I'm starting a business teaching people to be more self-sufficient. Whether it be on 100 acres or in a one bedroom apartment. I do specialty designs and installs along with teaching how to care for their food that is growing; how to preserve it, keep it going, etc.
Start by educating your prospects through content.
Content marketing’s purpose is to attract and retain customers by consistently creating and curating relevant and valuable content with the intention of changing or enhancing consumer behavior. It is an ongoing process that is best integrated into your overall marketing strategy, and it focuses on owning media, not renting it.
This generation of customers are taking drastic steps to avoid marketing messages. As consumers, we use DVRs to skip television ads, pay internet radio subscription fees to avoid commercials, mentally block out — or use plug-ins to avoid — internet click ads, and gloss over road-side billboards, rendering them useless and ineffective.
So how are marketers supposed to combat this shift?
Consumers are still buying and making purchases, but the way they go about making a decision has changed. With all of the world’s information at their finger tips, savvy consumers are doing enormous amounts of learning and self-education before stepping into a showroom or talking to a salesperson.
Knowing this is a huge opportunity for brands. If you know consumers are looking for information, be the source of that information. Not with sales-y content that puts your priorities before theirs, but information that the buyer really wants and needs.
Content marketing closes this gap by using brand-created educational content to satisfy the prospective buyer while helping the sales team convert anonymous visitors into buyers.
Thought leaders and marketing experts from around the world, including the likes of Seth Godin and hundreds of the leading thinkers in marketing have concluded that content marketing isn’t just the future, it’s the present (see the video below on the history of content marketing).
The key ingredient to using content to attract new customers is in the advanced planning. The strategy.
What is a Content Marketing Strategy
A content marketing strategy is a roadmap; a “User’s Guide” to how your brand will do the following:
- Meet the customer at their specific point within their buying cycle
- Align the customer’s needs with your knowledge and expertise
- Use your brand’s assets to meet these objectives
Business-to-Business marketers who have a documented content marketing strategy are 66% more likely to consider themselves effective compared to only 11% of those without a documented strategy.
A content marketing plan helps you see the end-game before you have even started. Further, it gives a clear, articulable vision for your entire team and keeps you on track throughout the campaign.
Just like New Years resolutions often fade into a foggy memory, our intentions are good – but we allow resolutions to fail. To be successful in any strategy, we need to be intentional.
For proper sales and marketing alignment, and for the success of your bottom line, you must have a plan in place.
How to Start Your Content Strategy
The framework of a content marketing strategy is fairly straight forward:
- Who are you targeting? What are their needs?
- How are you going to reach them? (Attract new and nurture existing)
- What content do you have now to get started?
- What is your plan to develop and share more
- How will you measure your efforts
Take some time to consider who you are targeting. Are they male or female? Does it matter? Do they have a career? Children?
Are they affluent? Coupon cutters?
What are their goals? What happens if they do not reach them? Is their a monetary penalty for them? Will meeting this goal further their career? Will it make them happy?
Clearly defining your targeted personas will save you a lot of time, energy, and money as you continue your business. With this person in mind, your content marketing strategy will begin to fall into place and you will feel that you are having a conversation with this “person”, rather than blindly throwing stuff out there.
Content marketing and social media are often used synonymously. This is a mistake. Content marketing is a broad method of marketing whereas social media is a tool that complements getting your content seen.
"Content is fire, and social media is gasoline."
Jay Baer, Convince & Convert
Imagine your website as your online hub, where all of your brand-controlled content resides, your social media profiles are spokes that lead back to your home base.
Social media has the power to reach incredible numbers of potential customers, influencers, existing customers, and even the opportunity to convert customers from competitors. Social media, in and of itself, is not content marketing. It is one of your outreach tools.
3. Available Content
Next, take stock of materials you have on hand already.
Many of us sit in offices filled with brochures, flyers, handouts, manuals, and documents loaded with helpful information, but we do little to extend that information to potential customers on the web. Make a list of the content available to you immediately and start identifying which persona is most aligned, where they are within their sales process, and what pain point they are currently facing.
Getting started, you can use what you have on hand. But I recommend expecting this low-hanging fruit to run out. You should plan on developing your own, unique content.
For a number of reasons, search engines reward fresh, unique content. Further, your prospective customers will be looking for information that is not available everywhere. Your unique perspective and “voice” (the tone in which you talk, the way you communicate, and what you share) may be the first experience a prospective customer has with you. This is the beginning of a long business relationship.
4. Schedule and Share Your Content
After you have compiled your educational materials, grab a calendar. I recommend looking out 3-4 months to start. Mark holidays, special events, and milestones. Working backwards, prepare your marketing message for these campaigns.
