Content is everything. Without content you're nothing. Yes, you can still produce stuff and sell stuff, but companies that have content will leave you in the dust. You see, no matter how small you are, once you start producing your own content, you already win. You're creating a new market space, a blue ocean where competition is irrelevant. If you go the other route, you'll drown in a bloody red ocean of rivals fighting over measly profits. This concept is described in Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne. Read it, it's a great book. So, what do you do? Create something unique and innovative, no matter how small, and grow it from there.
Your content calendar is your marketing
- What are your customers looking for?
Produce great content aligned with what your prospects and customers need. Don't think of them as people for whom all of your competitors (and you) are fighting for. Think about people who need your product but don't know about it yet. That's how you create a blue ocean. For example, Yellow Tail converted beer buyers into wine buyers by making them feel smart and giving them two simple choices, red wine, and white wine. Educate people on things they are interested in. Entertain them. Help them solve their challenges. Spark their interest. It can help to add a short video and/or a picture. People expect a multimedia experience, and you have to jump on that wagon to satisfy them.
- What are your customers saying about you?
Your first content marketing effort should be a referral campaign. The first content you produce must be the voices of your existing customers. What do they think about you? When you allow them to share their honest opinions about your product, good and bad, magic happens. Your existing customers become your best salespeople with the lowest cost of sale. A great referral program is like a sales force that works for free 24/7.
- What content is successful?
Your content will never be perfect, and that's a good thing. It shouldn't be static. You need to get feedback on it, to know what to change and what to improve. Have a dedicated landing page for each piece of content. For every blog. For every tweet. It’s a personal sales rep for everyone who converts. After that, make every webpage an A/B test. Always have an alternative to try out. What works best? What sticks? What do your customers really want? Measure your numbers every day and adjust your content accordingly.
- What do your customers value?
Now that you know approximately what works and what doesn't, widen the scope of what you produce to tailor it more specifically to what your customers value. Here is a list of things to get you started:
- Case Studies, How-To Guides, Articles
- Reports, Trends, Press Releases
- PDFs, PPTs, Whitepapers, eBooks
- Web Forums that you record and rebroadcast
- Competitions, Reviews, Interviews
- Guest Blogging (don’t bother with back-linking, but give value to your customers)
- Images/Photos, Infographics, Videos, Podcasts
- Lists, Local Business Listings, Q/A websites
- Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.
- Modules, Plugins, Extensions
- Where do your customers consume your content?
Let's say, you have a wealth of content generated, as well as a solid schedule. You have shared it on your blog and perhaps on a few social media channels. Next you need to see where it sticks and how to seed it across as many channels as possible. The beauty of what you're making it simple. It's accumulating. It can be dissected and served in small doses, or it can be bundled up and served as a large pie. For example, let's say you wrote a blog post about your product launch. You can now take pictures of it and Instagram them. You can tweet quotes from the article. You can share a video of it on YouTube. This is your marketing campaign. On the other end of the spectrum, you can wait until you have enough blog posts and make them into a book. Suddenly you'll have a piece of content to share as well as a potential for an added revenue.
Your to-do list:
- Make a list of content types your customers are interested in.
- Make a content calendar.
- Produce a piece of content and share it far and wide. Test it. Study it. Adjust it as needed.
- Test places where your customers prefer to consume your content and concentrate your efforts there.