Communicating with your audience using content marketing
While many things have changed in marketing over the years, one thing has remained consistent: great content can be the keystone to a loyal and receptive audience. Quality over quantity is a time-honored rule, and one that must be observed by small businesses in this digital communication world.
Every message that you send out is one that portrays your personal and company brand. Social media and digital communication has all but erased the gap between our private and business lives.
So how do you tailor your posts to benefit your small business’s brand while still maintaining your personal touch? It’s all in the execution.
Here are some tips to get you started:
- Every message should have an objective. This doesn’t mean every post should be selling something. As a matter of fact, 80% of your content should be tailored to help your customer in some way while only 20% should be aimed at sales. Your posts can be as complicated as a time-sensitive call-to-action or as simple as making someone smile. Whatever you post, remember that the receiver of your message needs to gain value from it or else they will lose interest.
- You should post messages that align with your company’s values. If you are a family-friendly business, the humor you display on your social media accounts should align with that value system. If delivering quality is your most important value, find ways to enhance your customer’s buying experience. Can you create a how-to video on using a product or service? Will you be willing to provide a downloadable (and free) PDF with an in-depth breakdown of how they can improve their lives in some way? If you don’t have a dedicated value system, build one. You want to appeal to something called your ideal customer. You can’t be everything to everyone or you will exhaust your resources. Find what you value, enhance that message, and target your perfect audience with your online content.
- Quality over quantity. I can’t say this enough. If your posts are riddled with misspellings, grammar mistakes, and more abbreviations than words, the quality of your customer base will lower. Every post represents your business. If you have trouble with grammar, spelling, etc. consider running your piece through a grammar and spelling checker (beyond Microsoft Word, since that is very limited). Grammarly (Link: https://www.grammarly.com/) is a fantastic free resource that can help. If you’ve made mistakes, go back and repair the damage and create newer, higher quality content from this moment on. There is a significant difference between small Business and amateur. I won’t trust the financial capability of a company who can’t spell, and neither should you. If they can’t be bothered to do simple spelling, how can we expect them to do simple math with your money without making mistakes? Trust is key to customer loyalty.
- Your posts are imperative to building something called “social proof”. This social proof is the belief by your audience that you are a subject matter expert in your field. Many people mistakenly believe that being a subject matter expert means you are never wrong. When you are wrong, admit it, apologize, explain how you will prevent this type of mistake in the future and move on. People are more forgiving of an honest mistake than they are of long-term deception. You need to do your research, learn as much about your business and your customers are possible. You do that by asking questions, performing surveys, reading reviews, analyzing your returns on investment (ROI), discovering patterns in buying trends, and applying that to your content.
- Not everything should be shared. This is very important, and is especially true for angry, righteous, or frustration-related content. Digital communication makes it simple to send content out into the world immediately. At no other place in history has it been so easy to connect different time zones and hemispheres simultaneously. What you post can be captured forever, so make sure you think about what you intend to send. The message you send now could come back to haunt you five years from now.
- If you’re angry, upset, frustrated, or overwhelmed, consider whether that is something that needs to be shared with your viewers. Analyze your posts for red flags. How many times did you use the words “I” or “me” in the content? If you used “us”, “we”, and “our”, was it in relation to the entire community, or just your company? Did you use blanket statements that group people together based on race, religion, political affiliation, age, customers vs. your company, or more? If the answer to any of those is yes, reconsider releasing that content. Isolating groups, spending time talking about how you’re impacted over the customer, and more can create a divide between you and your audience, significantly decreasing your chances of gaining a sale. It’s important to have opinions, but content like that serves no purpose other than your personal venting.
Every piece of content you put on the web needs to represent your company and its values. What you post can last forever thanks to screen capture capability.
Create quality content with an objective and you’ll build the social proof you need to be seen as a subject matter expert in your field. The objective can be selling an item or service or providing an emotional response such as joy or surprise. Keep your content focused on the customer. Without them, there would be no business in the first place. Start connecting with your audience today.