In case you hadn’t heard the buzz (if not, where have you been?) content marketing is where it’s at. Gone are the days when lazy marketers could buy a few keywords, cram a page with gobbledegook and wait for the traffic to make them a quick dime. As the internet has moved beyond its original baby stages – from a lumbering inefficient space no one really knew how to work, to a sleek, streamlined, ruthlessly efficient machine which alternately has the power to create and destroy your business – so Google, and the complicated algorithms which determine traffic and search engine rankings, have become more refined.
Trick Or Treat – The Demise of Traditional SEO and Keywords
Internet marketers over the last two decades have also evolved, and along the way have tried every trick in the book, and a lot outside the book, to cheat or get round Google and get more traffic with less effort. But it turns out the folks at Google are pretty smart – if there’s a trick that works, you can be pretty sure within the blink of an eye it will stop working and you may even be penalised because of it. As night follows day, as Google gets smart to a trick, it fails epically.
There’s a lot of moaning and groaning around the internet about this. But let me tell you something: any marketer who’s moaning about how hard it is, is not someone who’s delivering quality content. Those with awesome content don’t even bother reading about Google’s latest tweaks….do you know why? Because it’s totally irrelevant to them, they have awesome content and as a direct result of that they have great traffic.
Not only do they have great traffic, they have a great tribe because their content is useful, engaging and interesting to their very specific niche market or customers. It gets shared and the tribe grows. This is only achievable with good content. I love it because it refines the internet’s role as the greatest level playing field of all time – you, Joe Bloggs, with an awesome post, have as much chance as any of the major international companies of creating a tribe of customers and becoming popular among the exact people you want to serve.
In fact, big companies have struggled with this area of marketing. They struggle with having an authentic voice. As they have to be all things to all people they can’t risk having an opinion/standpoint, and equally a personality. Whereas the smaller internet marketers have thrived in this environment, gaining customers who genuinely get them, and like their online personality, opinions and character. Most smaller or solo marketers don’t need a million customers or more, they need at most 10,000 core individuals who love them, get their message and are totally on board with, and engaged in, their product.
This has led to the demise of the late great keywords. A few years ago these were the holy grail of internet marketing – people paid a lot for them and spent hours and hours researching long tail keywords to tailor to their business, trying to snap up that dribble of traffic which wasn’t already swallowed up by the giants in their market. Nowadays keywords may have a little tiny impact in driving that dribble of traffic. But what achieves fantastic, targeted, niche market, engaged traffic to your website and yours alone? You got it CONTENT!! Nowadays sharing’s caring folks, and you need to be writing great content to get shared across your corner of the magical interweb, and drive the kind of traffic you dream about.
Going Au Naturel and Organic with Your Traffic
Kelly Rae Roberts, one of my favourite artist entrepreneurs in the States – whose site is a mecca for creative types and wannabe artists – writes in her ebook that she didn’t know what keywords or SEO even were. She just wrote, shared her journey and her real feelings about the process of becoming an artist. This heartfelt approach to her work and blog gained her the exact readers and audience who were her absolutely perfect customers, and has resulted in her writing several books, selling hundreds of thousands of dollars of her artwork and prints, and securing national merchandising deals. All because she wrote her heart out. Now, her little blog which she started on blogspot for no cost, gets hundreds of thousands of visitors a month. And more importantly she gets to fulfil her soul’s purpose on a daily basis: making art, helping other creatives find their wings, and supporting her family in comfort.
Of course you can wing it, as Kelly initially did, but if you are making the leap to internet marketer entrepreneurship you will also be helped by a solid strategy. While I’m a firm believer that content marketing is not a paint by numbers thing – you can’t fake it – you have to be genuinely enthused about your topic – I do think you will be well served by having an excellent strategy to make sure a) that you’re hitting your goals in terms of content production and b) that there is a natural journey or direction to your content – taking your readers on a learning curve rather than meandering all over the place.
So in the light bright new world of 2013 here are the must do’s when it comes to creating that strategy.
