Welcome to episode 28 of The Write Podcast!
Today we’re diving into a huge topic for any marketer, whether you’re just starting out or are an old hand in your niche: your marketing message.
Our guest who will be offering tons of tips and advice on this topic is Ivana Taylor of DIY Marketers.
As a small business marketing expert, Ivana has over 20 years of experience in the industry. She’s an online publisher and influencer and the creator of DIY Marketers, which is dedicated to helping small business owners on tight budgets meet their marketing goals.
This is a meaty episode with lots of actionable insights. Listen in and enjoy!
The Write Podcast, E28: Strategies to Help You Develop Your Marketing Message with Small Business Expert Ivana Taylor Show Notes:
- 1:43 – 3:00: About Ivana (and How We Know Each Other!) I met Ivana in real life at Content Marketing World, and we regularly engage on Twitter.
- 3:04 – 6:44: Marketing Tips for Businesses Just Getting Their Feet Wet. How can a new business find and solidify their marketing message? Ivana has four words for you: Give yourself some space. From her personal experience, she shares why it’s so important to work for your own marketing
- 6:55 – 8:10: How Active Listening Is One of Your Best Tools. Ivana describes how listening is a must if you want to glean your ultimate marketing message, one that encapsulates you and drives your business forward. However, you have to listen the right way to get the right information.
- 8:12 – 9:13: How Express Writers Differentiated with Our Message. I talk about how, once EW found its message, we leaned into it and showcased it on our Values page and got great results.
- 9:13 – 12:35: Three Questions Every Successful Brand Answers with Their Marketing Message. Ivana divulges the three KEY questions every successful brand has definitively answered. The first one is “Who are you being in the world?”
- 12:37 – 16:18: How Do You Answer Those Questions for Yourself? I talk about how going straight to your customers and talking to them can help you get the answers you need. Ivana adds helpful tips on HOW to go to your customers. A big one: Hire someone impartial to survey/interview your audience!
- 16:21 – 20:36: Once You Know Your Marketing Message, How Do You Deliver It? Ivana talks about ways to deliver your message via blogging, email, and other channels. One great tip: Repurpose your best content that helps broadcast your message across various channels and platforms.
- 20:40 – 23:52: How to Position Yourself as a Leader with Your Marketing Message. How do you come off as an expert when you don’t feel like one (for instance, you don’t have the experience/degree/what-have-you that you think you should)? According to Ivana, it all comes down to your point of view and expressing it distinctly and clearly.
- 23:57 – 27:05: Play to Your Strengths! Spend time developing your strengths as a marketer instead of trying to improve your weaknesses. Ivana recommends checking out the book StrengthsFinder to help you pinpoint and put words to exactly what your strengths are. This can help drive your message.
- 27:06 – 28:55: Own Your Authority. Finally, Ivana says that to come across as an authority and get your message heard, you have to own that title.
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Imagine this: you’re an NFL player headed into the biggest game of the season. Everything is riding on you and your coach’s expectations are high. Your teammates are depending upon you. You’re out on the field now and they all look to you for direction and, guess what? You don’t have any because you never took the time to develop a pre-game strategy.
That would never happen, right? Right. In sports, strategy is everything and it would be crazy to enter a game without knowing how you wanted to play it. Believe it or not, the same goes for content.
When it comes to your small business, developing a content strategy is an important step toward success. From drawing customers to helping you establish yourself as an authority, content strategy is the foundation upon which everything else is built.
You can build yourself upon content, as a business–with a good strategy.
A Guide to Small Business Content Strategy: 12 Essential Tips
Here’s what you need to know about small business content marketing and how you can make yours better.
How Do You Define Content?
First things first – what is content? To put it simply, content is the material you produce to further your company’s goals. In many cases, it acts as the vessel for content marketing, a practice within which companies use content to create and distribute valuable information to their fans, customers, and readers, thus driving profitable customer interaction and helping establish themselves as authorities in the field.
According to a recent Content Marketing Institute report, 86% of small businesses are currently using content marketing and 40% say that the approach is effective for their companies.
