When I use the phrase “content marketing”, most people I’m talking to nod their heads and agree that it’s a necessity for any business, especially a startup or a small business without a huge marketing budget. But when we dig deeper, I find that many people still lack a good understanding of what “content marketing” actually is. Content marketing is not new. Here’s a great article explaining content marketing dating back more than 100 years, and it is still very applicable today. The image above demonstrates how content marketing works: marketing steers the engine, but content powers the engine. From that article:
Content marketing is composed of creation and distribution of high value and non-branded content with the purpose of driving a long-term customer engagement.
High Value and Non-Branded Content
What does that even mean? In simple terms, it means teaching your target audience something that they will value without trying to sell them anything. In my Digital Marketing classes, I used to ask someone in the class, “Who is your favorite author?” I’ll answer with mine: Tom Clancy. Then I’d ask, “If Tom Clancy was standing right here and recommended to you that you check out a certain historical monument in Washington, D.C., would you go check it out?” Absolutely! Why? Because I’ve read everything Tom Clancy ever wrote, I love everything he ever wrote, and I trust him as an expert in the inner workings of the D.C. military intelligence machine.
Does Your Audience Trust You?
You build trust by offering value and expecting nothing in return. Teaching your audience something of great value in your specific space over and over and over will build value and trust over the long term. What can you teach your audience about the market space in which you work? Do that! If you don’t know it, learn it, and then teach your audience. That’s providing value. It takes time. Content marketing is about the long game. There is no silver bullet, and it won’t succeed overnight.
A Simple Content Marketing Plan
To play the long game, you need a plan. Here’s a simple, 5-step plan to deliver the value you’ve created by teaching your audience something of value.
- Build a WordPress website (or Wix or SquareSpace or whatever…it really does not matter). Here’s how. Anyone can build a website these days. Pick a template, stick with it. Don’t get too fancy. It’s the content that matters most.
- Write one blog post per week. Here’s how to come up with the ideas for what to write, but focus focus focus on teaching your audience something of value. Go step by step. Be ridiculously specific in what you’re teaching.
- From each blog post, create 10 social posts to promote the blog post. Keep it simple by using questions, phrases, and one-liners from within that blog post. Creating 10 social posts should not take more than 30 minutes. Each one should have a different relevant image, a shortened link back to the blog post, and 1-2 hashtags that are relevant to the subject matter.
- Put all of these social posts into a MeetEdgar account to automatically share over and over with your audience. Why? Because the average lifespan of a tweet is less than 30 seconds, only 8% of your facebook followers ever see any of your posts, same for LinkedIn. Share evergreen (not date or event-related) content repeatedly forever.
- Create a monthly newsletter in Mailchimp using excerpts from your previous 4 weekly blog posts and the best images from your social posts. Your email list will have a little overlap with your social following and blog readers, but not much, and an email reminder never hurts.
These steps are the very basics. Anyone can and everyone should do these, or something very close to these steps. Just like exercising daily becomes a habit, producing and distributing content will become a muscle that you know how to use.