So you’ve had a successful business for a few years, but now it’s time to scale. The boatload of deals have closed, and you’re itching for a golf trip to South Carolina. Problem is you’re worried about filling that pipeline again.
Listen, you don’t have to worry. Marketing your small business does not have to be difficult.Here’s how to keep receiving leads: content marketing. I wrote another post here on what it is and how it helps to grow your business. The long and short of it is that content marketing focuses on educating and connecting with your audience rather than promoting your business directly. Mediums include things like blog posts, email marketing, social media, video, podcasts, etc. When you educate your audience and connect with them regularly, and they will view you as the authority. After establishing yourself as such, the leads will come much more easily and steadily.
Here are some great ways to get your content out there to the world.
First, get your mindset right.
It doesn’t matter if someone else has released a report with the same information. Not to be cheesy, but you are you. You’ll be putting your own spin on the information. It may mean something different to you, or you may be able to communicate it more effectively than the other guys.
Second, familiarize yourself with your options.
For B2B content marketing, email remains the most effective channel by far, followed by blogs and social media. A detailed report on this, published by the Content Marketing Institute, is available here.
Email remains the number one most effective tool for B2B marketing. Releasing a newsletter or other email content to a list of subscribers provides them with valuable information on a regular basis. This helps you to establish authority and often becomes something that your subscribers learn to expect and anticipate.
There is no “best” platform. There are many out there, and they all offer different features and pricing options. First, define your marketing goals. Then, do the research and pick a platform which offers the features you need. If you’re truly not sure, try out some of the free options so you can test things out before investing. Mailchimp, ConvertKit, and Mailerlite all offer free options at the time of this post.
Having a blog or news section on your website is a must. It serves as a place for your content to live. Your clients can search it and reference it any time they wish.
Additionally, the simple act of posting regularly to a blog is great for SEO (search engine optimization). Basically, SEO refers to how much Google likes your website. What makes it like your website is a range of things, but for today’s purposes, I’ll mention one. Google really likes to see a website that is being updated regularly.
E-BOOKS, REPORTS & WHITE PAPERS
Let’s take the commercial real estate industry for example here. CoStar releases regular reports on the state of any given market at regular intervals. Large brokerage firms release their own reports, which can be downloaded from their website and often get quoted in social media posts and news articles. Plus, having a downloadable report on your website is a great way to gain email marketing subscribers.
Just like text and images, video can be used across many platforms. It can be posted on your website, social media platforms, and on YouTube. The content in the video can be similar to the copy you have on your blog post. It also doesn’t have to be expensive edited video. Recording yourself talking about a subject for just 30 seconds and posting it to your LinkedIn is enough. Be sure to add some text to your video because a high volume of viewers are watching without sound.
Video is becoming increasingly popular, which makes sense. In today’s digital world, there is an overwhelming amount of content out there. A lot of it is just noise, but when you post something that is real and is valuable, people will listen. The trick is hooking their attention, and video is consistently proving to be the way to do that.
According to the Content Marketing Institute’s report above, LinkedIn users are five times more likely to leave a comment on a post with video than with text only. While the number of comments doesn’t matter so much, this means that people relate to and respond to video more so. I feel that video provides more context quickly and gives a highly professional appearance. The biggest reason I feel so strongly about video is that it allows us to connect with each other as human beings. Yes, we connect for business purposes, but really you can find service providers who know their stuff anywhere. Getting to know people’s character is invaluable, and ultimately is what will make a connection.
In a nutshell, a podcast is another tool you can use to communicate the same content you might post in your blog or on social media. This is typically less formal and more of a conversational method. You can bring on guest experts, colleagues, past clients, or even potential clients.
Each podcast episode should have some show notes on your website. I recommend having a podcast section within your blog so listeners can easily find these notes. Often this is either a Cliff’s Notes version of the episode, or at the very least, includes links and references to any resources mentioned in the episode.
I love using social media for content marketing because it’s free. As long you are consistently putting out content that your audience finds valuable, you’ll win.
Types of content to consider on social media:
- Video – highly recommended
- Links & articles
- Copy (text)
It used to be that you would see things in your feed by chronological order. That’s no longer the case. Due to most social media algorithms, people see more of the types of content they engage with (by commenting, sharing, liking, and saving your content). This is why you need to generate real engagement. Post different pieces of content – varying in both subject and type of content – for a few months and then look at your statistics to see what is getting the most engagement. That right there will tell you your strategy.
There is a lot to consider when thinking about which social media platforms to use. Anyone who is discounting Facebook and Instagram should probably reconsider. I’ve collected some statistics and written up an overview here.
Platforms to consider:
Lastly, assign responsibility for content creation.
Who knows your audience and your industry the best?
Who is highly professional and has excellent writing skills?
Is there a budget for outsourcing any part of this?
If this falls on you, the business owner, I recommend setting aside a few hours at the beginning of each month so you can plan that month’s content. It’s easier than you think, and you can cross-post your content for maximum reach.
If you will be outsourcing or assigning this task to a team member, be sure to communicate with them regularly. It is important to come up with a plan and be sure that both parties are sticking to it. Keeping your content creator up to speed on what is happening in the company will inspire numerous post ideas.
Connecting all the pieces
Now that we have all these various channels, let’s talk about how they link up to create a holistic marketing plan.
Your website will serve as the hub. This is where your blog posts will be posted, searched, and read. I recommend taking one blog post and breaking it apart into multiple short pieces for email marketing and into bite-sized pieces for social media. E-books, reports, and white papers are another thing that should be found on your website. Perhaps they will not be published directly there, but visitors should be able to find out how and where to access them.
Anything you can do to drive traffic to your website will help your page’s SEO standings. Yet another thing that makes Google like a website is a high volume of website traffic, especially when visitors stay on your site for a longer period of time. This can easily be tracked, for free, using Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
Regardless of where and how you decide to market your business, three things remain universal:
1. Know your audience
Nothing will matter if you are putting out content that does not speak to your audience. If you are new to business or new to your industry, take the time to study your audience. Meet them for coffee or treat them to lunch in exchange for their answers to your questions.
2. Track the data
All of the above options have the ability to track traffic/metrics, some of which is built in. During your setup phase, make sure you enable these features so you can go back and analyze the data (often done for you).
3. Understand it takes time and testing
Keep in mind that nothing is going to work immediately. On average, people need to see or engage with your content 6 or 7 times before they decide to reach out to you. In the beginning, your strategy should simply be to get set up and start distributing content. After 2-3 months, take a step back and look at the analytics. These data will tell you what kinds of content people are enjoying from you, and that will define your content strategy.
When done well, content marketing will spread the word about your business. You’ll help more clients, make more money, and head off to that beloved palmetto state of yours. Everybody wins!