Business Blogging Tips for the QuickBooks General Manager

Quickbooks logoWelcome to the interesting world of business blogging, BSmith4664. I’ve had a chance to read your first posting to the Quickbooks Team Blog, entitled View from the General Manager and would like to offer up a few thoughts and pointers…
First off, whether you’re an executive or using a spade in the trenches, I do think that it’s quite helpful to tell us who you are. “BSmith4664” sounds a lot more like a Hotmail or AOL address than the General Manager of the Quickbooks team, doesn’t it? I realize that 60 seconds with Google reveals that you’re “Brad Smith” and that Intuit’s CEO Steve Bennett has said “We’ve been searching externally for a while and determined that Brad Smith is the best person – inside or outside Intuit – for the QuickBooks leadership role. He’s proven his ability to lead a team to win decisively in an intensely competitive environment.”
Very impressive. But why make me do the work?
A good metaphor for business blogging might well be having five minutes in front of a professional networking group or conference roundtable. Certainly your name, your title, your responsibilities, some comment that indicates you’re paying attention to the discussion and the interaction style that’s become the norm in the group, and so on. Bonus points for something amusing about yourself.

Since we aren’t in the same room, however, I’d really like to see a picture of you here, as part of your introduction, Brad. It really further helps personalize the weblog and helps us establish a foundation of trust for our future discussions. You can see my picture on this page, for example. Now you know what I look like. Something to think about.
Second, I like Quickbooks and your company. I like that you’ve quite successfully held off many competitive threats in the last decade, even from the 800 pound gorilla. You’ve got the industry leading product and produce something that thousands of business people use every day. So where’s the pizzaz, the visual design, the immediate visual feedback that you’re a leader in this marketspace? Surely your team could shanghai a graphic designer from elsewhere in the firm to help make your weblog more visually interesting?
In fact, there’s danger in having it be too bland: it doesn’t give me any confidence that you really are the Quickbooks team and so you lose out on the potential credibility boost that can’t but help you with your blogging mission.
Another point: you have a long, thoughtful article, but you aren’t offering me any visual cues to help navigate the material. You’ll do much better to have a few hyperlinks to other Web sites and even use bold and italics for some visual variety. I realize that there’s a niggling anxiety about pointing to a third-party Web site that isn’t vetted by legal, but if you’re going to be a business blogger, you need to take the plunge and point to other sites. You can always sneak in a disclaimer if you feel you must, but it’s widely accepted that someone pointing to another site doesn’t imply that they’re related in any manner.
Generously linking to other sites is a very blog-friendly philosophy too, and linking to other bloggers will frequently cause them to link back to you and perhaps even help you gain visibility in your target community. It’s certainly a ‘best practice’ for business blogging.
I also have a strong preference for long weblog articles, but expect that some people will shortly be complaining that frequent, short entries, even as short as a sentence or two, are the preferred style for the blogosphere. Ptoi on that. Write what you feel most comfortable writing!
Finally, I’m intrigued by your comment about the upcoming QuickBooks 2006 release. Trickling out feature lists, screen shots, and general tales of beta testing feedback and user stories (and testimonials) would be a splendid use of this weblog, and could also help increase product visibility further.
Again, welcome to the world of business blogging, Brad. Stay in touch.

9 comments on “Business Blogging Tips for the QuickBooks General Manager

  1. Dave, thanks for noticing our efforts. Brad lives and breathes real-time learning. It makes his group a great place to work. So, now that he’s gotten his first post out, he’ll be watching for the learnings. Thanks for starting that process. I can work on the photo and naming conventions today. I understand your point about the design – we do want all QuickBooks experiences to be simple, and easy to use. We’ll work on that too. Lastly, Brad is a really quick study, so I bet he’ll link more the more he blogs. And, thanks again – I look forward to more of your reflections on our blogging.

  2. Dave,
    It’s Paul here, GM for Quickbooks Online Edition. We met at the Biz Blog Summit. I love your comments and think they’re really good. Brad’s committed to blogging and I think that’s a great thing for our company so your comments are well appreciate (not that I’m speaking for him but rather for future Intuit bloggers!).
    Regards, Paul

  3. Thanks, Kirby and Paul. Pretty responsive team, I’d say!
    One more tip, though it doesn’t apply to the Quickbooks Team Blog: make sure that people can subscribe to your RSS feed if they’re so inclined!
    I was just directed to check out the new SkyeTech “Loving RFID Blog” at and while it looks like a good beginning, I’m frustrated that I can’t see an “XML” button, “RSS” button or indeed any way to subscribe to the site. Without that, I’ll just walk away, and author Sean Loving’s efforts to establish a relationship with me will have been for naught.

  4. We’re trying to get the professional accountants in the UK into this stuff. Stuff like this makes a huge difference in allaying people’s fears and seeing that vendors really do have faces.

  5. They need a proofreader–apostrophes are scattered about like falling leaves. So this attempt does not impress me, as a professional site should be just that.

  6. Martha, I�ve done most of the implementation work to get the QuickBooks Blog up and running. We ARE moving fast and I haven�t had a copywriter look at the site � partly this is deliberate because we consciously don�t want to make it into marketing copy. However, I�m clearly NOT hoping to cultivate an anti-professional feel for the blog. This is my error. I used to teach composition, but, I have, in my intervening years as a Product Manager, become informal in my written communications. I�ll work with our tech writers to get the apostrophes cleaned up.
    Thanks for visiting our blog.

  7. What cracks me about the ‘BSmith4664’ identifier is that is eerily reminds me of Ayn Rand’s book, Anthem. A society from which all individuality is extinct, characters in the book have names like Equality 7-2521 and Liberty 5-3000. It is starting to hit a little close to home…

  8. Useful read.
    I agree with your point that visual cues to help navigate the material play an important role. I believe the standard amount of time users give any particular page is 30 seconds? If the user doesn’t find what he / she wants in the first 30 seconds, they’ll leave.

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