Literary Architects, LLC works with authors to combine the quality and standards of traditional publishing with the flexibility and control of self-publishing. Literary Architects' publishing professionals specialize in selecting and partnering with committed authors to produce trade-quality books, consulting with authors to plan and execute custom sales and marketing strategies, and providing authors with fulfillment and distribution of their books.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Using Blogs in the Business World

I recently attended an online marketing seminar hosted by the Indianapolis Business Marketing Association. There were about 75 marketing professionals in the room to hear Hollis Thomases, president of Web Advantage, one of the most well-regarded online marketing strategies firms. She touched on all aspects of online marketing and what each is best for. When the topic of blogs came up, only about half the room raised their hands that they had read a blog. When asked how many of their companies had business blogs, less than a half dozen hands remained. When asked how many of those blogs allowed comments to be posted, mine was the only hand remaining up.
Not surprisingly, most of the people in the room (and the businesses they represent) were skeptical of allowing open two-way communication on what they view as a corporate communication tool. Embracing a website or an e-newsletter is easy, since the company controls the entire message -- and the broadcast communication is all one-way (or at least responses are private). However, that view ignores the whole point of a blog (and what we hope to do with this one), in which you can give people much more than a corporate communication vehicle -- a better view into your business, the people behind the business, your thought process, concerns your industry is facing, and then open an honest dialog with customers, industry professionals, and other interested parties. A successful blog is far from a corporate communications piece -- those blogs that are designed in that way will likely never produce the results intended. Sure, any good business person that creates a blog is hoping to gain something from it -- we hope to show potential clients who we are, what motivates us, what keeps us awake at night, and why you would benefit from doing business with us. But we also hope that our blog is a learning tool for us as well -- with honest discussions about our industry, about creative ideas, and occasionally about something we didn't think of or didn't get quite right.
Sure, you run the risk of allowing disgruntled customers or competitors to sabotage your company on your own site, but how a company responds to that situation again gives blog readers an insight into the company. How often have we heard that crisis management brings out the best and the worst in people? As a blogger, you has several tools for responding and building upon this situation. Quick, helpful responses to legitimate complaints and negative comments, deleting inappropriate posts, and posting new blogs addressing issues of concern are but three ways -- and ways that can show readers that you (and your business) are concerned, responsive, and respectful.
Viewing a blog as just an extension of your corporate mission statement, or a vehicle for further spreading a press release, or another controlled one-way media device is not to take advantage of the real benefits of a blog.


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