22Nov

Ep#18: How to Get Started with Content Marketing

How to get started on your content marketing strategy

This week is part 2 of my interview with Steve Davis from Baker Marketing about content marketing for small businesses. In part 1 we had an introductory discussion about content marketing and in this episode we move onto some tips for getting started on your content marketing activities and strategy.

Covered in this episode;

  1. What are some ways to brainstorm and generate some unique content ideas?
  2. How often should we be creating content?
  3. How do we get people to come and consume our content?
  4. Do you recommend any tools or services to help get content out to a wider audience?
  5. How do we encourage our content consumers to become our customers?

Links / mentions;

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Nick: Welcome back to Web Marketing Adelaide Podcast. This week, we’re talking about Content Marketing again. We have Part 2 of my chat with Steve Davis from Baker Marketing. In Part 1, we addressed the Introduction to Content Marketing. In this episode, we’re going to delve into how to get started with your content marketing strategy. Let’s hear the interview now.

I’m back here talking with Steve Davis from Baker Marketing about Content Marketing For Small Businesses. In Part 1, we covered a bit of the Introduction to Content Marketing, what it’s all about, and in Part 2 we’re going to be looking into how to do it and what businesses can sort of start getting into it.

Welcome back to the show Steve.

Steve: Thanks Nick.

Nick: Let’s start off with what are some typical pieces of content or content marketing that many sort of, small business owners might have seen around the place that they may be doing, just to sort of get an idea of what some things are out there.

Steve: Ifyou’ve known me for more than 10 seconds, you would know that I’m going to start with the blog. I believe blog articles, are almost like the DNA. They’re the foundation building blocks for content marketing for just about every business type and the reason being, is this sort of content is very, very versatile. First of all, once we’ve sat down and worked out, as we talked about in Part 1, Thinking Through a Marketing Strategy, what are the challenges faced in the business, how do we try and draw more people into or world, what sort of people are we after.

Once we’ve got that sorted out, then we can start thinking about the questions that are going to be floating around in those people’s minds on their journey towards your product or service and blog articles are a great way to lay the bait out there, if you like, and we’re talking online particularly here, Google, the search engines, seem to have a love affair with blog content. Typically, blog articles are short and to the point and they’re focused on a particular topic and they’re updated regularly, all the things that search engines like.

So when I go looking for something which might be how to choose a good sunscreen for my 4 year old, it’s beholden, I think, on anyone, in the cosmetics game or is making those sort of pharmaceutical products, like the sunscreen for instance, have anticipated some of those questions and has got a blog post with a title as specific as that or close to it, as they’re anticipating all the different questions that Moms and Dads might be plugging in, and indeed Childcare Managers etc. might be plugging in to do a little research before they make decisions on what sunscreen for example that they’re going to be buying. So, blog content is great there. It’s easy to produce once you’ve got some training in just what the basic elements are.

The search engines love it and also I think, that if a schedule is going to be stuck to of producing it regularly, it’s to me, the most potent bit of professional development anyone could ask for because someone in that business or a small team is going to be giving themselves permission, and also exercising discipline to sit down once a week, or once a fortnight, whatever it might be, to write something that actually brings the world of their prospect together to their world, in a way that helps Google, the great matchmaker in the sky, bring them together. I don’t know that you can actually buy that sort of professional development. It almost has to be done in-house, from meditating on the marketing plan and meditating deeply on the ideal person you’re trying to court through your marketing. That was a long answer.

Nick: No that’s good. That’s good stuff. I’m glad to hear that you’re an evangelist for blogs because I’m also in that camp as well. I love the blog medium and the good news for business owners of course is that it’s so easy to get into blogging with systems like WordPress out there which is for free. You probably may need some help to set it up the first time but after that it’s fairly easy, fairly intuitive to get in there and just start using it.

Steve: One other thing on top of that, and yes, my heart just skipped a beat when you mentioned WordPress. I have a strong love affair for that. In fact my default position if anyone is looking to build a website these days is if it’s in WordPress, unless you’ve got a really good reason otherwise, I think she’s seeing some figures of the top million websites on the planet and 68% of them are in WordPress. I would have, that is a staggering figure.

