Independent professionals who use the Web for marketing their services can learn a lot from bigger businesses with big budgets. Take a look at where the guys with money are spending their marketing dollars and efforts. Then figure out the cheaper way to do what they're doing.
In a way, the Web is ideal for people who must work with little advertising budgets. Social sites like Facebook and Twitter are completely free. Time is the biggest constraining factor. Even so, you want the best return for your investment of time, energy and money.
Joe Pulizzi of Junta 42 wrote a post a couple of weeks ago that got me thinking. His information is directed towards companies who spend money advertising. Now many of them want to use content marketing to build business, and some expect it to be free. Read his post The Decline of Advertising and the Rise of Content Spending.
Here's an excerpt worth considering:
First off, stop thinking about content marketing or content strategy as the end deliverable. The content process is not just the video series, the enewsletter or the custom magazine. It's the entire content strategy process, including (shout out to Kristina Halvorson from Brain Traffic on guidance here):
The Content Audit. Before you usher in more content noise, it's worth it to figure out what you have said. Anyone about to spend significant investment in content creation should develop a content benchmark first.
The Content Plan. Who's the audience? What are their informational needs? What are the success metrics of the content plan? Who owns the plan? What are the best content tactics? How will we execute those tactics?
Content Maintenance. Once we create the content, how do we keep it fresh, updated, and continually monitor our customers' informational needs so that we succeed with the content plan?
Content Marketing. How are we distributing our valuable, relevant content so that we deliver on our success metrics?
As an independent professional or a small business, you may not feel you need a comprehensive Content Marketing Strategy as outlined above by Joe and Kristina. But you must think through these four points.
- What have you published already?
- What do your readers want to know? How can you help them with their problems?
- What's your editorial calendar look like, how many times a week do you need to post on the blog, etc.?
- What's the best way to stay in touch with people who are interested?
The last point is how are you going to measure success? How will you know your content marketing is paying off?
If you can't answer these questions, then you're putting time and effort into writing content and connecting on social sites without a plan. I've always wondered why anybody would throw spaghetti against a wall in the first place, you?