5 Key Types of Must-Have Content: Strategy for the Small Business
When you’re building your small business, one of the most important things you can do is take some time to invest in content. While it may seem more important to jump right into selling, focusing on building content first will produce higher-quality results in the long run.
Here’s are the five main types of content you should build when you start your business:
1. A blog
Blogs are huge right now and they’re not fixing to slow down any time soon. Companies that build and maintain a blog earn more leads, gain visibility, establish themselves as authorities in their industry, and expand their customer base at light-speed. In fact, marketers who prioritize blogging are 13x more likely to see a positive ROI than those who don’t.
This is due in large part to the fact that blogs are a great way to help your company get found online. According to HubSpot, customers will undertake 85% of their company relationships without ever talking to a human by 2020. This means that it’s hugely beneficial and important for companies to start blogging as soon as they start functioning.
2. A web page
Think of a web page as your home base: it helps people learn more about your company, gives you a great place to showcase new products, goods, and services, allows customers to locate your contact information, reviews, and purchasing options, and provides a platform that all of your other content can meet on.
There are many different options for building a small business web page, and in most cases, it can be done for only a few bucks in only a few minutes. Most platforms today allow for drag-and-drop website building, which makes designing a beautiful page easy, even if you’re not a pro.
3. Great keywords
If you’re doing anything online, you’ll need to learn about search engine optimization (SEO). Specifically, you’ll need to learn about keyword research and how it can benefit your company. In order to rank well in Google’s indexes and make yourself more visible online, you’ll need to research and target relevant keywords. This helps you appear prominently for relevant search queries and ensures that customers looking for a company like yours can find you easily.
4. Social media
While Google still rules the roost, it’s important to remember that social media platforms are search engines, too. If a customer is attracted to your brand or products, it’s likely that person will search for you using social media. If they can’t find you, it’s likely you’ll miss out on business.
If customers can find you, though, they’re more likely to engage with your company. For this reason, it’s important to focus on building up a social media presence from the get-go. This means selecting 1-2 social media platforms (Facebook and Instagram, for example) and building your presence there. This allows you to expand your reach with your customers and make more connections.
5. A buyer persona
Before any of the above tips can work out well for you, you’ll need to establish your buyer persona. A buyer persona defines who you’re trying to sell a product to and why. It looks at your target demographic and answers questions like: who are these people? How old are they? Where do they live? How much money do they make each year? What are they worried about? Knowing the answers to these questions is a fantastic way to set yourself up for success and to target your content marketing more effectively from the beginning.
Building Your Content Strategy: 7 Actionable Tips
Now that you’ve got some types of content to work with, it’s time to start building out your content strategy into a functional machine that helps you drive sales. Here are seven key steps.
1. Segment your audience
You used buyer personas to identify your audience, but now it’s time to segment them into individual groups. If you’re like most companies, you have several sets of populations you’re trying to target. In fact, Content Marketing Institute reports that the average small business targets four separate segments of customers. Segmenting your customer base will allow you to target each segment more efficiently and to tailor your content accordingly.
2. Decide on your topics
What do you want your content to do? How is it going to achieve that goal? The one true way to ensure that your content is successful is to ensure that the topics of your content are interesting, valuable, and relevant for your customers.
To gain ideas for topics, look at things like your FAQ section – are there repeated questions there that you can turn into a lengthy blog series? You’ll also find a whole host of ideas on question and answer sites like Quora or by using a service like BuzzSumo, which will allow you to find and track the top-performing content in your industry. In the process, you may even find that brainstorming topic ideas helps you come up with new keywords, which paves the way for a SEO and visibility boost.
3. Define your objective
According to QuickSprout, you can define your blogging objectives by asking yourself the following six questions:
- Do you want to drive physical traffic to your office or retail location?
- Do you want to increase leads or generate sales?
- Do you want to entice prospects to visit you from outside of your local area?
- Do you want to draw in overseas clients?
- Do you want to educate your readers on your company’s mission?
- Do you want to provide your customers with business updates?
- Do you want to build and strengthen your brand?
