Recently, a woman in a business forum I belong to asked three very important questions about content marketing. I answered them for her there, and then asked her permission to share the questions and my answers for you here because I think these are the kinds of universal questions many business owners have, but may struggle to articulate — or be afraid to ask.
1) How do you create a content strategy that is deep, meaningful and helpful that doesn’t add to the noise?
This requires some deep, meaningful soul searching. We’re looking for the intersection between
a) your brand values,
b) your customer’s values and
c) industry trends and data (eg: what’s popular and converting right now).
Finding THAT sweet spot is how you create content that transcends the noise and speaks to your exact person.
This is what I’m calling leadership marketing; leadership, because it requires stepping away from the template, the blueprint, the formula, the swipe file and creating something new. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but we do need to combine the different elements of marketing available to us in a unique way that finds the sweet spot for our business, our customers, and ourselves.
I have a three step process I lead people through to try to find that sweet spot that starts with understanding your big WHY as it relates to your business; trying to understand your customer’s wants, needs, and values; and examining your data to help locate that sweet spot for you.
All of this has to happen before we brainstorm topics, or choose which channels to focus on, or decide if you should start a podcast or stop doing video blogs… Identifying your leadership marketing sweet spot is the first and most important step.
2) How do you create multiple forms of content (text, audio, video) without burning out?
Repurpose, reuse, recycle. I refer to this as the “hub and spoke” model of content creation. Every time you create a big juicy “hub” piece of content (a blog post, a video, a podcast episode, etc.) there should be many smaller “spoke” pieces of content that you use on your different channels to direct people back to the main hub content.
To make this work easily, efficiently, and effectively, you’ve GOT to have a plan. The hub content has to be specifically chosen to have the most impact for your business and your clients right now, and then you have to have a plan for how you’re going to create all that spoke content.
For example, I met a woman recently who produces one video for her business each month on a topic that she chooses based on what she wants to sell. Then, her team takes that video and creates at least 30 pieces of “spoke” content from it: quote graphics for instagram, excerpts from the transcript for Facebook, video clips, tips, audio clips, still images, etc. Those pieces of spoke content go out to all her social media channels over the course of the month, and they all point back to the video, which in turn has a strong call to action to either get on her email list or buy her product.
The only way to make this sort of plan work is to have a strong Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for creating that spoke content and then, when you’re ready, you can outsource a lot of the associated tasks. Which brings us to…
3) How do you maintain an online presence without getting distracted from the core of the business (which is to transform people’s lives)?
This is really the crux of the issue, isn’t it? How do we balance the time and effort that goes into marketing our business with the time and effort that goes into actually doing the work, serving clients, transforming lives?
In some seasons of business, it’s tempting to spend all our time just serving clients, because that’s where the transformation happens. It’s satisfying to do the work in a way that marketing isn’t. There’s often a clear beginning and end point to the actual work we do, whereas marketing seems to go on forever.
Plus, when we’re flush with clients, marketing seems less important. It falls to the “important, but not urgent” quadrant of our to do list, and other tasks start winning out when we have to make a choice about how to spend our time.
But here’s the thing: if you don’t invest in your marketing, you won’t reach as many people as you could, which means you won’t be able to impact as many people as you might otherwise be capable of. The other reality is that if you’re not marketing when you’re busy, you won’t have the leads to tap when you’re not. (I’m speaking from experience!)
That means we have to find a way to prioritize marketing, even when it doesn’t feel urgent, even when it feels like a distraction from the real work — or we will find ourselves struggling in the future when the “real” work dries up.
The answer for most business owners is: you do it until you don’t have to. Meaning, you have to be the one to create the content until you are ready to invest in someone to do part (like a VA) or all of it for you (like my agency).
Depending on where you are in your business, you may need to create a minimum viable marketing plan, asking yourself, what is the minimum useful amount of marketing I can commit to in this stage of my business.
Once you are a bit further along in business, you can outsource some of the tasks to free you up to the things only you can do, like creating new thought leadership or shooting videos. Eventually, you may want to outsource the bulk of your content so that you can focus on serving clients, creating new product ideas, or just being the CEO.
It’s all a balancing act: time versus money. Whichever you have more of is the one you use to invest. When you’re just starting out, maybe you don’t have money to invest, so you must find a way to invest your time in doing your own marketing. As you grow, your time becomes more and more of a premium, and you can afford to invest some money in getting help.
But no matter where you are in your entrepreneurial journey, you cannot afford to ignore your marketing; you must find a way to invest in it — even minimally — if you hope to continue to grow.