ultimate content marketing guide

Your Ultimate Content Marketing Guide

When it comes to content marketing, ask any business owner what they want and they'll answer "An Ultimate Content Marketing Guide" - what to do and how to do it.

Sound like you? Then you're in the right place!

What I'm going to be sharing with you today are the top 10 questions that I keep getting over and over and over from the people who follow me.

What is content marketing?

Content marketing based on my definition is the process of lovingly showing up for your prospect with content that adds value for them until they are ready to say yes to working with you.

In my book "Small Business Marketing Made EZ" this would be the C in the ACTION Marketing System - CONNECTING with people. What too many people do is "ask for marriage on the first date" aka asking people to buy your stuff. NO ONE WANTS TO BUY YOUR STUFF ON A FIRST DATE! 

There's going to be a period of time between when somebody sees your first piece of content and when they actually buy from you and you actually have to love them and care enough for them to continuously show up for them in that period of time.

A lot of people want to honestly just hit it and quit it. They want to put out a Facebook ad or put out a video and they want everybody to respond to that video. No wonder so many business owners are unhappy with their marketing results.

Content marketing really is based in love and it's really about reaching out and sharing your gifts, your knowledge, your wisdom and your goldmine with the world. Knowing that only a small fraction of the people are actually going to come back around and end up deciding to work with you. 

There are many different kinds of content. There's lives, which is a form of video. There's video that you can record ahead of time, then upload it. There's pictures, there's audio and there's texts.

Content comes in many different forms and based on the platform that you're using, you can actually use almost all of these different formats. Tor example, with Instagram, you have Instagram live, which can be 60 minutes before it cuts off. And then you have Instagram video or IGTV or Instagram stories, which are six seconds. You can put pictures, picture quotes, infographics, lifestyle photos. You can actually repurpose some of your podcasts audio for using the wave app to put audio on Instagram.

Content is not just video, even though video is one of the most powerful forms of content. And I'll explain why in a moment. Email is content. A fillable PDF worksheet is content. A podcast is content, a blog post is content, a webinar is content, a web page that is educational and instructional is content.

You're an entrepreneur . . . someone who has a cure/solution for a problem. While you know you have the cure/solution, unless your prospect sees they have a problem right then and there, they're not going to buy your cure/solution. 

What you want to do is be there when they do need your cure/solution, because as you know (although your prospect won't admit it), they are going to fall flat on their face, and when they do, you show up to help. You don't get mad at them. You don't get angry at them. You continually, lovingly show up for them.

Too many business owners give up on their prospects too quickly, too early, just because they didn't say yes the first time. You have to continuously lovingly show up for them. 

Your content is what allows you to continuously, lovingly show up for them at every moment in their journey where they're trying to figure this thing out, where they're trying to circumvent help, where they're trying to get there on their own and get caught up in the DIY process.

It happens when they bump their head just hard enough to say, you know what, "Who can help me right now?" Ah, that guy or that gal who has always putting out those great videos, let me reach out to them. This is where the relationship starts.

Content marketing is very strategic. You want every post to have a purpose. Too many business owners, they just start posting randomly food pictures and things of that nature that has no significance to their area of expertise. Ultimately what you want is every post to lead people back to the top of your funnel.

How do I use content marketing to gain more followers?

People want to post their content see their followers and subscribers go up as a result. Having a lot of followers may look great and may make you feel great but gross is for vanity, net is for sanity. It's not the number of likes or followers you have that matters. The only metric that matters is those you can deposit in the bank - real dollars.

The way I think about content marketing is as a religion. You are essentially creating a religion around your area of expertise. And before you get people to buy from you, they actually have to believe in your religion. For example, the South Beach diet, that is a religion around dieting. The Atkins diet, that's a religion around dieting. The Paleo diet, that's a religion around dieting. Calorie counting, that's a religion around dieting. You have to get people to believe first and then they will buy. When they buy into your beliefs, then they will buy into your products or services. 

