Small business owners are experts in their field. You know your customers, you know your product, and you know your employees. What you may not know is this one piece of game-changing small business marketing advice that will help you grow your brand, reach more customers, and rapidly increase sales. That simple piece of advice is—start writing.
You may be the type that hated English class, but since the majority of our communication is done online, savvy writing skills are more crucial than ever. Your brand needs to have a strong online presence and a suite of written materials that is designed to attract and convert your target customers into buyers. Think about it this way, if you were shopping for a new car 30 years ago you would go to the dealership and compare makes, models, and features with a sales representative. They would guide you through every stage of the buying process and help you choose the car you wanted. Now, customers complete 90% of the buying cycle online and use your marketing materials to compare and contrast products with other vendors before you’ve even had a change to talk to them. If you don’t provide your prospects with with the information they need to reasearch your company and products, you wont even have a place at the table when they start to make a final decision.
In order to grow your business, you have to create the content customers need to evaluate your company against your competitors. There are many ways to approach content creation, but we’ve provided a list of the most popular types of content and tips for writing each.
Blogs are crucial to marketing, you can promote them on social media, and they can be done on a regular basis. They are typically short and informative, but should also encourage your reader to do something. Here are five things to consider when writing a blog:
- Be sure to organize your content before you write. Remember that old outline form from high school? You could certainly use that, but if not, you should still have some system to organize your content before drafting.
- Make it visually appealing. Add images, call-out boxes to highlight important information, and break up text with white space. You don’t want to overwhelm your readers with more content than they have the time or motivation to read.
- Use links within posts to increase visits and boost your search engine ratings. Want to know more about how to improve your site’s search ranking? Read this informative article from Entrepreneur for some ideas.
- Keep it engaging, and keep it brief. A general rule of thumb for blogs is anywhere from 500-1000 words. More than that and you lose readers’ interest. Most people don’t spend too much time on this type of reading, so get your message out quickly. On the flip side, if you need more to cover your topic, don’t be afraid to go over that 1000-word mark and release it as another type of content.
- Include a call-to-action. Don’t just offer information, tell your reader what they should do with it. Chances are you are writing about something related to you or your customers’ businesses, so how can you connect back to you and use it to demonstrate your expertise and thought leadership?
When done well, social media can boost the impact of your content and increase your visibility. So what’s the best approach?
- Increase the volume of your posts, and post at opportune times. Most people are online from 8 a.m to 8 p.m, so get your message out when people are likely to see it. Post on Twitter anywhere from 5-10 times a day, around 1-4 posts a day for Facebook. And post your content on multiple sites.
- Interact with your audience. Automated postings have their place, but authentic interactions give added value to your social content.
- Use infographics to share content. People are scrolling through social media sites quickly; get their attention with a visual that conveys your message.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. This engages your readers and gives them a voice. and you develop a deeper understanding of your potential customers’ interests. Asking for feedback can also help develop and refine your product.
- Make sure your branding is consistent across all platforms. Logos, messaging, fonts, graphics…be recognizable from one outlet to the next.
Newsletters can be an effective way to reach customers. Not sure you need one? Check out this article to see how they can help your business. Ready to get going? Check out these tips.
- Content should be 90% educational and 10% promotional. Don’t oversell yourself or people will stop reading.
- Choose a primary call-to-action and stick with it. Don’t make a lot of demands just because you have multiple parts in your publication.
- Avoid clutter-newsletters can have a lot of information; make sure your copy is concise and leave plenty of white space in the design. You don’t want to overwhelm the reader.
- Set a realistic publication schedule. Allow time to find new material, as well as to write and produce, while staying on trend. Be reliable and consistent with your publishing.
- Allow for an easy opt-out. You don’t want to end up in the dreaded “spam” folder, which will ultimately result in lower reader numbers.
Ebooks are a great way to generate leads and show that you are the expert in your arena. Not sure how they can help you? Click here to learn more about ebooks as a marketing tool.
- Give it a descriptive title. The title will impact whether your audience will find reading it valuable.
- Consider embedding video into your book, and definitely imbed visuals to break up the text.
- Don’t try to give readers what you think they need; give them what you know they want. Find out what that is through surveys, emails, etc…(remember, asking questions is a great way to interact on social media).
- Don’t get hung up on starting at the beginning. Draft the important content, then let the introduction come later. Revisit old blog posts for ideas.
- Make sure your ebook enhances your brand. Use your logo on the cover, if appropriate. Consider the format and the overall tone: do they suggest a style consistent with your message
White papers can be a great marketing tool and wonders for lead generation. Like an ebook, they establish you as an expert in your field.
- Though your goal with a white paper is to educate, make sure to go beyond explaining the features of your product; make the reader aware of how it can benefit her/him.
- Sales and a persuasive element need to be present, but should be more subtle than in other types of writing.
- Keep it short. A white paper should be between 3-14 pages. More than that and you might want to break it into two papers.
- Promote your white paper on social media. Post it on multiple platforms.
- Create a related video or webinar to increase visibility and engage more potential clients.
Whether you’re an undiscovered Shakespeare or someone who struggles to string together a sentence, if you keep things simple and clear, you can write strong content that will increase your visibility and generate strong leads. If writing really isn’t your bag, consider hiring a freelancer to do the dirty work for you. And don’t forget to check out P2Bi’s blog on the best communication tools that can get your content in front of as many people as possible. Happy writing!