The market is not an easy place to be! Especially so, for small business owners, need to enhance visibility, ideas, and tools to become known to their niche market! This is the main idea I try to convey to a friend of mine (a newbie entrepreneur in the education market) having no marketing knowledge at all and wanted more information for small business marketing.
My main point was to tell him that you need a lot of work, and intentional investment in personal time, energy, and effort to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills along with a solid strategy to help you achieve your goals.
Today’s Market Status
Today’s market is not an easy one. It needs a lot of activities to be coordinated towards specified measurable objectives and a dedication some people not usually have. Most entrepreneurs of “1-person companies“, freelancer or solopreneurs fail because either they have not clear goals and directions or have underestimated their capabilities, time, needed effort, etc. or, simply, because they expect too many results in a very short time.
When, my friend ask me, “how to start” I told him to:
- Reflect on what you want to do until you have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve, how to do it, what you want to invest, for how long, etc. and
- Start by producing valuable content that would make your brand and ideas known to the people you want to reach
After launching these 2 steps and embedded in your mind frame, I told him, as permanent and recurring activities, you can start developing your business strategy as far as the education/course development market concerns.
The problem with so many new “entrepreneurs” today is that they expect too much in a short time and they think that they can achieve their goals with a minimum effort. It happens, of course, if you are the super talented person, dedicating to bring results, but the normal way is that many of us are not gifted with what it takes to get the things done.
For the rest of us, it needed commitment, a lot of effort, personal and financial investment, strategic planning, and coordinated actions to achieve what we aim for!
What Is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is not difficult, as it proves the amount of content has released every day either in print or in electronic form (to give you a hint: 2.5 QUINTILLION BYTES OF DATA CREATED DAILY). Information always needs your attention.
So you can imagine, how difficult is the road path to develop content that would be noticed, by the people you want to reach. This is exactly what content marketing does.
Content marketing is simply:
any marketing that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire and retain customers. (From Wikipedia: Content Marketing)
Content marketing is also defined as
a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. (From: What is Content Marketing).
But that is not all!
What’s The Content (What’s Your Message)?
As any content which needs to convey a message, to acquire visibility, and to produce pre-designed results, the content marketing procedure should be consistent, strict, and aiming at specific objectives.
This is the reason, the content designed for such results should follow specific rules and procedures for its development, marketing, and distribution. Such content may include many forms:
Of course, there are many more forms of content that can produce the desired results, but these are the more common ones.
The Content Marketing Procedure
To produce the main message and the form this message (or messages) can acquire it needs a consistent work by a dedicated working team. According to the Content Marketing Institute, the content marketing procedure involves 4 distinct phases:
- Create & Manage
- Optimize, Aggregate, Curate
- Converse & Listen, and
- Measure & Learn
These coordinated and intentionally done (main) activities can guarantee the success of your content marketing efforts.
How to Start With the Content Marketing
You start doing content marketing by following the above (or a similar) procedure. And always, always, the first step is to:
- define with clarity what your market/business is,
- recognize the audience you want to serve with your brand/product/service,
- define the main messages you want to pass along, and
- develop valuable related content for exactly that audience.
The main factor in this equation is to find your clients. These are the people you want to speak to with your content and you want to convert them from simple listeners to loyal clients for your brand. But this is just the 1/2 of the solution to your problem.
In order to be successful, you need to attract with your message your ideal clients, i.e. the clients need low support and bring you high revenue.
There are many ways to find your ideal customers, but one of the most effective ones is the value quadrant, which will permit you to identify and focus your efforts on the clients which will bring you the best results.
For these people, you need to construct your message(s) around which your content will be evolved.
In order to find the right message(s) for the right audience you want to speak to, you need to write it/them in the right way (like using the AIDA sequence for example or a similar template in order to have maximum results and by utilizing existing market data and techniques can help you make the correct decisions like the OODA loop is.)
To do that, there are standard procedures for content development and every person or/and organization has the ones he/she prefers the most. But all procedures for the content development, more or less, follow some basic steps.
Here, as an example of what I am doing that may give you a glimpse of my procedure for content development:
- Start with some ideas.
- Brainstorming your ideas for content in relation to what you want to achieve and document them (a Microsoft Excel or a Google Sheet is always a good way to record some ideas, but a windows notepad or a word document or the Evernote or the Google Keep, are excellent candidates as well. Anything really can help you record your ideas and you are accustomed to is fine.)
