The world of online business makes so many promises.
Incredibly low overhead. Set your own hours. Find customers in every corner of the earth.
And it’s all true. But it’s also true that most people who want to run a successful online business end up … running out of gas instead.
Most people who have the intention of starting a business aren’t willing to make it work.
Not, actually, because it’s hard. But because they get intimidated. And they overcomplicate things. And they stop too soon.
We can’t give you the raw stubbornness that will keep you in the game. (Although we’ll do our best to encourage you.)
But we can help with that whole overcomplication thing.
Today we’re going to take a high-level tour of what a content marketing plan looks like. And at each step, there are resources you can dive into, to take a closer look and see where your weak spots might be.
What we call the “content conveyor belt” is the fundamental structure of your marketing plan. You can add extra bells and whistles if you want to– we’re all for that. But if you ever feel stuck or overwhelmed, come back to this lesson. (You might want to bookmark it to find it easily again.)
So let’s get it started:
1. Who do you help and how do you help them?
You can spend a lot of time and thought on crafting the perfect marketing message. And that’s time well spent.
But at the heart of every strong marketing message are two factors:
- Who do you serve?
- In what way, specifically, do you serve them better than any of their other options?
Answer these two questions carefully, and the rest of your marketing message will flow so much more easily.
Here are two resources to get you to the answers for those questions:
- Connect with One Person: A step-by-step guide to uncovering who you serve
- Take 15 Minutes to Find Your Winning Difference: And a step-by-step guide to uncovering how you can best serve them.
Add a simple call to action and you have a “good enough” core marketing message that can bring you a surprisingly long way.
2. Blog content creates “attraction”
The most important function of your blog is to attract and grow the audience of people who are paying attention to you. A blog is your starting point to increase your influence and authority, and to let the world know you know your topic.
The best resource for up-to-date advice about blogging? Well, you’ll want to keep reading your Copyblogger posts every week! 🙂
But to make sure you’re being strategic about the content you create, go grab our Content Marketing Strategy ebook. It gives you Brian Clark’s proven 7-point framework for creating content that serves a business purpose.
And remember that SEO plays an important part in your attraction strategy. How to Create Compelling Content that Ranks Well in Search Engines.
3. Solid email marketing deepens the relationship
Blog content is great to attract and grow your audience, but it’s not usually the best platform to make a marketing offer. (An offer being the “pitch” that offers an exchange of goods or services for money.)
The environment of a blog tends to be somewhat messy — it’s a rich environment with lots of opportunity for browsing, noodling from page to page, and diving deep into your content.
All good things — unless you want someone to focus on your sales message.
Year after year (in fact, decade after decade) email has shown itself to be the most cost-effective sales channel. Why? Because it’s both very cheap and very effective.
If email isn’t a part of your marketing mix, you’re missing out on the best way to convert your audience into actual customers.
And if you need a refresher on what works best in email marketing, you know we have you covered. Go snag the ebook here:
Email is also a fantastic medium for nurturing your lead until he’s ready to buy. And hands down, the best tool for that is the email autoresponder. Learn more about how that works here:
4. Offers are the lifeblood of every business …
An offer is, very simply, what you have to offer your audience in exchange for money.
(There are other types of offers, too, like the offer of valuable free information by email. But let’s talk about the money type right now.)
If you pair the right offer with the simple marketing message above, about 80% of your marketing work is done. The rest is refinement and optimization.
And if you have the wrong offer? (Defined as: something your audience doesn’t particularly want to buy.) All the most sophisticated marketing in the world can’t help you.
First things first: Your offer must be something that people actually want to spend money on.
Once you have that covered, you can play with different ways to structure your offer to make it even more appealing.
5. … and the right place to make offers is on a landing page
As we said above, email is a wonderful marketing channel.
But it’s got one shortcoming — many users have a tough time really paying attention to a long email. But often, you need to offer more information in order to give your customer all the information she needs to make a smart purchase.
Enter: the landing page. This is a streamlined, focused presentation of what you have to offer. What you have, what it will do for your customer, and what he should do next.
Creating landing pages can seem a little intimidating, but they’re an invaluable tool in your marketing toolkit. To demystify them, go snag our free ebook on landing pages:
6. Social media keeps the cycle flowing
So now you have a marketing message, an attraction strategy (your blog), a prospect nurture strategy (your email list), and a conversion strategy (email message pointing your customer to a landing page).
What’s next? Take all that and grow it. And your social media platforms are an excellent tool for that.
Too many try to start here by opening a Facebook or Twitter account and rambling on. Social media becomes strategic when it’s used to spark conversation and engage interest that funnels back to your primary content (your blog) and encourages opt-ins for your email list.
You don’t need some course in social media marketing. You already know how to use social media. Be friendly, be a good egg, be useful, and share interesting things.
People go wrong with social media marketing when they expect it to carry too much of the marketing load. Social media is just a good place to hang out with your audience, learn more about them, and be interesting. Save the offers and “marketing” for email list and landing pages, and you’ll find social media marketing much less mysterious.
7. And professional networking keeps your business growing
When you’ve maxed out your professional growth on your own, what’s the next step?
Find some like-minded business owners and start networking! Networking is a great place to find professional partnerships (writers, designers, blogs you can guest post on, etc.) as well as a terrific way to tease out the answers to tricky business problems.
You’ve got to face facts: As someone running a business (small or large), you’re not normal.
- Normal people work “day jobs” and assume that’s all they’re ever going to do.
- Normal people let other people define what they do all day long.
- Normal people are afraid to start businesses, because they’re afraid of the discomfort that comes from solving unfamiliar problems.
Now, we love normal people. Some of our best friends are normal people. 😉 But trying to rely on normal people for business advice is a dangerous mistake.
So get out and find some other people crazy enough to start and run businesses. Use them as your sounding board for business challenges. Use them to try out your refinements to your marketing message.
And if you want an incredibly vibrant, smart, well-connected group of business owners to help you grow your own little patch of the internet, you won’t find a smarter or more supportive group than the one we have inside the Authority forums.
If you haven’t joined us yet, maybe this is the right time?
Click here if you’d like to learn more … We’d love to see you there.
– The Copyblogger Team