If you're tired of cold calls to drum up business, want more than a mailing campaign, OR you're looking for a way to get seen by more of your ideal clients — you may be interested in a different way to grab your prospect’s attention in a crowded market...
This “different way” I’m referring to is inbound marketing, which is often called content marketing. Despite the fact that "Content marketing has exploded in the last few years... and is projected to be worth $412.88 billion, by as soon as 2021," there are still quite a few people saying, wait, what is content marketing again?
“Content” can be anything from podcasts, to a blog, to social media posts, emails, videos, eBooks, and more.
And here's a little piece of trivia for you... content marketing actually stems all the way back to 1895 when John Deere published its "journal for the American farmer," called The Furrow, which they used to market their products.
And content is still used the same way today.
Each piece of content is created to attract more people to the products or services you offer by providing valuable information they want and need first. By doing that, you can help build trust and authority.
The main point to remember as we go into 2020 and the content marketing landscape gets even more competitive, is that it’s not enough to just grab their attention, you have to keep it. With the right kind of content strategy, you can build brand affinity.
Why it works
Before we delve into WHY, let’s talk about the how. For the sports-minded among us, this visual shared by the Content Marketing Institute might make the concept of content marketing a little clearer:
Content marketing’s focus is on engaging with your target market and growing your 'audience'. With content marketing you can create an opportunity for your business by sharing your personality and values which leads to attracting people who share those. Content marketing creates brand awareness and helps convert and nurture prospects into becoming your client. Once someone becomes your client, the focus then turns to customer service, building loyalty and continuing to get more business and referrals from them.
Something to keep in mind though is that creating this content is not about pitching your products and services. It’s about providing information that gets people to NATURALLY inquire about your services because you’ve been so helpful. Veterans of the financial services industry know that’s it’s always been service-oriented and content marketing is just an extension of that.
The best part?
Content marketing allows you to scale your marketing efforts. It’s not just a one-to-one interaction. You create one piece of content that could potentially reach thousands of prospective clients. How’s that for effective marketing?!
And consider this -- when you do a mailing campaign, you may collect email addresses but if they don't go on to become your client right away, you've essentially lost them. UNLESS, you use content marketing to keep interacting with them and keep them in the fold until they ARE ready to become your client.
Obviously, the biggest problem with implementing a content marketing strategy is finding time to create the content. If you don’t have someone dedicated to constantly producing, it can become so overwhelming that you stop.
In today’s post, I’m going to help make content creation easier AND show you how to get more bang for your buck, meaning more eyeballs on the content you create, which can translate to more leads and more sales.
If you haven’t been doing content marketing, trying to choose from the many options available can lead to analysis paralysis. So, although you could do everything, let’s start with just one baseline piece of content for the purposes of this conversation: a blog post.
But read through to the end because I’m going to show you how to turn that into a lot more content and in the process show you there are many options for “content” besides a blog post.
Laying out an efficient strategy
There are a couple key components that a successful strategy needs to include. One, you have to have quality content and secondly, you need to promote that content consistently. Below, I’ll share how you can get “stuff” done, make it good, and put it in front of the right people.
First, what should you do when you don’t have time to write a blog post:
- Talk and transcribe. If you’ve got something in your head, then when you’re driving for instance, dictate it into your phone and let an app transcribe it. This saves you from having to gather your thoughts at a keyboard, which many struggle with. Now, you’re no longer staring at a blank page thinking, I’m not a writer and I don’t have time for this! Research the best app for you, but an example would be Dragon by Nuance.
- Hire a writer or at minimum, someone to edit what you write. There’s nothing wrong with hiring someone to do this work for you. Just make sure they capture your voice and message accurately. If you’re just producing generic content that can be found anywhere, it doesn’t do that much for your business. If you don’t have someone write the content from scratch, an editor can take the information you have in your head that you’ve converted to text and turn it into compelling content, organized in a way that provides the most value to your audience and accomplishes your goals.
Now that you’ve taken the time to create content, stick to a consistent publishing schedule. Here’s how you do that:
- Create an editorial calendar. This can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. If you’re just starting out and doing this on you own, an Excel sheet would suffice. I would suggest tracking at least the topic, date of publication, deadline, and channel (Facebook, LinkedIn, email newsletter, etc.). When you have a team working on your content production, you may want to graduate to a project management type program. You can track multiple pieces of the content creation process, such as, the URL, visuals, author, current status, and keywords. Also, there are plenty of free editorial content calendar templates you can find by getting on Google.
- Create a bank of ideas. One of the best sources of content ideas is your clients. What questions are they asking you? Because it’s likely that a lot of others have that same question and a blog post with your answer serves many people at once. Each time you get a question, especially if it comes up often, record it. Deposit those in your “idea bank” and make withdrawals as you need blog post topics.
- Do more than one post at a time. This is an efficiency hack. They say that multi-tasking is counterproductive that we aren’t accomplishing as much switching task to task as we might think we are. So, dedicate a day or whatever block of time you can commit to and knock out more than one post. That way, if you don’t have time one week, you’ve got backups.
Creating growth-focused content
Most businesses who create content or are considering it, want to know what the ROI is. As businesspeople, that’s just how we’re wired. The creativity and all that’s great, but where are we seeing an uptick in revenue from it, right?
