You are not alone. I hear this particular pain point a lot. Actually, a lot, a lot.
Whether you are running a commercial real estate company, a medical practice, a design firm, or a home services company, the experience is the same. You know that you need a marketing plan, you know that marketing plan includes content creation, and you have no time or desire to do it. You have plenty of other things on your plate. So, you do the logical thing—you ignore it. You put it on the long-term “would be nice to get done” list and go about running your business.
The problem with this approach is that never gets done. And your business misses out on the opportunities and leads that marketing yields. In today’s post, we make the case for content marketing—what it is, how to use it to your advantage, and how to get it done when you’d frankly just rather not be bothered.
What is Content Marketing?
Wikipedia defines content marketing as “a form of marketing focused on creating, publishing, and distributing content for a targeted audience online.“ Yes, we agree with Wikipedia—it is that. But, it’s more than that. Forbes separates content marketing from other forms of marketing this way:
You can tell if a piece of content is the sort that could be part of a content marketing campaign if people seek it out, if people want to consume it, rather than avoiding it. – Forbes
Put another way, think about the difference between push vs. pull marketing. For example, an ad trying to sell you something is pushing that information your way. A blog post that answers the question you just googled is content that you are pulling your way.
Investing in content marketing is the best way to increase brand equity (the social value of your brand). Many consumers have learned to ignore traditional advertising, but most people love useful or interesting content! Think about it—are you more likely to click on an ad about organic skincare products or a blog titled “12 Toxic Ingredients to Avoid in Your Beauty Products”? When you create great content that people will enjoy or find helpful, you begin to build trust with your audience, making it much more likely that they choose your brand when they have a need for a product or service you provide.
As it relates to most small businesses and their websites, this means developing content in the form of website FAQs, blog posts, email newsletter updates, etc. Usually, this content will be written, but it could also come in the form of video, audio, or images. Ideally, this content answers your customers’ questions, provides solutions, illustrates your unique expertise, or highlights something new or interesting. Heck, it can be as simple as something that is mildly entertaining.
How to Use Content Marketing
The key to content marketing is creating content that will be valuable to your target audience. So start by thinking about your customers—think about what questions you answer regularly, think about customer pain points that you encounter (like the subject of this post for my customers), think about content that would appeal to your target audience and start the process of building trust and awareness between the audience and your small business. This is very important because content that is not interesting or useful to your clients will be unsuccessful, and all that work will have been for nothing!
Once you’ve come up with a great topic that will bring value to your audience, figure out how you want to say it! The most obvious choice is usually written word, such as a blog post, but don’t be afraid to get creative! Maybe create an infographic to use on social media or an interesting video.
Once you create your new content, the next (and critical step) is to get it out there to your audience! A great way to maximize the impact of your content is to use the Create Once, Post Everywhere (COPE) method of publishing —check out our recent post about the COPE method to make your life just a little bit easier!
Get It Done!
Here’s the hard part: finding the time to do the work. Creating great content is hard and time-consuming work. But I hope we’ve made the case for how important it is and how effective it can be for your small business.
If you are a business owner you likely have countless responsibilities, most of which are much more pressing than writing a blog, so it can be easy to push your content strategy to the back burner. For the busy business owner who is struggling to keep up with consistent content marketing, you have two options:
- Assign someone in your organization to be the content creator. Having someone accept ownership (and be accountable) for its creation will help keep it off that back burner, OR
- Hire someone else to do it.
Sadly, there’s no magical shortcut. Either you do it, or you have someone else do it. One of the most important parts of scaling your business is choosing how to spend your time effectively—figuring out how to spend your valuable and limited time. Sometimes you are better off hiring someone else to do it. That’s the beauty of outsourcing!