"Whether you want to believe it or not, content is the secret weapon to all your marketing efforts." -- William Ballard
By William Ballard
Here you are… you’ve just finished slaving over a month’s worth of content for your business… now what do you do?
The fact of the matter is this: Good content not only helps to increase brand awareness, but it also proves to your customers that you have their best interest at heart.
However, the value of each content piece you create really determines what you do after you post it.
In short, content marketing is really more about consulting than it is about selling. Gone are the days when consumers would come into a store and ask a salesclerk for information about a product or service.
Instead, consumers educate themselves about a product or service by reading up on it online before ever going in-store. And the only purpose they have for walking into a store, and talking with a salesclerk, is to make the financial exchange and walk out with the product.
Therefore, the sell is being made in-store, but the consulting, the education, the information gathering is being done through content.
When you understand this truth about content marketing, how you leverage your published content is what will really make or break your marketing efforts.
Here are five ways to put your published content to work for you:
1. Collaborate With Other Influencers
Julian Birkinshaw and Jonas Ridderstrale, in their book Fast/Foward: Make Your Company Fit For The Future (AFF), discuss the progression from the Industrial age to the Information age, and onto what's to come next. Within it's pages they highlight four interesting paradoxes that every company is assured to face in the New age that is to come.
There are some that believe, that because of the increase of SMART technology, the dumber we are becoming. And there may be some truth to this assumption, but consider the words of Julian and Jonas:
"Even the most brilliant scientist can master only a tiny fraction of the knowledge that exist. While the human race is becoming collectively more knowledgeable every year, each of us (as individuals) is becoming relatively more ignorant. Every morning, when we wake up, we are in relative terms a little bit more stupid than the day before."
With that said, there's a thing called The Flynn Effect -- named after New Zealand Professor of Political Studies, James Flynn -- that describes how our individual intelligence evolves over time. It suggests that most of us are little bit more intelligent or knowledgeable than our parents. And no matter how much you want to believe that your kids will be (or are) not as smart as you due to their immersion in SMART technology, the data says otherwise.
In fact, the Effect refers to the sustained liner increase of IQ-scores that have been recorded overtime. Researches have found that, in general terms, each successive generation is a little bit smarter than the previous one, with about three IQ points higher after every ten year period. The reason for this phenomenon varies from better nutritional habits and smaller families to better education (whether you want to believe it or not) and superior gen pro-creation.
Now, with all of that in mind, the good news is that the human race is poised to continue its growth in knowledge and academic intelligence, however. Because of the influx amount of knowledge that is available through books, gurus, Internet search engines and the infinity of blogs that are accessible... unlike the age of Aristotle... it's impossible for any one person to keep up.
You can think of all of these knowledge based resources as the fuel required for accelerated change. In fact, Kevin Kelly, founder of Wired magazine and Google's chief economist Hal Varian, have been calculating the data of worldwide information and have found that, for many decades, information as been growing at an annual rate of 66 percent.
As a result of all of this hurricanic wave of information, it is important to understand that our advances in knowledge and intelligence are highly dependent upon the increase in our ability to collaborate. Where, back in the day, breakthrough ideas were awarded to sole individuals, in the New age that is to come, this is no longer the case. For breakthroughs to occur in the New age, awards will be increasingly linked to teams.
In fact, did you know that the scientific department at CERN, who demonstrated the existence of Higgs Boson, is made up of a team of 5,154 scientist in all? And even with the award of Nobel prizes, back in 2015 the physics, chemistry, and medicine prizes were all shared by multiple scientist.
According to Julian and Jonas:
"For us as individuals this paradox [the more I know, the less I understand] implies that we need to develop both the depth and the breadth of our competence. In a competitive world, we need our special area of expertise to help us stand out from the pack. But we also need the ability to work collaboratively, so that our fragment of knowledge can be combined effectively with the knowledge of others -- the ability to maintain a reasonable level of understanding in multiple fields of study."
Many have said, "It's not about what you know, but who you know that matters," but I would have to disagree. You see, it's not just about who you know, what you know is equally important as well. I mean, think about it... what good is knowing someone that can get you a sit at the table if you have nothing to offer, or have nothing to bring to the table?
