It seems fitting to kick things off here on the blog with the one thing you should consider before embarking on any kind of communications or marketing activity for your small business: the WHY.
Time and again, I hear from clients that they want to do something new - a blog, a Facebook page, a newsletter - because everyone else is. While that's not a bad motivation for considering it for your business, it isn't your why.
Your why is your objective - what you hope to achieve. You may have more than one why, which is just fine. But whatever you do, don't skip the step of thinking about, and clearly establishing, your why(s).
Why, you ask? (Good! You're on the right track.)
Well, your why will inform your whole process. Let's take a blog for example. Blogs are time consuming and many small business owners start one because everyone else is doing it, or they think they should. (I see this most often for blogs, second only to social media profiles). Without knowing your why, there's nothing to drive the decisions of what, when, and how. And what you're likely to end up with is a poorly performing vehicle that's taking up a ton of time, and causing frustration.
If, on the other hand, you have your why, these decisions can be made to support it. Let's imagine that your whys for a blog are to: a) build trust and credibility, and b) improve SEO for your website. Firstly, this tells us that your posts need to be informative. You'll want to carefully think about what kind of information your audience is looking for, and craft your posts accordingly. As for SEO, we know that posting regularly has a positive impact, so that will inform the schedule (the how). We would also make sure your posts are optimized with certain keywords.
That's just a very basic example of the importance of knowing where you want to go before you set out on your journey. It's a lot like a road trip actually: if you don't figure out where you're headed before you leave, you're more than likely to be the guy driving around in circles getting frustrated. So chart your path - you'll be glad you did.
Janet Nielsen is a communicator with a passion for helping small businesses succeed.