- Search in related to your subject news, newsletter, podcasts, forums, blogs, and sites for what your audience wants to learn in relation to a specific problem or issue. You can use sites like Amazon, Quora, Twitter, Facebook, Alltop, Google Communities and Forums, Pinterest, LinkedIn Groups, and similar sites to provide you with basic insights on your topics or/and more specialized tools to help you like Google Search, BuzzSumo, OutreachNinja, etc. Record these ideas and combine them with a compact and coherent list.
- Filter the best ones and verify them using the same sites or submitting your ideas as questions to more specialized sites (like GrowthHackers, Reddit, and inbound.org).
- Process, organize, and categorize these results.
- Formalize your main messages around the results you have to find, exploring the best cues, keywords (you can use tools like Google Keyword Planner, UberSuggest, LongTailPro [affiliate link], etc.), and format might have the larger impact and results as far as your message(s) concerns. In this phase, you can use copywriting techniques to help your message to travel to more places.
- Organize them and start developing your first outline for the content you want to develop. In your outline, you use the main ideas and messages you have identify and pinpoint (in the form of remarks) more ways to enhance each message (i.e. with visual cues, sequences, better headings, images, audio, video, etc.)
- Organize your material into a 2nd draft (even a 3rd, 4th, etc. one), which will be gradually more elaborated, contended, and on the point. You follow this procedure until you are satisfied with the final result.
- Write the final version in a Word document, or a Markdown text in order to have the flexibility of easy porting it to. PDF or HTML formats.
- When you have finished with your content, you start thinking about how to port it to other formats more suitable for your services and your audience.
This is just one of the main procedures you can use in order to develop valuable and evergreen content for your SPECIFIC audience. There is much more you can find out and select what is most suitable for you.
Easy Ways to Produce Valuable Content
For my final document I usually use either text with markdown syntax (now there are many applications support markdown syntax), a word document (either in my PC with MS Office or online via Google Docs which help to produce other formats as well as .PDF or/and EPUB) or Scrivener which is a specialized writing application.
By this far I could have, without my basic markdown document (if I assume this is my preferred format) at least:
- a word document,
- an HTML file, and
- a .PDF
These basic formats allow me as is (or with little work) to have:
- An article or a blog post (in which I can add images or other multimedia elements) and export it as .pdf with for instance the printfriently service for free.
- An e-Book (the .pdf file from above or export in .PDF file or EPUB file via Google Docs).
- A text-to-voice audio file (with a reading of your text) using services like WordTalk (Windows), DAISY plugging for Microsoft Word (Windows), Natural Reader (Windows and Mac)
With little more work you can also have:
- An excellently formatted e-Book for immediate distribution (via Beacon, a service which can create professional-looking books and downloadable content)
- A presentation (summarize the basic points of your post or article and enriched it with some images)
- A video presentation (as an export from MS PowerPoint or with the use of a specialized video editor as Camtasia)
- An infographic (there are several free sites for infographic development like the Easel.ly, the Visualize, the PikToChart, the Visme, the Canva’s Free Infographic Maker, the Venngage, etc.)
- Promotional Images like the ones produced by Wordle.net or colleges and promotional images and banners produces with Canva, PicMonkey
- A roadmap or a checklist in a .pdf file selecting specialized parts of your article
etc. (anything that can help your goals and make your content travel a long way)
Additionally, when you are blogging for a long time you would have gathered many contents you could repurpose it to your own goals.
The next step is to distribute your content to your audience and make some new friends. This procedure, even though a separate one, should be considered an integral part of a successful content marketing strategy.
The content distribution strategy involves many steps and operations that would help your content reach the right audience.
Typical operations of the content distribution strategy include among many approaches:
- Social media dissemination and promotion,
- Guest blogging,
- New content formats development,
- e-mail finding,
- Content repurposing,
- Growth hacks,
- Further audience development,
The basic ingredient to develop your audience base, distribute your content to the right audience and outreach is to find the e-mails of the key players in your field.
There are many strategies for this and many services can help you find the best results around. Among the best and most reliable services in the category of tools for finding and verifying the proper e-mail addresses are the Hunter, the Find That Email, the Clearbit Connect, the Voila Norbert, the FindThatLead, the ContactOut and many other.
Lastly, you need to find ways to measure the impact of your content on your niche market. You need to find the right tools and approaches to help you measure with clarity and, relatively, safety the impact of your content marketing efforts.
Below you will find some content having produced by this post and some of its references:
Please choose your files:
- Get the Google Docs version of this post.
- Get the PDF version of this post.
- Get the EPUB version of this post.
- Get a PDF version of the AIDA scheme.
- Get a PDF version of the OODA Loop.
So what do you think of content marketing?
Question: Do you find useful these information about content marketing? How do you do your next content? You can leave your comments on content marketing or your questions, by clicking here.
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