It broadens out to about 1 in 5 when you take the whole internet, but in the top million websites, that is a big chunk. Anyway, I digressed – there was something you mentioned there I was going to react to, about WordPress being, oh yes, the other thing about blog articles in they’re easy to share because most WordPress and other blogging software and content management system software does make it easy, if I like an article, to flick it on to someone I know, through my Facebook friends, through my Twitter friends.

And in fact, I heard an article, sorry I read an article, must be about 3 or 4 weeks ago now, with one of the top marketers with Coca-Cola who was saying that the absolute key to success in marketing online these days is to make everything you do shareable and to me, I read 2 things from that. Shareable is I’ve got to like it. It’s got to be interesting in the first place otherwise, it’s not going to be shareable and secondly in some way, in some sort of format that can be flicked on through my network.

You might recall in our first interview, we talked about advertising versus content marketing. The thing about shareable content, is if I share it, my friends are going to be more open to your piece of content that I’m sharing than if you’re paying money to advertise it at them, because it’s coming through a trusted source to them someone like them, well fairly much like them and so there’s a lot more trust when a friend passes something on than an advertiser because advertisers obviously are going to give you the Walt Disney version of their business, but if I like something, then my personal integrity is on the line with my friends if I bother them in passing it on.

Nick: Definitely, definitely, and just a note on WordPress. We mentioned Word Press a couple of times, and my listeners will remember we had an episode about WordPress a few weeks ago. So, if you want a bit more information about WordPress, you can go and check that out.

Now that sort of people know that blogs are a good place to start, how are, what are the type of ways that the business owners can brainstorm ideas for this content element in writing?

Steve: There are so many different ways to do this. If you’ve got a website that’s been going for a while, one of the most obvious things is to look at your analytics. I imagine Google analytics or whatever and have a look deep into the search terms that brought people to your website because apart from just your business name, which is likely to be there towards the top, you’re going to find questions and phrases people have been typing into and to me, that is the signal that this is the sort of content that people are looking for. So that’s one place to start.

There’s another search engine and I’m hoping the name will come back to me in a moment – even though I work in this field all the time, I’m not a great, I’m not given to all the latest hip names on everything, and they go in one area or the other but I’ll follow up for the show notes. There’s a search engine that allows you to say, throw in some URLs, some web addresses, let’s say 10 or so of your closest competitors, and it actually goes through them one by one and it looks for where and how often each page of piece of content of their website has been shared in social media or social networks. To me, that’s fascinating, because you’re going to get a good sense instantly in your sector of what sort of articles are resonating with people out there. You’ll say, wow this has gone crazy on Twitter or there’s a lot of activity, we can produce something like that. So, that gives you an idea on what the market’s after.

Another thing that I find – are you going to me ask me something there?

Nick: I was just going to say that I’ve heard of that search engine also and we’ll definitely have a link in the show notes once we figure out which one it is.

Steve: It will come to me midway through, another coffee and it will be right.

The other thing that I like using, another Google tool actually is, to sit down with the Google Key Word tool at googlekeywordtool.com and punch in some of the key words related to a business and generate a list of all the related terms that Google think are related to your field because, in there, if you sat down with that, and you went word or phrase by phrase and drafted titles for blog posts for example, using these terms, such as, what could be an example, making coffee. Let’s say the coffee realm, so if I looked in for making coffee, then I’m sure Google will bring up how to make coffee, how to make coffee at home, how to make coffee in the office etc.

To me, this is a great insight because you know there’s traffic related to these terms and you can mold them into your world by turning them into article titles because if we know what sort of things our audience is interested in looking for, what we’re after, are idea starters, to try and get ideas out of our head. And one of the ways is that list of articles, about a hundred or so words that Google will give you. If you sat down – I often do this with clients with a bottle of wine involved, takes about an hour and stop each of those words one by one, does this apply to our business or not? Yes or no. If it does, how can we turn it into a title?

We’d make a big list of potential article titles, with maybe a bullet point underneath of what we’d write about in that article and once we’ve done that brainstorming and we’ve got say 52 article titles on that list, that’s a years’ worth of potential articles waiting to be written. To me, I know this because I’ve seen it happen with the thousands of clients I’ve worked with, it breaks the back of the task, because when it comes to blog day with might be Tuesday or Wednesday or Saturday or whatever, even in the busiest, most stressful week, if you’ve got that starter title, you can still churn something out that’s useful and helpful but in the middle of a stressful week, if I just said, write a blog quick Nick, hurry up, our brains tend to freeze, because they like having their focus. So, there are the starting points of the kernel of content.