In order to gain more followers, you have to create valuable content. If your content isn't getting any reactions or responses on social media, then you have to go within and say, let me give more. You might be holding back. I know there is a vault of wisdom in your head, and you might be holding back because you're like, "Oh, I want to save that for my course. I want to sell that." And yes, you do have to find the free versus fee line. Every business has to find the free versus fee line. It's a very thin line but in most cases most people hold back too much and as a result, nobody ever finds them.

Once you do that, you simply have to ask them to follow you, to subscribe, to turn on post notifications, join your email list, to share. speakers, authors or experts. Focus on attracting your true fans aka the right type of followers.

Does content marketing really work? How do you turn content into customers?

A lot of people think that content marketing is just a branding exercise and branding means that it is increasing the goodwill and changing the perception of your business and your brand in the mind of those that you are seeking to serve. That is true, but content marketing can actually lead directly to dollars.

The power of content when done right is that it actually becomes evergreen and can be sending leads to you for years to com.

What's the best platform to put my content on and do I have to do video?

There are all kinds of platforms that you can be on and I call them weapons of mass creation. What I encourage people to do in terms of choosing a platform is identify the platform wherever you feel most self-expressed, where you feel you could be, most of who you are. Now, you may not feel like you have a voice. You may not like your own voice and therefore just doing audio and a podcast may not be good for you. If you did the same content in a fun way on Instagram, it would come off more natural to you. So you have to find a platform that allows you to be the most self-expressed. Some of you are better writers than others, and some are more comfortable speaking.

I do want you to be aware that each platform has its own pros and cons. And I won't go into all of them here, but I want you to know that content spoils quickly online. A Snapchat is only 10 seconds and then it's gone. Twitter, if somebody doesn't see it within 24 minutes of the post, they'll like never see it. Facebook, email, even YouTube is the same way. If people don't see it by the time they leave work or within eight hours, then that content is gonna be lost forever. You put all this time and energy into it, but it only served the people who saw it within that period of time. 

Why is video so powerful?

A lot of people say, "Oh, I don't want to be on video. I'm camera shy, this and that." Well, the reason video is so powerful is that video has so much rich data in it. It can easily be repurposed into so many different types of content.

You can take a long form or a 30 minute YouTube video and you can actually cut it up into 30 Instagram or some one minute Instagram videos. That video can be converted into an MP3. So now it's a podcast episode. And you can even take that audio from the video and actually get it transcribed and turn it into a blog or even an e-book. This is why video is so powerful is because it has so many derivatives that can be created from it.

All the data supports that video is the new way. It's the highest form of personal connectivity beyond being in person with someone. YouTube has over a billion users, almost a third of all people on the internet. With Millennials, mobile consumption has now eclipsed their TV consumption. People spend on average 2.6 times more time on pages with video then without it. Viewers retain 95% of the message when they watch a video compared to 10% when reading it in text. This is why video is so key and I really want you to get comfortable with video and make sure that it is a huge part of your content marketing mix.

How do I overcome my fear of video and get more comfortable on camera?

I wish there was a shortcut to this, but there's no real shortcut. The more videos you shoot, the more comfortable you get and the better you'll get, and the more likely that you'll achieve greatness. That's it. There's no shortcut, there's no way around it. 

Another big thing that keeps people from being on video is that they want to be the guru. They want to have achieved it all and mastered it all. And then they want to come down the mountain to teach people. But if you wait to be the guru, then there would have been a lot of people who are still be waiting because you're going to constantly be evolving.

You're going to constantly be learning new things. So you'll never "arrive". But you do have to know that there are people who can benefit from what you have right here  and right now. There are three types of leadership styles. The first type of leader that everybody wants to be is the guru or the vet. And this is the person who's at the top of the mountain and they just want to say, "Look, I've been there and done that. Just follow my lead. Look, I made $10 million. Here's exactly how you do it." But the problem with that is that the way you made that $10 million, which took you 20 years to do, may not actually work in today's economic environment because you waited so long to teach and the teaching is no longer relevant.

