When I started my first business in Sydney’s Dee Why in the early 1990’s, I was amazed that most restaurants and cafes, as well as other retail shops like dress shops, didn’t even know who their customers were!
Many business owners knew their customers by face, but they missed out on lots of opportunities to market and make contact with these customers when business was slow or they were overstocked. Are you working your database?
MANY YEARS AGO I spent $100,000 in advertising in one year. But I didn’t make truckloads of money and became utterly exhausted with the sales process. Yet I still see companies using this approach today: Selling short courses for over-inflated prices to recoup the money they spend on advertising.
When I spent that exorbitant chunk of money on advertising, I then had to hire more people to sell the courses. I had to train these people about what was in the courses, and train the trainers and, well to cut a long story short, spend so much more on resources and overheads that I didn’t make a huge sum of money out of the whole venture at all.
January, February and March of a new year, which is typically the quietest as people take a while to adjust to the work and school routine, is when a lot of businesses spend time setting goals for the year ahead.
Just as individuals set their own personal new year’s resolutions, many businesses use January and February to set some new year’s resolutions for their business’s marketing activities.
Yes, I’ve been talking about content marketing a lot on this blog lately, as it’s a marketing strategy EzyLearn has been using, almost exclusively, for many years now, with much success — you are reading this blog post, after all!
Great Content is Like an Equilateral Triangle – All the Sides are Equal
As popular as content marketing has become in the last few years, many people still don’t quite understand that great content marketing requires you to pay equal emphasis on each component. This includes the word content itself in an ebook or enewsletter for instance, but also the layout and design, the SEO etc. It also needs to be free of typos!
I know, in the past, I’ve probably been guilty of rushing to publish content on our website because I’m so eager to share what we’ve created with you. But for content marketing to be successful in the long term, it needs to be approached holistically. In other words, the copy is equally as important as the design and the layout; the messages need to be consistent and you need to keep communicating with your customers — it can’t be hit and miss.
Just as every side in an equilateral triangle must be created equal, so too do you have to consider all components equally when content marketing.
Outsourcing is Okay
As a small business, you probably have at least one person in your team who is either a) design inclined; or b) a good, strong writer. If you’re really lucky, you may have both, but it’s not uncommon for a business to need to outsource part of this work to a professional, usually on a contract or freelance basis.
Take stock of the talent you have in-house already. If you have a competent designer, utilise them and outsource the writing to a professional. It’s unwise to try and do everything yourself. Producing high quality content is a time-consuming process, made even more so if there’s a particular aspect of it — the writing, say — that you’re not proficient at.
I would say that most business owners do most of what I would loosely term ‘designing’, themselves, which in the case of blogging is choosing an image that accurately reflects the message you’re trying to communicate in the main copy.
Think Outside the Stock Box When it Comes to Photos for Your Blogs
There is a certain art to selecting images for your blog. You want to avoid using ones that every other blogger is using, which means ditching your regular Google Images haunt and using a stock library instead. But this is where you need to do your research.
Many free stock libraries serve up the same images that you find in Google Images, which brings you back to square one. They’re also incredibly boring. At this point, next logical option probably seems like paying for a membership to a stock library.
Again, research is required here. Not all stock libraries, even paid ones, are created equally. Well known libraries — iStock Photo, for example — are expensive, while the other, lesser known ones are still boring. So what’s a content marketer to do? Get creative.
Take Your Own Digital Marketing Images With Your Smartphone
Remember, content marketing is about creating original, high quality content that’s relevant both to your customers and to your business. With this in mind, rather than paying for expensive stock photography and images, why don’t you take your own? There’s nothing more original and relevant to you and your customers than your own photography.
Publishing original content on your blog and website, whether it’s in the form of images, copy or videos (or all of the above), the harder it will work at driving your search engine rankings, while, at the same time, the personalised approach will have a longer lasting impression on your readers and customers.
Prioritise Content Marketing in 2017
Bookkeepers especially — take note!
If you’re a bookkeeper looking to start your own bookkeeping business and find yourself clients, or grow you list of clients, and content marketing isn’t already on your agenda for 2017 — it should be.
