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Here’s a problem that happens just a bit too often:
A small business owner is told over and over again that they need a website.
And they do.
It’s not something that’s up for debate anymore. The internet is simply an extension of our economy. You can join, or miss out. From local and physical to global and digital!
The consequence of this is that everyone has a website because we have the tools to make it happen in a fraction of the time it used to take.
This creates a crowded environment, which means no one will find your website, and thus it serves no purpose.
The answer to this problem is content marketing.
There are two major components that lead to content marketing success for a small business in the online environment.
Creation and Promotion.
First off, people do realize that they should blog.
Blogging creates content, so it’s a good thing, right?
Absolutely, but once again we run into the problem of a crowded space.
Every company blogs. But not everyone knows about those companies’ blogs.
This is where promotion comes in. Letting people know that your content exists.
I’ll be providing a quick, actionable overview of creation and promotion so that you can start building an online asset that creates leads for your business.
As I mentioned above, everyone blogs.
I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t blog, only that you make it count when you do.
Content is a game of nailing down an audience and providing the value that they seek.
What most small business owners don’t understand is that content isn’t about you.
Whenever you’re writing an article, you’re talking to someone else, usually about their problems.
You have effectively become a solution provider.
Your blog posts shouldn’t be promoting your company. They promote your ability to help people by giving them free information that they will actually find useful.
Don’t blog for the sake of blogging, blog to solve a problem.
Make the reader think, “Wow, I didn’t know this solution existed” or “This will save me a ton of time”.
I keep referring to it as just blogging, but don’t let me pigeonhole you.
Content marketing doesn’t simply involve the blog format, but also video, podcast, infographic, whitepaper, social media, guides, tutorials, live video…
You can go on for hours talking about the types of content and how to best create them.
That’s not what I’m going to discuss, as that would be a whole guide in and of itself, if not a book.
Actionable takeaways regarding creation in content marketing:
- Determine who your audience is, what they want, what their problems are, what questions they ask, etc.
- Create content that serves those needs, not yours. And create the content in the formats that those people consume most, not the formats you enjoy.
- If you find yourself creating for the sake of creating, re-evaluate. You’re missing the whole point.
There’s not a worse feeling than being an unappreciated creator.
You pour several hours into a solid article that solves a problem your customers have specifically asked you about. You know they’ll find this helpful…
Then, you put it on your blog, share it on your social channels, and sit back, happy with your work.
This is when the ugly feeling happens.
You realize that only 10 people read your article and no one shared it for you. It’s as if creating the content in the first place was an entire waste of your time.
I assure you it’s not, you just have to take one more step forward in your approach to content marketing.
So many small businesses decide to invest in content. They create a schedule, put out content on a weekly basis, stay active on social, and more.
I commend them for their efforts. Content marketing is hard and creating awesome content takes forever!
But they hurt themselves by only creating content.
If you truly believe in your content and its ability to help people, it’s time to take an extremely important step forward by promoting it.
And when I say promote it, promote it like your life depends on it.
I won’t get into all the strategies for promotion because I’ve already created an informational resource on all sorts of content promotion strategies. I suggest you check it out after this article.
What I will tell you is that if you have a small website with little traffic, blogging once a week will do nothing for you.
It’s your responsibility to create awesome content and go out there to pitch it.
Don’t spam people, or bother just anyone.
Find two types of people and let them know about your “stuff”. Here are the two groups you will need to target:
- People that will actually read and take action on your content. These are the people you want consuming your content. People you can help. These are the people that turn into customers.
- People that can spread your content. Rather than simply end users, these are individuals in either your industry or a related industry who care about this information because their customers are very similar to yours. They are either micro or macro influencers or companies who can take your content and present it to a pool of end-users.
Group 1 is very important because these are the people who are saying: “Wow, I didn’t know this solution existed” or “This will save me a ton of time”.
But, Group 2 is arguably more important because they can take your content (that no one is reading) and share it with a group of people that will consume it (Group 1).
Actionable takeaways for content promotion:
- Understand that no one simply stumbles across your content, you have to be the one delivering it to them.
- Identify who your relevant audiences are, for both Groups 1 and 2. Then pitch it to them directly, framing in the way that offers value to them.
Here’s an example to clarify:
Let’s say you own a lawn and garden store in which you sell products both in-store, and online.
You create useful content for your audience. Maybe you make videos on best practices and tips for creating a beautiful backyard.
First, identify who is in your Groups, both 1 and 2.
Group 1: Homeowners who care about their lawn, enjoy gardening as a hobby.
Group 2: Garden and lawn care experts, companies that offer lawn care services, etc.
Next, pitch your content to them:
Group 1: “Hey I just created an awesome guide on how to make your lawn greener, I think you’re going to find it very helpful. Enjoy!”
Group 2: “Hey, I just created an awesome guide on how to make your lawn greener, I think that your audience/customers/community will find this very helpful. Enjoy!”
As a small business owner with a website that may have limited traffic, this is the best way to get eyes on your content, earn more shares, and build a larger email list.
Is Content Marketing easy? No way. Worth it? Absolutely.
Ultimately, content marketing success is based on two major pillars, content creation and content promotion.
It’s not necessarily easy, but it’s entirely possible to create a system that feeds into itself so that your website grows over time.
As you get more traffic and eyes on your content, you’ll get more shares and links, which will lead to more traffic.
You’ll develop credibility in your space, which leads to collaboration with larger influencers and companies, which then leads to even more traffic.
As I said before, this isn’t easy. It takes a conscious effort to create selfless and valuable content, along with doing the leg work to let people know about it.
However, the return is immense. It means that as you get the flywheel spinning, it get’s easier and easier to grow.
You just have to be willing to go through a beginning thrashing period that takes you from a nobody on the web, to someone who’s on the map and starting to build authority.
Best of luck in your content marketing endeavors!
Featured Image Credit: Henry Foster
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