Content marketing is the marketing of today. With more and more people ignoring ads or actively downloading ad blockers to avoid seeing them altogether – the only way to truly market your business to your target group of potential clients is through valuable content. And honestly? Content marketing works. People who use content marketing campaigns and strategies experience 7.8x more traffic to their website than those who don’t. Better yet? Content marketing costs 62% less than outbound marketing. So, essentially, you’re spending less on marketing and advertising and getting more results. I know, it sounds magical, right?
Unfortunately, content marketing takes a bit of effort on the front end. Producing content that isn’t total garbage or click-bait can be time consuming. Plus, taking the time to create social media and email campaigns, curating third party content worth sharing, evaluating keywords, and assessing your target audience’s online presence so you can access them where they are can be overwhelming. Maybe that’s why so many business owners just flat out avoid it.
I’m here to tell you that content marketing doesn’t have to be overwhelming. In fact, let me give you permission right now to stop reading all of those articles detailing the 9 billion ways you need to be improving your content marketing. You don’t need a $1,000 online course or a multi-platform data tracking plan. If you want to invest the time in those things, cool. You do you. But most of us barely have the time to write the content for a campaign, much less spend the extra hours going through some crazy intense twenty five step process. Let’s look at a few content marketing basics and set up some ground rules that you, as a business owner, can use to simplify your content marketing strategy and focus on other aspects of your life and business.
#1: Decide on a Few Platforms
Yes, I said a few. When you’re just getting started, don’t expect to successfully be everywhere all the time. There is only one of you (or, if you run a small business or firm, there may be a few of you). Just like in real life, you can’t spread yourself too thin virtually, or you risk burning out. Instead, decide on a few platforms you like. I usually recommend 2-3 social media channels, maybe a monthly or quarterly newsletter, and a consistent blogging schedule that has you publishing content on the platform of your choice 2-4 times a month. You can set up an all-encompassing editorial calendar to get you moving and keep everything organized and in one place. See? That doesn’t feel too overwhelming.
#2: Keep Things Flexible
Don’t lock yourself in to any one specific schedule for anything. There will be months where you aren’t feeling it, and that’s okay. Forgive yourself ahead of time, and give yourself permission to slow up on content creation if you need to. People are not going to have their world come to an end if you miss a blog post or if you recycle content from a previous newsletter. If it’s still valuable information, I doubt they’ll care or notice.
On the other hand, if you’re feeling especially crazy one month, or you know you have a big networking event coming up, by all means add something new! A downloadable white paper, or a targeted email campaign intended to grow your client list can really boost things, and your content schedule should leave you with enough energy to refocus some of your time on a new “thing” should you feel inspired.
#3: Focus on Engagement, not Numbers
This is my personal rule, but I believe in it so much that I’m willing to shout it through my blog-megaphone and get you on board. Your following numbers are a good way to track your audience growth, but they don’t really mean much more than that. Yes, having a larger audience can help you get in front of more people, but just being there isn’t going to do anything. Instead, I prefer to focus on tracking audience engagement. I’d even go so far as to argue that a small but engaged audience is WAY better than huge audience who never engages. Many of my clients are financial planners, and this advice applies directly to them. You want your audience to trust and like you. That may sound juvenile, but it’s true. If the content you’re posting is adding value to their lives, you want them to engage.
Engagement can be defined in several ways, but I like to boil it down to this: engagement is people taking action on or reacting to something you post. This means blog comments, social media likes, article shares, direct messages, you name it. If the content you’re posting is inspiring your audience to act or react with you, or engage in a conversation, your content marketing has done it’s job.
#4: Your Audience Always Comes First
Content marketing is absolutely meant to convert prospects into clients, but you won’t do that if your content is selfish. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes. What are they worried about? What problems are they facing? You are more likely to connect with them and elicit a reaction or an engaged response if you either bring valuable information, answer questions they have, or provide a solution to their problem. So, when you’re creating content, remember to skip the…
- Fluff pieces. Unless you think something is really cool or somehow furthers your personal and professional brand.
- Industry jargon. Your audience won’t relate to these, so keep them to a minimum. Explain everything as though you were talking to a good friend or your spouse – keep things honest and down to earth.
- Disingenuous spam. You’re not a spam person. You know it, I know it. So how about we stop with the spam-like posts. You know what I’m talking about. The super self-promotional or cross-posted nonsense that doesn’t sound like you. Stay true to who you are, and you’ll feel much less icky about your content marketing (and your audience will thank you).
Content marketing doesn’t have to be overwhelming. In fact, taking the time to simplify your content marketing process can often lead to you getting more done and a higher ROI. And if you ever want to chat about your content marketing strategy, need some help with structure or execution, I’m your gal. Feel free to contact me today or set up a phone call – I’m always around to talk!