Now – these are all great questions, but in order to truly define your blogging objectives, you should only be identifying with two or three of these objectives. Any more than that is a recipe for content marketing disaster and a sure way to wind up being disorganized and ineffective. Pick a few objectives and stick to them for the most focused strategy possible.
4. Make the delivery exciting
Content, content everywhere, and not a delivery method in site! Now that you’ve decided on what you’re going to write and for whom you’re going to write it, you’ll have to think about how you’re going to get it to your target audience. The average small business uses 12 different content distribution tactics. Often, these tactics include methods like the following:
- Social media
- In-person events
- Visual content, including infographics and photos
- White papers
No matter how you choose to distribute your content, it’s important to ensure that you vary the method. This helps prevent people from becoming bored with your content and, most importantly, ensures that people can find your content because you continue to place it in the places they frequent. Keep in mind that the average small business uses 6 separate social media platforms for content distribution.
5. Create a content calendar
Now that you’ve built the bones of your content strategy, you need to focus on bringing it to life. You can do this by building an editorial calendar. An editorial calendar is the ultimate organizational tool for small business bloggers worldwide and when used correctly, can help you plan all of the following details for your content:
- Distribution channel
- Content type
- Reader type
- Seasonal content
- Trending content
- Content creators
An editorial calendar is meant to be a fluid thing and will likely change as your business grows and shifts. The important thing, however, is that you develop one and that you keep it going as you continue to hone your content strategy. Doing this will allow you to create real, organized content. In other words: an editorial calendar is one of the single best tools you can use to make your content successful.
6. Create, create, create
It’s tough to have a content strategy without – you guessed it – content. That said, you’ll need to dedicate some time simply to creating content. Write about the topics you’ve brainstormed and put your fresh new content out there for your customers. Keep tabs on your content by monitoring user comments, social shares, and interaction in order to get a feel for what performs best and what seems to get no reaction. While it seems simple, a great deal of constructing an efficient content strategy is simply trial and error. By getting out into the game, you’ll quickly learn what you need to do.
7. Track your results
It’s impossible to know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been. That’s why it is so important to track the results of your content creation efforts. CMI reports that 87% of small businesses state that lead generation is the priority for their entire content strategy.
If that rings true for your company, you can track the success of your content by metrics like social media activity, web traffic (67% of small businesses report that this is their most important content marketing success metric), and lead sources. Doing this allows you to plan, execute, and measure accordingly, which in turn allows you to adjust your content strategy as you go along, creating a bombproof strategy that promises to serve your company well for all of its days.
It’s Time to Start Rocking Your Small Business Content Strategy
According to the CMI report, 74% of marketers are creating more content this year than they were one year ago. This is likely due to the fact that content has proven time and time again to be one of the most effective forms of marketing material. From providing a way for your customers to interact with your company to offering a platform on which you can provide value and relevance to your readers, content is a hugely important piece of any small business’ success. Fortunately, when you take these 12 tips to heart, you can quickly develop a content strategy that allows you to stand out from the crowd and succeed in small business content marketing.
Need great content to fill your content marketing? Check out our Content Shop.
Is your small business practicing content marketing?
If not, you could be missing out!
Today, content marketing is an essential building block in a notable online presence – for businesses at every level, not just enterprise. Small businesses can greatly benefit from it.
In addition to helping your brand build authority, great content marketing also promotes brand awareness, boosts your SEO, and labels you as an engaged and unique brand in the online world.
From plumbers to SaaS companies: everyone can benefit from content marketing!
Small Business Content Marketing: Defining How it Works For Your Small Biz
According to Content Marketing Institute,
“Content marketing is 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.”
Today, content marketing is everywhere on the web.
You see it daily on social media, in blog posts, in white papers, and in the various ebooks, videos, and images brands create to interact with their customers.
Used by brands ranging from Proctor & Gamble and Microsoft to small-town dog grooming businesses, content marketing is one strategy that works hard to build online recognition. What’s more, it’s popular.
According to Neil Patel, 60% of marketers create at least a single piece of content every day. It’s also effective: content marketing leaders enjoy year-over-year site growth that is 7.8x higher than content marketing followers.
