So…by trade you’re a dry cleaner. You know about garment cleaning/care/preservation, alterations and tailoring, small business operations and customer service. Yet as the economy chips away from even your most loyal customers’ willingness to spend on clothing care, you realize it’s time to up the ante in terms of self promotion.
You’re in the monthly coupon clipper and still spend on some Yellow Page presence (print and online). The store front has new signage. You still get decent word-of-mouth. And you even have a web page up, a simple site with downloadable coupons.
Yet now you’re being told that you—a dry cleaner!—should start blogging to attract customers.
You’re not a writer. Other than scribbling your name on checks, you can’t recall the last time you put words to page. And the computer? Forget about it! You’re more at ease behind the counter than in front of the keyboard. Yet you know you need to do something to stand out as an expert, jar your customers’ interest and ultimately inspire response.
First of all, it’s fair to openly state that blogging is not for every business person. However, the reason for not blogging should never be “I have nothing to say.” You should know your business, industry, practices, techniques and your market well enough to always have information and opinions on it.
Reasons for not blogging may be lack of time or genuine lack of interest. Also, you should never blog until you can explain how the effort will help build your business. You’ve got to be able to articulate the potential ROI, or the blogging endeavor will lead nowhere.
Presuming, you—the dry cleaner!—are interested enough to spare time and effort on blogging, and you can express that a blog will position you as an expert, give your business a relatable personality and be used as a tool to create presence with potential customers on the web through social networks, you’re ready to blog.
Of course, there’s that pesky “I hate writing” thing. No problem! Here are a few tips to help you blog without having to write very much.
Pictures are worth thousands of words
Tell the story of your dry cleaning and alterations expertise through photos. Keep a digital camera by the counter and grab before and after shots of garments you’ve brought back to life. Caption the photos with simple phrases about what you did to make the difference.
You can even photograph topic-specific services. Snap pictures of a wedding gown throughout the process of being preserved. Give us an insider’s look at the elusive fur storage area.
Think big and small for your photo stories. That wedding gown you preserved may hold numerous post-worthy blogs. Beyond the bigger story of gown preservation, you could address storage methods, show images of beading being repaired, and so on. You could throw in some fun stats on the photo captions, i.e. “We’ve preserved over 70 gowns in the last 5 years.”
Say “What They Said”
The web is a borderless universe of potential content. Perhaps you happen upon some well spoken dry cleaning information in another blog. If you’re a member of an association for your industry, there may be a website to which you can refer for content.
You can quote and link back to other articles, for which other authors have done the heavy lifting. Throw in your own introductory and summary messages to give the blog posting your special touch. In the world of web content, most bloggers are more than happy for the acknowledgement. Plagiarism is never acceptable, but quoting, links and trackbacks are common and typically welcome.
Go for quality not quantity
Blog at a pace that works for you. If you’re steamroll into blogging, you’ll likely burn out fast. Though the web loves fresh content, I advise it’s better to go with one great entry every other week…or even once a month…than to blurt out weak content every day. Remember, the effort never ends at the blog posting; you need a system of disseminating and sharing your blog content with your customers. That’s a tall order to fulfill on a daily basis, especially for small business owners. Dip your toe in the water, get a feel for how this will work for you and ease into the pool; a hasty splash in the deep end may leave your blog all wet.
And look for more small biz buzz tomorrow!