Is a Blog-Site Right For You?

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Hybrid blog-sites are all the rage right now and while it may be tempting to jump on the bandwagon, it's important to first determine if a blog-site is right for you and your goals.

A quick definition for those of you who may be unfamiliar with the term: a blog-site is a website and blog all in one. So instead of having a separate website as well as a blog, most blog-sites look like a blog but have all the information of the website contained within.  Two popular examples in the wedding industry are the blog-sites of Jessica Claire and Christine Tremoulet - all their information on their respective photography businesses is contained in each of their blog-website hybrids.

To make a blanket statement such as "everyone should have a blog-site" or "no one should have one, they're just the big trend at the moment" is irresponsible and fails to take a very crucial element into account: your target market.

One of the most important steps in evaluating whether or not a blog-site will be effective for your business is to take a good, hard (and completely honest) look at YOUR target clientele and the way they navigate the Internet.  With a myriad of wedding vendor options available these days, if your site does not make sense to YOUR clientele within a matter of seconds, they are clicking out of your site and on to your competitor's. 

For example, I have had the opportunity to chat with Christine Tremoulet about her clients and her site and she shared that her target clients tend to be "stylish, artsy and also a little geeky" in the sense that they are more tech and Internet savvy than the average person.  For her to have a blog-site hybrid makes complete sense because her target clients will appreciate Christine's creativity translated to that aspect on the web.

To counter that, my target clients tend to be attorneys, financial professionals and politicians. I have only had one couple in my years in the business where at least one of the spouses did not work in those industries.  While my clients are creative and appreciate the arts, they tend to browse several websites very quickly while looking for very specific information and reading blogs comes secondary and usually primarily as a way to back up what they've read on my main site (if there is one thing to say for my clients it's that they definitely do their recon before they ever even pick up the phone!).  The fact that my site navigation is familiar to them means that they find their information quickly and can then take the time as they choose to go on to read more on the blog. 

If I opted for a blog-site to present my company information, many in my target market would be confused: "Why am I only seeing her blog? Doesn't she have a website?" and would be clicking their way on to my competitor's site.  While they would eventually figure it out (my clients are some of the smartest people I have ever met), I do not want to risk their very pressed-for-time attention span before they've even had the chance to see what my company is about. 

Take into consideration who hires you or does the initial research.  Some wedding professionals tend to have the mother of the bride contact them first and then pass on her favorites to the couple.  Would a blog-site be comfortable for her and instantly make sense?  On the other hand, if you want clients who want to push the envelope, a blog-site may be a very good way to communicate that you and your work can meet their creative drive.

If you've always defined your target market simply as "brides" or the "high-end brides" (neither of which are target markets by the way - one is a no-brainer and the other is a tax bracket, it says nothing about the bride herself) and you are having trouble determining who your target is, I'd recommend pulling the files on all of your previous couples.  Make notes of how they initially found you, who made the first point of contact, any career or style choices they had in common, etc.  From that you should be able to see some patterns emerging and hopefully can pinpoint some common ground that they all share and can begin to determine which manner of web presence will best benefit your specific company.

What kind of website do you have and why?

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