Step 3 – Publish Educational Content

Content GridBy now small business owners are tired of hearing the phrase, “Content is King.” As true as it may be, today’s prospects instinctively gravitate to search engines to answer all their burning questions. The mistake many businesses make is that even if they churn out continuous content, they don’t make it part of their overall strategy.

Your content and publishing efforts must be focused on achieving two things: building trust and educating.

These two categories of content strategy must be delivered through the creation of very specific forms of content, not simply through sheer volume. Every business is now a publishing business, so you must start to think like one.

Content that Builds Trust

Blog: Blogs are the absolute starting point for content strategy because they make content production, syndication and sharing so easy. The search engines love blog content, not to mention the fact that blogs allow one to produce and organize a great deal of editorial thinking. Content produced on a blog can easily be expanded and adapted to become content for articles, workshops and eBooks.

Social Media: The first step in the social media content game is to claim all the free opportunities to create social media profiles on sites like LinkedIn and Facebook. Also claim your profiles within the Business Week, Entrepreneur and Inc. magazine communities. Building rich profiles, and optimizing links, images and videos that point back to the main site is an important part of the content strategy play.

Reviews: Ratings and reviews sites such as Yelp!, MerchantCircle and CitySearch have become mainstream, user-generated content hubs. The fact that Google, Yahoo and Bing all allow others to rate and review businesses makes these sites an increasingly important category of content that savvy businesses must participate in. Businesses will never have total control over this category, but ignoring it may be one of the most damaging forces for a brand. Proactive, aggressive monitoring of this channel is a must.

Testimonials: Customer testimonials are a powerful form of content. Every business today should seek customer content in multiple forms: written, audio and video. This content adds important trust-building endorsements and makes for great brand- building assets on Google and YouTube.

Content that Educates

The Point of View White Paper: Every business should have a well-developed core story that’s documented in the form of a white paper or eBook. This content must dive deeply into what makes a firm different, what the secret sauce is, how the company approaches customer service, and why the firm does what it does. This idea is expounded upon in The Referral Engine. This is the primer for a company’s educational content push.

Seminars: Today, people want information packaged in ways that will help them get what they want. Presentations, workshops and seminars (online and off ) are tremendous ways to provide education with the added punch of engagement. Turning one’s point of view white paper into a 45-minute, value-packed session is one of the most effective ways to generate, nurture, and convert leads.

FAQs. There are those who want to know very specific things about the company or approach, and these learners get the most value out of the traditional “frequently asked questions” approach. There’s no denying the value of information packaged in this format. Go beyond the questions that routinely get asked and include those that should get asked but don’t, particularly the ones that help position the company favorably against the competition.

Success Stories: Building rich examples of actual clients succeeding through the use of the product or service offerings is a tremendous way to help people learn from other individuals and businesses just like them. When prospects see themselves in a success story, they can more easily arrive at a place where they can imagine getting those same results. This is another form of content that begs to be produced in video.

All of the above elements should be built into a marketing plan with a process to create, update and curate each other.

 Step 4:  Create a Total Web Presence >>