4 Keys to Boosting Blog Traffic

In last week’s blog post, we shared 10 Content Ideas for Your Small Business Blog. But what good is content if you don’t have readers?

While it’s true that blogging can generate leads, create connections and boost sales for your small business, you need a plan to get the word out. Unfortunately, there’s no magic formula or sure-fire strategy to succeed in the blogosphere overnight. But if you’re willing to invest some time and effort, there are certainly ways to build a following, increase traffic and, eventually, better your brand. Here are four tips to get the ball rolling.

Create Engaging Content. While flashy headlines and creative social media campaigns can get clicks, the key to any successful blog is the content itself. Remember, the primary purpose of a small Blogbusiness blog is not simply to make sales; it is to add value for your audience in the form of unique and engaging information. From product reviews to interviews with industry experts, your blog is an opportunity to assert your experience, expertise and influence while getting your name out there. Regardless of topic, ensure your blogs are clear, concise and relevant. And remember, quality trumps quantity every time. For a list of 10 specific content ideas, check out last week’s blog post.

Be Consistent. While blogging can be a great way to build momentum for your small business, posting sporadically – or only occasionally – will bring it to a screeching halt. By serving up new content on a regular basis, you will not only grow your archives and attract more eyeballs, but you will (hopefully) create anticipation among your audience. But consistency in blogging goes beyond frequency. Equally important as the when is the how. While the topics and structure of your blog posts may vary, be sure to maintain a consistent tone. Whether that tone is strictly professional or conversational and personable, stay true to your company’s values and overall branding. Through your blogs, people should come to recognize the voice of your blog – and your business. Bonus Tip: One great way to ensure consistency (both in frequency and in tone) is to create a blog series, as they ensure thematic uniformity, personal accountability and a reason for readers to keep coming back.

Be Proactive. No matter how engaging your content is, or how Trafficconsistently you post it, your blogging efforts will go to waste if no one knows about it. Instead of simply sitting back and waiting for people to find your blog (spoiler: they won’t), take matters into your own hands and find them! The best ways to share your blog with the world are by posting them on your social media channels or in a regular newsletter to your readers. In addition to quality content, intriguing headlines, attractive images and effective keywords will go a long way in making your posts more discoverable – and more share worthy – online. A well-placed “Subscribe” button on your website will also encourage your readers to follow you and ensure they never miss a post.

Edit Accordingly. If you’re following the first three steps and your blog still isn’t gaining any traction, there has to be a reason. With millions upon millions of daily surfers, the Internet is teeming with a built-in audience of people interested in your business or industry (regardless of how niche). To maximize your exposure to this audience, begin experimenting. Try sharing your posts on different days or at different times (the most optimal time to post on Facebook may differ from that on Twitter). Perhaps use different images, or tweak your headline formula. Either way, be sure to track your strategies and save your data so you know what works – and what doesn’t.

10 Content Ideas for Your Small Business Blog

Whether you’ve been blogging for years or you just got going, there comes a point when the ideas dry up and writer’s block takes over.

As we mentioned in last week’s post, one of the biggest mistakes a small business can make is letting their online presence collapse. Sadly, the main culprit is often a lack of inspiration. When it comes to sourcing ideas for your blog, it’s important to not only think outside the box, but to think like your target customers. What do they want to know? What do they need to know? What kind of information would add value to their lives?

Because we know how difficult blogging can be – and how important it is – we’ve created a roundup of 10 sure-fire content ideas to attract, inform and engage your audience.

Expert Interviews. Nothing says professionalism or builds trust quite like an interview with an industry expert. Since the paint and decorating industry branches off into many different sectors, you can engage your readers by writing a Q & A blog post with an expert in a relatable area like painting, lighting, wall coverings, home improvement, real estate, or design. Connecting with a credible and well-known industry source is also a fantastic way to build your network, take advantage of influencer marketing and grow your audience.Blogging

Search Quora or Yahoo Answers. When it comes to ideas, sites like Quora and Yahoo can be a blogger’s best friend. After all, if one person poses a question in an online forum, chances are it’s a common topic. Simply type in “painting,” “decorating,” “home improvement” or another related topic, and see what kinds of things people want to know about the subject. It might take a bit of browsing, but you’ll definitely find some fantastic blog ideas from the pages and pages of real questions from people who are likely in your target market.

