Remember in the old days when you opened a store on Any Street or rented office space in a professional building. Potential customers would stop by and you would talk to them. That’s how you established your credibility, became familiar to people for your professional expertise, and sold your products or services.
Humans living in proximity to one another rely on communication to establish relationships. It is how we make sense of the world around us and form bonds to face the uncertainties of the future. In Small Town, USA, we hired people we knew we could trust to get the job done. We purchased our necessities from honest local business people. We knew they were honest because we talked to them.
The internet may have blown up Small Town to what feels like a universal free-for-all, but our human sensibilities remain intact. We seek interpersonal connection as part of our personhood. The desire to connect is still in our DNA. Don’t let those tiny screens we hold in front of our faces fool you.
Making the personal connection is still the key to winning customers and clients, making sales, and building a loyal following for your business. Content marketing is a fancy term for talking to people on the internet, making connections, and driving sales.
The Technical Side
Now that I’ve told you about the feel-good aspect of content marketing, let’s get the technical bits out of the way. This side of marketing in the virtual world is really easier to understand than you might think. It tends to mirror the good old fashioned bricks and mortar model rather closely.
In order for people to buy your goods or services, they need to know about them. For physical products, it often comes down to a simple visual. If they can see it, they can buy it. The problem for many small businesses is that they cannot afford a storefront on Main Street or a giant billboard along the main highway.
To create visibility for your business, so people know what you can do for them, you may employ a number of traditional tactics back home. Signs, print ads, and sponsorships help build your branding. The more often people can see your business name, the more familiar it will become. They will eventually find their way to your store or office.
To create that kind of visibility for your business on the internet, you need to court the search engines. The same way everyone enters your building through the lobby, they come to the virtual marketplace through a search engine, more than 80% use Google. When they look to that directory on the wall in the lobby, they need to find your business name.
Google has a secret formula they apply to decide which businesses are listed in their directory. When you search for anything in Google, it may return thousands of results, but you are only going to look at the first 10 – 15. When was the last time you went beyond page two in search results? Maybe never.
When people search for architectural engineers, your name may be on the list, but Google decides what position you hold. Your goal, of course, is to gain one of the top spots. Google makes these ranking decisions based on a number of factors. They try to put the most relevant results for any search on the first page.
It’s settled then. Gain the first page in search results and your business is shown to a world of ready customers. This is what we mean by search engine optimization (SEO). How are you going to optimize your website to get indexed by Google and show up on the first page?
The short answer is by using certain words to establish your relevance in searches. Every time you publish a new page of content on your website, Google checks it to see what words you use and then indexes it appropriately. It’s like putting each page of your website in a card catalog, so it is available when someone is looking for the topics your business covers.
Content Marketing Strategy
Back in the early days of search engine optimization, we engaged in a practice called keyword stuffing. You took all the words you wanted to rank for and listed them over and over again on your website. You stuffed them into the backend of the site in the code where no one could see them.
Some websites even experimented with stuffing keywords into their visible pages. They invented ways to publish lists of words that were virtually nonsensical to readers but got them picked up by search engines. Since then, the search engines have revised their formulas for indexing and do not give credit for keyword stuffing.
It’s just as well, though, because website content is a prime opportunity to communicate with customers and prospective customers. Content marketing is the virtual equivalent of developing a relationship with your clients before they even become clients.
The best content marketing strategy uses the search terms you want to rank for in Google, but it incorporates them naturally into engaging, valuable content for your customers and other visitors to your website.
Use your website content to:
✅ increase your name recognition through brand development
✅ educate your readers about your expertise
✅ instruct customers about the products and services you offer
✅ establish your credibility in a particular area of interest
✅ connect with your customer base on a personal level
When done consistently, content marketing will increase traffic to your website because it will improve your ranking in Google searches. The right content on your website will dazzle and amuse website visitors, eventually motivating them to join your email list, buy your products or reach out to you directly.
Not Just a Blog
Most businesses use the blog on their website as the publishing platform for their content marketing. They post a fresh new blog every once in a while and think they are getting the job done. If you think of content marketing as a job, you will see that this approach is not good enough.
Like any other type of marketing or sales, content marketing requires a strategy and follow through. The amount of relevant content you add to your website regularly will have a proportional effect on your web traffic. But your content needs to be relevant and consistent.
As a small business owner, you must realize the benefit of efficiency. Any process you can document and then replicate will save you time and money. The quality tends to remain consistent, also. And, when necessary, you can pass the task off to an employee, even a new hire, without changing the outcome.
For effective content marketing, you first need to create a boatload of content. You don’t need it all at once, but your plan should include about 500 words at least once a week for the entire month. Four chunks of amazing content each month will cost you approximately eight hours of concentrated effort to produce.
To get the most out of your time investment, you want to spread that content around. Post it on your blog every week, but don’t stop there. You can repackage it for newsletters and email blasts to your customer base. One tip is to send those emails out a day or two before you post the blog on your website. This gives your customers advance copy, one of the benefits of membership.
You can also use that same content to drive traffic to your website from social media. Write a couple sentences introducing the blog and post them to your social media accounts with a link to your website. Your posts will encourage social media users to visit your website to read your content.
Relevant pieces of your content can also be used for ads and landing pages. Find a few lines that refer to one product or service, pair them with an eye-catching graphic, and include a link to your website where customers can make the purchase.
Content marketing is not really a mystical concept at all. It is just a means of communicating with customers in a strategic, consistent way to meet your business goals. If creating the content is a struggle for you, let me help. At New Day Strategies, we have an affordable content marketing service designed for busy business owners like you.