Everyone who is trying to use the Internet to their professional advantage has probably been told that they need to throw their hat in the content marketing ring. Blog three times a week, contribute to forums, be active on social communities, blah, blah, blah. I know what you’re thinking: “I’ve kind of got a business to run here!”
With all the pressure of just keeping a business afloat, it can seem extremely daunting to have to put together an entire Internet marketing campaign as well, complete with effective content marketing and social promotion. While you may view this as your white whale, there are some simple things you can do to make this endeavor much more manageable.
Keep in mind that the point of content marketing is to communicate with your target audience without directly selling your products or services to them. This is more about engaging with people rather than pushing things on them. If you focus on building a solid relationship with people looking for the types of solutions you provide before they get to the point where they are looking for a specific solution, you’ve already won half the battle.
It’s important to always remember that content marketing is a long-term process. You can’t upload a blog post today and see traffic to your site increase by 500% tomorrow. However, you can upload a blog post today and see traffic to your site increase by 500% by 2017. Just be aware that it could take that long, or even longer, to see significant results from consistent content marketing. Think of it like your 401K: you put a little into it every month so that you can reap the larger benefits down the road.
I think it’s also worth mentioning that all the rules and regulations you’ve heard about content marketing in the past just may deserve to get thrown out the window. There is no silver bullet for content marketing. There is no guarantee that you will find success if you post content four times a week. You can’t win in content marketing by volume alone, so don’t try. Find solutions that work for you, your business model and your target audience and then stick to those parameters.
Not everyone can devote $10,000 a month to content creation. Some businesses can probably barely afford to set aside $75 for content creation. And with a budget like that, there is no way you can afford to hire someone to write for you full-time.
If you find yourself in this category, one of the best options is to create content yourself. You know about your business, so you should already be an expert on your products, services and audience. This information gives you the tools you need to create engaging content. Write about your consumers’ pain points in a way that portrays your company as a trusted authority in your industry. Don’t just write about your company and what you have to offer. Contribute to the conversation in your surrounding industry to increase your influence prior to the purchasing decision stage, which is where content marketing really shines.
You should also remember that written content is not the only form of content that counts in content marketing. Infographics, videos, podcasts, etc., are also great forms of content to engage your audience even further. You can find tons of free tools out there to help you make the creation process easier for these more visually- and audibly-appealing assets.
If you’re unfamiliar with content marketing but still want to meet this challenge on your own, there are a few options to help make the learning curve a gentler slope.
If you are confident in your writing abilities and feel that you can successfully convey your thoughts to your audience, your lack of experience is probably regarding how to know if you are finding success or not. In this case, I would advise doing some A/B testing with your content. Try something out for a while, track it in your analytics, and then try something else out. It should be easy to compare the results and see which type of content asset found more success.
On the other hand, experience with content creation in general may be what you are lacking. If this is where you’re at, consider having someone else create your content for you. This could mean hiring an on-staff writer or designer, working with freelancers, or promoting a current employee with a creative flair. While these options may require you to be a little more hands-on to ensure you are getting the finished products you want, it should give you the opportunity to promote quality content without having to actually create it all yourself, saving you both time and sanity.
Another option is for you to put in the time and effort to learn this new skill yourself. There are hundreds of blogs, classes and websites devoted to teaching people how to become better at content creation on the web. As long as you understand that this will be a process you will have to work at, learning how to become an expert at content marketing could prove to be extremely beneficial to you in the long run; you won’t have to rely on someone else to create content for you, and you will be a larger asset to your own team.
Time is a fickle thing. As a person working within your business, you know which tasks require more time and attention than others. However, there are circumstances where you are devoting an exorbitant amount of time to things that just aren’t that important and aren’t giving you a very good return on your investment. At first, content marketing might seem like one of those things to you. Nevertheless, you really can make content marketing work for your business. If you can only manage to spare two hours a month to write something about your products or industry, that is just fine. If you find that you can squeeze out 6 hours a month for content marketing, even better. There is no rule stating that you can’t participate in any type of content marketing if you can’t devote “X” hours to it per week. So create your own schedule, find time that works for you, and get some content going.
If you truly don’t have the time to create your own content, and no one else in your company does either, you should focus more on content curation from outside sources. Look for an Internet marketing agency that specializes in content marketing for your industry. Doing this not only gives you the chance to get high-quality content created for your business, but most Internet marketing agencies will also promote the piece of content for you and track its performance, relieving you of even more of the technical work than you anticipated.
The need for engaging and informative content isn’t going anywhere. You really are missing out on a piece of the pie if you neglect this aspect of your business’s Internet presence. And while it can seem overwhelming to start from scratch in the content marketing arena, if you are consistent and motivated to contribute to the conversations already going on within your industry, you just may realize that this Goliath isn’t so big and scary after all.