Tuesday, January 24, 2012

To Blog or Not To Blog?  That is the question.

Welcome to the first addition of the Beacon Blog.  I’ve struggled with the idea of starting a blog for the last couple of years and finally decided to pull the trigger after a bunch of hemming and hawing. 

When I came to Beacon Graphics 5 years ago, www.BeaconGraphics.com was one of the most popular websites for sign and graphic supplies on the internet and it became my personal mission to make us #1!  So I started reading everything I could about how to drive traffic to your website.  I tried to make sure we were following all the rules to make our site “search engine friendly”.  By doing so, it would make www.BeaconGraphics.com easier for customers to find and as a result we would rocket to the top of the search rankings making us the most popular site on the internet – rivaling Google, Yahoo and Amazon.com.  Sounds easy right?

Well as it turns out, Google is pretty protective of the “formula” that they use to rank pages.  There is no magic bullet.  You can’t just run out and buy “SEO for Dummies” and in a couple of days have your site humming.  You have to give your customers a reason to visit your website and hope that your site is helpful enough that they will want to come back to it again.  The more interesting and informative your website is, the more likely they are to keep coming back to it.  That means you have to provide them with a constantly changing buffet of products, tools and articles that will capture and hold their attention in the long-run.

This brings us to the topic of my first blog.  Everything I read said “you need to be on-line blogging”.  If you’re like me, that sentence immediately conjures images of Julie/Julia in your mind.  The mere thought of sitting in front of a glowing computer screen, late at night with flour in my hair, complaining about how my soufflé burned in the oven is embarrassing and seemed like a complete waste of my time and yours.  Do my customers really care that my son’s team won the championship game or that my daughter is in the school play?  Those of you who know me, know that I’m a no-nonsense kind of guy.  And blogging seemed like just that to me, a lot of nonsense.

So I ignored the so-called experts for a couple of years.  Until I had the good sense to attend a seminar on “Social Networking” and my eyes were opened (a little).  One of the key moments in the seminar came early on when the instructor was talking about Twitter (I know not blogging but I’ll get there). 

The instructor posed a question - “Do you I really care if the line at Starbucks is really long and it’s taking a while for you to get your coffee?  --  If you’re the manager at that Starbucks you sure do!”

It sounds silly, but that’s when the light bulb went off for me.  Social Media (Facebook, Twitter and yes Blogs) are about saving time, not wasting time.  They give small businesses like yours and mine the ability to connect on a more personal level with a large number of customers through the magic of the internet.  The trick is to make sure the content you’re posting is relevant and important to your customers.   In order for it not to be a waste of time for both of us, what I post in my blog needs to be important to you.

So, what can you expect to see in the Beacon Blog in the coming weeks, months and years?
  • Tips and Tricks to save you time (and money)
  • Business ideas that can help you make you more money with your existing customer base
  • Marketing strategies we’re using, that we think can be applied to your business as well
  • New product reviews
  • And I hope you won’t kill me if occasionally I throw in a blurb our two bragging about my kids or the success of the Beacon Bombers softball team. 
No matter what, my #1 goal is to ensure that the Beacon Blog will not be a waste of your time or mine. 

Comments on the blog are appreciated.  Remember, my goal is to write about what’s important to you.  So if there’s something you’re interested in please let me know and I’ll do my best to answer your questions.

Thanks and Happy blogging!

Kevin Hartnett
Managing Director
Beacon Graphics

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