission, discuss the problem and how you tackled it together and solved it.

8. Conduct an Interview

Think of someone in your industry that you admire, call or email them, and transcribe it. Your questions can be personal or business related—ask them their opinion of something going on in the news, or how they overcame a challenge. These posts also offer an opportunity to add video or audio.

9. Answer Questions

This is for questions beyond the FAQ’s, beyond the estimated shipping time and cost eventualities. Solicit questions about what you do, and answer them.

10. Share a Complaint

Generally speaking, business owners like to keep negative comments or disparaging press deep in their pocket never to see the light of day. But think of this as an opportunity for redemption: you received a negative email, customer complaint, or bad review, and you dealt with it somehow. Taking it into your own hands like this allows you to explain the problem and what you did to make it right. You come out looking like customer service is really as important as you say it is.

11. Share Praise

Was someone exceptionally happy with their product or service? Did they share with you unsolicited glowing praise? Go ahead, toot your own horn.

12. Share Your Knowledge

Create a tutorial of an installation process or set-up. There's always something you can explain how to do. Using text, audio, or video, blog about as many tasks as you can (not all in one post, of course).

13. Live Reporting

Next time you attend a trade show, conference, or networking event, make sure your experiences make it onto your blog. Discuss and critique the workshops, the other vendors (nicely, of course! They’ll be reading your blog too), the free swag, the food, the hotel…you get the idea.

14. Know thy Enemy

What I mean is, keep up with what your competitors are saying on their blogs. Do you agree or disagree? Can you add to the conversation? Not to mention that the practice of reading other blogs can give you ideas for your own blog.

15. Set the Record Straight

Once and for all, answer that question that nags at your industry, that myth or fallacy that just won't die.

16. Follow that Tweet

If you follow someone on Twitter and you’re tweeting back and forth, expand on the conversation in your blog. Allow that to be your entry to a blog post, and respond with as much space as you need.

17. Make a List

People love lists. Like this one. Make one yourself, about something relevant to your readers. Maybe it’s the most useful resources or tools you use as a small business owner. Or the top five restaurants in your city. The top 10 most influential people in your industry and why.

18. Have a Conversation

Did you recently have to defend your industry? Did you explain something about your product or services to a client? There’s a good chance that client is not the only one with the question. Remember what your elementary school teacher always said…if you don’t know something, then your classmates don’t know something either. Allow the topic of the conversation to become a blog post to benefit whoever is reading.

19. Build Community

Take a poll and report on your reader’s responses. Post a question for discussion. Post reader-generated video.

20. Give Advice

You’re the expert, but you weren’t always. Help out a fellow traveler and answer some questions about what you’ve learned. What was the best decision you made to become successful? Maybe it was taking business classes, hiring an assistant, rebranding your name and packaging. You don’t have to divulge trade secrets, just share something you’ve learned with someone who is wearing the shoes you outgrew.

These 20 ideas are by no means the end. Keep your blog fresh by taking note of ideas as often as they come into your mind. Write them down in a notebook and refer to it when you’re stuck. Maybe you have a free evening and you have a few ideas. Go ahead and hash out a skeleton of several blog posts at once. Then the next time you sit down to write, the work of beginning will have already begun. The most important thing though, is to do it. That blog won’t write itself!

6 Tips To Create a Killer Slogan

Posted by Limelight Department | Posted in , , | Posted on 12:58 PM

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6 Tips To Create a Killer Slogan
By Shaylor Murray, July 2009


Think back to your youth. Maybe you watched a lot of cartoons on Saturday mornings as a kid, and remember some of the commercials that were shown over and over. Maybe one of the first things to pop into your head is that one from Coca Cola. You know, “Have A Coke And A Smile.” Or maybe this slogan from some old candy company: “Melts In Your Mouth, Not In Your Hands.” As an adult, maybe you remember seeing commercials from American Express reminding you, “Don’t Leave Home Without It,” or De Beers’ “A Diamond Is Forever.” There are countless others that you no doubt would remember with a little nudging.

These sayings are slogans. You remember these slogans from the past because they are memorable phrases—usually short, catchy, maybe rhyming, and usually used as part of a marketing campaign. This means that you don’t just hear them once while watching TV and then never hear it again. These slogans were effective because when they were used, during the heyday of these ad campaigns, these slogans were everywhere. On TV, on the radio, in print publications, and they were repeated often.

There have been countless slogans used throughout the history of advertising that no one remembers. If a shoe company used the slogan, “Since 1902” would you remember it? What about if a restaurant used the slogan, “Proudly serving you the best”? Probably not, but unfortunately, these are the types of slogans that most businesses come up with.

