When people have a problem or question in the 21st Century, they turn to Google; unless you or a family member works at Microsoft and you are pressured into using Bing. This presents creators, entrepreneurs, freelancers, and professionals an opportunity to connect. Instead of interrupting people with commercials or ads, you can provide them better content as an answer when they are actively looking for it.
If you can answer your prospective customer’s/audience’s questions better than anyone else, you will undoubtedly gain awareness, trust, and respect over time. Those who educate the best, will be the best in business. This is a transformational shift in the modern world of marketing.
The Argument for Content Marketing
In short, give everything you know away for free, connect it with those in which it would help, and gain a following of people interested in your solutions.
When you catch people doing research somewhere along the buying process or looking for a solution to a problem they are having and you provide them with all the information they need plus more, they will land somewhere on the funnel below:
- Respect and trust you for providing them the answers to their problems
- Follow you because they want to learn more from you in this area in the future
- Turn over the problem to you (become a customer/client) because they realize the problem is much greater than they thought and they need to hire and expert. Which you have proven to be.
You first gain their trust. You next gain their attention. Finally, and ideally, you gain their business. Each step down the funnel you will lose a massive percentage of people. But the ones that make it to the end are the perfect customers for you, and you are the perfect expert to solve their problem.
When a customer converts through content marketing, both parties start out in a stronger relationship. The prospect already has a liking to you in some way. Whether it’s trust, respect, recognition of expertise, confidence in your skills, or any other admirable feeling. The expert should know exactly how to handle this prospect’s problem because it was generated on a topic where the expert is in their domain.
This is an inbound marketing tactic, compared to an outbound marketing tactic. In short, inbound means people come to you and outbound means you go to them. All ads, besides search ads, are outbound marketing. You are interrupting someones day to bring them a message you think will resonate with them. Inbound means someone is discovering you one way or another.
For example, you create content and then strategically place it online where people that need those answers are actively looking. This pairs perfectly with Search Engine Optimization. As mentioned before, when we have a problem these days, we Google it. We trust the organic results over the paid results because we feel like they must be there for a good reason. Google trusts them enough to rank them highly because when people click on those tops links for specific key phrases, the viewers stay for a while and consume the content. This is an indicator that the results matched the search. If you can work to rank your content for the relevant key phrases of your content, you’ll be attracting people who are looking exactly for what you have to offer.
I strongly prefer this method of marketing because it is not malice in anyway. You are helping people out for free. When the problem is too far out of their hands, they know that you will be able to help them. In the end, you can make a living doing what you love while helping people with the exact problems you know how to solve.
On the creator side, to be able to write content that displays your expertise, you better be an expert. If you want to rank #1 for specific key phrases that are relevant to what you do, your content should be deserving of that #1 spot. It truly better help people looking for specific answers. Not only that, it should blow them out of the water. It should be remarkable. Therefore if you’re going to make this content, you should do an incredible amount of research, writing, re-writing, review, and supply proof.
Because you’re not the only attempting this, the only way you’ll get there is if you truly outrank the rest in terms of quality. So you better do it better than all the others in your industry, niche, geographical area, etc. All said and done, it might take you 20 hours of work to make content worthy of the #1 spot on Google. Then it might take another 20 hours to do the work to get it ranked there. But once you’re there, it becomes almost a passive asset that keeps on giving and giving.
Note that once that content is made, it is an asset. It is a…
- landing page you can send to prospective clients
- Content you can share on social media
- Send to your past and current clients, and colleagues
- Destination from a local flyer, advertisement, or pamphlet
How to Get Started
If you’re going to create content, you should know who you are creating it for. Because everyone on this planet is unique, we will create our own ideal audience member. This will give us a starting point to know how to tailor our content, what type of content to create, where to post it, and much more.
To make it distinct that this creation is a made up person, we will call it an Avatar. I am emphasizing this because your target market is made up of individuals who should all be treated like people and not a statistic. However, as a creator it would be impossible to take into consideration every single person you could impact. Therefore we give in to this human fault and create this Avatar.
