Over the years, the Internet has become a hub for people to discover and invent new ways to share relevant information in just a blink of an eye. A compelling worldwide conversation has begun. This conversation has become the new market. The members of this market communicate in a more open, natural honest, direct and at times authoritative way. They are talking, explaining, complaining, and sharing information in an unmistakably human voice. As business continues to be increasingly connected, communication among these players in the new marketplace will prove to be vital. If the market talks about a company and its products, the concerned company should assess and understand all the information to better respond to such information. As information increases within the business world, proper distribution and management of this information should be a prime concern of the company. The blog is a very effective tool that allows a company to gain, to store and to disseminate information all at the same time. For a business to succeed, connectivity with the market and community are a must. A blog can accomplish this. The business weblog can affect the market place. A blog or weblog is simply a journal posted on the Internet. It is updated regularly and may contain entries or posts on news, opinions, ideas plus links to other blogs, websites and sources of information. A blog has become a way to engage readers and prospective customers of businesses. They have emerged as a tool to boost business. Blogs invite readers to comment or post feedback on what they see around them. It can be about sports, entertainment, health, politics, economy, commerce to the most mundane of things like rants about school work. A blog can accomplish certain vital business goals. It can give much-needed exposure to new or little-known product or service. Since many potential clients know a little only about a certain product or service, blogging is a good channel to lay out the specifics of the product or service. Readers are always hungry for information about companies and how to interact with them. Blogging can lead to more informed clients as it supplants the company as an information source. Blogging allows a company to touch base with prospects. Any company that has exposure in the Internet is well aware that hits via the search engines especially the top three – Google, Yahoo and MSN can bring in sizeable leads. Blogs can add further leverage to the number of times with which search engines identify a company especially if the blog is updated regularly and allows readers to leave feedbacks. A well-executed blog can contribute positively to the ranking of a company’s site within search engine results. A blog that allows comments, post new entries equate to additional blog pages to be crawled by the search engine robots. Blogging is also an effective tool to establish a company as an expert in its industry or niche. Blogging sends positive buzz about the company credentials through the marketplace. It builds credibility and generates leads and inquiries. Blogging has evolved into a legitimate source of news that has greatly influence public opinion. Some blogs even hold much sway on the public as compared to larger and established media brands. Through a blog, a company can openly engage customers and peers in a discussion. This conversation transpires via reader comments. Comments or feedbacks allow a company to know what it is doing right and what needs to be improved. Customers and potential clients can be a company’s mirror to determine whether its products or services are what the market wants to buy or avail of. In this regard, a blog affects the marketing scenario. A new trend in the marketplace has emerged – a customer-centric market. The current competitive environment is a challenge for many businesses. The Internet and globalization have immensely affected how businesses conduct business. The marketplace has become a tough place for sellers. Customers and prospects have become more demanding. They want to be heard and have a say on the products and services that will satisfy their needs and wants. In today’s marketplace, the prevailing credo is “love and hear thy customer”. Customers, nowadays, expect that companies will always take them into consideration. If they have issues, companies should communicate that they understand what the issues are from the customers’ points of view. Perception is very important thus companies should ask for feedbacks from customers and listen to gain insight or how to satisfy customer needs and wants. Traditionally, a company develops a product or service and then work out a marketing plan. The marketing plan is crucial in applying company resources in the most cost-efficient way to sell to potential customers. The marketing plan usually includes the product, price, publicity or advertising and place or target area. This marketing approach is product-driven or company-centric. A company makes a product and then find ways to get customers to buy the product. The alternative to a product driven approach is the customer-centric approach. The latter focuses on the customers. The company first selects a particular group of customers. The company then does research on the proposed product or service. It is the customers who have the final say whether the particular product is what they want to buy. Only then will production commences. A typical example is the La Fraise t-shirts. It all started with a French guy who passionately blogs about t-shirts. Through blogging, he built a community of loyal readers who share the same interest. He posted samples of t-shirt designs and the readers gladly send him feedbacks. This gave him an idea to put up a gallery of t-shirt designs. He encouraged his readers to vote on each design. The design that gets the highest vote goes into production and he sells them through his blog. What is nice is that the t-shirts are pre-sold already. He has no worries about inventory. It has become a full- fledged business. It is customer-centric. The customer decides which product to produce and then buys it. Credit should go to the guy because he is fully aware of the magic of comments – they can spur great ideas that can be converted to a business and one that works both ways for the customers and the business entrepreneur. This story perfectly shows how blogging can empower customers to be in the center in any business undertaking. Blogging truly affects the marketplace in more ways than one.
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