If the answer to your content strategy is “I don’t know,” or “It’s still in the development stage,” then you’ve got some work to do. Your competition, if they’re smart, is using the fundamentals of “Data Science” to formulate a content marketing game plan long before the new year settled in.
Very few businesses in this day and age can avoid the profitability power of having online content available to customers to help promote their business. If people can’t do a simple search for you from the comfort of their home or while browsing on a portable gadget, they’ll find another company that does instead.
What Your Customers Aren’t Telling You
If you own a strictly online-based business, you already understand the importance of being available to your customers. It’s a crucial part of your business model.
For the rest of you who have offline businesses and very little online presence – what’s holding you back?
Several reasons could be:
- You’re retiring soon.
- Competition isn’t a problem because you’re based in a small town with a loyal following.
- You don’t need more customers (really?)
- You don’t know anything about all this new computer technology.
- You don’t trust anyone to build/manage a site for you.
- You don’t go online.
- You believe that people don’t buy things online.
- You own a coffee-shop.
- You don’t have the patience.
- Phone book adverts still work just fine to bring in new customers for you.
Customers dictate why and how they’re going to become your next customer. If they say they want to check out your business online, then give them what they want. And chances are, that’s what they’re saying. This is a global reality folks. Don’t rely on what one or two regulars tell you. Just because it isn’t important to some of your regulars doesn’t mean it isn’t important to the people who haven’t bought from you yet.
Here’s an article from 1995 to read. It’s funny how it’s still relevant today. Some things never change. It’s been updated with a few current facts, but the core of the article was written nearly two decades ago.
If you don’t know anything about content marketing, then I’ve got some homework for you. Register on Copyblogger and download their free eCourse. It’s factual and to-the-point (i.e., no fluff whatsoever.)
All you need to provide is an email address. Copyblogger’s an authority on everything to do with content and you get to keep the eBooks forever. This material is the unofficial “online content bible” as far as I’m concerned.
3 Tips (Not Necessarily New) for Your Content Strategy
Now that we’ve established the importance of online content for marketing your business and building your brand, and you now have a resource to learn the basics if you don’t already know them, we’ll finish things off by briefly discussing 3 emerging strategies that you need to be in line with for the future. These tips assume that you either know about common forms of content, or that you downloaded and read the free copyblogger course or other content-development-related material.
1. Think outside the box and stop saying that your specific industry or business can’t benefit from content marketing.
Let’s look at an obvious example: Say you’re a convenience store owner and maybe you think there’s no way you can get online content out to the people who aren’t already coming in your doors. Take out paper adverts, or send a small paper flyer out with the postman once in a while – and tell people to add you to their social media for a chance to win a cash prize, small shopping spree in your store, or even an iPod.
Once you get some followers, you’ve just easily and cheaply opened the door for you to get your content in front of them indefinitely. This is just one great idea that can be adapted to any business model.
2. Exploit the heck out of paid advertising methods, even if you’re a local business.
Learn and understand how to work with the data science that companies like Google Adwords and Facebook have spent billions to develop for you. These platforms are far from being used only for online businesses or big corporations. Everything is going “ultra-local” this year, with more tools to make it easier for small businesses to laser-target their advertising to people in a small locale.
3. Build personas.
No, we’re not talking about creating your own unique Firefox or Chrome persona here. This refers to how you’ll develop ways get inside the minds of your customers, so you can tailor your content to their needs and wants. Figuring out who they are inside: Their hopes and dreams, what they do in a typical day, things they most value, and their most common objections to buying your product or service. Check out this Persona Development Worksheet (PDF), courtesy of Hubspot, for more details.
Now over to you – what’s your content strategy for the future?
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