Friday, September 22, 2006

Blogs and Forums: A Two-Pronged Approach
Scott Lindsay

When discussing online marketing there is the inevitable comparison between a Business Blog (b-blog) and an online forum. The feeling is that the two serve essentially the same purpose and it is a simple matter of defining which approach may be best for your company.
The comparison between these two approaches is something like comparing apples and oranges. They are both fruit, but that’s about the sum total of their similarities.
A b-blog is designed to allow you a controlling interest in a conversation between you and your customers and guests. Your guests can provide feedback, but they can’t post.
B-blogs allow you great flexibility in timely release of company information in an informal and nonthreatening way.
A forum is offered as a means of allowing member interaction and conversation. Generally speaking a forum will be member-directed and in most cases a moderator or administrator will simply act as referee when needed. They may also answer a few questions along the way.
B-blog Benefits
As the owner of a b-blog you have the capability of keeping an informal line of communication with your customers and prospects. You can keep your clients updated on a variety of aspects related to your business. There is very little work that needs to be done with a b-blog to keep it maintained.
Forum Benefits
When you develop a forum for your business you are welcoming individuals with an interest in your products or services to network with other likeminded consumers. In a best-case scenario a forum will allow customers to discuss your product or service, provide tips to other users and develop friendships with other customers based on mutual interests.
Since this approach is consumer-centric it may seem a less than ideal means of online marketing. The truth is, a forum is less about active marketing and more about learning customer trends and preferences. If you pay close enough attention to what your customers are saying to each other you will learn more effective ways to connect with them.
It is a bit surprising, but a forum board somehow allows openness in communication that you won’t likely find in face-to-face conversations.
Combining Benefits
By combining these two truly unique online marketing principles you maximize your effectiveness in reaching your customers while allowing them the opportunity to provide honest feedback. Sure, they may not realize that’s what they’re doing, but an astute netrepreneur will take the information clients voluntarily share with each other and maximize customer satisfaction whenever possible.
Scott Lindsay is a web developer and entrepreneur. He is the founder of HighPowerSites and many other web projects. HighPowerSites is the easiest do-it-yourself website builder on the web. No programming or design skill required.
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