Instead of pitching customers a sales message or tracking them down and asking that they by your product, content marketing focuses on value first. By working to create something that’s valuable and helps customers answer questions and solve problems, content marketing allows brands to stand out from the “content sea” and communicate with their customers more efficiently.
Why Your Small Business Needs Content Marketing: 5 Reasons
If you’re running a small business, you have a lot to think about. From hiring and managing employees to developing your product to providing all-star customer service, life is busy! That doesn’t mean, however, that you can afford to skimp on content marketing.
Today, it’s easy for small businesses to be run over by larger enterprises or online companies. It’s tougher than ever to cut through the noise, and that’s where content marketing comes in. Ideal for helping small businesses communicate directly with and to their customers, content marketing shifts you from an obnoxious brand just looking for a sale to a helpful friend with the customer’s best interests at heart.
Here are five top reasons you need content marketing in your small business right now:
1. Content Marketing Increases Brand Awareness
If customers forget who your brand is and what it does, you can kiss success goodbye. In today’s world, it’s difficult to be a successful company unless you cultivate brand awareness. How do you do this, you ask? Through content marketing.
When you publish new content at regular, predictable intervals, your customers come to trust your company and rely on it to provide value and relevance. This, in turn, helps your brand become a household name and ensures customers will remember you the next time they need a product, good, or service.
2. Content Marketing Boosts Your Authority
Here’s an example: there are five dog-grooming businesses in your town, but only one has a blog that publishes helpful information on everything from how to stop skin itching in older dogs to how frequently you should bathe puppies. The other has no content.
Which do you think customers will choose?
If you guessed the one with the blog, you’re right. When brands demonstrate their expertise through content marketing, they become more attractive to their customers. This, in turn, helps boost sales and conversion rates.
3. Content Marketing Drives Customers To Take Action
One of the most important aspects of content marketing is that it inspires customers to make a move. Through compelling calls-to-action and helpful answers, great content helps tip customers over the edge and encourages them to take that next step – whether it’s scheduling an appointment or making a purchase.
4. Content Marketing Helps You Earn New Customers
Say you publish a blog that several of your existing customers like and share on their Facebook pages. From there, their friends and family see the blog post and read it because someone they trust recommended it. These people learn more about your brand and get answers to their questions through the post. The next time they need pet grooming, they remember that place their friend shared the post from, and they call you up.
By creating shareable content, you make it easier to attract and convert new customers. What’s more, you increase the likelihood that existing customers will see your content and enjoy it, which is pivotal to creating a recognizable brand.
5. Content Marketing Boosts Your SEO
Did you know that every page you publish is another opportunity for Google to index your business? The more content you create, the more you uplift your SEO. Here’s how that works:
According to Search Engine Land, SEO has four key elements:
- Finding out what customers want and delivering it.
- Re-targeting customers, even after they abandon your site.
- Providing special offers for customers who “Act now.”
- Developing better content that is more appealing to customers.
While meeting those four objectives might seem like a long shot, content does it effortlessly. In addition to building trust and authority in your given industry, great content also makes it easier to take control of your relationship with your customers and ensure it’s a symbiotic one.
In this way, content marketing supports and uplifts your SEO efforts, and makes them much more successful than they would otherwise be on their own.
Small Business Content Marketing: 7 Actionable Tips to Incorporate Content Marketing in Your Small Business
Now that you know “why” content marketing matters so much for small businesses, let’s talk about how you can start incorporating it into yours. Here are some top tips to get started with small business content marketing:
1. Optimize for Local SEO
If you have a local company with a brick-and-mortar location, you need to be optimizing for local SEO. One of the most critical aspects of content marketing for small businesses, optimizing for local SEO is a great way to appeal to your local customers and increase local appeal.
It’s also a great way to make sales, considering 50% of customers who conduct local searches on a mobile device visit a store within 24 hours, as do 34% of customers who search on a computer.
Not sure where to start optimizing your content for local SEO? Creating location-specific pages is a smart move, as it’s easy to focus them on geographical keywords and use them to help your customers find exactly what they need.
