Every business, whether it’s a solo venture or a global conglomerate, can benefit from a content marketing strategy.
What is content marketing? The Content Marketing Institute defines it this way:
Content marketing is the marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.
Blog posts, podcasts, emails, Twitter tweets, YouTube videos, Facebook updates, Instagram photos, Pinterest pins, white papers, press releases and all the other content you put out into the world allows people to get to know you better and can be the foundation of your business.
Simply put, regularly posted quality content helps attract people who want to do business with you!
They make a connection with your expertise through your content. If they like what they see, a business relationship can start to take root without you lifting a finger. You create the content once, distribute it in various forms across multiple platforms and it keeps working for you 24-7-365.
Here are 5 steps to consider:
1- What’s My Content?
Compile a list of content ideas. Work from an understanding of the problems your audience faces and the various questions they have. The key to creating good content is to answer their questions in an interesting and entertaining way that provides value. Focus on producing the kind of content that positions you as an authority in your industry and as an educator and advocate for your customers.
Explore your competitors’ websites and check industry sites and publications to evaluate their content strategy and come up with more ideas. Develop a snapshot of the current hot topics in your niche. Brainstorm how your content will add value to the existing body of information.
2- What Type of Content?
Once you have the ideas list done, think about what types of content you will create and sketch out when and where you will distribute that content to reach your target audience.
There are three overall types of content – print, audio and video – and lots of variety within each category.
What type of content will work best for your audience? Blog posts? Infographics? ebooks? How-to articles? Video tutorials? Are your customers mostly readers, listeners or watchers?
Don’t know? Ask them in a poll or survey. They’re probably a mix of all three but see how most of them like to consume content and what content they’d like you to give them more of.
During this planning process, I recommend you write down the details in two documents, a content plan (strategy) and an editorial calendar. This will become the road map you follow.
Creating consistent original content is not easy so be sure you plan how to use the same piece of original content in multiple ways to maximize its effect. Here are two articles from content marketing masters Jay Baer and Ann Handley about how to do it:
3- Help Prospects Find You
Why make all this effort? Content marketing is an essential part of a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.
For example, if someone types a question into a search engine looking for help baking cupcakes, they might search for “how to bake cupcakes.” Ideally, the results they get are packed with solid information on the topic. If you’re a baker, a cupcake shop owner or a baking cookbook author, your content could show up in those results.
The more you publish on your topic, the more you’ll boost your credibility as a “go to” resource. Your search rankings go up and more prospects find you.
Don’t be intimidated that you have to do everything and be everywhere all the time. With the right strategy, you can leverage what you are able to do, even if it’s only a few tasks, to “appear” to be everywhere.
Media Savvy Tip: Content marketing is powerful, but producing a steady stream of fresh original content creation all alone can be exhausting. That’s why it makes sense in many niches to augment your own content by sharing relevant curated content. This Jeff Bullas article suggests tools to make curation easier.
4- Produce Great Content to Build a Community
Another way that content grows a business is through sharing. People love to share great content through social media, email and print.
The more useful your content is to your audience, the more likely they will share it. When new prospects see the shared content and check out your website or social profile, they discover more relevant content which can inspire them to want more from you and ideally, become part of your community.
One of my mentors, Tina Williams, likes to say,
“Build Community Around Your Business and Your Community Will Build Your Business Around You.”
5- Your Content Profit Plan
Perhaps you just love sharing and growing a community with your blog, in photos, videos, social media posts, etc. It’s fun and it’s what makes the Internet such an amazing place for niche audiences.
However, if you’re in business, profit is important. Not all of your content has to be ‘buy my stuff” promotional, but at least some part of your strategy should address how you plan to monetize your content to promote hiring you or using your products and services.
Here’s why. Good content helps prospects make buying decisions and become customers. Research shows the majority of people are motivated to buy something after they’ve read about it on a blog.
In addition, word of mouth marketing information from “influencers,” a peer or shared on social media is highly valued.
So there you have it. Engaging content can increase your visibility and brand awareness, boost traffic to your website, attract leads and convert prospects into fans, followers, subscribers, members and buyers. Are you using content marketing?
Below this post is a recommendation for an excellent book by the founder of the Content Marketing Institute, Joe Pulizzi.
NAMED one of 5 MUST-READ BUSINESS BOOKS BY FORTUNE MAGAZINE
Publishing is the NEW MARKETING.
How do you cut through the noise, commotion, and bad information that is right now cluttering up your customers' digital space?
Epic Content Marketing.
One of the world's leading experts on content marketing, Joe Pulizzi explains how to draw prospects and customers in by creating information and content they actually want to engage with. No longer can we interrupt our customers with mediocre content (and sales messages) our customers don't care about.
"Epic Content Marketing" takes you step by step through the process of developing stories that inform and entertain and compel customers to act--without actually telling them to. Epic content, distributed to the right person at the right time, is how to truly capture the hearts and minds of customers. It's how to position your business as a trusted expert in its industry. It's what customers share and talk about.
Once we hook customers in with epic content, they reward us by sending our sales through the roof.
Epic Content Marketing provides everything you need to:
* Determine what your content niche should be to attract and retain customers
* Discover and develop your content marketing mission statement
* Set up a process for creating and curating epic content
* Learn how to leverage social and email channels to create--and grow--your audience
* Measure the performance of your content--and increase your content marketing budget
With in-depth case studies of how John Deere, LEGO, Coca-Cola, and other leading corporations are using content to drive epic sales, this groundbreaking guide gives you all the tools to start creating and disseminating content that leads directly to greater profits and growth.
Whether you're the CMO of a Fortune 500, a digital marketer, or entrepreneur, "Epic Content Marketing" gives you the tools you need to vanquish the competition. Start your epic journey now!
Check out EpicContentMarketing.com for book bonus material and to download "20 Epic Examples of Content Marketing"
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