Will You Embrace This Opportunity For A Fresh Start?

Happy New Year!

I love January. Despite the anticlimax of Christmas being over for yet another year, there’s also a powerful opportunity for a new start.

And in business, looking at what you do through fresh eyes and making new decisions and commitments can be incredibly beneficial.

As you know, if you’re not looking at ways to evolve and press forward, your business will at best stagnate and at worse back peddle. Which means smart business owners stay forward looking, set goals and are constantly seeking out those opportunities to innovate, implement and do more of the good stuff.

So as we move into 2013, what goals have you set for your business?

In particular, how are you planning to use content to drive sales, attract new customers and boost your authority in the coming year?

You see, content marketing is continuing to evolve. It’s at the sharp end of  available tools which very small, niche businesses like yours can use to their advantage to carve out a competitive edge.

However, it’s no longer enough to keep churning out new stuff. Consumers (and Google) are becoming a lot smarter and as such quality alongside the nurturing of an engaged audience are really key.

So to help you get off to a flying start in 2013, here are some ideas to get you thinking about how to use content to market your business…

1.  Guest blog

I’m a big fan of guest blogging.

Guest blogging can help you tap into a new audience and start to carve your niche authority more quickly. What’s more, guesting can prove to be an excellent way to forge relationships with other players in your niche that you would like to connect with. Of course, attracting links from authority sites can do wonders for your own SEO but this shouldn’t be your only reason for wanting to guest.

The trick is to find the right blogs to guest on, and then start to build those all important relationships with the blog owners and convince them to give you their stage! Jon Morrow runs a cracking Guest Blogging course which I’d highly recommend, and if you target micro business owners, the guest blogging opportunities available at the Micro Business Hub are well worth a closer look.

And here’s a final tip – it’s well worth saving your best stuff for publishing elsewhere – especially if it’s that dream gig :-)

2.  Start an email newsletter

Permission marketing is another profitable outlet where content can be used to forge deeper relationships with potential customers.

You see, people will only buy if they are good ready, and whilst a prospect may be your ideal customer, the timing may be all wrong. And that means you need to take a different approach – namely convince someone to sign up to your list…

Offer an incentive to get people to part with their email address and then start regular communication. You could try a monthly newsletter, weekly updates or if you really lack the time simply send out your blog posts to people that sign up.

By staying in touch, you also stay on your customer’s radar. And if you continue to send out information that’s relevant and useful (i.e. it addresses the pressing questions your customers are grappling with), when they do need your products and services, you’ll be foremost in their mind.

In fact, I believe helping is often the quickest route to selling.

3.  Use an autoresponder

If you have more time it’s well worth thinking about setting up an email autoresponder.

An autoresponder is simply a series of emails which are sent out in exactly the same order to new members of your list. An autoresponder works like this. You write a sequence of articles that takes your readers on a journey.

  • Educational type series like this classic from Copyblogger are great for establishing authority in your niche.
  • Alternatively, if you have a product or service that you wish to promote, use an autoresponder that persuades prospects to buy through drip feeding benefits, testimonials, an offer etc.

And if you’re at a loss of where to start, why not have a chat with a copywriter (like me ;-) .

4. Revisit your home page

Your website is your base station and your home page is probably the most visited page.

Take a fresh look at it today and give it the critical eye.

  • Does it accurately reflect your business right now?
  • Are you positioning yourself effectively?
  • Could your headline be more compelling?
  • Is it easy to read?
  • Are you targeting the right keywords?
If you decide it needs a bit of work, check out this guest post I wrote over at the Micro Business Hub which outlines how to write a killer home page.

5. Content isn’t just about the written word

Many micro business owners get nervous about content marketing because they feel writing isn’t their strong suit.

However the beauty of this multi-media age is there are stacks of other opportunities for you to exploit and get your voice out there. For example:

  • Get a professionally produced video and use it to enhance your home page.
  • Experiment with self-recorded videos and post them on YouTube.
  • Share your knowledge and experience in a webinar.
  • Hangout with Google+.
  • Present at your local networking group.
  • Get interviewed by a personality in your niche.