For example, one client of ours hosts 4-5 annual sales. They all surround major US holidays (New Years, President’s Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving/Black Friday). By knowing this, it is easy for us to prepare everything from banner ads, Pinterest images, blog posts, Facebook Status, videos, and even newspaper ads (don’t shoot the messenger).
Once you have those events marked, consider a “theme” of the week for those 3-4 months. With that theme, and your personas in mind, write out the following for each week:
- 2 Blog Posts
- 8-10 Facebook updates
- 20-30 Twitter updates
- 4-5 product photos for Pinterest
- 3-4 Instagram ideas
- 1 Video
By no means is this list all-inclusive. It is a starting point to get you thinking about how to plan content. To get a specific content marketing plan designed for your brand, I need to interview you and understand your goals, personas, and timeline.
Finally, how are you going to measure your work? Remember when we set up our goals earlier? Were you specific in identifying how many leads you want to generate?
“Get more leads” is a horrible strategy, better is “Gain 50 new leads by September 1st” or “increase from 6% conversion rate to 12% conversion rate” These types of goals are easily measured and tracked.
Do you have a mechanism in place to measure, monitor, and gauge your efforts? Further, do you have the right people on your team to help you know what is working and what is not? Can you explain why certain marketing dollars are generating a return on your investment while others fall flat?
I can already think of many ways you can do this with your self-sufficient students.
Let's book a call and we can discuss further.
There's a lot of great answers already about creating an online presence and I definitely agree that content marketing will be very important.
However, if I read this correctly you do specialty designs and installs, so does that mean you are localized in your business where you need to physically meet the customer?
If that's the case, then you need to be sure that you are exploiting the proper networks in your local area. This means joining the right groups, associations, attending industry events, and trying to do demos or speaking engagements. Be a thought leader in your space for your local area.
In the end, just ask yourself - Where does your target market like to hangout online AND offline? Be sure to have a presence in both places.
interesting, like sounds like what you need is a strategy. Nothing that can be solved during average duration of 1 consultation call or message here. I would love to help you though. I'll share some thoughts then hopefully I spark your interest to letting me help you.
Here are some ideas, by no means are these strategies..just thoughts of what could be included in your overall plan.
1. Obviously you need basics: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, Youtube, GoogleAds, Yelp, etc. I wouldn't necessairly invest money in all or any just yet though, we would have to work together to find who your ideal target market is comprised of and how to approach them. Sometime facebook isn't worth the effort, sometimes a website isnt worth the effort, sometimes a blog is all you need. This needs careful planning.
2. You have a niche market so budget customers shouldn't be your focus at all. But pricing needs to be carefully planned and somewhere somehow explained for transparancy purposes - in this type of work and potential market it might be a huge deal for your potential customers. Again, not on budget..but value will always be something people look for.
3. Develop a product line.
4. Go onto facebook and start joining farming groups, school organizations relevant to this, hoa or small community groups, diy groups, pinterest, etc. Also look for events in your area such as farmers market and community vendor shows.
5. get yourself a vendor booth display... you don't need much. My first one was about 500 dllrs total and I got a table, 2 chairs off the hardware store, 2 x-stand banners, 1 regular banner, and a canopy tent from a store... no big deal...something simple..figure out how to display...for what you have you will need a lot of touting in fairs and reinforcements through digital presence.
Advertising disguised as content always works best. Advertorial it's called. You're not tricking people into working with you, you're educating them.
Always use a problem then discuss solutions to this problem and make sure you're one of the solutions. Make sure you have more than one solution or you will come off as spam and make sure that it's a well thought out piece of content.
Content just for content sake is noise. I would rather see you produce one blog post, video, image message a month that is great then 1 a week that is mediocre.
Editorial Calendar is crucial to this process, it will help you plan out exactly what message you want to get across (the problem you're addressing), what medium to use to best demonstrate this message (blog post, image, video), the solution and of course where and when it should be posted.
Very interesting business. Should be easy to sell.
I am not trying to sell you on calling me. Really, I am pretty busy with my businesses and consulting. However, I need more info before I could have a greater impact in helping you.
Ask, Ask, Ask, then Ask again.
Here is $10,000 worth of information for free and in a nutshell.
Concentrate on the 3 M's. There are actually 7, but 3 will do for now. These are Market, Message, and Media. They come in that order.
Who is your target market (customer, clients, buyers, users, etc.)?
Tailor your laser focused message for this target market.
What is the best media mix to get your message to that market?
Here's what you do...first, make it an offer that is so incredible that they cannot resist. Secondly, do all the work for them. Make it so easy to make the purchase now that they can do it virtually without effort. Thirdly, give them an incentive to act right now. Fourthly, offer an almost unbelievable guarantee. Fifth, offer a bonus for acting now. There are many other incredible steps, but these steps should help the novice to the professional sell anything.
