Staples Business Depot has today launched “How’s Business?” a blog for Canadian small businesses. As far as I know, this is the first small business marketer to invest in a coherent blogging strategy for Canadian entrepreneurs.
This is a move I applaud. As one of the top small business-related brands in the country, Staples has the goodwill and the savvy to become a credible purveyor of business advice and insight.
I met recently with the Staples marketing brainstrust and they also understand – unlike many bloggers, both individual and corporate – that their blogposts will have to be engineered to benefit the reader first, not the company. They know that in today’s over-marketed economy, you have to give first to gain your target audience’s attention and respect before you can hope to have any influence.
The posts published so far (e.g., startup myths, a business plan primer, creating a workspace, dealing with failure, avoiding identity theft, and of course blogging) live up to the promise of creating value without excessive self-promotion. Looks like http://blog.staples.ca/ will be worth bookmarking.
“How’s Business?” is integrated with an improved business-resource centre that includes articles, links, how-to videos and so on. And there are already some good conversations going on in the “comments” appended to each post.
The blog leans on guest contributors, which is good. But most of the posts come from someone named Lynnette, who writes interesting stuff despite having to be the “voice” of a corporation. Since blogging is a one-to-one medium, I hope Lynnette will come out of the shadows and develop more personality over time.
One quibble: in an introductory post, Lynette says that “Blogging and the web gives us a new way to communicate with you, our customers.” It’s not exactly new – as noted by the subtle dig from “Leo,” a fellow Staples employee who left this comment on that post:
“Welcome to the conversation, cousins! I work at Staples Argentina, we’ve had blogs for three years, and it’s been great!”
Good luck to Staples on a promising initiative. The question is not why it took Staples so long – but why no one beat them to it.