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The Case For Content Marketing

Avatar for John Locke

John Locke is a SEO consultant from Sacramento, CA. He helps manufacturing businesses rank higher through his web agency, Lockedown Design & SEO.

I understand your hesitation to try something different.

You may be reluctant to start a blog. You may not see the point of making videos or starting a podcast. Perhaps you see it as a waste of time. You find it difficult to conceive how this could possibly improve your business. But content marketing is increasingly becoming the main reason some businesses are perceived as experts in their field, and others are not.

I already know your main objection— that there is that there is no time to write. You don’t have time to edit and publish. You’re already working a million hours a week doing everything else. But that’s exactly the reason you need to commit to content marketing. Because everyone else in your field is saying the same thing.

Time and time again, I see the clients who publish quality content regularly are reaching their target audience and driving traffic to their site. The companies that are constantly publishing have a greater brand awareness than their competition, and are looked to as experts in their industries.

Increased publishing leads to more results showing in search queries, which leads to more website traffic. Once they get the traffic, they get the leads. These leads are warmed by the mountains of informative content that shows expertise and provides answers to relevant questions. Those leads are now ready to sign on the line that is dotted.

This Could Be You — If You Want It To Be

See, here’s the thing. Starting a publishing schedule is easy, keeping it going — day after day, week after week — is difficult. Many people I run across are looking for a magic bullet that will solve everything instantly. Everyone wants to rocket to the top of Google for all their industry keywords in a few weeks. The reality is content publishing is a long game that few people are prepared to win. The majority of businesses either never try or get disheartened when their expectations don’t match reality, and they give up shortly into their publishing run.

The market is there for everyone, but hardly anyone wants to take it. The market I am talking about is time and attention.

In It To Win It

That’s where you have an advantage. You don’t want your website to stagnate, you want it to grow, and you’re willing to do whatever it takes to get there. The cold hard truth that you will face is publishing site content is a top priority, even when you think you don’t have time. Especially when you think you don’t have time.

No matter how many hours there are in a day, they tend to fill up with things to do. But guess what? The people we idolize have the same number of hours in a day as we do — no more, no less. Sometimes delegation is the answer. Some companies are smaller, and it feels overwhelming to add another task to your list. It’s easy to give up quickly on publishing content because the flood of people coming to your business isn’t instantaneous. But every person who ever made their mark publishing on the web went through the same uphill battle.

Writing a few blog posts is easy. Sustained content strategy is hard.

The Busy Trap

Businesses that believe in publishing content but fear they don’t have time for it get stuck in a weird head space. Some turn to SEO companies that create keyword laden articles for a monthly fee. They may reach out to someone to ghost write articles for them.

But these are dangerous practices, and can actually do more harm than good. Outsourcing blog posts usually ends in frustration. 90% of SEO companies deliver straight-up crap that sounds like a machine wrote it. Those posts will never convince a single person to make a purchase or sign up for a newsletter.

Delegating content creation to a trusted team member is a good solution. Whoever is responsible for publishing should understand your business, possess the ability to communicate, and have adequate time to produce content.

The goal is for you to earn more revenue. How does publishing on your blog, YouTube and social media help with that?

It’s All About Perception

You want to be perceived as the expert in your industry. Even when you cannot outspend the competition, you can always out-teach the competition. This means becoming the first name that people think of when they have a particular problem.

Time-proven methods for establishing credibility include publishing books, writing a newspaper columns, hosting a radio show, or sponsoring community events.

Today there are more ways than ever to attain the visibility that shows you are an expert.

The New Media

Podcasting allows anyone to broadcast their message to the world. My friend Tim is a podcasting veteran who can help you get set up and guide you each step of the way.

Producing videos for YouTube or Vimeo makes it easier for many people to hear what you have to say. If you’re producing videos yourself, I’d encourage you to subscribe to James Wedmore, Tim Schmoyer and Gideon Shalwick. These channels provide a wealth of information for succeeding on the YouTube platform.

Blogging is a proven way to answer questions your potential customers are asking. Publishing one article a week gives you 52 new chances a year to prove your expertise and show people your business is the right fit for them. Text content is also the easiest for search engines to archive.

Social media is a great way to drive traffic to your site, and reinforce your message. You can build rapport with your clients and build brand awareness. Figuring out which platforms will give you the greatest reach depends on your industry and your audience.

Each of these is a channel to reach people. Finding the best one for you depends on your own strengths and weaknesses, and where your target audience finds new content online.

The web has lowered the requirements for publishing, and anyone can do it. This is both a good and bad thing. It means your competition is everywhere, but it also means your audience is everywhere.

It’s About Growth, Not Stagnation

They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Thousands of businesses are unhappy with where they are in their market, yet trudge on, never changing a single aspect of their marketing strategy. These are usually companies that are excellent at what they do, but only their current customers know it.