In terms of having the experience and know-how to content market to people we know what our students need to be successful to this end, after all, most EzyLearn students use our services for MYOB Training Courses, Excel Training Courses, Xero Courses and Small Business Management Training because they’re looking for bookkeeping work or want to start a bookkeeping business. Very early in the piece we started finding out why our students did our courses because it enables us to develop targeted products (and write content about) what they need.
Join our Bookkeeping Directory TODAY
We’ve launched a new bookkeeping directory which is aimed at helping people (our students primarily) find bookkeeping work or start a bookkeeping business, but it’s also a great way for small businesses to find bookkeepers who are close to them. We’re also taking registrations for our content marketing online course.
If you’re interested in content marketing, either for your business or because you’d like to become an independent contractor offering content marketing services to other business, you can learn more by subscribing to our blog.
Create a Business Blog to Start Your Content Marketing Strategy
I started Business Blogging when we took our training courses online because there is a lot of information to share about MYOB, Xero, Microsoft Excel and the other software programs that help small business owners streamline their business, manage their accounts and finances and perform sales and marketing to bring in new sales.
Another reason was my realisation that keywords are king in the age of discovery where getting discovered by Google results in over 70% of the traffic to many websites!
Keywords Are King
A lot of small business owners throw thousands of dollars at Pay Per Click advertising in the hope of getting more visitors to their website. The most common service to help people spend these advertising dollars is Google’s own Google Adwords. Here’s a blog post about Google Adwords from 2010.
[quote]Have you heard the promise “I can guarantee your website appears on page 1 on Google”? It’s often by using Google Adwords and targeting selected keywords that companies can deliver on this claim, but at what cost?[/quote]
Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC)
Google Adwords is the perfect capitalist advertising tool because every advertiser competes for the keywords they want. The more competitors there are for a keyword or keyphrase the higher the cost per click – How scary is that!?
I understand that “Insurance” is one of the highest cost keywords you can “bid for” and there would be some pretty big players in that business. They keywords in this paragraph is “bid for” because that is exactly what happens, you place a bid for the maximum you are willing to pay for that keyword or keyphrase for EVERY time someone CLICKS on your ad.
There are ways of making sure a competitor doesn’t send you broke by clicking on your ad over and over, but essentially this strategy involves choosing keywords and bidding in the marketplace with all of your competitors.
Would You Rather Have People Come to You?
Bidding for keywords using Google Adwords is a great way to quickly test an idea or a strategy because you can guarantee website visitors, albeit at a high price, but people come across our website from all sorts of different keyword searches and that is where this blog has come in very handy.
I admit when I first started blogging for business the concept seems very NERDY! It’s like keeping an online diary for all to read and share. Then I justified it by affirming that keeping a blog is really just like having a “News” section to your website, demonstrating that your business is active and there’s a lot going on. Now I realise that it’s even more than that! Blogging for Business helps you
build an online reputation,
explain how some customers use your products
encourage readers to become customers
encourage readers to be part of your community
enable customers to be advocates and recommend your business
Having a business blog with useful content, good use of relevant keywords and landing pages that give internet users answers to their questions will help you begin the journey into Inbound Marketing, where potential customers discover YOU and what you have to offer. Do it right and you’ll just need to guide your website visitors to the conclusion you want – usually a sale.
Your Blog Becomes More Valuable Every Week
The other great thing about Blogging for Business is that your blogging site and the landing pages you refer to become more and more valuable over time as they remain in Google’s cache. They also become tools that can be used by your staff as they refer the blogs to customers who have specific questions that are answered in your blog posts.
Google is the current flavour for search engines and they seem to be doing a great job to stay in front, but Bing (owned by Microsoft) and others in China and Russia are always looking for ways to do better and get more people using them and having an active and useful blog will ensure success no matter how the search engine market changes.
Choose EzyLearn for Your Blogging for Business Training Course
We’ve been blogging about our online training courses since 2008 and we are a training company that designs courses in a logical fashion from basic to more advanced skills to ensure you experience the epiphanies most students are looking for when they do a course.
We include all of our content for one low price and we add updates that we create during the year to our existing courses, creating more content and better value for money every month.
Best of all our Blogging For Business Training Courses includes real life blog site membership, exercises where you get to create your own blog posts and link to landing pages, participate in social media and in a community of like minded beginner bloggers.