If you haven't noticed web logs (AKA blogs) are changing the way people communicate on the web. Blogs have been around for a long time, but they haven't caught fire in the mainstream until now. As a communications professional it is my business to not only stay up-to-date on this revolution, but to participate as well. As a bike-lover who wants to see IBDs succeed I want to encourage more shops (and people in the industry for that matter) to start blogging.
Blogs are a great way for shops to connect with their customers, prospects and communities...yet in all of my surfing I have only found one bike shop blog. As someone who is totally convinced that blogs are the wave of the future, I find this hard to comprehend. Here's some reasons why more bikes shops should start a blog:
- Simplicity. Any employee can post information with a few clicks.
- Outreach. They're perfect for announcing shop rides and events.
- Affordability. Blogs cost nothing to create (except for the time it takes to
- Visibility. A blog will be indexed higher in search engines than your existing website.
- Interactivity. Blogs are alive. With regular posts and comments, your customers will see your shop as a vibrant place.
- Education. Shops are full of smart folks with tons of industry and technical information that is valuable to customers.
- Expertise. Blogs add credibility to your shop and will make you an expert in your community. Credible, expert sources instill confidence in consumers and they will end up buying more bike parts as a result.
- Publicity. Once you've established your shop as the place for bike information, the local media will come to you when they're working on bike-related stories or they need to mention a local bike shop in an article.
- Syndication. With the advent of RSS, your visitors can have new posts sent to them for reading in their RSS reader. *With RSS you avoid email spam filters and subsription management issues common with email newsletters.
- Networking. Your blog will help you identify and build relationships with your key customers. I have met many people in my community from receiving comments and feedback from my bike blog that covers Portland, OR.
- New product lines you've started carrying.
- Arrivals of new product.
- Photos of cool bikes you're building up.
- Photos from shop rides.
- Tip and tricks on bike set-up and maintenance.
- Rants, opinions and raves about people, products, etc...
- Tips on riding technique.
- Local trail and road updates.
- GPS downloads of local trails.
- We can't afford it. There is a very good blogging platform (Blogger) that is totally free. There are other free options as well. Other platforms cost very little compared to what you're paying your web guy.
- We don't have time. Your blog can have several authors. That means if you have three employees who post and each one of them posts once a week, you're off to the races. Also, posts can be as short or long as you'd like.
- I don't know what a blog is. Short for "web log," think of a blog as a website that takes no HTML skill whatsoever. It is simply a different way to publish information on the WWW.
- We already have a bulletin board/forum. Blogs are not forums! With blogs you create the posts and control the content. Blogs also offer you the chance to syndicate your content; which is not possible with forums. You can also edit comments and/or decide who is authorized to leave comments, or turn off comments all together.
Just ask me.