Nick: Great points. I’ll just mention a few tips that I’ve heard mentioned in the stuff that I use as well with content generation ideas. One, you mentioned Google analytics ad one tip I’ve heard sort of described is where you look at particularly questions that we’ve sort of talked about a little bit but also other terms where someone’s come to your website but then they’ve left really quickly.

If you look at that and see that this is actually relevant to you, if it’s not relevant then you can sort of ignore it, but if it is relevant, they’ve come in and then they’ve left, you know you’re at least ranking somewhere there, assuming such query but you know they weren’t really satisfied with what you had. So, that’s sort of a good, ID for a piece of content where it might be pretty to rank well and go because you already ranked somewhat well for that term and that may be a place to start when you just don’t know where to start.

And one other was a search engine or a tool called ubersuggest, where it actually takes, taps into Google’s auto suggest feature, so, when you’re in Google, when typing in your query, it often come up with a little drop-down with suggestions of what your query might be. This tool, it would suggest, taps into that and gives you a list of suggestions based on a starting query and I’ll have those links again in the show notes for some extra information.

Now, within there, you said, you mentioned 52 pieces of content and you’d have enough for a year. So does that mean that people should be aiming for like a weekly schedule for putting out content or …

Steve: Look, it’s hard to prescribe generally without sitting down with someone, but I think it’s a good rule of thumb, just the way, from my understanding the way the human brain works. You can get a bit of a habit and a ritual going if you’re sticking to something weekly. It also feeds the search engines nicely, so when those spiders come visiting your website, they see there’s a good regular trickle of new content and also, once week within a nice, an original piece of content, builds up a great library for you before too long that becomes quite handy in a way, I often refer to it as the doctor’s bag.

Because I’ve got little children 4 and 2, and every now and then you’ve got to call the locum at 2 in the morning and what always staggered me is, inside the doctors’ bag, there’s always something that fixes the problem. I don’t know how it works or how they do it, for all I know it’s a placebo, but your blog becomes a doctors bag before too long, and you’re shopping on the weekend or you bump into someone at the café, and they are like, Oh you’re that marketing guy, whatever, you get involved in conversation. Yeah, I’ve been meaning to ask you about XY Zero, you will suggest for example, oh yeah. It’s not conducive to a big conversation, but they’re interested in more.

You say, look, I’ve written an article, I reckon was a few months ago on that, can I send you the link? And at that point they can give you their business card, if they don’t have one, you can jot down their email address, jot down what you’re going to send them, and you’ve got this lovely, warm connection with them that’s just about to happen, where they’ll click the link, read the article and at that point in time, they’re reading that on your website because hopefully, that’s where you’re blogging. If they like what they see there, they know how to contact you. I think it’s a win win and so, I rarely go a week without prescribing from my doctor’s bag at least three times. In fact, it’s never been less than that. It’s amazing, once you’ve got a body of work, how often you’re doling out these prescriptions of things to read.

Nick: Right, so, if you are sort of really enthusiastic and want to get on top of it more than once a week then you think that’s – is there any limit as to how many, I mean obviously, is once a day too much or…?

Steve: You know, I think it’s all going to depend, sector by sector. There are going to be some sectors, particularly those if retailers and fashion or where there’s a lot of fast moving things and trends going on that I know, certain market segments are hungry for lots of content. They don’t want to miss anything and that would be fine, however, there are going to be some, where that would just be overkill.

Mind you, I don’t want to make the mistake that some people make that, Oh I’m going to blog and I’m going to be bamboozling everyone, well not necessarily. People can still choose, and one thing I’m careful to say to people is, you’re not writing a serial novel necessarily that someone’s going to be chiming in for week in week out or day in and day out. Often, each article you write is a discreet piece of content, a distinct piece that’s going to float out there in the big Google sea, to attract a certain user with a certain question. It’s case by case, I think on that front.