As you can see, both knowing someone and having knowledge in a certain field of study are equally important. This is why, here at William Ballard Enterprise, LLC, we publish a few guest contributions to our site on a monthly basis in order to give our growing community the chance to engage with external insights and perspectives. This is the simplest way to increase the exposure of other influencers and thought-leaders in your field, while at the same time establishing you and your brand as a truthful and reliable source.
In Fast/Forward (AFF), Julian and Jonas go on to say, "When success is a matter of getting people with the right 'know-how' to collaborate, 'know-who' also becomes a critical factor to consider. The smart thing to do, for even the smartest of people, is to hone your social skills so that others want to team up with you and complement your strengths with their own. Today, more than ever, Lone Ranger needs Tonto."
Now, when it comes to succeeding as Content Creators and Social Media Marketers in the New age, the winners will be those Content Marketers that move more quickly into the mindset of collaboration. To that end, as information and knowledge is poised to continue accelerating faster and faster, the only way to possibly keep up is through collaboration.
If there was any invaluable advice I could give you about leveraging your content and increasing your social media influence, I would have to remind you that your net worth is highly dependent upon your network.
You see, in a lot of cases, because we have been so immersed in SMART technology, the more our social skills have suffered. In short, the reason a lot of college grads are not succeeding right out of the gate is because no one has taught them (or helped them) to develop one of the core skills necessary for success, and that is the art of networking.
In fact, I've found that a good majority of the overall workforce in America has the attitude, "I am here to do a job, not make friends," which is just complete nonsense to me. I mean, when was the last time you heard a high school student say, "I come to school to learn, not make friends?" Not many, I'm sure.
What has changed about us from the time we leave high school to the time we go to college and ultimately enter the workforce? In high school, it was/is primarily all about socializing, and learning takes a huge gap to second place. In college, that changes a little bit. As college students, the more we begin to see how important knowledge and learning is, but we still emphasize an active and healthy social life.
But, for some reason, when we enter the workforce, doing our job becomes more important that nurturing new relationships. And then it is all a wonder why we hate our jobs. Please understand, I'm not implying that our jobs are not important, because they are. But what I'm trying to get across to you is that our ability to develop are social skills are just as important.
I teach more about developing the art of networking and relationship nurturing more in-depth within our companies foundational Writer's Round Table Mastermind. Inside, I cover the three foundational pillars to personal and professional achievement -- the art of networking being only one of those pillars.
During this one component of the course or program, we go in-depth about how to grow an Influence Marketing Dream Team of 100 (or More) Content Creators that can't wait to collaborate and promote your products, services, and content.
In short, this particular lesson is all about the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you. I show you the exact steps to finding knowledgeable influencers in your field of study and how to persuade them to collaborate with you so that they want to team up with you and complement their strengths with your own.
2. Create Content That Answers The Exact Concerns/Questions Those in Your Market Have
After going through several years of business school, some of the best advice I can give you is something I wish someone would have told me prior to going into business for myself.
The fact of the matter is when I first started creating content, I only wanted to write what I wanted to write — and I was expecting readers to just start busting down the doors to read what I wrote.
Truth be told, the old saying, “If you build it, they will come” is nothing more than a huge myth. You see, here is 8+ years of business school crammed into just one sentence: The key to building and growing and prosperous business is by finding a hot market, asking them what they want, and then giving it to them — it’s that simple.
You wouldn’t believe how many emails I get from people, who are wanting to start a business for themselves, asking for advice about why their business is not succeeding and what they can do to fix it.
Whenever I start to ask them questions, to find out how they started and where they are currently at, what I always end up discovering is that they always start the business building process backwards. In short, they create their content and products (articles, books, etc.) before they have a market to sell it to -- which doesn’t make much business sense when you actually take the time to really think about it.
Now, don’t misunderstand me when I say this. I’m not telling you not to create the content that you are most passionate about. What I’m suggesting is, before you start creating anything, what you should be doing is identifying readers (a market) that are interested in the same subjects or topics that you are interested in.
When you find a hot enough market, one that is made up of highly active and engaged readers and buyers, what you need to do is ask them what it is they want, what it is they want to read about, or what it is they are struggling with.
For instance, Medium would be considered a hot writing market because, it is filled with highly active and engaged readers (as well as writers). Plus, to be honest, it has the potential of becoming the next Huffington Post (Hopefully, with much better business practices).
