Quick Recipes and Easy

Blogging for Chocolate

Small, niche businesses can use blogs to build customer loyalty and make new sales opportunities, particularly when their product has broad appeal. Few products capture the public’s imagination more than chocolate.

For candy makers currently outside the “blogosphere,” here is how the conversation might go when a chocolatier – we’ll call it the Sweet Chocolate Company – considers launching a blog.

Mrs. Sweet: “Everybody seems to have a blog these days. I’ve done some research, and I reckon we should go for it!”

Mr. Sweet: “You do? Our budget is pretty well tapped out with our e-commerce Web site, pay-per-click advertising and paper and electronic newsletters.”

Mrs. Sweet: “Right, but a blog is an inexpensive way to improve our Web site traffic. And a blog will bring us more repeat orders, referrals and new customers.”

Mr. Sweet: “How does a blog improve Web site traffic?”

Mrs. Sweet: “Because a blog is loaded with fresh content, it boosts our site’s rankings on the search engines. That means more customers will find us online, even when competitors have larger pay-per-click budgets.”

Mr. Sweet: “Traffic is fantastic, but how exactly will the blog generate more business? We already advertise. How will the blog be different?”

Mrs. Sweet: “The blog won’t advertise at all. Instead, we’ll explore the fascinating world of chocolate — the manufacturing process, the history, the industry and the varieties. And, customers can share their opinions by leaving comments. They can become part of the Sweet Chocolate community!”

Mr. Sweet: “So the thought is, because people feel connected, they’ll reckon of us whenever they want chocolate. Makes sense! You know, we could have contests, too. And let customers review their favorite variety or gift assortment.”

Mrs. Sweet: “Fantastic thoughts. When customers have fun and feel involved they’re more likely to tell family and friends about us, too.”

Mr. Sweet: “Still, we’re kind of small for something like this, don’t you reckon?”

Mrs. Sweet: “You never know. A few years ago, a self-employed English tailor started a blog called “The English Cut.” He wrote about the fine art of tailoring and readers came in droves. Today his blog is one of the most well loved in the world and business is booming.”

Mr. Sweet: “How will we get the word out about our blog?”

Mrs. Sweet: “We can add hyperlinks on our Web site, newsletters and order forms. We can make fliers for walk-in customers offering a discount if they subscribe to the blog. We can make the same offer online. Our friends at The Gazette might even do a tale — blogs are news these days, you know.”

Mr. Sweet: “Sounds like it’s worth a try. I like the fact we can start without a major investment. Plus, we can monitor results by looking at subscriptions, comments and new customers. You’ll do the writing?”

Mrs. Sweet: “Absolutely – with a lot of help from our customers, of course!”

Sweet Chocolate is off to a fantastic start. They did their research, articulated a theme, built a consensus, prepared a marketing plot, assigned responsibility for the project and chose how to evaluate results.

Follow their lead and a successful blog will be no “truffle” at all!

Aaron Wittersheim is president of Whoast Inc., a suburban Chicago search marketing firm. For more information, visit whoast.com whoast.com

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