Lots of companies are eager to use content but for one reason or another don’t yet have a blog they can publish on. This shouldn’t stop you, you can get going right now using one of the tactics or channels in the post.
Why is content marketing important?
Creating content allows you to connect with a potential audience on a much wider level than you can with just your business, service or product. You should be able to reach your audience by creating helpful, informative or entertaining content that:
- Solves common problems your customers or target market are experiencing.
- Builds trust between you and your potential customer.
- Allows you to express the personality of your brand or business and differentiate yourself from the competition.
- Nurtures potential customers so they are better able to see if your product or service would be of value to them.
- Help customers you already have to use your product or service as effectively as possible, to get the most out of it.
Content is NOT important just to improve your SEO. Although you should produce SEO optimized content to help your potential customers find you (this is why you need a blog), if you don’t have any of the above bullet points in mind when you’re creating content then it doesn’t matter how well you optimize… no one will want to read it.
This post is about keeping all of those above bullet points in mind but getting started as early as possible, whilst you build your blog.
Why is producing content before you have a blog a good idea?
Several reasons that producing content before you have a blog, or before you even launch your business, will help you:
Drive awareness and leads
You might not get the SEO benefits of having content on your site, but you can still drive awareness of your product and even acquire some great leads. You can do this by mentioning your product or service and/or including links to it in your content.
To drive awareness, distribution is essential. We get to this later in the article by getting a robust distribution strategy together this will allow you to leverage and experiment into a variety of channels such as social media and email.
Builds an audience or following
If you’re working on a product, business or service then you can use content to connect with people you think would be interested in places you think they spend time. Do this by answering the questions that they are asking publicly as this you can find those engaged communities, testing your assumptions on where you can find them and what their needs are.
Once you do start publishing on your own blog, these are the very people you can reach out to to ask if they’d like to join your newsletter (although try not to call it a “newsletter” because it sounds way too boring).
Helps you find product market fit
Many businesses actually end up producing products or providing services without having found product customer fit. Use this early opportunity to publish thought provoking articles, reach out to people and ask questions. For example, publishing on Reddit to ask relevant communities about your ideas and business can spark some interesting feedback and conversations that can help you understand how to better shape your business.
Content should always be part of, feed into or seek to begin conversations with your customers.
Before you start content marketing
Before you start doing any kind of content marketing, blog or no blog, you should have a strategy in mind. Don’t ever just go out there and start creating or posting things willy nilly. In this post I give some examples of where you can publish content, but I am assuming that you’ve got clear goals about what you want to achieve by doing this. If you don’t, then you’re not ready.
If you do have clear goals and you’re certain of what you want to achieve, or assumptions you want to test, these are some channels you can use for publishing when you don’t have a blog.
Tactic 1 – publishing on other writing platforms
A good example of a writing platform is Medium. You can create an account and publish as many articles as you like. You can also share links to other people’s articles that you’ve found on the web.
First, read other people’s articles on subjects you’re thinking of covering and get involved in the conversations. If you do this, you can always drop back into those conversations and drop a link to your own post saying something like, “This post inspired me so much that I wrote this, (link to your post) I’d love you to read it and tell me what you think!”. Be genuine and try to offer value with all your comments and people will be more likely to respond.
Tactic 2 – publish on Linkedin
It depends what kind of service or product you have, but if you’re going for the b2b market then Linkedin can be a great place to publish content. Stick to the basic guidelines of publishing on Linkedin (short and clear posts, bullet points, actionable, use images). Once you’re happy with your post and are sure that people won’t be able to resist clicking on it, hit publish and then sponsor it.
Tip: Unless you have an enormous Linkedin following, you won’t get anywhere just publishing posts to your followers unless an influencer picks it up. Put a spend behind the content to sponsor it, and keep experimenting to see what kind of posts your target audience engage with the most.
Tactic 3 – Reach out and help people
There are a hell of a lot of people asking questions on Quora and you could probably help some of them. Check out topics you’re interested in daily to see if anyone’s posted any questions that relate to your product or service. Use well thought out and informative answers with a link popped in pointing to your website or landing page somewhere in your answer.
Structure your answer in short paragraphs, include any relevant and helpful links, use bullet points if it helps you stick to the point, and don’t waffle. Quora is great as your answers can build up views over time, so one answer you write now may still be read in a few weeks, months or even years.
Tip: Make sure you’re measuring the result of your efforts. If you have a specially created landing page, take care that it’s got a unique URL. If you’re trying to drive traffic to your site, measure the traffic coming in from Quora through analytics. If you’re not measuring, you won’t know if your efforts are paying off.
Extra tip: Get as many people as you can to upvote your answer for maximum visibility.
Tactic 4 – Create social content
You can create some really fun content for social media that you wouldn’t necessarily use on your blog. Meme’s and gifs do especially well on social media like Twitter and Facebook. This type of content is particularly great if you’re trying to drive traffic to a particular post (like a guest post you’ve just had published).
Tip: Don’t go crazy branding your meme’s and gifs, and don’t get hung up about them being “on brand”. People are less likely to share this kind of content if it’s obvious that you’re promoting a product, brand or service.
Also the content you create for social media should be and can be more playful than what you might have on your blog or main website. People are in a different mindset when they’re scrolling through social media, than when they’re searching on google and it can be harder to get their attention. Keep in mind the device your readers are using. If they’re on the move and using mobile, they may be less likely to read a long content post, and more likely to pick up on punchier, succinct or eye catching content.
Tactic 5 – Guest post
If you don’t have your own blog… use someone else’s! Guest blogging is a great way to drive awareness in communities where your product or service might be appreciated. It’s also a good way to build backlinks to your own site if you can.
Go for blogs that your target audience read who are not in direct competition with your company. Analyse the posts that were the most successful in order to understand what kind of content your audience will enjoy or find useful, and then pitch a few well thought out ideas to the blog editor. If you’re allowed to drop in a link to your own website, great, but if not, just mentioning your product or service can get people’s attention if they love your guest post.
If you produce good content and add value to their readers, you can easily form a good working relationship with the editor, with an aim to producing regular content for them.
Tactic 6 – Create a SlideShare
SlideShare gets 60 million visitors per month and has an Alexa Rank of 174. This means that SlideShare is great if you can get them right, which is actually quite hard! There’s a lot more to making a SlideShare than just copying over a PowerPoint presentation, no matter what anyone says. You need to astound, surprise, amaze and hold people’s interest, otherwise they’ll simply click on something else.
Don’t forget to promote your content
You can promote content in many of the same ways you’d use to promote content on your own blog. Push it on social media, tweet it to people, e-mail it to people, drop it into relevant Quora conversations, go crazy!
There are loads of different tactics for content promotion that we’ll cover in future posts. You should mix and match promotion tactics with platforms and see which one works best for you. For example, if you post on medium, does it pick up traffic when you promote it on Twitter or Facebook best? If you post on Slideshare, does it get more clicks when you promote it on Linkedin or link to it in Quora answers?
Make sure you’re always measuring your efforts and recording what does or doesn’t work, that way once you’re blog is ready to go, you’ll have loads of useful information to help you start promoting it, and an audience ready and waiting for your next piece awesome content!