Print off the worksheet below and fill it out as you go through this post. There are 4 rows for your various types of content you are looking to create. But feel free to fill one row out at a time and expand as necessary.
Demographics & Psycographics
This will help paint the picture in your mind of the make up of your target market. I have listed some variables in these areas below to get you started. Note that not all will be applicable to your audience. Only utilize what is relevant. Demographics are objective factors of people’s lives while psychographics are more subjective and relevant to the individual. Fill this area in carefully as the other factors on the worksheet will be built from the Avatar.
- Education Level
Now that we know the general make up of your target market, let’s specify the type of content they would be interested in consuming. You might have to do some research to see where this audience is currently living on the web. Do they spend their time on Youtube? Then make videos, podcasts, or tutorials.
Also take into consideration what is not currently being done. Is your audience spending a majority of their time on Youtube because that is the best medium to consume the relevant information? Or is it because it is the industry standard, easiest to use, or some other factor outside of your control? Maybe no one in your industry is making educational infographics because they lack the skills to create them and knowledge of how to get it seen. This is where a calculated risk can pay off.
- White papers
The channel is the medium in which you intend to share and spread your content through. If you decided to make a podcast, you now have options. From iTunes to Youtube and every lesser known podcast app in between, your podcast can live on a number of different channels. Do some critical thinking and some more research to decide where your audience is most likely spending their time. And if they are not currently spending their time there, how likely are they to try something new?
- News Website
- Guest Posting
What is the purpose of your content? Why are you creating it in the first place? Create with intention and your content will have more impact.
- Generate leads for follow up
- E-commerce, close sales more quickly
- Generate interest in your products
- Build and repair public opinion about your brand and products
- Develop friends and fans who interact with you brand around the web
- Customer Support
- Help customers get the most from your products and services
- Thought Leadership
- Develop name recognition and respect
- Be an influence in your industry
How will your content look? How long will your posts/videos/podcasts/etc. be? Will it be short and to the point or long and extensive? What structure to your content will be the best way to convey your objective? These are the questions you need to ask yourself when considering the final product of your content.
- Editing & Layout
- Long one take shots
- jump cuts
- Free form
How often will you be releasing content? Remember, that quality always reins above quantity. It is important to stay consistent, but stay consistently high quality over consistent releasing. I’ve mentioned before that over 2 million blog posts are released a day. If you want to stand out, be better than the rest. We have enough content overload to deal with as it is.
You can always increase your frequency. Your audience will most likely not be disappointed in that. However cutting back could cause some problems. So start safe and build up from there.
This is where your personality can shine. The tone you take in presenting your content can set you apart from others in your industry. Do you cuss? Are you polite? Are you funny? Think about what will resonate best with your avatar but also find the balance with who you are as a creator. Don’t conform to your audience just because that is what you think they want. Have some artistic integrity as well and be yourself to the best of your ability.
- Short and to the point
When all things are said and done, what is the desired action you want your prospects and audience to take? This will correlate with your plan to sustain and grow as a business. For each content marketing strategy you have, you should only have 1 desired action. This way you can have everything you do under that umbrella work towards one goal. There might be a funnel to lead to the final desired action, where one is a necessity for another. Regardless, working towards one goal will help to simplify your strategy.
Desired Action Examples:
- Email Sign Up
- Fill Out Contact Form
- Take Survey
By this point, you probably will have done an extensive amount of research. You’ll know who your competitors are and what is currently out there as a representation of your field of expertise. Now you have the opportunity to change the game. Starting fresh, you have the most freedom to adapt. You can’t just follow in the steps of someone else who is already doing it successfully, because now that path is taken. You must carve your own out. What is different about you?
- Your Style
- The depth of your information
- Your unique approach to the core topic
- Your value proposition
You will most likely not find the answer to what makes you different in this post. I can only point to the truth and you must find it yourself. But do not let this field in your planning process go unanswered.