Creating leads for your business through thought leadership content is one of the must-know marketing trends leading into next year. Phrases like “inbound marketing” and “content strategy” are being thrown around everywhere. How does this translate for a majority of small businesses?
Many small businesses are focused on churning out content on their blogs, measuring search engine optimization, readability and otherwise peppering their entries with the right mix of keywords. While the blogging strategy is an important part of a solid content marketing plan, it’s not the only tool at your disposal. There are other ways to generate thoughtful content that will impress fellow business owners in your industry and managers in completely new industries and generate leads without even encountering WordPress.
Here are some of the tools I’ve used and recommend:
It’s never been easier to self-publish an e-book online and market it to your followers. Authors, influencers and even industry leaders have taken to Kindle to self-publish an e-book for a relatively low cost. Not only does this act as another source of passive income through sales of your e-book, but also it has another, possibly more important effect.
Having a published e-book (even if you’ve published it yourself) signifies that you really know what you’re talking about. Writing your thoughts on a particular aspect of your industry or a couple hundred pages on a how-to can easily establish you as an expert within your field. And people trust experts and are more inclined to follow them and even purchase their products. In fact, the statistic of how much thought leadership contributes to building trust in a brand is often grossly undervalued, especially in B2B businesses. Only 50% of B2B marketers think thought leadership content helps build trust. However, their buyers find it’s closer to 83%.
Because of this, don’t publish an e-book lightly. If you regurgitate content that isn’t of use or is poorly written, it can be disastrous for your business and personal brand. Before undertaking authorship, carefully consider what your strengths are and where you really are a thought leader. Then, outline your book, and have a trusted friend in the industry look it over to make sure you’re hitting valuable notes.
Finally, invest in a good editor. While you may think your lengthy exposition on email campaigns is gold, your reader may be snoring. A quality editor will tidy up errors and parse unnecessary details to keep your thought leadership content to the point.
Most businesses are encouraged to create email marketing strategies and have email newsletter sign-up lists on their websites or blogs. However, it often pays to have some sort of deliverable, free treat or gift in exchange for the email contact information. Putting time and energy into crafting an attractive deliverable can impress your potential clients and associates and have the same effect as an e-book — you’ll come across as an expert voice.
For instance, consider crafting a five- to 10-page deliverable PDF that will go to your prospective clients’ inboxes when they sign up. Pay close attention to design and readability, as well as keeping the information you share valuable. You’re more likely to inspire goodwill and trust with your clients when you deliver them a thoughtful, well-researched guide on a topic using your own unique perspective. Generic tips that can probably be found anywhere else on the internet most likely won’t cut it.
Other examples of useful deliverables include:
• Infographics with relevant statistics or processes
• Sample drafts or formulas that will help deliver a promise when used
• A short course or webinar that teaches something of value
Did your mouth just get dry at the prospect of public speaking? Hear me out. Podcasts are a valuable tool to reach your potential clients, influencers, colleagues and the world during their free time. Many people listen to podcasts when they’re on the way to work, in the zone or trekking away at the gym. You have their full attention, and most of the time, listeners are fairly relaxed and in the right mindset to take in new and relevant information.
Launching your own podcast and publishing a few episodes here and there centered on your unique field of expertise can be a surprising and really delightful way to reach your base. If you don’t think you have enough content to sustain a podcast yourself, you can capture the same effect by becoming a guest speaker on existing podcasts. Sharing your unique perspective over the airwaves can help you get your knowledge out to the world and attract clients, customers and valuable contacts who like what you have to say.
No matter which type of content you choose, the most important thing is to create quality material with it. It’s better to create fantastic content in one sector — like podcasts or videos — rather than having a haphazard and mediocre strategy that tries to encompass it all. With more and more people investing in content marketing, one of the best ways to distinguish yourself in the new year is to provide deliverables and content that teach a useful skill or solve a pain point. Otherwise, content for content’s sake will diminish in value and begin to work against your company.
Written by Brandon Stapper – CEO of Nonstop Signs & Graphics, which has risen from humble beginnings to become a printing powerhouse
Let us know how your company creates engaging content in your comments below. We love hearing from all kinds of businesses just like yours. Share with us your favorite tools and how you are using content marketing to create amazing relationships with your customers.