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Learn About Blogs Before You Buy Blog Tools

Published: 2005-05-02

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Two guys sit down at a bar and start talking. One says to the other, "Hey, do you know how much hammers cost, and where I can buy one?"...

The other guy responds, "I dunno. I hear that a lot of people have hammers these days. What do you need it for?" "Well, I'm not really sure. I just keep reading about hammers, people tell me I need a hammer, and sales of hammers are going through the roof."

Pretty silly, huh?

Johnnie's got a post on 4/17 called "Making Money on Cheap Tools." A lot of people are selling hammers -- oops, I mean blogs. Carat is selling blog starter kits to their clients. The question that appears to be zooming through the blogosphere is how much people can charge for hammers blogs.

Smart companies shouldn't spend a penny on a blog starter kit or blog consultant. Not until they understand whether a blog is the right tool to meet their needs. Why buy a hammer when you have a plumbing problem? Better to find someone who can sell you a wrench.

A blog is a tool. So is a wiki or discussion forum. So is a face-to-face meeting or a conference call. And I've recently seen some very interesting tools that are in beta. The core issue is this: What conversations need to be happening inside and outside of your company? What is the cost to the company if these conversations don't happen? What are the cultural and organizational issues that prevent these conversations from taking place? How can we begin implementing conversation tools to facilitate those conversations? And finally, lastly, what are the right conversation tools for your business?

Blog consultants, designers and writers are wonderful resources in the executional phase. But there's usually a lot of work to be done before it makes sense to bring them into the picture. If you're building a home, do you go hire yourself a framer? Or a roofer? No, you start with an architect, then a contractor. I don't help companies build blogs... I can refer them to a blog specialist who can. But not until I ask a bunch of questions about what purpose it needs to serve. Just because blogs have hit the big time doesn't mean they're right for every situation. So don't worry about answering "how much" until you've answered some "who," "what" and "why"questions.

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