A tale of adding value and gaining trust
Content Marketing – yet another intimidating marketing phrase aimed at scaring clients into submitting to retainer fees.
But what does it actually mean? And how will it help your business?
In short, it’s figuring out how to package your offering to the world. It’s planning and structuring your message and deciding what you want to say, how you want to say it and who you want to hear it.
Is Content actually king?
Well, I prefer to say she’s Queen, but yes, she’s kind of a big deal. We’re all a bit immune to blatant advertising. These days, marketing isn’t about who can shout the loudest, it’s about who speaks to our moral code. More choice means we can be picky about who we buy from, how we spend our money. If we don’t align to a brand and it’s messaging, chances are we won’t buy their products. We are more likely to spend our money supporting a company -or individual- who adds some value to our lives or the world as a whole, even if their services cost more than the competition.
We live in an age of peer reviews. An age where companies like Uber, Airbnb and TripAdvisor have made their millions by doing little more than providing platforms that link individuals. People are running the show, not brands.
We are emotional beings, and in these times of stress and uncertainty, we crave a little more. More connection, more meaning, something we can relate to.
So yes, Content is Queen… it is the once chance you have to attract someone’s attention on a more meaningful level. To strike a connection, show how you can make someone’s life better, on every level.
OK. LET’S DO THIS:
Step 1: Find your WHY
I know I talk about this a lot, but it’s important you guys.
The first step of creating your content marketing strategy is by getting real (really real) with who you are as an individual, a business, and figuring out your Why: your reason for being. Your Why should be woven into the fabric of your business, it should be the underlying pulse that beats behind every action.
Why did you start this business in the first place? What problem are you or your products solving? How will your service leave your customers changed for the better? Why should anyone buy from you?
Step 2: Tell your story
Don’t you just LOVE being stuck on an automatic answering system where a robotic voice assumes what you want, misinterprets and sends you back into a loop to “hear your options again”… oh how about some hold music? No of course you don’t. No one likes to feel like a number, we want a human connection, we want heart-based solutions. We want people, not brands.
That’s where you come in: in your raw, funny, flawed essence. The more personality and colour you put into your content, the more likely you will be to strike up emotion, engagement, conversation, loyalty. When people see the heart and personality behind a brand, they are far more likely to respond. And that’s what starts a relationship, which earns trust, which creates loyalty. And right there: you have a customer that not only buys your product/ service, but will shout about you to their friends, their followers, their communities.
That snowball is real and exponential.
Create a list of things that make you you: your background, skills, idiosyncrasies and character traits, your story. You might think that no one is interested in “little old me”, but trust me: that is exactly why they will be. No one wants perfect, they want to know that they’re not alone in their battles. If you tell a story that others can relate to, then you’ve got someone in your corner.
Step 3: Plant your pillars
Content Pillars are helpful to give yourself a few themes or categories in what content you put out. Picture 2-4 large, tall trees in a row, with their branches overlapping and creating a lush canopy overhead. Each tree represents a topic of content that you are putting out to your audience: they are specific in what they represent, they have a sturdy enough base so their branches can cover much ground. The branches form themes, and the content it categorized within that.
Examples of content pillars and themes for a fashion blogger could be: Skin care | Hair | Clothes
Then each pillar will have branches, like the below:
Once you’ve defined your content pillars, you can start creating content associated to each pillar & theme. You want to create content that provides value to your audience, while maintaining some focus and continuity in what you’re putting out there.
Step 4: Choose your HOW
You’re ready to start creating content, but what is the best way to relay your message?
The best thing is to find out what platforms your audience use: Is it Facebook or Instagram? Youtube or Vimeo? Do they prefer blogs or email marketing? If you only have 2 seconds (or less) to grab their attention, how are you doing this? Varied methods of content can reach a wider audience:
- Video (YouTube / Facebook live / Instagram TV & stories
- Webinars (great for reaching a wider audience and promoting list subscriptions
- PDFs (Handy how-to guides)
- Blog posts
- Email marketing
- Quiz /polls
- Photography (Instagram)
The ideal scenario is growing your fan base on multiple platforms, but I wouldn’t suggest focussing on more than 2 to start with. Once you get the hang of driving traffic you can start to use platforms in conjunction with each other: use Facebook to build your email list, which links to your blog etc.
Step 5: Create!
This is the fun part! And that’s the key here: it needs to be fun. Your audience will be able to tell instantly whether your content has been created from the heart or not, and your energy will be evidence in whatever you put out there.
No matter how or what you are creating, it needs to be beautifully curated. It needs to speak to your brand, your tone and essence.
Stick to your brand colours, decide on one (no more than two) fonts to use, and define what image style you’re after. This is your chance to attract your tribe, and with so much competition out there, if your content isn’t beautiful, heartfelt or unique – your audience will just keep scrolling.
I would suggest creating a mood board for your brand (Canva offers some templates to work with, and of course Pinterest is always a winner). Print it out and keep it somewhere handy so that you can always come back to it.
- Canva is a great online tool to create professional layouts, header images, Instagram posts etc. They also have an app so you can create on the go!
- Make sure you use high-res images of good quality. There are a few great free image-bank sites, like Pexels, Pixabay, Unsplash
Step 6: Schedule
While I am a fan of creating spontaneous content-on-the-go, there are times when this isn’t always possible. You’re only human, and sometimes your creative content juices run low. Sometimes you wake up and you just don’t wanna. And most of the time you’re stuck doing the actual grown-up things that make your business function. This is where the beauty of planning and scheduling your content comes in.
You can spend 1 day where you schedule all of your content for that month, press a button and sit back and wait for the magic to happen. I find it a WHOLE lot less draining when you don’t have that annoying, nagging pre-teen sitting on your shoulder telling you to hashtag every aspect of your life. But if you enjoy that, then go wild sweet thang! You are my idol.
Step 7: Engage
Just because you’ve set your content to run without you, doesn’t mean you can ignore it. It’s called Social Media for a reason, duh. You need to stay present, engage, start conversation, and most important: you need to listen. Ask questions, use polls, read the comments and reinforce the personality and person behind your business. Use this information to see what works, and do more of that. The results may surprise you!
The online world is the biggest gift for small business owners: it’s a place where we can create real communities that matter, it’s our chance to get our message out there, help people, make a difference. You are empowered, you have the ability to paint a picture about your offering, you have the chance to tell your story, find your tribe.
Use this gift wisely dear ones, you’ve got this 🌈 💖
I’m Pam Newman, founder of The Branded Panda. I help women like you create soul-based businesses that give them income and freedom to truly LIVE.
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