Secrets to Success
Deborah Cole Micek
and John-Paul Micek

What you can learn
from MSN Spaces

You know, for all the bugs and problems that come along with its products, there's one thing I've always admired about Microsoft -- the ability to keep its eye on the business ball.

The latest example of this is its entry into the blogging market, MSN Spaces. In coordination with the launch of MSN Spaces, Microsoft has opened the door for new advertising opportunities. And the first few companies to jump in are major players like Volvo, Coca-Cola, and Adidas.

Volvo has intelligently positioned itself right on the home page of MSN Spaces.

But it's not just home-page positioning that sets Volvo apart. Volvo Cars of North America is the first of these advertisers to jump into the interactive side of blogging with a campaign called "What's Your Story?" MSN editors will search user-generated content within MSN Spaces to find the best stories and highlight them on a Volvo-branded page at whatsyour- story.msn.com. Volvo is not only saying that they "build cars with you in mind," they're diving into the highest leverage communication tool available today -- blogging.

Microsoft has created an offering that these heavy hitters can't ignore. They realize that it's not the number of impressions or click-throughs that generates awareness. These companies realize they have to engage the consumer and involve them in conversations, education and product development.

What Microsoft is doing with MSN Spaces is he same thing you can do with your own blog -- interact and engage your readers to build trust and develop rapport.

Your business blog is not the place to use aggressive sales language or to make direct sales pitches. Your sidebar may contain links to your product, sales pages, or other main parts of your site. But always remember, the purpose of business blogging is to inform and engage -- not sell. Your business blog is meant to build the relationship, not hit them over the head with a marketing message.

As you educate your target market, you can:

» Reference product benefits when answering a client's question.
» Create posts about product comparisons.
» Post customer feedback and share testimonials.

If your products or services will really benefit your readers, then you have every right to incorporate those things as potential solutions to your readers' wants, needs, and desires.

The education you provide helps them take the first step, and the products and services you mention take them to a whole new level of benefits -- a result of choosing to do business with your company.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

John-Paul Micek is the lead business coach at RPM Success Group Inc. Reach him at JPM@RPMsuccess.com or toll-free at (888) 334-8151.

Deborah Cole Micek, chief executive officer of RPM Success Group, is a business success coach and life strategist. Reach her at DCM@RPMsuccess.com or toll-free at (888) 334-8151.

Read an expanded version of this article at www.GetCoachedforFree.com.

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