Keeping in mind the regular blogger’s state of mind and the Small Business Bloggers’, fact can be seen that the blog was not primarily seen as a sales vehicle. Relationship building was the most common reason for blogging, with only two interviewees failing to mention this point. This result tends to confirm the view that blogs are an excellent tool for communicating with customers.
Abhinash Jena, who is responsible for marketing in ProjectGuru, saw a clear link between humanizing the company and relationship building:
The purpose of the blog is to give our company a human voice. When you write something on a website, it can sound pretty generic because it’s non-personal.
We try to make all of our messages extremely personal in order to develop relationships with customers and prospective customers. The blog makes that easy. Whenever you have something to say, you just say it. The audience knows who wrote it because it has the author’s name at the top and it’s written in first person.
A website is only an online brochure. There’s obviously a lot more that goes on behind the scenes on a daily basis where you can actually expand upon who you are as a company, people want transparency. The today’s customer is not stupid. He knows exactly what’s going on, and if the owner doesn’t make it known, he will make sure about it through some other source. Hence, it’s best to be the first to tell. And truth is, negative comments strike faster than the good ones. The human factor was particularly important to self-employed bloggers. In small companies what you’re selling more than anything else is the human side. If they have a blog, then people can know the company/owner before they start working with them. So half the work’s already done.
Blogging as a means of demonstrating one’s personal expertise was another area seen as particularly important by self-employed bloggers. Vruti Ashar, a Fashion Designer with Balaji Telefilms, uses blogs for social purposes as well as for professional gains. She referred to her blog as a ‘living CV’ while using the word ‘portfolio’, saying that it was ‘an example of my writing I can show potential clients. I thought the blog would be at the same time a way to get the word out about what I was doing, to cover some issues and to, in an informational way, market my expertise, my practice and my business. The blog’s primary purpose is as an informal communication channel on business topics with my direct network of contacts (who tend to be non-bloggers). My business is based on maintaining network contacts so this is an efficient way to maintain a balance of offline/online contact.
Project Guru is using blogs for PR purposes. For small companies with limited resources, a blog represents an inexpensive means to disseminate information to potential customers and the press. They found that blogs provided a way into the mainstream media: The most satisfactory aspect is the fact that it has helped me keep my customer satisfied. And I believe a company can only continue in the long run in you keep the target happy with the product from the start.
Mr. Jena also stated that though blogs do not guarantee sales, they do guarantee a certain bond between the company and the customer. ‘Products are tangible, services are not. And in both cases, blogs are required if you want an honest opinion about your product, and be the first to know. If the SBU is using blogs as a medium to make sales, then success is not guaranteed. Even if he manages to reach his target, then it will be so only in short run. Blogs are meant for relationship-building.’
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