If you can do it and sustain it, that’s great generally but because of the small business where people are stretched for time, I think weekly is fine, it’s the right balance for most people and through the week of course, you’ve got less intensive things you can share, such as sharing interesting little photographs or snaps or videos, etc. that you can quickly generate and turn around on your smart phone that feed into your social streams, without the brain drain than perhaps, putting a whole blog piece together demands.

Nick: Great. Well there’s some good tips to start with the content creation side of things. I’d like to delve now into the content marketing, or the marketing side of the content marketing thing. So, how should people go about getting this content out, to their audience or their potential customers?

Steve: Firstly, if you’re using WordPress, WordPress is your platform, you’ve done about 70% of the work. Just the way that Google just tends to love how the architecture of the WordPress site is, they can understand and share things.

However it’s not quite enough for the whole job. I think listening to your market, to determine where they gather, to determine what sort of things they’re searching on, what social networks are attracting more of them, that’s important. The most mandatory thing I think, is sharing your content through a Google Plus page. Primarily because Google has made some public statements, people within Google that they are giving added advantage to content shared through Google Plus. So, I’d be sharing links to my content back through there.

That’s a no-brainer but then, thinking strategically about what might interest people around a Facebook page or group or through a Twitter account with some of the content that you’ve shared. So, it’s one thing to write an article, another thing is to invite the hook in different ways to get it out to people. But at the same time, I think that – by the way, a tool I use for it is Hootsuite, huge fan of Hootsuite, the fact that I can disseminate my content across a number of platforms all at once. It’s hard to talk in general terms but I love using Hootsuite as an eavesdropping tool, for listening in on conversations that are using terms that to me, signal someone who is somewhere along my pathway.

Back on the coffee thing, just briefly, both Patrick, from Patrick Baker and I have a little coffee brand called Baristador which we use as a, we do al lot of experimentation with it and one of its key points, the difference, it’s top level espresso coffee but you choose your caffeine strength. So, it’s a niche health market that is there. So, I’ve got a listening search set up inside Hootsuite for the term decaf and coffee together, listening to key markets around Australia, and it’s amazing, you pick up some people who just say decaf coffee and it’s a whole lot of expletives they hate it.

They’re not my market, but when people are saying, I’m really looking to try good decaf coffee, that is where you’ve got the chance to fling them a piece of content from your doctors bag if you like. You say oh, here’s an article that helps, or is it possible to have more espresso in the day without feeling too horrible and cramped in your stomach. Well I’ve written a blog post on the Baristador site around that topic, so they’ve asked publicly. I said look, here’s an article than may help you with that thing. So you can actually then start using this body of content that answers questions that people are asking in the real world.

Nick: Great, great, great topic. Let’s sort of look at again, past the marketing, into sort of the conversion world. How should we or how should business owners be encouraging these people who are consuming their content to actually become customers?

Steve: I think a lot of that’s going to come down to where that person is along in the purchase decision process. The beauty of content marketing, is, if you’ve considered the typical marketing sales funnel, we put a big wide end and it goes into a narrow end. The narrow end, the point at which the sale actually happens but way out in the broad pit, we don’t know that we need that product or service yet.

A lot of the content you’ll find out there isn’t going to go necessarily go straight to the conversion but what it does do is to bring order out of the chaos for someone. Like for example, I’m dabbling in an android device at the moment. I’ve been an IOS man for a long time and so I’ve been looking at content marketing articles written by people whom I have a sense of trust about to give me some guidance on what are the better ones to choose. So, they’re not necessarily into direct sale just yet, I am narrowing my field.

Now it just so happens, if some of those are vendors, then, they’re on my shortlist so that when I have made my decision, they may not get the sale, but they are on the shortlist and one of the outcomes of most marketing pursuits, is to get you on to the shortlist of a consumer. We all make shortlists, sometimes we’re not aware of it because it’s an inconsequential decision. You’re walking down the street to buy ice cream, or coffee. It’s a short list, there’s 2 cafés, you just make a quick decision and off you go. More elaborate ones like getting another piece of electronic device in my house, past my wife, needs to have a lot more thought that goes into it so I can justify that and so, I am going to rely on that content and I will owe something to the people who have helped bring clarity on the way.

I think that movement towards a conversion can happen without being obnoxious about it. I think gently making reference to your Top 5 picks of android devices for example, which might then go to a different page, where there they all are, not only with your ratings but with the ability to order one now or buy one now. To me, that’s a soft sell, that’s a nice way to graduate the movement.

