We talk a lot about inbound marketing here at Hudson Fusion. It’s our bread and butter, but more than that, it’s our passion; we really are big proponents of this methodology, and we know it can help anybody improve their website traffic – and help them build their brand and business.
One of the key components of the inbound methodology is content marketing, which is about populating your website with high quality content that your ideal clients would love to read and share. It’s really simple; if you have great stuff that the people you want to do business with find helpful, not only will they engage with it, but they’ll naturally share it.
That gets you direct, organic traffic driven by enthusiastic brand ambassadors. And it also factors strongly into Google’s search algorithm, improving your PageRank and earning you more search engine traffic. It’s really a win on every level when you do it right. That means laying the foundation.
Your foundation is the basic research and planning you have to do before you put up a single piece of content on your beautiful new company blog. And it consists in learning the answers to three questions:
1) Who are my customers?
2) What are my differentiators?
3) What the heck is my company about?
Answering these questions will tell you what sort of content your website should feature. When you know who your customers are, what sets your company apart, and how to position yourself, you’ll be armed with the knowledge to compose laser-guided content that’s sure to hit someone’s sweet spot.
Who are my customers?
This is probably the most important question you can ask about your business when you’re beginning content marketing. Who’s buying your products or services? And even more importantly, who do you want to buy your products or services? Knowing the answer enables you to target content effectively; you can think about their lives, their interests, their needs. Do you sell accounting software targeted to non-specialists? Ask yourself why they’re interested in your software. Break down what sorts of non-specialists you’re looking to serve. Small business owners? Target content toward people looking to manage their time, lower their costs – or anything else that might appeal to them.
This is a methodology that works for any business model, whether you’re selling hot dogs or professional business consulting services.
What are my differentiators?
This is another key piece in knowing how you want to differentiate yourself from your competition. When you know how you’re unique – what’s your value-added proposition that would make people want to choose you over other, say, cheese-grater companies or whatever – you know how you talk about yourselves. And you do want to talk about yourself.
A good rule of thumb in content marketing is “80-20 time,” which we like to call the cocktail rule. Simply put, you want to devote 80% of your time talking about things other than your company. That includes things like general industry news, tangential or ancillary topics that your personas are interested in. But when you do talk about yourself, you need to know what to say. And you figure that out by working out what makes you unique. It could be anything from your business philosophy to your artisanal processes and time-honored craftsmanship to your wacky personality – anything that makes your business special!
What the heck is my company about?
When you’ve got your ideal customers worked out and you’ve got your differentiators locked down, you’ve got the building blocks you need for the next and most vital step: positioning. Your positioning statement is where you figure out just what on earth it is that your company does. This might seem simple enough at first – “Um, we make hot dogs?” – but it’s remarkable how frequently executive teams feature multiple competing visions of what their company is all about. That’s frustrating for everyone, because when you haven’t worked out what your company’s for, you can’t market it to anyone. Sure, you’ll have people coming your website if you’ve got good content – but it won’t mean anything. There will be no conversions because you can’t talk effectively about what it is you’re for.
Your positioning statement, simply put, is what you’re doing, who you’re doing it for, and what makes your company unique. It’s where your business is located (or positioned) in the market. You use it to drive everything: web copy, how you market your blog, what you put on social media. It’s your company’s personality, voice, and strategy all in one.
It’s what makes your company your company.