You can find a plethora (my favorite word from The Three Amigos) of free and fabulous info on content marketing. But then it comes down to you, Solopreneur, sitting in front of your blank, white, staring screen, saying to yourself, ‘OK then, so what do I do NOW?’
Well, first I want to assure you of this: Content marketing is not complicated or mysterious or expensive or reserved for the Big Fish. Any business owner of any size can create a content marketing strategy that works for them and brings great results to their business.
The best, and only, place to start?
Your content – which is, simply put, what you know and love about your business that improves and brings value to the lives of your readers (readers = current and potential clients, avid supporters, valued referral partners, sponsors, fans, media).
If you are not clear on WHAT you want to say, then the rest will indeed seem complicated and mysterious. Here are 3 tips to help you get a handle on your message, to mine those gems that your public needs to hear.
Tip #1: Collect your content.
I work with some very smart, savvy business owners who confess to me that the stuff they produce for their business (read: content) is all over the place: notebooks, Google docs, Dropbox, cocktail napkins, in their heads…No wonder they’re stymied by what to write to their readers – they can’t find it!
This is more than an organizational issue, it’s a mindset. When your content is clear and collected, then YOU’ll feel more clear about your brand and message – I’ve seen this happen with many of my clients.
So the first step is to make the time to gather your marketing message gems into one place – on actual or virtual paper, maybe in categorized folders on- or offline. The method you choose to collect them is key, because if it isn’t usable to you, you won’t use it.
I was in the same dilemma about 2 years into my business – written brilliance scattered everywhere. I created one long Word document with headings like: Bios, Testimonials, Branding Statement, Client Profile(s), Favorite Phrases, Website Copy, Interview Transcripts. I then took my various writings and plopped them into the appropriate categories. My document is called my ‘Core Message Master.’
It took some time, but I felt SO much clearer about my business brand. I use it to this day, updating and adjusting as my business develops. I add folders to help me organize my content but it’s all kept in one accessible place. And I use this method successfully with my clients.
Bonus tip: Archive or delete anything that doesn’t speak to your current brand or direction. This is important because we entrepreneurs are ever-evolving and shifting as our businesses grow. That old stuff is a distraction – get rid of it!
Tip #2: Pour out your biz heart.
Inspired by the current content you’ve collected, simply start writing what you know and love about your business, from a very personal level. If you’re not the writing type, consider recording yourself and transcribing later – I bet you’ll be surprised by the gems that came out of your mouth while you weren’t self-editing!
Once you have a nice long list, musings, phrases, stories – however it pours out of you – then look it over from the lens of your potential readers. Highlight the common themes and phrases that you think will be valuable to them. Incorporate these into your ‘content collection.’
Why the ‘very personal level’ piece? Because the most important thing to understand about marketing today is: It’s all about relationships. People buy from you not so much because of the service/product you offer, but rather because of YOU, how you resonate with them, how they trust you, like you, relate to you, feel safe and assured by you.
So don’t hesitate to pour your heart into this exercise – I promise that it’s front-loading now that will bring you amazing results later.
Tip #3: Write something.
Take a quick measure of yourself at this juncture. Maybe these exercises have gotten you jazzed and itching to write something and send it out to your peeps. Go for it!
Maybe you’re ready to just put one toe in the water – great! Then write something for yourself, perhaps a blog, newsletter article or Facebook post. You know you’re not going to publish it, but make it as final as you can. Writing is a muscle that takes practice, so use this as an exercise. And you’ll likely use parts of that content later, so it’s not a waste of your time (make sure you file it).
Another option is to create a folder/file with topics and ideas. This is really useful for the ‘strategy’ part of the content marketing process. Also add to it links to experts you want to quote, pieces and outlines of potential blogs lifted from other content, a relevant quote you saw on your Facebook feed, etc. Keep this file handy because you’ll continue to add things to it.
Whatever you write, keep it simple, get creative, and have fun, because your people want your message in easy, bite-sized, engaging pieces.
Just be you, be real, and be helpful.
You’re now one giant step closer to facing that blank, white, staring screen with more confidence. More to come about strategizing your content marketing in future blogs. Please leave a comment or email me to let me know how these tips were useful to you!
I help small-business owners succeed in making a BIG impact with their marketing – for their clients, their bottom line, the betterment of the world – through authentic, strategic, and powerful messaging.
28+ years in marketing communications, I adapt tried-and-true communications principles to today’s dynamic online marketing world. And I confess…I’m a life-long word lover, grammar geek and compulsive typo-finder!
If you’re ready to create or improve your marketing message content, let’s talk.
If you’re like most solo/small business owners, you’re busy spinning so many plates to keep your business running that your marketing gets pushed to the back burner. You’re not intentional or strategic about your content marketing – in fact you’re winging it! Am I right?? C’mon you can tell me – we’re all doing it, even the Big Fish in the Business Sea!
I’ve been a huge fan of ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ (SYTYCD), the TV reality show dance competition. You follow the contestants through their journey from audition to ‘top ten’ to the winner, ‘America’s Favorite Dancer.’ I celebrated Mark becoming lead dancer for Lady GaGa, Robert’s car accident and amazing comeback, and Twitch and Allison’s marriage (You fans know what I’m talkin’ about!).