In my experience speaking at conferences and doing interviews, one of the questions I get asked the most is: "What is my view on the most effective and efficient way to grow a business or brand?" My answer is simple. Incorporate content marketing into your communication and promotional strategy. Gone are the days when just having a website was enough. Blogging is the fastest and most efficient way to gain visibility for your brand, product or service. In my opinion maintaining a blog is a great way for your business to get in front of prospective customers. Most large corporations already know the benefits of offering fresh content on their company blogs. Not only does this help build authority within their industry, effective content marketing also helps them rank higher in search results. In addition, content marketing helps tell their story and acts as a catalyst to build a stronger connection with current and prospective customers.
Content marketing, in its simplest form, is the art of communicating with your current and prospective customers without really selling to them directly. It means providing them with useful and relevant information that helps them make intelligent buying decisions. Delivering relevant and useful content on a consistent basis offers significant benefits. With that said, a lot of small business owners view blogging as a waste of time and often find excuses not to blog.
Take Responsibility For Your Own Success
We often hear that we need to stay physically fit and sleep well in order to be more productive in life and at work. Since this is difficult for some people to accomplish, the first thing they do is create excuses why they can't take better care of themselves. As business owners, I'm sure you've heard the advice that you need to create quality content in your field of expertise in order to build thought leadership. You may be thinking you're better off spending your time and energy on other things, but you may want to reconsider that approach. According to statistics from HubSpot, 61 percent of global Internet users research products online. If your competitors are present in the online space and you are not, then you lose. In my experience, I've come to the conclusion that successful people eliminate excuses and take full responsibility for their own success.
Common Excuses And What To Do To Make It Right
Many small business owners are paralyzed with fear at the thought of starting a blog. They get overwhelmed with the thought of implementing complicated workflows and hiring writers needed to create and maintain an online presence. Here are some common excuses I have encountered and some tips to help you overcome your fear of blogging and content creation:
I Have No Time To Blog
Having no time to blog is probably the number one excuse I hear for not including content marketing in your company's overall marketing strategy. You may think you already have too much on your plate and would rather just concentrate on increasing your bottom-line results instead of publishing content on your company blog. One tip I can offer is to change your mindset. Unlike major publishers, your business is probably not about blogging, so there's no need to be concerned with creating and publishing large quantity of content. It's really all about offering quality and relevant content to your readers. You also do not have to write all the articles yourself. You can delegate this task to your team.
- When delegating the task of content creation to your team, make sure you set goals and clear direction regarding the message you want to communicate.
- Create a content calendar that can be used by you, and your team to track ideas and topics for articles.
- Be disciplined and create a workflow you can use to stay on track and be consistent.
- If you plan to write content yourself, it's a good idea to write several posts ahead of time before you launch your blog to be able to publish content on a consistent basis.
- In the beginning, concentrate on writing shorter blog posts. Aim for 350 to 500 words to start and build up from there as you gain more confidence and writing experience.
I Already Have A Website
Most business owners build their websites and then expect people to just show up and subscribe to their sites. By incorporating a blog within your main company website, you are able to provide fresh stories and helpful information to your customers that will help encourage them to come back for more. Most websites only aim to sell you something. People already get sold all the time through robocalls, spammy e-mail campaigns or aggressive door-to-door sales tactics. Marketing online will only be successful if you provide your customers with what they are looking for. This includes publishing well written and helpful information relevant to your industry on your company blog.
Another benefit of having a blog incorporated on your main website is traffic and SEO. If your site is not ranking well on search engines, quality fresh content presented on a professionally designed blog can help provide a big boost in traffic and improve your overall organic search ranking. Read the case study that we did on increasing our organic search traffic.Key Marketing Steps:
- Add your blog as a sub domain on your main branded website (http://blog.website.com) or,
- Add your blog as a sub directory on your main website (http://website.com/blog.)
- Make sure the link to your blog is prominently displayed to make it easy for first time visitors to find your blog on your main site.
I highly recommend using WordPress for your blog because it is the largest content publishing platform on the web. It's free and easy to use. Installation can be done in 1-click and there are tons of WordPress tutorials both text and videos.
I'm Already On Social Media
Social media can be an effective tool to help promote your product or service, but posting photos and links from other sites is not enough to build your authority. As I mentioned in my first article here on the Huffington Post, I believe as a business owner you must make your websites and blogs the heart of your brand building efforts. Social media should be viewed as the arteries and veins of your marketing strategy that helps spread your message. It's also not good practice to abandon your blog and just focus on social networking sites. Social media is evolving quickly and social networks come and go. Having your content on a platform you own will ensure you'll always have a consistent online space to stay engaged with your community even if any of the social media platforms you use decline in popularity or cease to exist.
- Create a strategy that integrates content marketing and social media to build relationships with your customers.
- Use your blog to respond quickly to questions your customers ask and answer them in depth.
- Use social media channels to promote your blog and build engagement.
I'm Afraid of Negative Comments
Who's not afraid of receiving negative comments? Most disgruntled customers will do whatever they can just to be heard. If they are not doing it on your site, they will definitely take it elsewhere including social media and online forums. No matter what you do, you cannot control what other people do. Instead of being afraid, provide space on your website for people to express their concerns, so you can respond quickly. Happy customers will reciprocate by sharing good feedback about your business or brand with friends and family. Your blog should be another medium to spark conversation and create further interaction with your customers.
- Be proactive and reply to comments immediately.
- Invite your readers to talk with you offline.
- Take time to carefully reply to comments with the aim of further building long-lasting relationships.
When creating content, you do not necessarily have to share every detail, new product development or workflow process on your blog. What is key is sharing important information that will aid your customers in their buying decisions.Key Marketing Steps:
- Determine the most common problems that your customers face when buying.
- Delve into how you can provide helpful information that makes those decisions easier.
- Look at what topics your customers frequently share and what ask questions they're asking on LinkedIn groups, Facebook, Google + and Twitter to be able to respond more effectively.
I Am Not A Writer
Some people are not born writers and I get that. There are two things you can do to overcome this obstacle. One is to learn how to write. The beauty of writing on your blog is that you can use your personal style and add your own voice and perspective. The second suggestion is to consider hiring people to write for you.
- Pick topics and create headlines that your customers and readers will find interesting.
- After writing your first draft, have a trusted colleague take a look at your work and edit as needed. You may also want to hire a professional copy editor to edit your work and give you tips on how you can improve your writing.
- If you plan to hire writers, make sure you brief them properly about your brand and objectives in creating quality content.
- Make sure your writers incorporate your brand's tone of voice in their writing.
- Don't skimp. Hire great writers. Saving a little money up front isn't worth it if your content isn't worth reading.
No matter what industry you belong to, your business needs to have a blog in order grow and build an engaged customer base. I hope I have opened your eyes to what you are missing out on by debunking every excuse for not including content marketing as part of your overall marketing and communication strategy. Is there any other excuses I haven't mentioned? Share your experience here by leaving a comment below.