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“I’ve got a web site, why do I need a blog?”

April 8, 2010

Honestly, it’s a good question and probably the first one we hear when we talk to business owners. After all, everyone knows you need a web site — what company, non-profit, retailer or other business-to-consumer (and even business-to-business) organization would dream of not having a web site? It’s your public face online. Your 24/7/365 store. Your web presence that’s supposed to extend the farthest reaches of the earth and bring you untold business opportunities (right?).

And many have gone through the normally-harrowing process of planning and having a web site created — a project that involved more time than you thought, more resources than you probably allocated and likely more budget than you planned.

So when business owners and directors of other organizations are queried as to why they don’t have a blog, the most common question is “Why do I need one? I have a web site.” Well, here are five great reasons why you can’t afford not to have this important component of your online marketing, promotions and public relations toolkit:

1. Web sites tend to be static. Remember when you (or your staff) spent all that time planning out your web site, carefully making sure that you included sections or pages on your company’s or organization’s history and purpose? And your web site certainly features information about your products or services. Probably background information on the owners, directors and/or key staff members was painstakingly acquired and professionally written. Pictures of product or images of customers using your organization’s services were procured. Every last bit of information about your company or organization was crammed into some section or web page and in the end, your glorious creation was unveiled for the world to experience.

Until you forgot one or two things. Or some new product or service was introduced. Or some industry news came out that you thought you’d better comment on. Or you had a new initiative, project, client, charity or cause you wanted everyone to know about. Or….

Well, you could always go back and see how these things could be shoe-horned into your existing web site. Or you could create — and maintain — a blog.

A blog allows you to publish instantaneously and in a format that doesn’t necessarily have to fit into a set structure of a web site (though you can easily categorize and tag content within it). Think of it as your own personal news journal where you can give weight to important stories and news and less to updates or other minor pieces of information.

2. Web sites tend to be impersonal. If you were smart, you hired a great copywriter who worked with your agency or inhouse resources to determine the “voice” of your web site, which should match that of your company, organization, store, etc. This is, unfortunately, rarely done and most web sites tend to be direct, cold and impersonal in their presentation of information.

It’s not your fault — most of us view web sites in this manner and aren’t aware that this form of communication can tell a story or set a mood, both visually through images, design and layout as well as through the actual text on the web page and how it is written and presented or through the use of typography and design.

Blogs, on the other hand, tend to naturally be much more personal in nature. They mirror an intimate conversation the author has with an individual. Filled with advice, insider information, insight and guy-next-door understanding, they tend to be easy reads, perceived as more helpful and not evoke an ulterior motive (“pssst, buy our product”) that web sites do.

3. Web sites tend to not take advantage of opportunities. Think of your web site — if well-planned and craftily executed — as a library of information. It has just about everything anyone could want to know about your company or organization. And assuming your agency, web designer or other inhouse resources did a good job with things like organization, navigation and layout, most people should be able to find what they are looking for.

Except if something new pops up, especially if it doesn’t “fit” within a category or section. That’s where a blog comes into play. Have some breaking news about a new product recall or change in service? Blog it. Wonder what your clients or customers think about a new product or service you just launched? Ask them. Discover a great charity of cause you’d like to stand behind and draw attention to? Tell ’em. Have some expertise and insight into a industry topic that just broke in the news? Here’s your chance.

4. Web sites don’t tend to integrate well with other online, social marketing efforts. It’s a fact — while almost no company or organization would dream of not having a web site, rarely do they work with today’s other socially-oriented marketing tools (other than maybe a link to your Facebook Page or Twitter profile).

A blog inherently is set up to encourage conversations (through commenting) and sharing with others (through the ability to forward an article or post it on a social sharing site like Digg). In fact, it’s this cross-application ability that is almost expected of a blog and completely familiar with those that frequently read them.

5. Web sites — when well done — tend to be a major advertising expense and drain on resources. Whether you built your own web site from scratch, hired an agency to do it, allocated internal talent and resources or bargained with the neighbor’s kid, your company or organization’s web site probably was a significant drain on your financial — and other — resources.

Certainly, you needed someone with expertise in planning and organizing your web site. Maybe designers, programmers and copywriters got involved. And if you didn’t have photography or other graphics on-hand, those either had to be purchased or contracted for. Finally, any web site beyond a page or two probably involved a lot of finding, organizing and reviewing of content — product or service write-ups, company or organization history and objectives, reviewing of business practices, deciding who is handling inquiries and how, etc.

Most blogs can be acquired, set-up and running in a minimal of time and at little financial cost. You might want to have an unique web address acquired and hosted and blogs designs and templates can range from freely-available to something adapted from your web site to more closely maintain your online brand.

Configuring of a blog is a pretty easy task that most anyone can do with a little forethought, experience and plain old experimentation. Finding topics to write about or content to post is as easy as giving thought ahead of time to want you want to accomplish on your blog, then keeping an eye out for opportunities. In fact, by reading other blogs –within your industry, outside of it and even those that are more fun, casual and targeting the general public — you’ll gain exposure to what’s possible and come up with even more ideas as to what to post.

In conclusion. As you can see, a smart marketer or public relations professional — even a simple small business owner  — needs both a web site to present structured, expected information and a blog to communicate in a more persona manner those issues and topics that are timely and don’t quite “fit” into the organization of your web site.

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