1) Absolutely Non-Negotiable Must-Have for Strong Content
Love your product, business, website or service. If you don’t love what you’re writing about you won’t transmit that authentic feeling, you won’t impassion people, and your enthusiasm won’t be infectious. In this day and age – when people are more cynical, hyper brand-aware, and tired of marketing-speak and the hard sell – it is absolutely of the utmost importance that you love your topic and love your business. Otherwise that will show up in your content, and the energy of that lack of feeling will permeate the whole project. Customers will pick up on that whether they are aware of it or not.
2) Find Your Voice
This isn’t really a strategy as such – it’s something you just have to do for yourself – but it is critically important. Don’t try and put on a personality, or jazz up the way you speak, over time and in order to build strong authentic relationships and contacts, you need to be utterly consistent in your voice, and authentically you. Keeping up an act is too draining, and feels false for everybody, and is likely to trip you up in the end.
3) Make a Plan for the Year
At the start of the year take the time to really think about where you want to go with your content this year. Think about where you want your blog or website to be at the end of the year. What broad reaching themes do you want to have covered? Working backwards from the big themes, ask yourself what building blocks do your readers need to achieve the big picture. Breaking it down further, what specific things do people need to know in order to get your ideas? Or to push their business on with your guidance?
Also ask yourself what it is you want to share? What gets you fired up? What do you feel you have a special, unique or powerful voice on? Chances are that is what will be most interesting and useful for people, so make sure that’s the direction your plan goes in.
4) Structure your Content
Have a weekly structure to your content – so readers know what to expect and you will get a feel for the ideas which resonate most with people. Some bloggers do this by having for example a specific day for a specific post eg. “marketing monday” or “competition Friday” this can be useful for you, keeping a rhythm and pattern to your posts and helping you with content creation and ideas. Here on the blog we release the video podcast every Tuesday (in most cases) and try to write often.
Make sure you keep your content and your online profiles high by offering giveaways, competitions and other incentives which are fun for people to participate in and drive engagement. If you already have great content, a few incentives to share it along are often enough to get the ball rolling and get your stuff going viral and working hard.
6) Investigate new media methods
Content as a whole just keeps on getting more creative, and there are now so many ways to engage with your core readership or clients, it’s a whole post in itself. It suffices to say that video, particularly on mobile, is one of the best and most effective ways to share content and really get your message, personality and brand across. But it’s also worth keeping an eye out for some of the great media apps, sites, and creative programs out there which keep content getting easier to produce and more creative. Some of my favourites are:
Webdoc or UrTurn
Which lets you create really easy multimedia posts to share and get creative with. Create memes, messages for your friends, brand messages, or just get creative with ways to share images.
One of the newest ways of creating new content, from the peeps at Twitter, this just started to hit the airwaves and gain traction – It allows users to tweet short videos creatively compiled, and adds a whole nother dimension to Twitter. Seems to be an indicator to me that video sharing is only getting faster and faster.
6) Identify Other Tribes, or Untapped Micro Niches Within Your Niche
The key to content marketing is having great content and then creating a great tribe within your niche. So identifying your niche is key, and once you’ve done that the best possible way to build your little corner of the weto engage. That’s right — the best content in the world is no use unless you’ve got people to share it with and who care about it.
As the saying goes “does a tree falling in the woods make a sound if there’s no one there to hear it?” Find your peopleps, find where they hang out, find what gets them going, and then engage, engage, engage – the secret to great content sharing is people and relationships and relating. So get going, building those bridges, areas of shared interest, and ultimately the relationships which will underpin your business and create your internet marketing organically.
As it becomes more and more clear every day, the only thing which is really truly important at this point in internet marketing is authenticity – and you have a great chance as an internet marketer to use that to your advantage and create really fantastic content people want to share. Ultimately you must deliver on the promise of entertaining, educating or serving people in this way in order to achieve your goals. If your content does one, or even better all, of those things then you can bet that it will get shared and you will start to build relationships and reputation off the back of it.
Don’t be shy. Be prepared to put your heart and soul, what you really feel into your content, and the people who are meant to be your customers will get your message. Don’t try and be Coca Cola and appeal to everyone. Be truly, authentically you, and the opposite of a Coca Cola or Nike – don’t just do it, do it with soul.
QUESTION: what’s your plan to bring content marketing into your business and turn your lead generation machine on fire?