By Gloria Rand
If you’re a small business owner, you may have read The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur, or seen its author Mike Michalowicz on CNBC’s The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch. The book is a no-holds-barred primer on starting a business.
I read Mike’s other book, The Pumpkin Plan, a year ago and enjoyed it thoroughly. But I had never gotten around to reading TPE until yesterday.
Full disclosure – I’m still not done with it. But one bit of advice stuck in my craw and I knew I had to write a blog article about it.
“No Website? No Problem,” says TPE
In the book, Michalowicz says, “Every business needs a web presence, right? Absolutely. But that doesn’t mean you need a website. Those are two very different things. You can establish a web presence by using Facebook.com, MySpace.com, Squidoo.com or a million other social sites. Spread the word about what you are doing through these social sites and set up free email. Supplement your social networking site with a free blog at Blogspot.com. That’s more than enough to get some business rolling in.”
Granted, Mike’s dating himself by the reference to MySpace (the book was written in 2008), but if someone is reading this book today, they’re getting bad advice in this particular instance. If you’re starting a business in 2013, and want a web presence, don’t rely on Facebook. It may be “free” to set up, but it’s becoming harder to reach and engage an audience without paying for advertising. And what happens if Facebook’s stock tanks, and the company goes under? If you don’t have a website, you won’t have any way to stay in touch with your fan base.
What’s the alternative?
It all begins with a blog
You may not need a fancy “website” to get started online. But rather than “supplementing your social networking site with a blog,” as Mike recommends, I believe your online presence should start with a blog. Here are a few reasons why:
1. Expertise – A blog gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your expertise in your particular industry. It’s most effective when you write articles that answer your customer’s questions. As your target audience comes to recognize your authority in your field, they will come to trust you, and ultimately, want to buy from you.
2. Search benefits – Ideally, the blog should be attached to your website. This will enable your business to get the SEO (search engine optimization) benefits from having high quality content regularly added to your website. Denise Wakeman, founder of The Blog Squad, once said that BLOG stands for “Better Listings on Google.” I couldn’t agree more. The more often you add high quality content to your website, in the form of blog articles, the better chance you have to rank well for certain keywords, and connect with your target audience.
3. Lead generation – Mike did mention that you should have email. A blog is the perfect place to include an opt-in form. Even though social media gives you an opportunity to engage with prospects, email is still more effective as a marketing tool, since you can personalize the content you’re sending out to your list. Only a tiny fraction of your Facebook fans see your content, so email offers you a better opportunity to reach more prospects and customers with your offer.
4. Social media hub – Your blog should be the hub of your social media marketing efforts. You can share your blog articles on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. You can even use your blog articles as content for an enewsletter. I’ve done this for several years, and have even gotten clients for my business as a result.
I wonder if Mike Michalowicz would have a different opinion about Facebook if he were writing The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur today. I like to think so. Maybe he’ll come up with a revised version one day.
If you like this article, please share it with your friends, by clicking the social share buttons on the left. And consider joining my email list. You’ll get a weekly enewsletter with SEO and social media marketing tips, and be the first to learn about any new workshops and webinars that I conduct. When you fill in the form on the right, you’ll also get my FREE Search Marketing Ebook tutorial.