Earlier today I spoke to a small group of rural business owners who were participating in the Rural Utah Business Conference. In many cases, these business owners face an enormous challenge—building a business and communicating a great brand story in a small town (or no town at all). Often they have few local customers, few resources, and a very small support network.
While there, I had the opportunity to see a presentation by Kendall Card from Backcountry.com about how they have used blogs to build traffic to their main site. Kendall is at least partly responsible for the content posted to the various Backcountry.com blogs, including Backcountry and The Goat.
And while I tend to shy away from blogging about blogging, two things Kendall said caught my attention. Backcountry invites its customers to post on company blogs about their outdoor experiences. By opening up the posts (and not just the comments) to their most engaged customers, Backcountry builds a lot of content (including photos and video) and attracts lots of new page views from potential customers. And every post is a micro-brand story featuring gear available from Backcountry.com. It's tough to read this post about a trip to Madagascar without thinking, I could use a set of these and one of these the next time I go trekking off to Ranomafana (or the Uintas or Moab)—better stock up now. Even if readers don't buy immediately, they know exactly where they can get their gear when they need it. It's a great way to share a brand story.
Perhaps most importantly, Backcountry can attribute sales north of six figures back to links from its blogs (sorry, I don't remember the exact number). That may not be a lot to some, but to many small businesses that's a difference maker.