So, let’s talk about that.
Because there are a few critical elements that must be in place for you to get the most out of this endeavor. Otherwise, you will be throwing time away with nothing to show for it.
- It’s about the long game. This is the first point to remember about a content marketing approach. You will not see an impact overnight. You might get responses to your content overnight, but you won’t see a big shift in revenue. Because it takes time to build authority and affinity. It’s like the networking events you go to. It’s putting in the work for a possible future gain. All I can say, is trust the process.
- Quality content + Promotion is the magic formula. As we’ve described, in 2020, content creation will be about quality FIRST, then quantity. Sure, it would be great if you could put out a post every day or even every week. But you will be better off doing it less frequently and delivering extremely valuable content to your audience. And then get it out there in front of people. Stick around because I’m going to share a few ways for you to do that.
- Include keywords/SEO. Without throwing a bunch of marketing terminology at you and going down this rabbit trail that you probably don’t have time for, just know that the words your clients and prospects use when they’re searching topics related to your business, are the words you want to use in your content development. It helps you get found online and it helps Google point people to you as someone who has the answers they’re looking for.
- Write for online readers. Many online readers are skimmers because honestly who has time unless you prove that your content is super valuable. What this means is... you can’t write your blog posts like you would an article for an industry publication. You’ve got to be engaging and you’ve got to include subheads to move someone’s eye down the page. Also, include: headline, image, intro (hook), potentially a video, the content you transcribed, inspiring conclusion, and a call-to-action. The call-to-action is what you want the person to do after reading. What’s the next step? If you can check these boxes for a post you’re considering creating, then you’ve got a solid foundation.
- Measure effectiveness. It’s kind of pointless to create content in a vacuum so make sure you’re checking out what’s working and what’s not so that you know where to focus your content marketing efforts for the best return on your investment.The top 5 metrics B2B marketers track to measure content performance are email engagement (90%), website traffic (88%), website engagement (86%), social media analytics (83%), and conversions (78%).
With each of these, you're helping to improve the ROI of your content. Plus, if you think about it... in some cases you may be essentially paying $0 to create a piece of content and if that brings you leads/clients over time, that's an infinite return on investment, right?
So, let's see what you can do with that one piece of content to turn it into an
Repurposing your content
But first, a disclaimer (wouldn’t be financial services if we didn’t have one, right?) —
You may want to hire an assistant to help you do this because I know your time is likely better spent in your area of expertise. And even if you have someone to help you with content marketing, it doesn't mean you have to do all the things.
You should choose what's working the best for you and double down on that. And I wish I could say -- produce the content YOU like but it's not all about the content creator, it's primarily about who you're writing it for: what type of content do they like to consume and how do they like to consume it?
This is critical component to getting your business seen by the right people, so either way don’t neglect it.
Here are some content types to choose from:
Podcast: Publish on iTunes, Spotify, and/or iHeart Radio
Email: Take snippets from the podcast and/or the blog posts to promote either one
“Hey, I just published a new blog post/podcast about X, check it out here.” Bonus: This gives you a reason to reach out to your email list subscribers. If you don’t have an email list, that’s a conversation for a different day!
Social Media: Choose one soundbite from your blog or podcast to tweet (which is a max of 280 characters). Or put an image with a little text on Facebook or a use a snippet to share with a link to your content on LinkedIn. Be sure to change the language up to fit the audience because you aren’t going to talk on Facebook the same way you would in your emails or on LinkedIn.
eBook: Once you have a collection of blog posts on a particular topic, you can compile that information to create an eBook. Or if you have an idea that was more extensive that you pulled from a client conversation, it could be turned into an eBook as well. This is going to be seen as valuable by your prospects, whether they actually read it all or not.
Lead magnets: An eBook could be a lead magnet, but so could something simple like a checklist. If you did a blog post or a podcast for example on a complicated topic, create a checklist for them to download that will help them apply the information you provided.
Video: Video helps humanize your brand. According to an article on optinmonster.com, the Aberdeen Group says, “Video marketers get 66% more qualified leads per year and achieve a 54% increase in brand awareness.” And according to a 2018 report from HubSpot Research, “more than 50% of consumers want to see videos from brands … more than any other type of content.”
You can create a condensed version of your blog, record a video, and share that on social media linking to your full post like we do here at Partners Advantage with some of our blog posts.
As you're creating this content, keep in mind that if you mention any insurance carrier or a specific product, you need to have the carrier review and approve the advertisement prior to publishing.
The bottom line
This is where things get real. Do you really want to implement content marketing in your business?
Are you wondering if it’s just a bunch of hype put out by marketers?
If you’re still questioning the validity or effectiveness of content marketing (even after this super-long blog post extolling the virtues of it and explaining how you can use it in your business) — I want to leave you with this:
One of the well-known case studies for content marketing comes from a “pool guy.” Now, if there was ever anyone who wouldn’t be a fit for content marketing, he’d be it, right?
Don’t believe me? Check out this content marketing case study for a brick and mortar business:https://www.copyblogger.com/brick-and-mortar-content-marketing/.
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