Another situation might be one where perhaps in the health field, where you can’t really prescribe publicly, but you can say look, these are the things to be concerned about in this field, let’s correct the sunscreen for children that we talked about in podcast 1. For making the final decision, maybe even think about your child’s skin type and allergies, please make an appointment to talk to one of our doctors or nurses who can help you with those final decisions. I think gently letting people know what the next step is, what we call the call to action, is a rightful thing to have in this content, but the way you do it should come after some good content.

It doesn’t hurt though, when they’re reading content to have direct calls to action in the side column where there might be special offers, waiting for people to pursue it because if there’s one thing we know about humans, they hate being sold to, but they love buying. If your content marketing is helping me on this journey, an enjoyable journey of making a choice, no there it is, beckoning for me to make the sale on the corner, then I’m in control and I can click that through and feel like I’ve owned the whole process. I don’t feel like I’ve been hood-winked into it.

Nick: Great, great tips and I suspect that this question will be a fairly varied answer but is there some sort of a guideline you can give us to how long business owners should expect to wait, or how long will it take before they start seeing results from content marketing strategy.

Steve: Your preamble is correct. The answer is it depends. It depends on the size, the expense, the complexity of the purchase decision. How many choices there are on the market? I’ve had situations where it’s turned around very quickly, within weeks people are generating sales, but others where it’s taken a lot longer when they’re talking about people buying a $5,000 or $6,000 charter for example, going back to my fishing company. That may not be the most expensive thing they’re ever going to buy but they’re also going to talk to friends and then get dates organized. So you have to be realistic, about what’s going on in the world of the customer to make that final purchase decision.

So, I wish I could just dole out one, I can’t. It does depend on a case by case basis but also, even within the one enterprise, product by product or service by service. There’s going to be some products or services in your portfolio that are much easier to move towards a transaction and buy. There are going to be others that take longer, so even with the one company, there’s going to be differences across the spectrum.

Nick: Yep, yep. So is there any tips or statistics or ways that you can give for people to sort of know they’re on the right track. If it could take a long time perhaps, start seeing the results of from this content marketing stuff they’re doing. How can they make sure they’re staying on track and that they’re doing the right things?

Steve: So, again, this is an it depends question, because what you’re asking for their benchmarks if you like, or milestones to know that you’re heading towards the right destination, and you’re making progress. Some people just look at sheer numbers of are you maintaining the number of blog posts, are you getting a certain number of likes or a certain degree of traffic, or is your bounce on your website starting to shrink and not be too high? At Baker Marketing, aside from that, we’ve got an age old little formula we use, that whenever someone’s – apart from finding some benchmarks that works on a case by case basis, at the back of our minds and at the back of our talk, it is always just one thing.

If someone is saying, we just don’t think what we’re doing is working, the formula is frequency x reach x quality. So, often, people say it’s not working, and you look back through let’s say the blog articles or the videos they’ve been making, and they bore you to death. They are irrelevant, or they’re stodgy or they’re hard sell and they just not, people are not going to rate them, so quality would die there. There may be a writing great quality, but what’s the reach? How many of your target market are actually getting to see them?

It may be well to have it there in your website, but where have you drip feathered into a forum or shared it to an answer, a question someone’s asking in LinkedIn answers or on Twitter etc. That’s one thing and frequency, how often have you been producing and or sharing this content? What we have found, in the 12, 14 years we’ve been practicing, is that 1 of those factors or 2 is often the smoking gun if you’re not generating sales at the other end, which is what that formula leads to and that’s a handy little rule of thumb to bear in mind. That will determine where there needs more effort to be placed.

Nick: Absolutely, that makes sense. I think we’ll wrap it up there. Thanks very much Steve for all your insights on content marketing. It’s been a really great chat on this episode, on the last episode as well. If business owners want to get the ball rolling on content marketing, what would be sort of your one tip for how they should get started?

