Chances are, you’ve heard the term "content marketing," but do you really understand what it means and how to use it to grow your business?
Content marketing is a technique that focuses on providing useful, relevant content to a target audience. This content serves to establish you as a credible resource and ultimately helps to attract and retain business. Content marketing is about sharing knowledge—it’s not advertising, it’s not promotion, and it’s not a quick-fix, short-term strategy. Done well, content marketing can be one of the most effective tools to create loyal fans and help you grow your business.
If you don't have a content marketing plan in place, here are three easy steps to help you get it up and running.
Step 1: Content Creation
The first step in a content marketing strategy is to map out the topics you think will be of interest to your target audience. As a business owner, you're most likely an expert in something related to your business, whether that’s knitting, sports equipment or tax preparation. What knowledge do you possess that can help others? Brainstorm a list of topics and write down as many as you can think of without editing yourself.
The content you create can come in a variety of forms, from short posts on Twitter to longer blog posts or YouTube videos. More important, and to save you time, you don't have to create all the content from scratch. If you recently gave a presentation or drafted a proposal for a new client, you could repurpose some of that material and share it with a broader audience. Also consider tapping into the expertise of your suppliers and other partners; record an interview with them and share it on your Facebook page, or ask them to contribute a blog post.
Step 2: Content Curation
The crux of content marketing is about providing information your audience will value. The one thing you don't want to do is to make it just about your own products or services. So look for opportunities to share information from others. Read newspapers, magazines and industry publications, as well as information being shared by people you follow on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and other social sites.
The more you read, the more you’ll find content worth sharing. By sharing this interesting and relevant content with your audience, you strengthen your position as a source of worthwhile—and possibly off-the-beaten-path—information, which can add to your credibility.
Step 3: Content Distribution
Your content marketing campaign needs to be a consistent, ongoing strategy with a schedule of when and how you'll distribute the information. Your plan will be similar to what traditional media companies do when they create an editorial calendar. And it doesn't have to be complicated to be effective: It can be as simple as deciding that you'll post something every Monday on your company’s blog and you'll share content from others every Tuesday and Thursday on LinkedIn and Twitter.
As you think about how you can share content with your prospects and customers, you should also determine which platforms your target audience is using to get information. A quick survey can provide this information, or you can test various options. For example, try sharing something on Twitter, LinkedIn and in an e-newsletter, and see where you get the most engagement.
To get the most eyeballs on your content, ask your employees, partners and vendors to share the content you develop on their networks, too. Think about including a call to action, which might be a request for readers to leave a comment, a link they can use to request more information or a coupon toward a future purchase.
By showcasing your knowledge and sharing information through content marketing, you may be able to establish yourself and your company as experts within your field. This can help you find new customers and also reinforce the confidence your existing customers have in you.
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