The second type of leader is the yeast. When you add yeast to dough, it actually causes it to expand. This type of leader says, "I have an ingredient that will expand what you have. I'm not you, I can never be you. But when you add this ingredient that I'm going to share with you into the equation, it will cause what you have to expand. And I've been able to be the yeast for some other people who are doing great work in the world.

The third model is the learning leader. The learning leader basically says, "I'll go first. As soon as I learn something and test it, I'm going to share it with you. That's it. So I'm going to be the one who goes out there and experiment and then report back to the tribe. I'm willing to take that risk. I'm willing to be that kind of leader. I'm not saying that I have it all figured out and I know it all, but I'm willing to be the one that actually goes and figures it out and shares what I learned from the mistakes and the wins with you."

Here's the benefits of being a learning leader. One, you can start from where you are today, right here and right now you don't have to wait to be the guru or some expert on the top of a mountain. You don't have to pretend like you have it all figured out or that you're perfect. You get to experiment and just share your findings. You are closer to the audience so they can relate to you. And you can relate to them and your process will actually be accelerated by stepping into this leadership role by the accountability of others looking to you for guidance in the right way. I want you to know that there are people who want to know what you know right now. There are people who want to be where you are right now. There are people who want to do what you do right now and there are people who want to have what you have right now.

How do I create a content marketing strategy and calendar?

The first thing you need to do when creating a content marketing strategy or calendars is to define what is the ultimate goal? What is the call to action? What do I ultimately want people to do?

Are you trying to get people to sign up for something like a marathon or event, are you trying to get people to join a movement and vote? Are you trying to get people to join your seven day challenge and subscribe to your channel? Are you trying to get people to buy something? To visit your brick and mortar business? To buy your online course or to buy your new book?

What is the ultimate action? Once you're clear on what the ultimate call to action is, from there, you have to reverse engineer it. This is how your content marketing strategy gets developed. I'll give you an example of how to reverse engineer a book launch.

When you think about a book launch, there's all kinds of things that need to happen. The first thing is you have to actually write the book. So what kind of content could come from that? Announcing the book, your first draft, the struggles of writing, the second draft, the final draft and the first printing, right? So you could actually create content around all of these things. 

Do a quick video saying "Hey everybody, I just finished the first draft of my upcoming book. I'm so excited. In about a week or so, I'm going to be looking for five people to actually read the book. So reach out to me via email or DM if you're interested in being one of the readers."

Next is you're going to have the book cover. You could actually have a book cover competition where you announce it and you share the top five covers and then you go into a voting stage and then you share when the cover is done.

These are pieces of content you could have around that. Then from there, you need a foreword for your book, right? Perhaps some big name in the industry that other people know, agrees to write your forward and you can make an announcement in a big deal about that.

Then, as you start to sell the book, you can actually announce your rankings. Then you have your book release party and you're going to have the initial announcement, the second announcement and the third announcement around that. Then as you start to market the book and sell more, you can start having your specials.  For example, a two for one plus free shipping special.

Then the major milestones that I'm gonna celebrate along the way is 1000 copies sold. 2000 copies sold, 5,000 copies sold. And then, when people start inviting you on their podcast or you actually pursued them to invite you onto their podcast, you announce those things along the way. "Hey everybody, I'm going to be on this podcast talking about my book. Make sure you check it out. It's on Tuesday at 3:00 PM, but you can also find it at this link." or "Hey everybody, I got invited to speak at this conference or at this event, or this bookstore about my book. Make sure you stop by and visit it. I'll also be on live stream." Then you might decide to do a book excerpt reading every Monday where you go live with video and you read a 10 minute excerpt from the book.

So people are now hearing the book, right? You may actually take these seven readings and they might create your audio book and then you can announce the sale of the audio book. Then if there's new statistics that come out that are related to your book and why your book is so important.  Then you might have a tee shirt related to your book and your movement and you can announce that coming out and it being up for sale. And then you may have a speaking tour related to your book. You share details about the speaking tour, you tell people how to get their city added and you share new stops that get added to the tour along the way.

This is an example of how you create a content marketing strategy and calendar. You start with the end goal, which in this case was to get a sell as many books as possible. And then you reverse engineer that by thinking about all the different milestones and elements that are going to occur along the way where a piece of content could actually be created.