But another mistake writers do when they find a “hot market” is they end up by-passing that second step to success, which is asking readers what they want to read about. Instead, they just start writing in hopes of getting traction and attention, and then they wonder why they are not getting enough readers, followers, likes, claps, comments, shares, and so on.
To that end, if you're already connected to someone who’s interested in what you have to offer, I suggest sending him/her links to your published content that are related to the questions or concerns they may be having about your product or service, or what they may be going through. This kind of “consulting” service demonstrates your company’s credibility and authority in a natural way.
With that said, when it comes to determining what type of content to create for your target market, consider the areas that are important to your leads and prospects, not just your own.
Ask yourself: “What are their objections?”, “What are their needs?” and so forth. These types of questions can act like a probing agent that will help guide you as you create and develop future content.
Plus, one thing I'd like to add is this: One piece of invaluable advice I received from one of my mentors, Dan Miller, founder of 48 Days, told me that whenever he gets at least three people that ask him the same question about something, he makes a product for it.
As Content Creators and Social Media Marketers, I would suggest doing the same thing. Wait until you have at least three people asking the same question about something, or that are going through the same struggle or difficulty... and make sure it's an area that you are passionate about... then start creating the content that you really love.
By following this method, not only are you creating the content that you truly love, but you are also assured to have an audience (or "hot market") that is looking forward to the solution your content is going to provide to them.
3. Use Your BEST Content in Your Email Campaigns
A newsletter is a great way to share published content (whether it's your own or another influencers) with subscribers, but be careful to offer something your leads, prospects, or customers really want.
Well-done email campaigns are powerful tools, but no reader or customer wants to be flooded with boring irrelevant content that does not speak to their specific needs, wants, or desires.
In other words, create individualized email content for leads or customers who are at different stages of the buying process (which also includes the stage of information gathering) and who may have different values.
One final piece of advice for when it comes to composing material for email content, regularly include links to guest post contributions that you have published on other sites (sites other than your own) like Forbes, Entrepreneur, LinkedIn, Huffington Post; as well as to your other social media post on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
These articles and social media posts should be engaging and relevant, that way they naturally affirm your expertise.
4. Re-Purposing Your Content Stretches Out Your Audience and Expands Your Overall Reach
Although we here at William Ballard Enterprise, LLC specialize in creating in-depth articles and long style copy, we also understand that some people prefer to consume their information through other means, such as infographics, videos, podcast, or even PowerPoint slide shows.
With that said, I suggest re-purposing the great ideas, insights, and actionable steps that you have published from your current content in order to reach a wider audience. In short, it’s better to deliver a single high-quality, consistent message throughout a handful of different content sources than through three or four disconnected, low-quality articles.
In fact, HubSpot does a great job at accomplishing this content marketing strategy. Its YouTube channel and infographics are full of insightful tips using re-purposed content. This particular content marketing style is a way to be consistent, remain interesting, and truly provide real value to your entire audience -- not just readers, but listeners, and viewers as well.
5. Share it and Establish Social Proof
Anyone who’s following you on social media is already interested in you and what you have to offer, so don't hesitate to link back to your content.
However, it is important to understand that people do business with people, not companies or brands. To that end, it is important that you engage directly with your audience.
Plus, (going back to our first point above) if you're engaged with other thought-leaders and major influencers in your space, and consistently sharing their content with your audience (“Doing for others what you would want them to do for you”), they’ll be more likely to reciprocate and share your content with their audience as well.
However, it is important to also bear in mind that in order to leverage these kinds of collaboration relationships, it requires a personal touch as well. In other words, not only do you need to get their attention by tagging them in your post or linking back to their hashtags whenever possible, you need to also reach out to them and establish some kind of dialogue that opens up the line of communication and relationship building process.
(Side Note: When it comes to collaborating with major influencers and thought-leaders, always remember that it is not about what they can offer you, but rather, what you can offer them.)
Now, with all that said, it is important to bear in mind that people don’t come to social media networks to be sold things. They are there to "socialize."
Therefore, here are six things I would recommend you do in order to increase social engagement with your content marketing efforts:
(Footnote: I will be writing an article about these six social media engagement strategies within the near future -- you won't want to miss it!)