Product Reviews. Who knows more about your products than you? If you get a new shipment or take on a new supplier, be sure to test the products and share what you find. The best review posts are often accompanied by high-quality photos and/or videos, along with specific, detailed information. While it’s also important to be honest, a little bit of bias is OK; simply focus on the positive and provide tips to maximize the value. Not only will product reviews help you establish yourself as an expert in the industry, it will give you great social media content and help your customers make the best choice with their paint and decorating needs.

How-to Tutorials. Another great way to engage your audience is with how-to tutorials. Whether they’re written or posted in video format, instructions for DIY projects are extremely sought-after on search engines and Youtube alike. The key to a successful how-to blog post is to be as concise, detailed and visual as possible.

Browse Blog Comments. An easy way to see what people are talking and/or asking about is to frequently browse the comment sections of your favorite paint and decorating blogs (or your own!). This will give you a good sense of which subjects are trending and what people want to know. Comments sections are also a great way to keep tabs on both your competition and your customer base.

Guest Posts. Collaborating with other experts in your industry is undoubtedly great for business, but it can also be great for your blog. By having an influencer create content about products, services or advice, you will provide valuable information in a fresh, new voice. In order to get the most from your guest posts, try to choose people with good reputations and strong social media followings; the more cross-promotion they are willing to do, the better.

Survey and mouse signSurveys or Polls. If you want to know whether your customers prefer neutral tones or loud, look-at-me shades for the living room, surveys and polls can offer a fun and interactive blog topic. The added beauty of surveys and polls is that they show readers you value their opinions. And after gathering your results, you will have content for yet another blog.

Contests. Much like surveys and polls, contests allow you to go beyond “talking at” your readers and actually engage with them. Whether you’re announcing a giveaway or providing updates throughout the duration of a contest, blog posts are an effective way to regularly reach your audience without pushing ads in their face and seeming too “spammy.”

July Cover option 2.inddRead Industry Publications. Magazines like HGTV, House Beautiful, and, yes, Paint & Decorating Retailer are filled with much more than just excellent lighting and perfectly-staged pictures – they’re a great source for blog content ideas. Since they’re monthly publications, you’re sure to find timely and relevant ideas for every season and every holiday.

Ask Your Audience. Besides improving your SEO ranking and providing content for your social media channels, the purpose of your blog is to give readers valuable, high-quality information that’ll help improve their paint and decorating projects. Since clients and customers are your main audience, why not ask them what kind of content they’d like to see? By putting out feelers, you’ll be able to pinpoint their wants and needs – and blog accordingly.

Five Online Mistakes Small Businesses Should Avoid

As a paint and decorating retailer, you’ve invested a lot of time and money into the look and feel of your shop. Your customers are looking for ways to make their homes more appealing, so your shop should be beautiful and your customer experience should be top notch.

But even though the bulk of your sales are likely done face-to-face, it’s more important than ever to invest in your online presence as well. However, whether it’s because of time constraints or a limited budget, simple mistakes can get in the way of creating a strong digital voice. To help you avoid these common blunders, take a look at these five online mistakes to avoid.

Not Having a Website. Regardless of industry, size and location, every business needs a website. Whether it’s a simple site with a few pages or a more advanced site with e-commerce capability, a domain dedicated to your company is a no-brainer. Not only will a legitimate website help make your business more credible, but it will help customers find you and answer some frequently asked questions (such as hours, location, product lines, etc.). If you find the online world to be too overwhelming, the beauty of web-building is that you can start small and work on one page at a time. There is also an ever-increasing number of website WebsiteBuildingbuilders like Wix, Weebly or WordPress, which offer countless options and walk you through the process from start to finish.

Neglecting Your Website. The only thing worse than not having a website is having a stagnant and outdated website. Like every other aspect of your business, it’s important to maintain your digital footprint. While keeping your website up-to-date with products and promotions is a great way to keep people coming back, one of the best ways to add value for customers and clients is to create a weekly or monthly blog. Whether you write about new products, DIY ideas, or seasonal promotions, this original content will keep people engaged and help boost your social media marketing efforts.  

