Last summer, Long Fence and Home, a kitchen, window, and fence contractor in Maryland, participated in an Extreme Makeover: Home Edition project aired on ABC. That might have been the end of it, except that you can find out about the episode by clicking on the Our Blog link at the top of Long Fence and Home's homepage and from there link to an ABC Web page.
Long Fence and Home is among a handful of home improvement companies ? one expert suggests "less than 1% are doing this" ? using blogs to communicate with past and future customers. Others include Bee Window, in Indiana; Newpro, in Massachusetts; and DW Elite Decks, in Missouri.
Blogs have grown wildly in popularity in the last five years. According to digital media strategist Adam Singer (thefuturebuzz.com), 900,000 blog posts are published in any 24-hour period, and 77% of active Internet users say that they read blogs.
A blog can give your company's website a leg-up in several ways. "With a blog, you're creating unique content that doesn't exist anywhere else," says Tom Audette of Three Deep Marketing, in St. Paul, Minn. That, he points out, plus the abundance of keywords in a typical blog post, helps to boost a company's standing in organic search results.
One of the most successful home improvement industry blogs is "Useful Deck Information," on the DW Elite Decks website. The company, co-owned by Dan Milford and Wes Barber, posts chatty, detailed discussions of all things decks ? materials, building codes, etc. ? and includes an index of these as a virtual encyclopedia on deck building.
For many companies, having that much to say about their products or services might be a strain. And experts advise that if you're not prepared ? or lack a clear plan ? to post blogs regularly, don't bother at all. A stale blog is worse than no blog at all.
So what if you want to include a blog but don't have the time to write a post several times a week? Either hire an Internet marketing company to provide that service, or look for someone on staff who is Web savvy and possibly has a personal blog, then put that person in charge of the company blog. All posts need not come from the owners. Audette's suggestion: Get managers within the company to periodically write something on a subject having to do with their responsibilities.
?Jim Cory, editor, REPLACEMENT CONTRACTOR.