There is somewhat of an art to creating a memorable slogan. This article explores 5 key things to keep in mind while you are trying to develop a good slogan for your business.

1. Develop a logo, and following that, a slogan. If you are trying to change an existing slogan, then examine how well-known that slogan already is, and what steps you might need to take to re-brand yourself. But also remember that it is OK for you to change your slogan. Businesses change their slogans all the time. The scope and customer base of even a very successful business can change dramatically over five or 10 years, so don’t feel like your slogan is set in stone.

If you have already created some distinct graphics or a logo for your company but you haven’t extended that brand to a slogan, that can be an obvious starting point for you. If you don’t have a logo, create one, because unless you advertise solely on the radio, a slogan works in harmony with a logo to promote brand identity.

2. How do you want to brand your product or company? What image are you trying to project? Are you interested in a playful, catchy, rhyming slogan that has a connotation of fun and easy living? Or are you trying to cultivate an image of corporate professionalism? The more that you can refine how you want to be perceived, the closer you are to creating a slogan. Start by creating a list of adjectives that you feel describe your business effectively, and then narrow down the list to the most important three. Hopefully, you have a well-developed business plan and a clearly defined mission statement to draw from.

3. Sleep on it. Maybe a few times. Regardless of whether you are trying to create the slogan for yourselves or for a client, even a great idea looks different in the morning. Allow yourself plenty of time to come up with alternatives, play with your ideas, research, brainstorm, and consult with others involved in the project or business. Coming up with a slogan isn’t easy, and it does take some time and a measure of creativity that isn’t always possible to rush. Your final idea might be the first one you come up with, or it might take months.

4. Short and simple. Your logo shouldn’t be something that people need time to “get.” It should be instantly understandable and immediately effective at conveying its message. In most instances you will have mere seconds in which to make an impression, so something like “quality in products and services from the crossroads of where customer service and reliability meet″ is dead in the water. Aim for short, sweet, memorable, catchy, and simple. A (good) slogan should be no longer than one sentence, probably capped at 10 words (can you think of any slogan longer than 10?), and it should use easily recognizable language.

5. Memorable often equals rhyming, catchy, or funny. This is one facet of marketing in which humor is a good thing. A popular local business near me is a brewpub theater, in which patrons can watch a movie while enjoying food such as burgers and sandwiches and pints of micro brewed beer. Their slogan is “Not Sneaking Beer Into Movies Since 2008!” I love this slogan as it points out something pretty universal to people who attend movies in theaters, which is the practice of trying to sneak in some type of refreshment. It never fails to bring about a chuckle from patrons, and when a customer remembers your business with a smile, that’s a warm fuzzy feeling you can take to the bank.

The flipside if this is that something one person thinks is funny could be offensive or just plain dumb to the next person. Have some thoughtful people vet your potential slogan, to make sure you’re marketing up the right tree. If you can’t make it funny without being crass or groan-inducing, keep trying, or don’t try to be funny.

6. Be Honest. It might be tempting to slap the slogan “World’s Greatest Pizza” on each of your delivery boxes, but that’s a pretty hefty claim to live up to. Make sure your business delivers what the slogan claims it can. A restaurant near me bills itself as “the best” in the state. While the food is good, the fact is that it is very much like every other restaurant serving that type of food anywhere in the country. There is nothing about this establishment’s menu to distinguish it as the best at anything, much less outside of the city limits. Seeing this preposterous claim every time I drive by the restaurant hasn’t made me start believing that this restaurant truly is the best in the state. On the contrary, it has lowered the esteem I have for this restaurant because each experience I have there reinforces its mediocrity. So, avoid hyperbole. Not only is it commonly used, meaningless marketing jargon, but it can’t be substantiated and will often only serve to make you look desperate.

A slogan is an important part of your business branding, but it shouldn’t be as intimidating as writing a book. Luckily, there are some great examples of successful slogans to look at, so just start brainstorming and see where it leads you. Try and answer the question: What would your product say if it could talk?
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About Limelight Department

Limelight Department in advertising agency that specializes in Internet marketing for businesses across the US and Canada. Our experts utilize proven strategies of website development, media design, search engine optimization, pay-per-click, copy writing, content distribution and many other services to send targeted, ready-to-buy traffic to your site. Visit LimelightDepartment.com for more information.

What is Social Media Optimization?

Posted by Limelight Department | Posted in , , , , | Posted on 2:49 PM

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What can Social Media Optimization do for me?