Using Social Media as Your Primary Website. Social media networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are a fantastic way to connect with customers, share exciting promotional campaigns and scope out the competition. But they do have limitations. For starters, social media platforms are one-size-fits-all and do not offer the same flexibility as websites when it comes to layout, design and content options. Social media also has to be updated more often than a website does. So instead of focusing solely on social media marketing, use it more as a supplementary tool. And, of course, be sure to include direct links to your social media channels on your website.

Using a Free Email Provider. Communication is key to the success of a small business, so any email address is a good email address, right? Not so much. For personal usage, free email providers like Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo are fine, but it can make your business seem unprofessional to customers. To help legitimize your small business, it’s best to invest in a company-branded domain name (ie. customersupport@ABCPaints.com) in addition to your website.

Do not underestimate the power of search engine optimizationNot Embracing the Power of SEO. If you’re investing time and money (after all, your time is money) on digital marketing efforts for your small business, you owe it to yourself to learn about the power and importance of SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Simply put, SEO is a technique used to increase the amount of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement on search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. Since there’s a whole lot more to SEO than alt tags and company-branded domain names, it’s important to spend time learning about this strategic marketing technique to truly reap the many benefits it can bring your business.

Five Hot Color Trends for Summer 2016

It’s official – the beloved summer season has arrived, and all of us here at PDRA couldn’t be happier!

While most people spend their summer days lazing around at the cottage or the beach, some use the downtime to spruce up their properties. As you know, the summer months make a great time to paint because open windows and fresh breezes can reduce fumes and cut drying time in half!

If your customers are looking to add a splash of color to their homes this summer, here’s a list of the season’s hottest paint trends.

Pretty Pinks. Once reserved solely for little girls’ bedrooms, pink is making a major splash in décor circles this summer. Fresh and warm, Florida Pink by Benjamin Moore will absorb all of the bright summer sunshine that beams through the windows. While it’s soft enough to usePotpourriGreen throughout an entire room, incorporating a crisp, white trim will help make the color pop and remain visually balanced.

Light Greens. The color green is definitely trending in 2016, and light shades are widely seen as the most stylish and versatile for the season. A nice contrast from the warm tones that are typically associated with summer, Benjamin Moore’s Potpourri Green and Mellow Mint by PPG act as complimentary backdrops for natural decor like freshly-picked flowers and greenery from the garden. To make the earthy tones stand out more, we suggest using a natural wood trim or baseboard.

Coastal Blues. As one of the most beautiful shades in Benjamin Moore’s repertoire, Santa Monica Blue evokes feelings of calmness and serenity, which is perfect for the relaxing summer season. Reminiscent of the deep waters found on a tropical island, coastal blues can transform your home into a warm beach house with a single stroke. SantaMonicaBlueWhen paired with high-contrast shades like coral or turquoise, guests will feel like they’ve walked into a luxurious Caribbean resort.

Muted Violets. Soft and luxurious, muted purples resemble the fresh flowers that could be found in a blooming summer garden. Perfect for a variety of rooms including the kitchen, bathroom or bedroom, understated violets look best when used as a stand-alone with a simple white trim and ceiling. No matter where you use them, shades like Lavender Haze by PPG are neutral enough that the can be carried over for the rest of the year.

Bold Berries. Nothing says summer like fresh fruit, so why not add a blast of bright berry-colored paint to your décor? While bolder shades like bright red or dark blue can add a refreshing splash to any room in your home, however, they are usually most effective in small doses – or as accent colors. For those feeling adventurous this summer, you can’t go wrong with PPG’s Wild Mulberry or Berry Fizz by Benjamin Moore.

Reaping the Business Benefits of Social Responsibility

In this month’s issue of Paint & Decorating Retailer Magazine, Communications Consultant Jan Niehaus preaches the importance of corporate social responsibility (CSR).

“As a paint and decorating retailer, you can garner respect among your business peers and customers by demonstrating your own CSR commitments,” she writes. “The respect you gain will lead to trust, and trust is vital to sustaining business relationships, retaining loyal customers and even attracting new ones.” CSR1

Perhaps the best thing about committing to a CSR strategy is that you can do it on your own terms. There is no one way to improve the environment and quality of life in your community, so you have the freedom and opportunity make a difference in a way that suits your business and your brand.

“Even the smallest company can formulate and publish its CSR policies,” continues Niehaus, citing the removal of Styrofoam from breakrooms and upgrading to energy-efficient lighting as examples.

