Last week I listened to Natalie Lue of Self Employed Mum, Bambino Goodies and Baggage Reclaim speak about blogging. Natalie's name is mentioned in hushed tones by mums who blog because she actually makes a living from blogging.
Being able to earn an income from home by writing is the holy grail for many mums. It's tempting to ask 'what's her secret?' I suspect it's the same secret as for any business owner – know your customers, deliver what they want and more, work hard, keep improving, keep an eye on the finances, plan well.
I really enjoyed the presentation and learned a lot. But what really got me thinking was what she said about 21st century marketing. It's no longer a one-way-street where the seller tells the buyer about their product. These days, marketing is about the business having a conversation with the customer.
That's great news if you're starting a business and have a mental block about selling. Often, our image of selling is the hard sell; pinning someone to a wall and not letting them go until you see their credit card.
If we turn this on its head and think about marketing as a conversation, suddenly all our tension goes. Most of us are actually pretty good at having conversations.
Here's what you could talk about.
Connect with your customers
Do they like your product/service? How could you improve it? What else are they looking for? Who else is selling what they like? Can they help you spot new trends? Can you give them something so useful or interesting that they want to tell their friends about you? How could you turn them into your fan club?
Show them you're an expert
Prove to them that you really know your stuff. Customers no longer want to be told that you sell the best widgets in the South-East – they want to make up their own mind. How can you help them to do that?
Build your brand
Try to get across what your business is about, what it stands for, its values. Again, not in an old-style 'this is our mission statement' kind-of way. Think about the things that matter to your customers – help them to solve their problems, keep them up to date with the latest news, point them towards great resources. Then let your business brand shine through what you do.
Business blogging is the best way of having this conversation online. Doing it offline involves, well, talking to people!
What kind of conversations are you having with your customers?