Where do new customers come from? Word-of-mouth is a good source, but it requires a one-to-one interaction. What about potential customers that don’t already know who you are? How do they decide who to hire for a service?

People don’t make decisions based on how good you are;
they make decisions based on your marketing.
– Laura Roeder

How do people find solutions to problems? They Google their questions and receive answers. If you publish once a week, that’s 52 questions a year that you can answer for your potential customer base. What happens when people see your website over and over again when they research your industry? They begin to see you as the expert in your field.

This is the part that is impossible to fake. Your business expertise — your insights, your knowledge — is exactly what customers need to see. They begin to realize you are the best choice for their need.

Inauthentic Content Hurts Your Business

Most businesses have an idea of what keywords and search phrases they want to be found for. Where these businesses misstep is hiring a firm to “spin up” one article a week for them. These articles may get search traffic in the short-term, but if they don’t sound natural when read out loud, you might as well not bother publishing them at all.

Before going full blast with your content marketing campaign, you must determine what effect you want the content to have. Your content should reflect what you stand for, what you want to be known for, and speak to those you’re trying to reach. You have to think about what it is that sets you apart. This is impossible to do if you let someone else determine that for you.

Be extremely cautious about outsourcing your blog posts. If the ghost writer doesn’t fully understand your business and your audience, you risk doing more harm than good. When you lose your authentic voice, your brand becomes diluted. Once people lose trust in your brand, it is difficult to change that perception.

People Can Sense Authenticity

Once you define your brand, stay on course with that definition. Strong brands are not ambiguous. Strong brands send consistent messages. Diluted brands are indecisive and all over the board with their messages.

Being authentic means being true to your values. That authenticity comes out in everything you do and say. It is important to tell people what your business is all about by publishing regularly. It is not merely to market your business, but to find others who believe in what you do, and who your message resonates with deeply.

If it looks good, you’ll see it.
If it sounds good, you’ll hear it.
If it’s marketed right, you’ll buy it.
But if it’s real…you’ll feel it.
– Kid Rock

Poorly aligned content won’t convert well. But if your company voice resonates with the reader, they will respond.

Summary

Content creation is something that must be budgeted for like anything else. For smaller companies, this can be the equalizer between themselves and larger competition. Keeping a consistent schedule ensures that content will get published. Budgeting time and resources, and assigning specific people to get it done is necessary.

Larger, content driven sites dominate search results because they publish specific articles, and publish often. To get traction in any industry, just start, and stick to it. Very few companies have figured out that publishing consistently is the most reliable way to dominate search and become perceived as an expert.

If you’re in a business that needs rejuvenation, will you advocate the case for content marketing to your boss? If your business already believes in content marketing, how do you make time to publish regularly?

Avatar for John Locke

John Locke is a SEO consultant from Sacramento, CA. He helps manufacturing businesses rank higher through his web agency, Lockedown Design & SEO.

2 comments on “The Case For Content Marketing

  1. Brilliant post, John. Content marketing is indeed the main source of branding and reputation online.

    You also made a great point about who should do the content creating. I think that it’s very difficult to create content for a field you know nothing about. So difficult, even, that any SEO service that includes content writing should be considered with a serious grain of salt. I’ve been approached by clients about providing content writing and I always decline. Why? Because I tried it once and just couldn’t do it. I had no experience in the field and I wasn’t comfortable with what I was able to produce. Now, I always explain to clients that “the best person to write for your audience and potential customers is you because you know your market better than the people you’d hire to do it instead.” Unless I’m hired to write about WordPress, development or something related, it’s too time-consuming to learn the field and be able to write about it at a professional level.

    1. Thanks for joining the posse, Ren! I’m a big fan of your writing. I really feel what you’re saying about writing for industries you’re not familiar with. While it’s possible to boil down all your conversations with a client into one or possibly two good articles, beyond that, it’s impossible to produce quality content unless you’re already immersed in that subject.

      An authentic voice matters. I dislike writing ongoing content for businesses to boost SEO, because it sounds like me, not them.

      This also has a secondary effect. When business owners ask for SEO content, they are looking for the quick fix to get more inbound traffic. But they are asking to be hands-off, and not be involved. Money is easier to give than time, because time takes discipline. When someone involved in the day-to-day of the business is writing, they have insights that I don’t have. They speak in a voice that belongs to that business. And they are flexing that writing muscle. The more you write, the easier it gets.

      Content marketing is a long haul though, and many people seek the quick rocket to the top of search. But the search results are a moving target.

      It’s more important to get low traffic and connect with the people who find you than have heavy traffic and connect with no one. When you resonate with your customers, they make buying decisions, because they feel at ease.

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