2. Hire Professional Writers to Improve Content Quality
If you’re not exactly Hemingway, it’s okay – you don’t need to be. Lots of companies succeed without an expert writer at the helm. Their trick is simple: they hire expert writers to help them. Even if you’re not a master with the pen, it’s unlikely anyone is ever going to take your company seriously without professional, high-quality writing in your social media profiles, blogs, and web-pages. As such, it’s smart to hire professional writers to improve the quality of your content.
This is especially true now that companies in all industries and specialties are creating more content than they ever have before. If you want to keep up, it’s essential to keep up not only with the pace but the quality of your competitors. Hiring professional writers is one of the smartest ways to do this and give your content marketing a boost all at once.
3. Start Publishing on Social Media More Frequently
A great social media strategy goes hand in hand with good content marketing. Here’s the thing: even if you’re not active on social media, other brands are, and that tricky little addition to their content marketing may well help them outpace you. As such, it’s essential to find ways to keep your brand active on social media. Today, the social web is growing faster than ever before, and simple things like sharing your unique content, curated posts, and relevant industry news on your profiles can help you stay on the bleeding edge. It may also earn you additional customers. If you need some help managing your social presence, look into hiring a social media manager or content team.
4. Start Blogging
Blogging is one of the fastest and easiest ways to improve your content strategy and take a stronger approach to content marketing. It’s also one of the best ways to earn customers. According to Impact Branding and Design, 47% of buyers view 3-5 pieces of content before talking to a sales rep, which means the more content you have, the more likely it is they’ll call your company. What’s more, marketers who blog earn 67% more leads than those who don’t.
With this in mind, start and maintain a company blog. The functionality is built right into most content management systems, and you don’t need to post every day. To start seeing results, shoot to post once or twice a week, and up the frequency as your readership grows. If you need help, you can always outsource your writing to a professional team or a freelancer.
5. Connect Your Content Platforms to One Another
Want to simplify your content marketing? Here’s an easy tip: integrate your various content platforms with one another. For example, if you host a blog on WordPress, you can integrate it with your LinkedIn and Facebook pages to make sharing and distributing your content easy. Not only does this remove content marketing steps for you, but it also helps ensure your best content is going to all your platforms, all the time.
If you have more platforms you’d like to connect, use a tool like Hootsuite or Buffer to schedule posts to your various social media profiles, from a single, convenient dashboard.
6. Consider Publishing a Paper Brochure
While it may seem like paper publications have fallen out of vogue, they’re still a valuable content asset, and they can help your company build up brand recognition and sales. The tractor company John Deere was arguably the first brand to use paper brochures as a form of content marketing, back in 1897, when they launched “The Furrow,” a simple magazine that helped farmers learn about the industry, how to care for crops, and which approaches would be most successful that season.
If you’re interested in publishing a paper brochure, or any type of print content, don’t let yourself get too carried away in thinking it’s complex and challenging. Just like a digital publication, print publications work best when they’re relevant, valuable, and exciting to consumers.
When you stick with those guidelines, your print content will do just fine.
7. Start Developing Infographics
You know what most businesses aren’t doing? Creating infographics! If you want to stand out in your industry and develop some seriously shareable content that can get you noticed on the web, infographics are the way to go. Not only do they perform better on social media than any other type of content, but they’re also intensely valuable to readers, and not that tough to create.
If you don’t feel comfortable creating your own infographics (using one of the web’s free tools), it’s easy to hire a content company to create infographics for you. Heck, Express Writers even offers infographic creation services! No matter what you choose to do, infographics are a great way to make a splash in content marketing and get your money’s worth, right off the bat. They also make your brand look professional and unique, which is essential for small businesses!
The Case for Content Marketing in Small Business
Small businesses face a unique set of challenges today. In addition to battling larger, online companies with more resources, many of them are also struggling to adapt to the digital age.
Fortunately, one of the easiest things you can do to overcome these challenges is to start adopting content marketing.
Designed to create authentic interactions with customers and position you to perfectly provide value, content marketing is the “only” marketing left for the digital age.
To learn more about content marketing, or to secure world-class content for your small business, visit our online Content Shop today.