A lot of small businesses say that they don’t have time for blogging or social media. Your competitors have time, so what are you going to do? My name’s Michael Boezi, and let’s cover building the basics of your content strategy so that it makes you really efficient.
Google is Everything
Okay so what do people do when they want to find out about your business?
The first thing that they’re going to do is search Google. A search term that they have in mind, a thing that they’re looking for, a problem that they want to solve, or they might search for your business directly. You have to have your content strategy set up so that you are easily found by Google.
I break this into four elements of your content strategy that the first three are really important: web, blog, social, and I’ll also add email to that as well.
Related: How to Make Google Work for You
We’ll start with the website – very very basic. You basically need a homepage and about page. It’s really critical just to have that base. It has to be your own site, not a Facebook page.
Do You Need a Business Blog?
Next up, blogging. Do you have to blog for your business? Yes, yes you do, and let me tell you why.
Forget what you know about blogging. A lot of people think of it as people just espousing their thoughts on things. You want to be creating always cornerstone content, things that you can use again and again. If you have started a business and you are passionate, you’re following a mission, you’re chasing a dream, then, you have enough passion to write about it.
People want to hear stories about this, about you, about your business, about the problems that you solve. It doesn’t have to be about you, and in fact it’s going to be better if it’s not. The customer is the hero of your story, and that’s what you want to write about.
Start with say your 3, 4, 5, 6 most common customer questions. Take each one and write a piece about it. Of course this doesn’t need to be just a blog, I talk about blog meaning also that could be a podcast, it could be audio, it could be presentations, whatever’s comfortable to you. It has to be something where you are producing something fairly regularly. The next time a customer comes to you and says “hey I got a question about X“, well you’ve already got an answer for that.
It’s your best, most clearly articulated version of that, accessible via one click. And guess what? Your customer can now share that. Just telling someone to go to your website is not acceptable. You need to answer a problem or answer a question for them immediately or they’re gone.
Social Media Channels Are Individual Communities
Let’s talk about social media. Do I really have to be on social media if I’m running a business? You do.
Social media is not about promotion, it’s about connecting, and the only way to activate it is to be bi-directional. It’s an exchange of ideas. It doesn’t feel like it’s a sort of icky promotion when you’re doing that, it’s just a conversation. Yes it’s leading to a business outcome, but it feels a lot less self-promotional and that’s a great thing for you, your brand, and your business.
First of all, you don’t need to be on every single channel, and my recommendation is always to run tests, to treat it like an experiment. You really want to focus down in on one or two of those channels where your audience is, where the conversation is active, and where they want to hear from you.
Building an audience is really difficult, and if you think about this, any social channel is its own community. But the benefit of going wide when you start, is to perform sort of a land grab up front. You grab all those properties, even if you don’t use them. These are all little footholds into your business so that’s all a good thing. Start global and then take it to a conclusion where it’s actually manageable.
Email Marketing Gets Personal
The last thing I should mention is email. Here’s a fun little exercise: search ‘email is dead’ on Google, you’ll get 249 million hits. Really, this couldn’t be further from the truth on content marketing or content strategy.
Email marketing is still massively important, because it’s really effective. And think about this, this all lies in sort of the concept of permission, which was popularized and coined by Seth Godin. If I’m expecting to hear from you, if I have given you permission, if I want to hear from you, and you send me an email and its welcome and even anticipated, that’s amazingly effective.
And the reason why it’s nice paired with social is because social is opt in, I’m only there if I want to learn something, if I want to connect. It’s my choice as the customer, and that’s a really great thing. If you can sort of graduate from the connecting around social to having a really robust email list, a subscription to a newsletter or blog, that could be one of your most powerful business instruments.
Now the only question really is do you start building that list early or do you start building it after social? There’s really no right answer, it’s up to you and your business. Sometimes I find it easier to do the social thing, because you know you’re creating this set of content, and then convert that into an email list, but you know you can do it either way, it really doesn’t matter, you just have to tune this to your business and your audience.
Website, Blog, Social Media, and Email Strategy
Web, blog, social, and email strategy. If you have those things working while creating content that works, you’ll have your content strategy working really really well for you. And you know what? It’s going to be more effective than traditional advertising marketing, and it’s going to make you way more efficient. And that right there is the ultimate goal.
About Michael Boezi
Michael Boezi is the owner and managing director of Control Mouse Media, LLC. He works with clients to devise, develop, and deploy a cohesive content strategy to build an online audience. He does whatever it takes to help people create genuine, bi-directional connections with their customers.
He is the creator and host of Marketing Without the Marketing, a podcast that helps people learn the basics of using a content strategy to build an audience. Michael is currently building an online course called CreateBiz, focused on helping writers, musicians, and visual artists use their creative content to build an audience. He is also an instructor at Emerson College, teaching a grad-level course that he designed, called “Fundamentals of Content Strategy.”
Michael is a 17-year publishing veteran who has helped hundreds of writers become authors. Today, many of his clients are non-fiction authors, or at least using a book as a “business card.” He has also helped build two early-stage startups from the ground up, and still mentors young startups in the LearnLaunch accelerator program.