By Dorie Clark
The following piece is adapted from Dorie Clark’s newly-released book Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future (Harvard Business Review Press).
Developing your own content – i.e., intellectual property – is a powerful tool for any small or medium-sized business owner these days. In fact, in a crowded marketplace where you’re working overtime to establish your brand, it’s an essential strategy to showcase what you can offer, connect with interested parties (who are consuming your material), and establish an expert reputation (because the people who get cited and lead any industry’s discourse are the ones who have a clearly-stated, written philosophy).
It also makes the sales process immeasurably easier, because by the time people contact you, they’ve already passed through the first hurdle of self-selection: they appreciated your material enough to reach out. You have a “warm lead” that will be far less price-sensitive, because they’re already determined that you’re different and better than other possibilities they’ve considered.
Many small or medium-sized business owners agree in theory that “content marketing” (also known as “inbound marketing”) is a good idea. But they’re too busy to do it, they explain. I actually counsel my clients that they can’t afford not to do it. You will never get the same results or high-quality leads from, say, search engine advertising as you will from creating content that answers a potential customer’s questions and demonstrates your professionalism and expertise. Here are three tips to speed up the process of creating content (whether your preferred form is blog posts, podcasts, or video blogging – any of which can be powerful).
1. Create a topic list. Develop a list of potential blog (or podcast/videoblog) topics, and keep it updated as new ideas occur to you. You can start your list by thinking about the questions people most often ask you about your field, the impact of new technology, the things most people don’t understand or get wrong about your field, success secrets you’ve observed in your industry, easy mistakes to avoid, etc.
2. Start with the title. Still having trouble coming up with a winning idea? Starting with the title can often help you structure your post and ensure you stay on topic. Brian Clark (no relation) of the website Copyblogger suggests “The Cosmo Headline Technique for Blogging Inspiration.” Pick up a copy of Cosmo – which has perfected the art of irresistible headlines – and adapt them for your purposes. “The 22 Best Relationship Tips Ever” becomes, in Clark’s telling, “My 22 Best Design Tips Ever.” Meanwhile, “Guys Spill: White Lies They Tell Women All the Time” morphs into “Realtors Revealed: The Little White Lies We Tell Clients (And How to Stop).”
3. Schedule your social media. Spend a couple of weekend days pounding out content, so you have a backlog. Schedule your posts to load at pre-determined intervals to take the pressure off – if you get slammed at work and miss a week or two, you have enough material to keep you covered.
Great content also has the advantage of creating lasting value; as I wrote in this Forbes post, while a search advertising campaign will go away the moment you stop paying for it, a smart “how-to” article may live forever – and drive traffic forever – on the web. Good luck in getting started with your content creation campaign!
Dorie Clark is CEO of Clark Strategic Communications and the author of the newly-released Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future (Harvard Business Review Press, 2013). She is a strategy consultant who has worked with clients including Google, Yale University, and the Ford Foundation. Listen to her podcasts or follow her on Twitter.