Whether you are selling B2B or B2C, you have to focus on selling to only one person. You can actually sell to one person at a time while selling to millions at a time. They are one and the same. Don't get off track, what we call digital marketing selling is just selling in print. And that has not changed since Cluade Hopkins wrote "Scientific Advertising." Really long before he wrote the book.
The secret to success: I have had the pleasure of knowing and working with some of the biggest names in business, celebrities, actors, entrepreneurs, business people, and companies from startup to billion dollar operations. The number one reason for their success is doing what they know and love while doing it in new, creative, and innovative ways.
Ask, Ask, Ask. Have thick skin and learn from each "mistake." In a short while, the market will tell you what you need to do and who and what you need to ask. But get started now even if that just means asking a contact on LinkedIn.
While you are thinking, think big and think of something at least 1% better, newer, or different. And being cheaper is not a winning strategy.
Make decisions quickly and change decisions slowly..unless you are actually going off a cliff.
Remember these two 11 letter words...persistence and consistency. They are two of the most important tools ever invented.
Treat everybody you talk to and everybody you meet (including yourself) like each is your number one million dollar customer.
Bootstrap when possible and reasonable. Read "How To Get Rich" by Felix Dennis. Or better yet just remember the camel's nose in the tent story.
However, sometimes you just need to make a deal.
Listen, in any business you have to take some chances and some risks. Make sure you don't need a license and go for it. Remember, timid business people have skinny kids. Paraphrased from Zig Ziglar.
Best of luck,
Take massive action and never give up.
Michael Irvin, MBA, RN
Keep it simple!
There are over 500 marketing tools and tactics you can employ, but NONE of them matter if your target audience does not engage or use any of them. This includes inbounding marketing, content marketing (please don't start a blog just because everyone has one or because others have gained followers), advertorials, digital marketing and social media.
Unless you have the budget and resources: time and labor to implement some of the tactics suggested, go with what Rick said.You will get a higher ROI attending a local event for $25 to network with your ideal customer, and learn how they prefer to engage, than paying hundreds or thousands to implement online campaigns.
If you have the capacity to facilitate prospects regionally, nationally or even internationally, then consider developing a brand-driven marketing strategy, which will ensure that you select 3 to 4 marketing tactics that reflect your brand and actively engages your target audience. After testing results, you can tweak, delete/add and repeat.
I hope that provides "clarity!"
Content is not only one of the primary strategy used by top businesses like the one you're starting out to generate millions of page views - automatically.
It’s also great for SEO.
To build a killer brand that people trust and recall.
To remain top-of-the-mind for your category of products.
To help you build a personal brand and a closer relationship with your customers.
In a few words, “content is king” as Bill Gates said.
But, Angelo, “how can I write contents that sell, even if you're not a natural writer?”
1- Don't worry too much!
You don't have to win the Nobel prize this year :-D
Focus on consistency first.
Write at least one post per week.
You can focus on add quality once you got your writing habit.
My first company was a group of online magazines that I then sold in 2013.
I built it with 0 dollars spent on ads, only badass contents that people wanted to read and smart marketing to distribute them.
2- Know your audience.
What do people interested in buying your search for on Google?
What are their major problems?
You can get all these insights in different ways:
1- Using answerthepublic(.)com
2- Check the subreddits that you know your customers subscribe.
Click on “Top,” and you will get a full list of posts that already performed well.
You can either improve them by adding something missing or take inspiration.
3- On Quora check for answers with many followers in your niche/audience.
4- Go to Amazon or other big e-commerce that sells your product.
Check for the review from 2 to 4 stars.
You will quickly start to notice some patterns, where people are complaining about the same things over and over again.
Or maybe something is missing or is not how they expected.
These insights are not only useful for creating contents around your products and category but also to understand better your customers and their struggles.
It's gonna turn back valuable to write any copy (for your emails, your homepage, ads, etc.)
When you write, do it like you're writing that piece of article to your ideal customer.
Give him a name.
What does he think about during her day?
Who he'd like to be considered? (Cute, successful, etc.)
Maybe they're only assumptions for now, in the future, especially if you built an email list, it's going to come much easier to get into the mind of your customers and using the exact words they use :-)
BONUS: When you will have 5-7 contents ready, you should implement an email sequence for who just subscribe to your email list.
How? A simple but effective way to do this is: Use MailChimp or similar software. Create an automated sequence.
Send a welcome email and your best-performing blog posts in the first five days.
On the 6th day send another content but in the P.S. give a limited time coupon or add scarcity in some way for one your most requested product.
On the last email restate that the coupon is about to expire :-) You're increasing sales automagically in this way.
BOOM by Cindy Joseph, Headspace, Pandora, and many other companies send this kind of sequences.
- Angelo (http://angelosorbello.com)
P.S. Don’t forget that distribution/promotion is as important, if not more, than writing the damn thing :-)