Steve: Well, if they happen to be anywhere around South Australia, I would get them to take advantage of our little chat with Patrick himself. He makes himself available for an hour chat free of charge. That is not a sales spiel, it’s actually a solid little chat out of which often comes a good sense of strategic direction, even within that first hour, and to me, everything I talk about has to, needs to, must come from that setting of the compass, which is the marketing strategy, the base of any of the operations. If they do that, to me, that’s making most sense of it. If they’re not going to do that, then taking stock themselves of what are the big challenges faced in the company? Where do they, what have they set themselves to go and what sort of content is going to be most helpful for the type of market they’ve identified.

So, I wish there was something to say, just go ahead and start writing a blog, but if we don’t know which direction we’re heading, we’re going to have a lovely journey, and we’ll look at some scenery, but we may never get to the stage we actually care about.

Nick: And before I let you go, I just wanted to touch on some of the workshops and things. I know I’ve just been seeing the name, Baker Marketing, popping up everywhere. If someone’s ever going to get this same interview with you because you taught different occasions where you go and do workshops everywhere. Can you tell us a little bit about these events and how business owners can sort of get involved?

Steve: First thing, get involved. I would just give out office a call or have a look on our website, but nothing quite beats just making direct contact, bakermarketingservices.com because the people in the office there have the big master plan of wherever we’re heading and where I’m going. Strangely enough, I’m often the last person to ask. I just look at my calendar and off we go.

The sort of things we’re doing, we’ve been lucky enough to win a number of the attenders for the National Broad Band Network, to roll out some marketing for small business and small organization programs in South Australia and Northern Territory and so, they take people through the basics of thinking through IT requirements, Marketing requirements etc., Business systems in the oncoming culture of having access to the NBM to get them right. So, that’s one form of workshop.

Other are business enterprise centers and other organizations get us in, what have I done recently? Strategic blogging, I’ve done particular workshops for that also, executive board strategy presentations, just for board members to get ahead around the concepts. We do practical ones on using some of the social media tools. One of the most popular ones that comes up all the time as we shoot out into the regions, is starting with the basis on blogging and then moving through how to get that information now.

As a matter of fact, at the time that we’re recording this, I’m heading off to the Coonawarra, for women in business regional development running to intensive days of a social media master class, doing the keynote talk in the evening, having some one on one meetings with people. So, we basically run a lot of workshops on all the aspects of marketing and we just get approached non-stop to do that and that means I am on the road a lot of the time doing it.

What I love about it, is you get that instant feedback form people, you can see arms crossed when they’re defensive, when they first hear that I’m going to be challenging some of their thoughts and making them do a bit more extra work, to go a bit harder for their business and that’s the battle, to help them relax, help them see they’ve got no choice, but there are some smart ways to manage their time to make it sustainable.

I don’t know how well that answered your question but, many ways, shapes and forms, these workshops take and turning up so many, you no doubt at some point, there’s programs running through the hills between Onkapringa region and through Darwin at the moment along with one offs here and there.

Nick: Great, great and I’ll put some links in the show notes as well to where you can find out some more information about that.

Thanks very much Steve, for coming on the program. It’s been really fantastic having you. Where can people find out more about Baker Marketing, at the website? Is it the best place?

Steve: I think it’s the place. I’ll give you 2 things, 1 is the website which is bakermarketingservices.com and I encourage you to pop on there but also on Twitter, it is probably as good as anywhere, baker_marketing is our Twitter handle.

One thing I forgot to mention is the first Sunday of every month, in the evening, I’m on 5AA with a regular radio program talking about things happening on the web and also profiling websites that I find interesting around South Australia and beyond. So, I encourage people to listen out for that and I’m happy to connect on Twitter, at stevedavis, all one word.

Nick: Great, fantastic. Well thanks again for coming on the show and enjoy the rest of your trip up to Coonawarra.

Steve: Pleasure Nick. I’ll have a drink for you.

Nick: Cheers!

I hope you enjoyed that second episode with Steve Davis. If you didn’t hear the first episode, then you should go back to episode number 17 and check that out as well. If you want any more information about any of the stuff we discussed in this episode, head to the show notes on the website, that’s www.webmarketingadelaide.com.au. It’s got links to Steve’s website, Baker Marketing website, the social profiles that we discussed, various links to different tools and things we learned during the episode. So go there, check out those links. If you’ve got any feedback or if you’ve got any ideas for future shows, hit the feedback link in the menu at the top and send your feedback through. I’ll see you next week. Bye.

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