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Business Advice: Is Your Business Using Content Marketing?

Business Advice: Is Your Business Using Content Marketing?

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By Alyssa Penman

High Desert Daily Business Reporter

(Victor Valley)–There are plenty of gloomy updates from traditional media on the state of our economy, but we, as a community, can choose to look for the great things we CAN do, right now, to improve our economic outlook. In a new weekly column, the High Desert Daily is bringing positive news and ideas that may be useful for your High Desert business. We welcome your comments, ideas and questions in the comments and for future columns to Media@highdesertdaily.com.

Don’t pitch to me, educate me! This is the cry of today’s consumer as the proliferation of free content has created an expectation of education. Whether you are selling widgets or real estate, the money goes to the guy who helps us understand the most about our decision. Almost always, this is achieved through a strategy of content marketing.

So what is content marketing? According to Junta42:

Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.

This isn’t confined to the sales process. It is part of a broader conversation about your industry, product, or cause. Educational content can be short enough to fit in a Facebook update or text message, longer like a blog post or even a book length white paper. Generally it is available for free to anyone on the internet, possibly after entering an email address or liking a Facebook page.

This is not “‘interruption’ marketing such as television commercials or direct mail; content marketing involves delivering requested information with independent value that creates trust, credibility, and authority for the business that provides that value.” Don’t plan to post press releases or brochures thinly disguised as “content.” Consumers are far too savvy for that.

Is your business trying to attract more attention online? Here are some tips to make sure you are prepared for success:

  1. Its worse to use a fire, ready, aim approach. As with so many things, take some time to get familiar with what others are doing for content marketing, including your competitors and companies you admire.
  2. Do fewer pieces that are awesome than many pieces that are meh. Quality over quantity. Even if you write one kick-butt white paper and promote it everywhere, it will work better than 100 cookie cutter blog posts.
  3. Don’t have a lot of time? Consider how you can share really useful information through Facebook or Twitter. Limiting your content to 140 or 420 characters forces you to keep it short and sweet. Mechanics, how about some car maintenance tips? Salons, consider beauty tips! Food purveyors, think about short recipes or defining common terms for newbies. You know a lot and can share that content in smaller bites.
  4. Diversify your channels. Include content in your email newsletters, social media postings, via text messages, in print in your store or at events, and of course, on your own website. You don’t have to be a professional blogger to create compelling content.
  5. Speaking of compelling content, if writing is not your strength, work with someone who can help. But don’t dump the task to them entirely! They need the years of professional learning, experience and wisdom locked in your brain. We marketing types are great at massaging a message, but you have to give us something substantial to work with for it to be compelling!

What does all this content marketing actually do for your company? If you are finding customers online in any way, you need to show up in searches. Every post you put up will ultimately improve your chances of being found and then trusted. Even if you are a hyperlocal business, like my business, RelyLocal, consumers will search for your address, hours, or reviews online. When they do so, all this great educational content will come up too, providing a more interesting and trustworthy image. It is not a get-rich-quick method, certainly. However, I have not found any method for getting people “in the door” that is foolproof or quick. Building a reputation takes time but, in the words of Publilius Syrus, “a good reputation is more valuable than money.”

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Alyssa Penman is the owner of a local small business, RelyLocal.com – Victorville, CA. An earlier version of this article appeared on her blog, Local Business Spotlight.

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