“Should I blog?”

Whether or not you should blog as part of your business marketing strategy is a complex question. Here are some pros and cons to consider:

Pros of blogging as part of your business marketing strategy:

  • It serves as an opportunity to connect with your customers personally
  • You can engage your audience outside of the social media sites that are owned by others
  • You create a site of direct contact with your audience to update them on events and specials
  • You can comment on current events that connect your product, your philosophy, and your customers
  • This is pull-marketing: Your audience is here because they are already interested in what you have to say.
  • This is your stage: It’s ok to talk overtly about your business and your industry. That’s the point.
  • This is your linchpin: Your larger social media strategy can all flow to this one place where you have complete control.

Cons of blogging as part of your business marketing strategy:

  • You do have to maintain your blog by actively posting.
  • It can feel like no one is listening, but you still have to keep posting.
  • It usually takes a lot of time and many blog posts to find your “voice” and blogging style.
  • Not everyone is a natural writer; for some people, this is more work than it is for others.
  • The return on your investment (ROI) is not immediate; Your audience will typically build slowly, but they will be people who are interested in what you have to say. (Read Seth Godin, Tribes, for more on this.)
  • That same ROI can be difficult to measure, so the benefits to your efforts may not be obvious or clearly quantifiable.
  • Even if you aren’t sure about the ROI from the time and effort it takes to write and post to your blog, you still need to keep posting.

Ultimately, blogging is about the long-view: your blog is a collection of posts over time.  I’m not sure if that’s a pro or a con, but it is the big-picture perspective to keep in mind.

One misconception: It doesn’t necessarily cost any actual money to start your blog. If you really aren’t sure if blogging is for you, try it out on any free blogging site and just play with it to see how you like it. You can choose from many free blogging sites including blogger.com wordpress.com, sqarespace.com. Visit Mashable to view their list of more than 40 free blog hosts.

If you do find that blogging works for you, then take it to the next level: Bring it into your larger business marketing plan by creating a formal blogging site that reflects your brand and integrates seamlessly with your website and any social media you already use. But don’t worry about that now. Get there when you get there. First, try it out: Does it fit you and your business marketing needs? That really is the first question.