So if you’re looking to use philanthropy as a strategic marketing technique, you need not worry about changing the world – any step in the right direction is a great start. Here are three business benefits of doing so.

Attract New Customers. With the rise in environmental awareness among millennials, it’s more important than ever for businesses to be socially responsible. While shoppers used to make decisions primarily on price, the current generation of consumers are always looking to support businesses that make conscious efforts to make their communities a better place – for now and for years to come. If your shop is doing something to help reduce its environmental impact, be sure to share the news on social media so people can hear all about it and think of you next time they’re in the market for paint and decorating supplies.

Earn Respect. It takes a serious effort to make real changes towards social responsibility within your shop. Whether you start a new recycling program, make the switch to energy efficient lighting systems or organize a community cleanup,CSR2 customers, staff and other industry professionals will always notice your efforts and respect what you’re doing. In addition to attracting new customers and pleasing existing ones, a renewed commitment to CSR will bring your store a great deal of legitimacy and give you a serious edge on the competition.

Improve The World. When it comes to making positive changes to improve your shop’s social responsibility, it’s important to remember the number one goal: to make the world a better place for the next generation. By making positive changes within your business, you’ll help spread awareness about the importance of social, environmental and economic sustainability simply by setting an example. The more passionate you are about the issues, the more your customers, staff and industry colleagues will see your efforts and decide to apply them to their lives, too.

How to Get Your Customers To Do Your Marketing For You

The day-to-day duties of a small business owner can be never-ending. Add in the all-important but time-consuming task of marketing into the mix, and it’s inevitable that some of your goals might not be properly executed.

But instead of stressing about time management or sacrificing the quality of your marketing, why not have your customers do it for you? It might sound too good to be true, but part of being a good business owner is finding ways to maximize your time and working smarter instead of harder. Simply put, the key is to make the quality of your products and services so fantastic that your customers can’t help but spread the word about their experience at your shop. Keep reading to learn more about how to get your customers to do your marketing.

WordOfMouthExcellent Customer Service. Customer service is a lot like first impressions; you’ll never forget about them. Moreover, when people receive excellent customer service during a shopping experience, they’ll be eager to spread the word to their friends and family. If one of your main goals as a business owner is to provide the highest quality of service to your valued customers, you can bet that you’ll reap the benefits from positive word of mouth.

Reward Programs. Offering rewards like ‘10% off your next purchase’ will not only keep your customers coming back, but it’ll also encourage them to share the news about the sweet deal with their friends and family. The simple fact is that customers love to be rewarded for their loyalty, and any smart business owner would be happy to show their appreciation. If a customer feels valued, they’ll be more likely to come back – and to talk positively about the terrific shopping experience.

Contests. As one of the most successful ways to gain new eyes and potential new customers, social media contests can work wonders for your marketing. Whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, makingReferrals your audience share or like the post with their followers will help spread the word about your contest exponentially. Social media marketing in general is a fantastic way to get your customers to spread the word. For more information, check out our recent posts on Seven Ways to Immediately Improve Your Social Media Marketing and The Power of Online Contests.

Referral Incentives. In a perfect world, your customers would share their positive experience with everyone they meet. However, the reality of the business world is that people are more likely to share negative experiences. One way to provide happy customers with some incentive to spread the word about your store is a referral program. Popular – and effective – for both large-scale businesses and independent retailers, referral programs can gain you new customers and sales using simple (yet strategic) word of mouth. Whether you offer your ambassadors 10% off or $10 off a product or service, this ‘tell-a-friend’ tactic is a great way to get your customers to do your marketing.

Three Simple Steps to Ensure a Successful Summer

Ah, summertime. It’s the season for beaches, barbecue and bonfires. But for small business owners, it’s also business as usual.

While the warm weather can be a great incentive for short days and long weekends, it’s important to stay on top of your priorities and keep your company running smoothly. Whether your industry slows down or ramps up during summer, it’s the perfect time to take stock of your current situation and plant the seeds for a successful second half of the year.

So before you hand off the keys and take your well-deserved holiday, here are a few simple steps to stay on track for the rest of 2016.

