Content is an important part of your marketing plan. Unfortunately, many people think it’s the only part.
In a report by the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing was defined as creation, promotion/distribution, measurement and strategy. But what about the relationships you can and should develop as a result of the content you’re putting out there?
Content isn’t a one-way conversation. It’s a way to start the conversation—with your audience, your customers and those who have yet to discover you.
Simply putting content out to the world isn’t enough. You can’t just publish and expect people to find it (unless you have bank to spend on search engine optimization and Facebook ads). Instead, you have to let people know it’s there. And when they discover what you have, you need to engage in and facilitate conversations about the content.
In that same CMI survey, 80 percent of respondents said they’re dedicated to building their audience. But how can they do that?
By growing relationships and having a conversation with the content they’re providing. It starts with the right strategy and fostering engagement.
Creating and publishing compelling content is one of the best ways to retain a quality, qualified audience. And it’s the perfect way to get them to actually engage with your content—your goal so you can begin the conversation. If you make your readers, listeners and watchers think, you’ll reel them in and hook them.
How to get started: What myths exist in your industry? Do you hold any unpopular opinions within your circle of friends and influencers? Go out on a limb and start talking about these. You’ll grab the attention of your audience and help them along the way—because you don’t want them to continue to believe the myths and go in the wrong direction. Let your thought leadership teach them a better way.
Many business owners shy away from publishing content that’s too personal. I’m not suggesting you bare all for everyone to see, but putting a human face on your content builds that connection between you and your reader. It helps them to feel like they’re not alone.
How to get started: Think about why you’re in business in the first place. Is it so you can have location freedom? Spend more time with your kids? Impact more people? Remind yourself of your why and talk about it. Your audience also wants to know more about what’s happening behind the scenes. Do you have hobbies you’re passionate about? Are you attending any conferences? Talk about them—and be sure to tag other business owners you meet and connect with while you’re there!
One goal of any good content marketing plan should be to educate your audience. This is what helps you show up as an expert and the go-to person for your industry. Content should teach your audience about something—how to do something, why they should do it, etc. Even if your ultimate goal is to sell 1:1 done-for-you services, demonstrating you are an expert at doing something through informative content is essential.
How to get started: Identify topics that your audience needs to know about or be able to do before they work with you 1:1. This serves two purposes: it provides the content they need and it gives them something to digest and learn as they’re waiting to work with you. And when they have questions or they decide that doing the work themselves isn’t ideal, they’ll know exactly who to hire!
People buy from people, not brands, especially in our micro online economy. Most video includes you and your voice, two key components in video content that people will consume. And you don’t need fancy equipment to produce quality video content. A simple smartphone and lapel microphone (or even your earbud mic) work just fine to start.
How to get started: Instagram stories is a good place to get started because your videos disappear in 24 hours. So if you’re shy about video, you can practice knowing that it won’t be published forever. Plus, as you’re recording, you can delete and re-record easily because each segment is only 15 seconds long. Your videos won’t have much viewership to start, which is just fine as you build up your confidence.
What to Do Next
Your next step is to take a look at your content marketing strategy and identify where you can create content that’s compelling, personal, informative and bonus points if you add video to your schedule.
Once you get this content out there and people find it and interact with it, it’s your turn to interact right back. Respond to every comment and reply (that’s not courtesy of a bot). Identify people who have something to say and start following them on social media too—and interact with their content.
There’s no reason to publish content only to have it sit there and gather dust. You need to create the content that gets you the attention you want and deserve—and that elevates your name and your brand so you can continue to grow.
If you think you’re ready, take this quiz to find out where YOUR relationship game is. Is it on-point?