As a business owner, you have many jobs—chief strategist, salesperson, and occasional employee therapist. If you haven’t already, you can add one more title to your job description—chief content marketing strategist. Due to the rise of social media and connectivity in general, content marketing has become essential to any business’s marketing strategy.
When planning content marketing, you have to think like a publisher and create valuable and compelling information that pulls people to your products and services. It means you invest in helpful and interesting information that brings attention to you and your business. To change prospects into customers, you must create helpful information at the right time using the right vehicles. That’s publishing.
Yes, I said publishing. The rise of social media, mobile devices, and connectivity has resulted in: 87% of small businesses using some form of content marketing.
- 84% creating original content for social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook.
- 63% sending out regular informational newsletters.
- 57% blogging.
- 38% creating videos.
Looks like a lot of publisher, huh?
And this is just the start. Customers and prospects continue to get inundated with thousands of marketing messages every day. How do you cut through that clutter to attract and retain customers?
Creating Compelling Content
There’s no doubt small businesses need to position themselves as interesting through content marketing. Conditioned Air, a leading HVAC Contractor out of Naples, FL, has leveraged blogging, informational homecomfort articles, and helpful reports and these marketing tools have contributed to the company’s amazing growth. This has driven more prospects and customers to their site every month, leading to more business and increased loyalty.
This may all seem easy to say, hard to do. To get a handle on it, consider the top three reasons content marketing can go wrong and how to fix it:
Your content is about you.
So many businesses write blog posts or send information through Facebook or Twitter that is about themselves—their products and services. The problem is, your customers don’t care. They don’t care about you, your products, or your services. They care about themselves. So instead of talking about yourself, you have to focus on the pain points of your customers. What keeps your customers and prospects up at night? For example, if you are a plumber, instead of shouting from the rooftops about how great your customer service is, why don’t you write an article about the top five causes for toilet stoppages and how to fix them? Better yet, do a video about how you helped a customer deal with a major blockage. Now that’s information that customers need and probably would be willing to share (without you having to ask).
Your content is about everything.
What is your niche? Do you sell pet supplies? If you do, don’t create content about pets. That’s too broad. Think super niche; find a niche where you can be the leading expert in the world (for example, pet supplies for retired Americans that travel in RVs with their pets). Do you sell custom printing services? If so, develop content about how QR codes are sweeping the country and what your customers need to do about it— not just about the value of printing. Beware: If you talk about everything, you can’t be the expert in anything.
Your content is hidden.
Just because you create a cuttingedge piece of content, that doesn’t mean people will find it. Small businesses need to hang out where their customers are. Are your customers hanging out on LinkedIn groups? You need to be there. How about certain online forums? Facebook? Wherever they are hanging out, that’s where you need to be.
Making It Happen
Since thinking like a publisher is completely new to most businesses and may be a bit awkward, these strategies will help you through the process.
Content Calendar—Consistently valuable content needs to be planned. Something as simple as an Excel spreadsheet works fine. Include your target keywords, your title, the draft title, the proofread date, the finish date, the call to action, and other options for using the content in the spreadsheet.
Leverage Employees—Your employees are interacting with customers all the time. Set up a process so they can easily talk about customer stories. Blogs work great for this.
The Content Officer—Make sure someone in your organization (could be you, could be your marketing director) owns the content marketing process. There are so many opportunities to tell stories, if someone is always thinking about it.
Joe Pulizzi is founder of the Content Marketing Institute, which produces Chief Content Officer magazine, the Content Marketing World event (September 6-8, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio) and content marketing tools Junta42 and SocialTract. Joe can be found on Twitter @juntajoe or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.