At what point during the business planning process is creating a blog a good idea?
I want to start a blog but have no idea where to begin. I don't yet have a business, just an idea. However, I have a business plan, design ideas, and I've researched the type of legal structure, fees, etc. necessary to get started. Should I start the blog now to get my name out to the public, or wait until I have physical merchandise to sell?
I agree with Bobbie, starting a blog before your business is fully launched is a splendid idea. However, it will only reap rewards if you have the time and energy to devote to it both now and into the future. This could become a huge chore as you take on the many roles necessary when you actually roll out your business.
Again, long-term this is something you could outsource, but in the infancy stages it would probably be wisest to do this yourself, especially since you have already admitted an affinity for writing.
The purpose and focus of the blog have to be part of your long-term marketing plan if you decide to do it. Think of the reputation and image issues having an outdated, failed blog may cause when customers research your "new" company.
Conversely, when used skillfully and deliberately, think of the image and reputation you can have from a successful, thriving blog that people can see was there prior to the business launch.
In the end, this is a decision only you can make. You have to decide if a blog makes sense for your market and your long-term business goals. In short, the purpose of a blog is to deliver unique or entertaining content and develop a relationship with your blogging audience. If you are able to do this and have a plan for sustaining it, go for it. If you can't or don't, seek other social media options that may deliver greater ROI.
Suggest you contact your local Score chapter for a free, confidential review of your business plan. Start here www.score.org
Have you created a target audience definition? Have you identified what their pain points are? How they make purchasing decisions? What information are they looking for in making a purchasing decision?
Once you've identified these answers, then you must ask what is your marketing strategy, your content strategy, your messaging strategy?
Have you identified and defined how you want to be perceived by the target audience?
Next, have you developed a company name for the business? If not, it's premature to be thinking content development. It's also premature to be thinking content development if you haven't answered the first set questions.
Have you formulated the domain name for the business and purchased it? Where do you intend to place the blog: on it or somewhere else? If you are attempting to drive traffic to your business and increase SEPR, it's essential to place the blog on the website not another source like Wordpress.com, etc. because they won't go toward internet visibility. Besides why would you want to drive people to a blog not associated with your site?
Before you start writing you need to answer the above.
A blog is an opportunity to do many things. In your case (here and now) it is an opportunity to introduce yourself as a thought leader. You can do this by speaking to the needs your products/services will fill, for example. I do not feel it is too early to start. One caution, using a blog as an opportunity to direct sell is a big turn-off for many, me among them. Consider this is an opportunity to engage, educate and inspire your readers to action. I wish you the very best.
Many people start blogs to address the problem their business is going to solve long before they start to market the business. If you start blogging about the problem you can start engaging with your target market immediately.
Say your product cures every childhood sleep issue -- every parent's fondest desire. No more fights about going to bed! No more midnight visits from your toddler and interrupted sleep! Get other parents to share their stories. Collect funny pictures of parents with dark circles under their eyes. Share home remedies. Become the place parents go to commiserate. Then, when you are ready to launch your new product - you have a ready-made community, potential customers and, likely, some credibility on the subject and a good understanding of the market.
Just be sure you have sufficient time and resources to devote to the project.
Usually this is covered by your marketing implementation plan as a part of your business plan. I get the idea that this research is not yet fully done so I would start there. Research which types of communication media will be most effective for your company and when these are generally best implemented.
That would at least be the sensible way but also the most tedious.
So if you want to avoid that and you are absolutely convinced that you really need a blog just start one as soon as you have something to write about. Make it meaningful for the reader though.
There are certainly a lot of factors you should consider before starting a blog, but the most significant one is the time and effort you can put into it. Being an active blogger and reaching a considerable audience that will make an impact on your business is very demanding and time consuming. When you start a business, time is crucial because as the founder your presence will be required in almost every aspect of the business be it to make decisions or to execute them. If you are sure you can dedicate that time without sacrificing anything else and if writing is a strong point of yours, then go for it. Or if you have the capital to hire a good writer that will only require your instructions and supervision, this is even better.
As for the right time, if your product is unique and you haven't identified many competitors out there, telling the world about it before you sell it can be a good marketing strategy as psychologically they will be tempted to have it. Anyway there's a fine line in that, as they can't wait for too long and your competitors are all ears and eyes. But you can sell samples exclusively to your readers for instance and ask their much appreciated and needed feedback and endorsement, until you are ready to go in mass manufacturing.
I wish you all the best!
You may need to first secure your business name and domain name. Then engage a competent web designer to setup up your site and train you to start blogging. Once your foundation is in place you are good to go.