Unhappy customers talk to other people about their experiences. Happy customers talk too. But as the saying goes, the unhappy customer will tell 10 people how bad your company is while the happy customer only tells one person. Whether it’s in your favor or not, the fact is people will talk and that is powerful marketing that can make or break a reputation.
Social Media Optimization allows you to lead the conversations people are having about your brands by interacting with your current and potential clients.

What is Social Media Optimization?

In general, Social Media Optimization, or SMO, is generating publicity and interest in your brand through social networking sites and resources. SMO utilizes news sites, RSS feeds, blogs and blogging networks, videos, and image sharing, just to name a few aspects. The sharing nature of social media means that it is an ongoing, open dialog between you and the rest of the world. It strengthens connections between yourself and your customers and clients, and provides an increased opportunity to strengthen your search engine optimization efforts.

Creating profiles in social media communities such as MySpace and Facebook is an example of current social media efforts, as is blogging, either by creating your own or participating in someone else’s, by leaving comments or as a guest writer. Sharing your expertise through article marketing using RSS feeds, and posting videos to YouTube and photos to Flickr all create opportunities to other people to engage with your brand and share the content.

Social Media Optimization takes search engine optimization to the next level, the “Web 2.0” level, if you will. In other words, the second generation of web activity that is much more interactive than the way the web was originally—web-based communities and services such as the social-networking sites, wikis and tagging and classification technologies which make collaboration and sharing fast and easy. By participating in all of these opportunities where others in your industry aren’t, you position yourself as the expert and increase your online visibility in a tangible way.

Social Media Optimization is most effective when the good content is created to exploit its viral nature, meaning that it is quickly and easily shared and that people want to share it. A big part of this is building a trustworthy reputation for yourself. There is a sense of trust among the sharing communities online that shouldn’t be taken advantage of.

Eventually, the social media optimization will take on a life of its own, as the content you have created is continually shared. But the ongoing communication aspect of SMO means that people will constantly be holding you accountable for every piece of your content that gets shared online. Violating this trust or using questionable techniques will be unappealing to the online communities you are seeking to court, and will very likely result in a backlash that is the opposite of the positive attention you were hoping to achieve.


Gain and keep their trust

The goal of marketing online is to build communities with similar interests. People want safe places to share their thoughts where they know others will have a similar mindset. You should not be chasing down every single person online to be their “friend.” Without a group with similar interests, there will be no cohesive to spread your message.

Of course, it’s perfectly fine to belong to different communities and have different groups of friends within those communities. The goal should be to remain active by building friendships with people with similar interests and contributing relevant content in those communities. Highschoolers can compete with one another to have the most friends on communal sites like Facebook and MySpace, but the small business owner should be concerned with quality, not quantity. Online groups are like planned communities—people join because they already like and agree with that going on, so a savvy online marketers knows there’s no need to do everything “in bulk.”

In fact, conducting business “in bulk” in these communities (by friending anyone, sending unsolicited bulk messages, and contributing only link heavy advertisements) is the equivalent of spam. But spamming in the context of a social network is even more unwelcome, because the user can’t get rid of it or hide it like they can when it appears in their email inbox. It’s visible to everyone and decreases the enjoyment of the site for everyone. If you don't have something useful or relevant to say in the case of social networks, don't say anything at all.

How To leverage social media opportunities

There are many different ways to generate social media content, so don’t feel like you have to engage in each one. Find two or three that resonate with you and focus on those. If you put more interest into what you’re doing, it will be more well-received.

News sites such as Digg, Propeller, and Newsvine allow users to submit news articles. If you discover a breaking news story, share it or comment on a news story that someone else found. Giving fellow submitters a “thumbs up” for finding something interesting is a good way to encourage them to give you a “thumbs up” when you find something to share.

YouTube and Flickr are sites that allow users to upload and share different media files such as photos and videos. The benefit of these sites is that they are easily found in search engines, easily searchable, and direct people back to your primary website. Utilize them by filming or photographing your products or services in action.

Wiki sites like Wikipedia, WikiAnswers and WikiHow allow users to contribute content and edit the content that was provided by other users. There are numerous wikis available that are about specific topics.

Networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook, Virb and many others allow users to create profiles and join and create friend networks with others according to similar interests.

Bookmarking sites such as Stumble Upon, Technorati, and Del.icio.us allow users to bookmark sites they find interesting or informative. The bookmarked collections can be shared publicly. The more often a site is bookmarked, the higher it is ranked within the site, making it easier for additional people to find it.

Is SMO right for you?