Above all discover what works best for you and more importantly – your audience.

Over to you

What will you cast fresh eyes over this year? How will you step up your use of content to promote your business, grow your reputation and attract more customers?

Tell me in the comments below. And while you’re there, please post your questions too.

Here’s to a cracking 2013 :-)


How To Advertise Your Business And Grow Your Customer Base

According to Claude Hopkins advertising is simply “salesmanship in print

And in your business it takes many guises. From adverts to leaflets, press ads to PPC you’ve got lots of choice.

What’s more it’s a necessary activity because it tells customers you exist and you have something to sell.

Successful, cost effective advertising selects the right medium, says the right things and gets in front of the right people.

Do this and you’ll:

  1. Promote your brand (that’s who you are and what makes you special)
  2. Mould customers to have a favourable impression of your business
  3. Build desire (well hopefully)
  4. Get customers interested in you and your business
  5. Let customers know what you’re up to

Hit them with it!

If you’re out to make a quick sale you’ll need a high impact message designed to compel your prospect into immediate action.

Perhaps you’re promoting a short-term special offer, or you want to get customers interested in a specific event. I call this “Hit them with it” advertising. This strategy must deliver an immediate payoff but there is a downside:

  1. The reader may be your target customer but now is not the right time to buy
  2. “Getting them in the door” does not necessarily lay the foundations of  a “meaningful” customer relationship
  3. You’re less likely to initiate a two-way dialogue with your customer
So whilst this type of advertising may help you make a sale, it may be less successful at making a customer who’s in it for the long-haul.

A more durable alternative?

With content marketing you focus on creating a rich bank of irresistible content, that builds into a potent, longer-term tool to market your business. Content marketing strategies include blogging, newsletters and even social media posts (to name a few) and can focus in on a wide variety of topics and themes including:
  1. Advice or solutions that address customer’s pinch points
  2. Useful tips
  3. Posing stimulating or challenging questions
  4. Sharing opinion to encourage discussion
  5. Telling a relevant story.

In fact, if used properly, content marketing can help your business outsmart the competition because:

  1. High quality content helps you stamp an authority in your particular niche
  2. Content can be used to encourage customers to engage and have a dialogue with you
  3. Through feedback and comments, you’ll learn more about your customers an doffer a better service
  4. Eventually you’ll build a tribe of followers – and then you’ll make their short list when it’s time for them to buy

Content marketing requires commitment

They say time is money. But with content marketing you can’t expect your sales to skyrocket immediately.

For sure there is the chance of stuff going viral but it’s more likely a content strategy will slow burn you to success. After all it takes time, commitment and dedication to build your tribe. In addition, the process of creating content requires creativity, strategy and structure. You can’t publish just anything. If your content is poor, it’s a surefire way to turn your customers off.

However if you’re committed for the long-term, you will get your payback. Eventually you’ll hit a critical mass, get momentum rolling and hit the big time!

And that big time can bring customer loyalty and a hunger for what you have to say. What’s more, content gets people talking, and in this age of social media, content feeds word of mouth and gives customers something to share. And that is gold dust…

Start your content marketing strategy today

“Hit them with it” advertising does have a place. However content marketing will change the relationship you have with customers.

But don’t take my word for it. Try it for yourself and explore how you can incorporate content marketing into your business advertising strategy. Experiment with newsletters, start a blog or add some informative articles about your niche to your website, whatever works for your target customer.

And if writing just isn’t your thing, consider hiring a copywriter. A good one will create great content that will clear the path to your door, and encourage customers to hook up for the long haul. For example, I offer a ghost blogging service.

So over to you. How could you use content marketing in your business? How could you advertise to make a customer? Tell me your ideas in the comments and I’ll dive in and give you some feedback.