Reassess. Given that summer marks the mid-way point of the year, it’s a natural time to revisit your annual goals and revise your Summer on a beachstrategies to reach said goals. While summer may not be the ideal time for a complete company overhaul, looking at what’s worked and what hasn’t – and tweaking your approach accordingly – could help your bottom line. Maybe one form of marketing is working far better than another. Perhaps one particular product has been flying off the shelf while another is collecting dust. Evaluating your year-to-date success in a few key areas is a great opportunity to cut costs, increase revenue or (hopefully) both.

Recharge. Yes, hard work is essential to the success of a small business. But so is striving for a healthy work/life balance. While winter getaways can provide a nice break from the cold, summers are truly the best time to unplug from technology, take up hobbies, spend time with loved ones, and enjoy the great outdoors. Giving your employees something to look forward to is equally important. One way to stir up some summer excitement is to organize a day of fun for you and your staff. Whether it’s a company BBQ, a day at the beach or even a weekend camping trip, group activities are a great way to build community and boost morale.Refocus

Refocus. Now that you and your team have rested up and recharged your collective battery, it’s time to come back more motivated than ever. A little bit of rest and relaxation can also be conducive to some inner reflection. While most of the year is spent focusing on the day-to-day operations of your business, some time away from the office allows you to see the bigger picture. What were your reasons for starting a business in the first place? A passion for your industry? Financial independence? What do you still want to accomplish? Sometimes taking a step back is the best way forward.

Exploring the Power and Potential of Video Content Marketing

In a recent blog post, we shared 5 Types of Content to Engage Customers Online. This week, we’ll focus exclusively on the most intriguing – and potentially the most powerful – of the bunch. (Just check out these stats if you don’t believe us.)

From TV commercials and video games to Youtube videos and Facetime, today’s generation grew up surrounded by screens. So it’s only natural that companies have increasingly turned to video marketing in order to reach new people and grow their audiences. In fact, according to this 2013 study, 64% of advertisers indicated that video content will dominate their strategies moving forward.

But like all marketing, your video content will go largely ignored if it’s not informative, entertaining and engaging. The good news is that social media levels the playing field for smaller businesses and provides endless possibilities. 053116 VideoMarketingAnd although video production can seem intimidating, technology has made it possible to create and share content with little more than your Smartphone or tablet. So what are you waiting for? Here are four types of video content to get you started.

Tutorials. One of the highest search topics on both Google and Youtube are “How-to” tutorials. While written instructions still have their place, more and more people are becoming visual learners. If you can create videos showing how to use a product or complete a project in a concise and specific manner, you’ll be sure to gain social media followers. Showing off your expertise will also go a long way in building your reputation as an industry leader and a go-to source for information.

Vlogs. Maybe you don’t have the time, talent or resources to maintain a blog. That’s OK. The power of video allows you to offer advice, answer questions, promote products, and 053116 Vloggingmuch, much more, without the hassle of writer’s block. Simply pick a topic, do some research, prepare your notes, turn on your camera and speak to your audience as you would a customer or a friend. Vlogging (video blogging) will also help viewers put a face to your name and personalize your brand.

Reviews. Another hot search topic online is product reviews. With all the options out there, it’s becoming more and more common for people to do some research before pulling out their credit cards. Short video reviews of new or popular products are a great way to inform your audience, show off your expertise and potentially make a sale. They could also lead to partnership and sponsorship opportunities with suppliers in your industry.

Advertising. Yes, video can still be used as an advertising tool. But with today’s technology, traditional commercials have become boring and redundant. With platforms like Instagram and Facebook features like Canvas, you can spread your message to the masses in fun, creative and engaging ways. Whether your goal is to gain social media followers, drive traffic back to your website or sell a specific product, video ads allow you to

And the Winner is …

For the past eight years, PDRA has had the privilege of awarding one lucky student with a $5,000 scholarship. Established by PDRA’s Board of Directors as a component of the Retailer to Retailer Initiative, the scholarship honors a deserving student nominated by a PDRA member in good standing.

Earlier this month, PDRA unveiled Nathan James Koerperich as this year’s winner at the 2016 National Hardware Show in Las Vegas. James was nominated by Jim and Merita Koerperich, owners of J & M Paint & Decorating in Garden City, Kansas.

Scholarship2

PDRA Executive Vice President Dan Simon, and the 2016 Scholarship winner, Nathan James Koerperich

Congratulations Nathan!

For more information about the PDRA Scholarship Program click here, call 1-800-737-0107 (ext. 113), or email tina@pdra.org.

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