You've probably read about, heard about and watched videos about content marketing.
The concept is pretty simple on the surface...
Create content. Earn people's attention. Build brand recognition. Get more sales.
That's pretty much how it works, but there are usually a few big hangups that prevent most companies from reaching the sales portion of the equation.
A big hangup is patience. I've bumped into a few business owners and marketers that figured a couple months and about six blog posts would result in new sales. The odds of that happening, even for established brands, is near zero. Just about any content effort takes years and consistency.
Another hangup is quantity. There is a push in the content world for quality. And certainly quality is good, but just like with anything in life it takes quantity to learn what quality is and then build the skills to do it.
Yet another hangup is resources. Most companies underestimate the resources it takes to create content on a consistent schedule. As a result, most that start end up letting the creation lapse usually between 6-12 months.
With those things in mind, here are some tips for creating content that will help you both in the short-term and the long-term. There are additional content marketing efforts, but these seem to offer the most consistent opportunity in the past and in the coming years.
One note on the short-term items, these involve ways to get in front of audiences that already exist, like an actor going on late night tv to promote a new movie. But "short-term" is relative. You may see positive results from consistent effort in a year while with something like podcasting or blogging it'll be a few years.
All are worthwhile. Including if you do them at the same time. But I just wanted to mention that short-term doesn't mean, "tomorrow". It means, "maybe within a few months or a year".
These are content marketing efforts that can yield shorter term results. The reason is that you're working to get in front of audiences that already exist. That doesn't mean it's easy. It still takes patience. It's a bit of a numbers game. And you improve with time.
1. Podcast Guesting
This has been very common with book authors since podcasting has really taken off. And that makes sense. Authors work usually for several years on a book. Their publishers want big initial sales so they book the author on podcasts leading up and shortly after the release.
But this can work well for business owners and marketers as well. There is just about a podcast for every industry these days. And usually several and the numbers keep increasing.
Set a regular schedule for 1) finding podcasts, 2) pitching those podcasts and 3) being on those podcasts.
It's consistent effort. It's more effort than most realize, but the payoff can be big especially if you get in front of a great and relevant audience and wow them with your stories, tips and personality.
2. Guest Blog Posting
This has been around a little longer than podcast guesting. At least in the online world. But it's basically the same principle. You identify industry blogs, figure out title ideas to pitch those blogs and then once you're approved write the post.
This can be a tough process. You'll get turned down. Even after you write a post you might get turned down. One month you might send 20 pitches and get 1 published. Another month you might get 0. The next 5.
But over time it can really help raise your brand profile.
3. Interviewing, Quoting, Contributing
For this one I'm thinking of how Help A Reporter works. Everyday you receive emails with writers looking for content. If you can provide content you respond and often times you'll be quoted for an article.
Sometimes it can lead to full interviews or even guest writing opportunities. It's a consistent effort, like the others here, but very worthwhile in the long-term. More brand and name mentions. More eyeballs and potential customers.
4. Social Media Listening/Q&A
Most businesses will post content on their social profiles. Usually not often enough, but that's another topic.
Most businesses don't listen or seek out content and answer that content on social media.
What I mean would be identifying about five hashtags relevant to your industry. Following those hashtags to find questions people are asking and then providing your expert answer for the people seeking it.
It's a great way to offer value and you'll usually get much more engagement this way than by just posting other content on your profile.
These are long-term efforts. Usually years. Look at your favorite blogs and podcasts. Most have been around for years (unless it was already an established brand). That's the reality of content marketing, which turns some away, but others know that because it takes awhile that it's an opportunity for those that pursue it seriously.
Blogging has been around for just about as long as the Internet. It gets a reputation for being something akin to journaling or diary writing. And certainly some of it is, but for business purposes it's been more about sharing useful information that entertains and educates people as they seek out that type of information.
I think that simple concept, along with the fact that when you blog you publish the content on your own site where it's in your control, means blogging will have value for the long-term.
For most businesses, blogging is difficult.
Don't focus on sales. Focus on questions your audience is asking and provide the best answer you can.
Publish consistently. At least once a week.
Do it for the long-term. Take a 5-10 year outlook.
Look at how the blogging affects your brand recognition. It's rare for someone to read a post and then buy from you. But it's common for your blog posts to become well read and as a result your homepage rankings improve leading to more sales. But unless you're paying attention it's easy to miss the role blogging plays in those rankings.
Podcasting reminds me of the early days of blogging. That's a big reason why I think it's going to be around for the long-term. Eventually I think search engines will be able to parse through all the podcasting content and help people find content they seek. For example, you could search for something like "unclog a kitchen sink" and get a result for a podcast that interviews a plumber. And it might even skip you ahead to the part in the interview where the plumber talks specifically about unclogging kitchen sinks.
Also like blogging is the fact that podcasting is a long-term effort. Take a long-term focus in the sense that you want the content you create to be relevant today and ten years from now.
Do it consistently. It's a lot of work, but very much worth it.
Video is the other form of content (text, audio, video). YouTube has proven to be the best place to create video content and get exposure.
Again, consistency is key. One video may get you some exposure. But 100 videos increase your odds greatly plus you learn over time what works and what doesn't.
One way to approach video is to document what you do. More people these days are hiring someone to record what they do and then edit it into little episodes. Kind of like reality television.
One example would be golf coaches. Some record specific tips, but others record the lessons they give students. I think the latter is more valuable.
Content marketing is a great way to increase the sales for your business. But the biggest takeaway is that it's almost always a long-term play. If you don't have the patience for it you're setting yourself up for failure. But if you do have the patience, it can provide some big payoff. Those are the success stories you've seen in the business world.