If, like many business owners and marketers, content is top of your list of things to get better at this year, then this post is for you.
You’re not alone. This week we kicked off a quick survey to see what is at the top of small business’ marketing To Do list at the start of the new year. Interestingly the challenge of ‘creating better content’ is coming out as top priority. Reasons we are hearing so far include:
- We need to attract and drive more sales
- We want to use it to build better relationships with prospects and customers
- It’ll help us keep up with competitors
- We must feed our new automated marketing system to drive more leads
- It’ll better inform clients of what we do
- Good content will motivate prospects to become clients
Like many businesses, most likely you’ve dabbled with content as a tool to drive business development, but perhaps to date it’s been a bit boom and bust. You have plenty of ideas but it’s hard to find the time and motivation to turn these into content and get it out there. Or you’re not completely sure you’re creating the right content, and lack the confidence in your writing skills so it becomes a bit half-hearted.
We hear from many people who are stuck at the start line. There’s so much you could share that you don’t know where to begin. You know content marketing is a long haul and you’re concerned that you won’t keep it up. You want a plan, a calendar, a system for creating content – and the lack of one stops you from even starting.
Our survey respondents know there’s a correlation between better content and greater business success but how do you take action to up the content game in 2016? How do you turn this into the year where the right content helps your business to fly?
Here are a few simple jump off points from us.
3 simple exercises to help you kickstart your content
Time to make that change and commit to improving your content for better business results this year. How do you do that?
There are many things you can focus on but to kick things off but here are three of the most powerful.
1. Give yourself and the team a motivating reason for focusing on your content
Business is just that – busy. There are always many things competing for your attention, and there will be many opinions on what takes priority. Work with your team to pull together a shared vision of WHY you need to focus on improving your content this year. Driving sales is evidently a good one but it’s not the only one.
In our current group of content mastermind group students this varies. Focusing on content to improve internal processes and productise the business or to win back lapsed customers are two new goals on us, but are both brilliant and motivating reasons for putting content at the top of the agenda.
Your reason will be unique to you. What are you trying to change? The more specific you can be with your goal the better.
>> Put this into practice. Write down WHY you will invest on improving your content this year. State what you want to change – define where you are moving FROM and where you want to get TO*? What do you want your content to do for the business?
2. Ask your customers what they’d value
Get feedback from 5-10 valued customers. Make a list, call them up; ask good questions and listen, hard. They’ll tell you about the real challenges they want you to solve and what help they’d appreciate from you. They crave better content from you too. When we went through this process for one of our clients – a UK consulting company – their top client specifically requested better and more frequent material from them to help him explain and justify to others in his firm why they were his chosen partners.
>> Put this into practice. Set up 5-10 feedback calls today so that by the end of the month you have the information you need to get going. Read this blog for more information on the value of feedback.
3. Make yourself accountable for publishing, regularly
Buddy up or form a group of like-minded people and hold each other to account for producing and sharing great content this year. Set yourself a rhythm for the year – what are you committing to? 1 blog a week, or 2 a month for starters? A newsletter every month (good plan if so), a deeper piece of content or video every quarter? How many case studies? Make a plan and use your buddy or group to help you stick to it. Make it a habit this year. Get your content out there!
>> Put this into practice. Call up a friend or set up a group of other like-minded business people to hold each other to account. Set yourselves the task of publishing better content this year and form a plan.
Yes, it’s not easy – you know this, but simple steps with your content can make a HUGE difference. Stop paddling in the shallow end. Put your neck out, stretch your wings and start to fly. The results will surprise and delight you.
One of our content mastermind Pub School students neatly explains the value he’s seen from taking action:
“We’ve finally started creating content and I feel proud of what we’re doing. We know the content we’re creating is useful for our clients, it’s useful for us, so it will be useful for other people too. It’s not ‘look at us’ marketing, it’s just being helpful. And great things come from being helpful.”
There is real business and personal value in improving your content. We’ll help you as much as we can this year.
- Share your goals. Email me or leave a comment below – the act of writing your goals down and sharing them will help you make it real.
- Download our Content Marketing Strategy Workbook – it will guide you through the thinking to help you create a working content plan.
- Join Pub School in Bristol if you can. These small supportive content mastermind groups are a fantastic way to get into action and up your game. If you can’t get to beautiful Bristol and want to set up your own group, drop us a line – we’re putting together packs and a programme to guide you through the process from afar.
And the very best of luck with your content this year.
Sonja and Sharon
* ‘From and To’ – taken from Jane Northcote’s excellent book ‘Making Change Happen – implementing business change, a practical guide‘
And big thanks to my super-talented sister Kristina Hughes for the beautiful photo to kick off the blog this year.