Think about it. If the purchase is just about the product, then any old store will do. Hell, I could pick my iPad up at the check out window at McDonalds and still be happy. Right?
The retail gurus at Apple know that the Apple Store offers the experience needed to fully appreciate Apple products. Presentation, service, and ambiance are essential to making the product shine.
The same goes for your blog.
Are You Too Content Focused?
People like me have been exhorting you to focus on content. We’ve sung the praises of content marketing and pounded the podium shouting “Content is King!”
The problem, though, is that the blogosphere is clogged with good content served up in generic, nondescript, fast-food trays.
Readers show up and immediately bounce away without ever reading the content.
If you asked them why they left, they would say:
“The blog didn’t seem right for me.” That’s the reader’s way of saying that your blog’s design, presentation, and ambiance sucks.
Fix the presentation and the product will matter. That’s why I think you should take the next 30 days to make sure you have a blog that looks as good as the content it houses.
Let’s look at Apple Stores for a few pointers:
Apple Stores (Much More than the Product)
First Impressions Count:
The wild part is that there isn’t a product in sight, just a logo and a crystal-clear promise – “Your shopping experience will be as magical as the product”.
The first impression is a statement that hypnotically pulls the visitor into the store promising more to come.
Apple puts this level of thought into every single retail location. Every store is designed to make a statement. Even the store in the mall looks radically different than every other store front.
Your blog needs to do the same. I’ll give you some suggestions in a moment…
Package Your Product
This is not the case at Apple.
You enter the store, spot your product, and walk up to an open table where your desired product is ready and waiting. You pick it up and begin selling yourself on why you want it.
Every iPod has headphones. iPads are opened to GarageBand. MacBooks are showing off resolution-popping HD graphics.
Think about your blog.
- How much time do you spend on headlines?
- How about photos that amplify your post’s main idea?
- What about those subheadlines? Are they an afterthought?
Your blog should make your posts shine. Fail here and it won’t matter how good your content is.
Hustle and Bustle
I suspect that every Apple Store is wrapped in glass to make sure that everyone can see people in the stores.
There’s something irresistible about a packed store. You are drawn in to see what all the excitement is about. You get the same feeling when you see a packed restaurant or a line outside a hot new club.
This is why top blogs focus attention on the hustle and bustle around their blog. Mashable prominently shows how many people are following certain topics. The Huffington Post makes it easy for you to fan specific authors and commenters.
By the way, these blogs grew their gargantuan reader base because they used these “social proof” strategies from the beginning.
New blogs can show hustle and bustle by maintaining an active Twitter feed and displaying it on their blog. You can thank retweeters, engage with Facebook fans (and show your activity via the Facebook widget), and reply to as many comments as you can.
Stellar and Visible Customer Service
The Genius Bar and happy knowledgeable Apple employees are prominent reminders that Apple is ready to serve you. Customer service seems like an obvious prerequisite for any retail establishment, but after waiting 5 minutes for an order of fries at McDonalds, I’m reminded that great customer service isn’t all that common.
Apple has made customer service an integral part of its experience. If you look closely, you can see how your blog has the same responsibility.
Do you follow-up with people who use your Contact Form?
A recent reader reminded me that I shouldn’t have a contact form if I wasn’t going to answer the emails – Ouch! I will do better. Maybe you should too.
I believe in answering comments whenever my answer adds to the conversation.
Although I’m not in the “answer every single comment” camp, I believe that you should hang out in your comments section as much as possible. Your readers will enjoy and appreciate your follow-up comments on your posts and answers to questions.
Twitter @ mentions:
Don’t hesitate to answer comments on Twitter or Facebook. This allows your extended audience to benefit from your feedback. Commenting systems like LiveFyre make this simple for you and your readers.
The Easiest Way to Get Started
Warning – I’m about to deliver a little tough love.
Here it is:
There’s absolutely no excuse for having a busted and broken blog. So if your blog looks like it’s an exile from the clipart refugee camp, then you only have yourself to blame.
I’ll go one step further and say that if you are struggling to gather an audience after 6 months of blogging, then you should change your blog design. It’s that important.
The quickest way to fix a coyote ugly blog is to get a professional theme.
Yes. It will cost you money about $80 for a theme that looks stunning. If you can’t scrape together $80 to make sure the time you’ve invested in your blog isn’t wasted, then blogging may not be your best strategy.
Ok, enough for the tough stuff. 😉
I’m a big fan of StudioPress because the people who run the company are bloggers themselves (@copyblogger) and understand what it takes to publish a fantastic blog platform.
The folks at Headway, Woo Themes, and Thesis have some good options too.
So take a critical look at your blog and decide your next step.
What’s your next move? What area needs improvement on your blog? Talk to me, and I’ll talk right back ☺