I don't know about you, but nothing frustrates me more about good advice than the fact that I don't often take it. Sure, I try to make good choices, but other demands so often win. Is that the case with your content marketing? Everyone's talking about it, but you're not doing it? Well, you're not alone. Use this simple tool to quickly and easily launch your content marketing efforts and keep them going. It's really, really easy. I promise.
First, Let's Remember What Content Marketing Is
As someone who earns business because of your internet presence, you probably know a lot about your niche, who your customers are and what they need. Such insights are the driving force behind any content marketing effort. You don't need to do a lot of research, advance preparation or planning; you just need to know what you're talking about, and have something useful to say.
Content marketing is about being useful and speaking to the needs of your prospects
and clients, rather than pushing your own products and services.
So, where and how do you go about sharing your usefulness with clients and prospects? Content marketing happens when you create and share things like
- Resource pages on your website
- Blog posts on your website
- Blog posts on other websites
- Social media updates
- Frequently Asked Questions
- eBooks or instructional PDFs
- Webinars and online classes
If you're already blogging on your site, that's a good start. According to research by Hubspot, businesses that blog get 55% more traffic to their sites than businesses that don't. That makes sense, since Google says, "In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by creating high-quality sites that users will want to use and share."
Moving Beyond Blogging
To many business marketers, blogging feels like all they can handle. But the truth is, mixing in another type of content on a regular basis is much more effective and still fairly easy to do, if you can just pick off one target at a time.
Unlike advertising, where a bad ad buy can be a complete waste of money (full disclosure: I've made some dubious advertising decisions in the past), creating content tends to pay off over time, no matter how successful any given piece is at getting shared, driving traffic, or leading to sales. More content makes your business more authoritative and easier to find, even if you're only publishing one new piece per week. And those pieces can be small. More is better sure, but you have to start somewhere, and the worst reason not to do something is because you feel like you aren't doing enough.
Imagine you were to add an answer to your Frequently Asked Questions section this week, based on something you've been hearing from clients and prospects. Simple, right? Now imagine that you filmed yourself explaining this FAQ in the form of a useful tip that you upload to YouTube. You share the tip, the video and an explanation to your email list. And of course, you tell your Facebook fans about it. That's a lot of marketing!
One simple idea begets a whole series of content.
The tool that I developed is a very focused and simple worksheet combined with a task tracker that helps you assemble a bunch of new ideas and spin them into additional content. It's nothing more than a Google spreadsheet that you can copy and use for yourself any way you like. The fields are all on one page. No complex planning necessary. Just fill it out and go. Share it with team members who are equipped to help you generate content and suddenly things take off!
Getting Started Right Now
Click on the link below to duplicate the sheet or download it as an excel file. Filling out the appropriate fields to help focus your efforts should only take five or ten minutes. I've added comments to each section as tool tips to point you in the right direction.
1. Website, Timeline and Goals Pick the website to focus on, the timeline for these tasks and a short list of SMART goals. By approaching this as a project with a due date and a clear purpose, you're likely to make more effective choices and complete your work on a schedule, rather than on that fictional day in the future when you finally get caught up.
2. Target Personas We like to talk about "personas" in determining who exactly you're trying to communicate with, and while you may have yet to describe a persona in writing, you already know who your customers are. Developing personas can be fun, as you come up with a name and personal details, but this is a powerful step because it helps to remind to develop content as if you're speaking to this person.
3. Keywords You probably also know something about what keywords earn you business, or where your referral traffic comes from. If not, a Google Analytics account can quickly remedy that and a ton of great articles can help you get started. Don't get hung up on exact phrasing and incorporating specific words to the point of distraction. If you use them as topic guides, you'll do fine.
4. Idea Resources This is just one easy place to reference where you get your ideas, and remind you where to go on a regular basis to cultivate new ones. Putting them in one place on the same sheet as your other planning information will make it easier for you to stay on track.
5. Content Planning and Tracking One place to enter your content topic ideas and turn them into tasks you can track to completion. Again, by visualizing things like which personas you're speaking to, what types of content you've created, and which types you haven't, how many you've completed this month, all in one place, adding to your content portfolio is just a matter of picking off one new piece at a time.
Every month (or other time period you prefer), take stock of your efforts, create a new tab, and begin again, a little smarter, a little more focused, and with a bunch of published content you can be proud of. Content marketing should not be a difficult or daunting task. When you already know what you're talking about, the marketing part is just a matter of focusing a small amount of effort on one idea at a time, and seeing it through. Once you get the ball rolling, you won't want to stop.
Mike Sobol is a Co-Founder of Guest Blog Genius, a guest blogging service for SEO professionals, and Content BLVD, a content marketing platform for busy bloggers and brands. Building businesses since 1999, Mike's passion is to create effective new services to fulfill unmet needs in a variety of niche markets, including internet marketing, content creation and SEO.