Some businesses find the idea of creating content on a regular basis to be overwhelming and simply dismiss it, thinking they will stick with the “easier” forms of online marketing. However, the success of other online marketing tools are also becoming dependent on your ability to deliver content.
SEO – Search Engine Optimization is the marketing strategy where businesses try to get their website at the top of search engine results. It is a difficult strategy to keep up with because the search engines keep changing their algorithms. (Google recently changed theirs again). But, the trend is an increasing emphasis on the use of keywords within substantial written content.
Social Media – Social media platforms are everywhere, and it is easy to think that you can get in front of lots of people that way, which may be true. However, the challenge with social media is staying connected to people once they find you, and converting them to customers. Having a huge following on Facebook, or Twitter, or LinkedIn is great. But if it doesn’t translate to business, then it is a waste of time. One effective way to leverage social media is to link to content that is of value to your connections. It helps you identify who is interested and capture their attention in a more focused setting, rather than the stream of short communications that reigns on social media.
Pay-Per-Click or Online Advertising – The whole point of spending money on online advertising is getting people to your website. But what will they find when they get there? If they don’t see a significant amount of content and valuable information, they won’t stick around. In fact, people are starting to assume that if you don’t have valuable content on your website, then you probably don’t have much value to offer.
Regardless of the way people find your website, they are going to be looking for something that is of value to them. Content that speaks their language, answers their questions, and addresses their problems. If they don't find it, they won't stay. So, compelling content is really the piece that links together all other forms of online marketing. Without it, the other pieces aren't nearly as effective.
So, I encourage you to start thinking seriously about how you can begin to create and use content for your business.
Many people get overwhelmed at the prospect of “creating content” because they don’t really understand what that means. They know there are lots of fancy ways to present things online, and don’t know anything about how to create them. But, when you break it down, content isn’t a complicated thing.
Two Forms of Content
Content really takes just two forms: written or spoken. That’s it. If you can write or you can speak, (and you can!) then you can create content.
It’s true that each form of content can be presented in many different ways. Written content can appear on a website, on your blog or other online platforms, as a downloadable e-book or whitepaper, or in an e-mail communication. But, the process of creating content for any of these things is the same – sit down at your computer and write!
The same is true for spoken content. It can be delivered as a live speech or presentation, a teleconference, a webinar, a video, etc… For some of these formats, additional technological tools and skills are required. But the content creation itself is simple – plan what you want to say, open your mouth, and say it.
The Third Wheel
There is a third form of content that I have to mention. I call it visual content. This form of content uses very few words, but instead presents information in a visual format. A couple of examples include infographics and slideshow presentations.
The way I look at it, this form of content is in a different category for two reasons. First, it is usually created by an anonymous third party (a designer) rather than a person whose expertise is being communicated. And second, while it can provide valuable information, it is less effective at building relationships because of the non-personal nature of the presentation.
Visual content isn’t usually a good starting place for businesses who are new at creating content because the creation process isn’t as simple as the first two forms, which is critical.
Keep It Simple
Okay, I may be oversimplifying things a bit. But I’m doing it for a reason. I want to show you that content creation is very do-able. I don’t like to see businesses shy away from content creation because they overcomplicate it in their minds.
Perhaps this sounds like you? Do you dismiss the idea of creating content because it is overwhelming to you? Then my recommendation is to start simple.
The easiest way to get started with content creation is by writing, so that is what I start with when working with clients. Establishing goals and getting into a writing habit is important for getting the consistency you need. Brainstorm some topics and write some bite-sized articles.
If you try to start with too large of a piece or an overly technical format, it’s true that you may end up being in over your head. You could become overwhelmed and then never get it off the ground. But simple forms of content take a lot less time to create and can be equally effective.
It is time to stop being overwhelmed, and just get started. It's not as complicated as you think.
Have you ever read a blog article, or the beginning of one, that made you want to fall asleep?
It might have been that you just weren't the right target audience for it. But more than likely, it was because the author dove into jargon-y descriptions or theoretical ideas. It can feel aloof and disconnected.
That's a huge problem since the whole purpose of content is to build connections!
I have discovered one easy trick that can help turn a boring blog into a relevant one that builds relationships. It can completely change the feeling of a piece. It is so easy it might seem trivial, but it makes a big difference. Here it is...
Use the pronouns "I" and "You."
That's it. Easy right? But think about it. In order to use those words, you have to know who you are talking to. It has to be clear that you know something about them in order to say "Does this sound like you?" or "What you really need is..."
When a person feels like you are talking directly to them, they are a lot more likely to listen than if you are just talking generally about a topic.
It can be even harder to use the word "I." Many people are comfortable writing about their area of expertise. Or even telling others what they should be doing. But when it comes to writing about themselves or sharing anything personal, they freeze up. Using that word means telling something about you ("Once when I was...") or giving your opinion ("I think that...").
Can you feel the difference? What it does is put a person into the content that people can relate to. Remember, people don't build relationships with content, they build relationships with other people.
So I encourage you to look for these little words when you are reading pieces online, and begin to use them more in your own articles and content.