While many businesses can benefit from social media, SMO might not be right for some others. These are some guiding questions to consider before embarking on a social media campaign:

• Social media involves sharing some personal information and developing online personas that reveal a bit of the personality of the people behind the brands. Are you comfortable with sharing specific information about you and your company?

• Does your company already have a blog or news feed that is regularly updated? If not, is there potential for your company to begin releasing regular updates?

• Social media operates most effectively when it is about something very specific. Would your products and services benefit from a specific content-driven marketing approach?

• While the pool of users of social media sites is growing and changing, most users are young and technologically sophisticated. Would your company, product, or service appeal to them?

Summary

Social media optimization has the potential to cross-pollinate with sectors of the market you never thought your message could reach. It does work. But like any other marketing campaign, go into it with your eyes open, and having thought through your strategy with as much throroughness as is possible.

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About Limelight Department
Limelight Department in advertising agency that specializes in Internet marketing for businesses across the US and Canada. Our experts utilize proven strategies of website development, media design, search engine optimization, pay-per-click, copy writing, content distribution and many other services to send targeted, ready-to-buy traffic to your site. Visit LimelightDepartment.com for more information.

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Abed's Limos make an appearance at King Estate Winery

Posted by Limelight Department | Posted in , , | Posted on 1:20 PM

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The other day we took some time to drive out to King Estate Winery to do a photo shoot for a client website, Abed's Limousine & Town Car Service. The beautiful day allowed for truly terrific photos of our clients limousines. The pictures look great and we can't wait to get them up on the website. Website coming soon for Aded's Limousine & Town Car Service at www.eugenelimo.com
Below is a photo of Shaylor, Zack and Jonathan enjoying the view at the winery


The Bite of Eugene...Be there!

Posted by Limelight Department | Posted in | Posted on 2:09 PM

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Come join us at the Bite of Eugene this Saturday August 15th! Held at Alton Baker Park starting at 11am and ending at 10pm. It the first year Eugene is holding the Bite in celebration our local food scene and culinary culture with a focus on sustainability from Field to Table, who is one of our clients and a great catering business. The event is free to the public but you must buy your food and drink. As a proud sponsor of the Bite of Eugene ourselves we also helped publish the website for the event. And don't miss the live local "Iron Chef" competition!

YPN's Heating Things Up

Posted by Limelight Department | Posted in , , , , | Posted on 11:44 AM

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The Eugene Young Professionals Network held an event last week hosted by Evergreen Land Title Co., we had the opportunity to attend and meet a great many professionals in the Eugene/Springfield area. Hot August Cajun Night was the theme for the evening and upon entering everyone was layered with Mardi Gras beads and name badges. In the corner a small brass band played New Orleans style music, a tent offered cuisine unusual to us here in the Pacific Northwest such as alligator, whole crayfish and pickled everything. Of course we were all offered such concoctions like lemonade with a little kick. It was a nice atmosphere and we all the appreciated the effort that Evergreen Land Title put into the evening.



It was good to see a large turnout, an estimated 310 attendants, even if the sky turned gray, and the four of us who attended the event enjoyed socializing and meeting other young professionals in the Eugene business community. Though it was a "young" professionals network event everyone was welcome. We all brought school supplies to benefit the kids in Lane County and for every supply you brought your name was entered into a raffle drawing for a weekend getaway. Unfortunately no one over here at Limelight made off with the grand prize but the event was still a fun success for everyone!

The Cutting of the Ribbon

Posted by Limelight Department | Posted in , | Posted on 12:39 PM

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Last week here at Limelight Department we meet with members of the Eugene Chamber of Commerce to officially welcome our new office into the community. Our team, including the awesome interns, were all here to celebrate this wonderful occasion. One of our clients Field to Table catered the event and provided local produce with Italian summer flair to it like marinated skirt steak, fresh pesto, prosciutto wrapped melon and delicious vegetables with mozzarella. Cafe Vero also provided coffee for the event that I found myself drinking more than my fair share.


There was a great showing of people to our ribbon cutting and it was quite snug inside our office. When it came time to cut the ribbon everyone attempted to smash together outside the office in the petite hallway. It didn't work as smoothly as we would have hoped but we made it work!

Shaylor Murray, founder of Limelight Department, gave a short speech to thank everyone for coming to celebrate Limelight Department's current success. Ms. Lane County even decided to join in our celebration allowing us to spend some time to chat with her about her contributions to the Eugene area.

Here at Limelight Department we just want to thank everyone from the Eugene Chamber of Commerce for coming by and supporting us. We really are so excited to be here in Eugene and can't wait to be working more in the community.