As a small business owner and/or marketer I’m sure you are aware that your audience is online searching for information and using social media to connect and share content. And to be successful you need to be regularly publishing quality content, content that will help drive more traffic to your website, increase lead conversions and help nurture your leads into customers.
But do you know how to really stand out from the all the noise, to build a brand that people love and publish content they will love, that is guaranteed to set you apart from your competitors?
Sounds easy, but the reality is — it’s difficult. It means researching, time and patience. Often the pressure to get results quickly, and on a tight budget, mean you don’t have the luxury of time to craft the correct message.
The purpose of this article is to help you be a better marketer, by publishing content that will build your brand and your business. Here are seven strategies to help you:
1. Focus on building a brand people will love
Review all your marketing strategies and practices. If the majority of your content is based solely on your business goals, and not a true understanding of how it adds value to your audience, then you need to make changes. For example, if you publish a weekly blog or monthly email and just push your services, you need to revisit your content strategy and ask yourself – Why would the recipient open this email and how does it help them?
2. Know to whom you are speaking
This might sound obvious – but often marketers identify their target audience based on information like company description, job title, need and age. The truth is you need to dig deeper to really understand your target audience – known as buyer personas. The only way to get this accurate is to have conversations with people who do and don’t buy from you. Find out; how they spend their day, what’s important to them and their values. For example: the person who uses your product (or service) will be looking for different information to the decision maker or purchasing officer.
3. Engage and build a rapport with your audience
This is really important. Make it a priority to spend at least 15 minutes a day engaging with your audience. To find your audience online use Google searches, Google alerts, online news sites, industry forums, and social media monitoring tools like HubSpot, Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, and Nimble. Connect with these people on the relevant social media sites both personally and with your company profiles, listen, engage and build a rapport with them. And make sure you respond to any and all mentions of your company (and brands).
4. Listen to your audience
In addition to having conversations with your audience online, ask questions to learn more about what information is helpful for them. You can do this via email or on sites like Facebook and LinkedIn or use a tool like Survey Monkey. My recommendation is to keep questions to a minimum – say 3, so the recipient can answer them within 5 minutes or less. Mirrorwave is an amazing service that monitors customer sentiment and satisfaction over time by sending out a 3-question survey in several waves.
5. Publish content for which your audience is searching
Use your knowledge of your buyer personas, insights from conversations and surveys, and rapport that you’ve built to identify the right content for your audience. Create an editorial calendar to help you plan ahead so you can be strategic with your content. Mix up your content with videos, images, ebooks, and blog articles. Use the right style for the right audience — educational, entertaining, professional, edgy.
6. Publish targeted and timely content
Rather than sending the same message to all your contacts, tailor your message and content to where they are in the buyer’s cycle. Again this may take time to set up properly but definitely worth the effort. For example if you’ve identified that 80% of the leads convert after watching a certain webinar, then send out an email inviting them to watch the webinar before you send out a sales offer like a discount or free trial. If you know leads who download an ebook are more likely to convert after connecting on social media, your next offer should be to connect on social media.
7. Patience and Planning
As small business owners and marketers make the switch to online marketing tactics and understand the value of content marketing, they also need to make the switch to long term strategies. Remember that with traditional marketing, when it stops, so do the inquiries. But with online marketing it keeps working for you, building in momentum.
Stacie Chalmers is the owner of The Inbound Marketing Company, a Silver Level HubSpot Partner that helps small business owners get better results from their marketing. Stacie’s weekly Inbound Marketing Blog is a valuable resource and must read for any one who serious about building their business.