What if nobody is viewing my content, videos or liking my stuff?

A great (and common) question. The algorithms have a mind of their own and it's unlikely you post one thing and boom, you're on the top of the search results. 

You need to take charge of your content marketing (and don't rely on the search engines to do it) by sharing it anywhere and everywhere to get it out there in the world.

So you actually have to be a promoter. You can't just always rely on the algorithm to pick your stuff up. When you do, then you end up on the social media and hamster wheel and this is when it starts to feel like you post something and then you scroll down and wait five seconds and you hope that after five seconds, thousands of people will have commented and liked your stuff and you then realize you have no likes, right? Or one like from your mom.

Then you go in and start editing the posts and adding a whole bunch of hashtags hoping that it gets picked up in that way, and you scroll down again and you're like, this sucks. And then you start getting mad at all these platforms and say "this marketing doesn't work".

I just want to remind you that it's not about likes and comments, right? In my book "Small Business Marketing Made EZ" I talk about the "I" in the ACTION Marketing System. It's about knowing your metrics. My saying is "Gross is for vanity, net is for sanity." Stop chasing vanity metrics such as likes, followers and open rates. The only metrics that matter are those you can deposit in the bank!

You have to know the difference between sexy and successful metrics is not about likes and comments, it's about leads and conversions. And the only comments that really matter are in your impact and in your income, not in the number of followers that you have.

Let go of is this spray and pray mentality where you're going to post 10 things today and see if something catches, that's a spray and pray methodology and it's just going to leave you burned out. Instead you actually want to target and focus your content marketing strategy on where your perfect customer, client or patient hangs out.

The challenge with implementing your content marketing strategy is that sometimes, especially with all of the technology that we now have available to us, we actually get distanced from those that we're seeking to serve. There is a quote that says if you can articulate someone's problem better than they can, they will assume that you have the solution. So you want to know your customer's problems so intimately that they assume you have the solution to it. 

How do you create a content marketing strategy?

A commonly asked question with such an easy answer. Content marketing . . . . it can feel like you're eating an elephant. And the way you eat an elephant is one bite at a time. (don't ask me how I know LOL)

The way I approach content marketing and help my clients with their content marketing strategy is to use a content marketing calendar.  This videos shows you what that is and how to use it. And you can get a free copy of my content marketing template here. 

All you have to do is plan out a monthly theme. That theme revolves around what your customers, clients or patients ask you about the most. You then create different types of content throughout the month that answers those questions and post it out to the different platforms. This content then becomes evergreen and builds on itself.

How do you find the time to create content?

What becomes a habit gets done. It's as simple as that!

You need to block out time to focus on content marketing. I put a one-hour block on my calendar every weekend where I just turn on the camera and crank out as much content as I can during that time. I do it every weekend in the morning because that is my "prime" time . . . the time when I know I'm at my best and will feel excited and energized to record videos. Because you know what? I still hate doing them 🙁 but what becomes a habit gets done. Just like brushing your teeth. You do it and it just becomes an ingrained part of your routine.

Now what works for me, may not work for you. Some of my clients prefer to do it "in the moment" . . . when they get a thought, idea of concept they want to share. They pull out their phone and start recording. Great!

Let's face the facts here. The biggest blockage people have in terms of content creation or them being on camera is actually looking good. Am I right? So tie your content creation process into your activities. Tie it into when you're getting your hair cut, your nails done, after a relaxing massage. Set a time you'll do it and then set an alarm, and that's your time to do content creation.

There you have it. The ultimate guide to your content marketing. What will you do to put it into ACTION?

About the Author Stacey Riska

Stacey Riska is a serial entrepreneur who eats, breathes and lives marketing. She's on a mission to help businesses stop chasing shiny objects and instead focus on building the foundations of a solid marketing strategy. She's the author of "Small Business Marketing Made EZ" and "Cups to Gallons". When she's not busy helping businesses get their marketing into ACTION, she loves spending time with her husband, a great bottle of red, and chocolate (who wouldn't!)