Ok, you might have heard that content marketing is a great marketing strategy to establish your brand and attract lots of clients.
And that’s, in fact, totally true.
The thing is, it didn’t take long before you decided that creating content was not the most “intelligent” way to invest your time to build your business.
Because, after all, there was not the slightest sign that someone was watching your content.
There were no comments, no social shares, and even not a simple like on LinkedIn.
So, why invest your time creating content that nobody reads?
Makes no sense, right?
But what if I tell you there are a few things that you are missing.
Here are the two main reasons people fail with their content marketing strategy, and they quit in just a few weeks:
I’m going to show you in this post how I found out the two main blockages on my way to building a solid content marketing strategy and how you can solve this before even you start.
Why are you interested in creating content?
Let me guess, because you want more clients. Am I right?
Let’s suppose you said something like that or something like growing your business, promoting your services, etc.
Of course, that’s absolutely fine.
The problem is that this shouldn’t be the purpose of your content.
Let me explain this better with a quick example. Imagine you want to get married, for whatever reason. That’s what you want. You want to be married in, let’s say, 2 years from now.
Getting married is your outcome.
So, for that reason, you decide to go out to the street and look for the perfect match. Once you identify a person that you would like to marry, you go directly to the person, stand in front of her or him, and looking into their eyes, you ask the big question: Will you marry me?
I don’t need to say that you will be lucky if that person doesn’t call the police.
When you are creating content to sell your stuff directly, you are doing exactly that.
What if, rather than asking everyone like crazy to be your spouse, you try a different thing? For example, introducing yourself, and inviting her/him for a coffee.
Same way with your content.
When you are creating a new piece of content, you need to understand your purpose. What do you want to achieve with this particular blog, podcast episode, or video?
That purpose doesn’t need to be a huge deal.
Maybe it is to show to your audience a few tricks on how to do X and Y.
It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but this is the way to establish a relationship with your audience and, over time, they will see on you as a trusted source of information in the subject.
So, here is the main mistake that most businesses make when they create a content marketing strategy.
Do not focus your content to sell your stuff.
The purpose of your content is to SERVE your audience.
This is a painful truth.
If you want to get any results with content marketing, you need to play the long-term game. There are no shortcuts in building an audience of loyal people that genuinely love your brand, your message, and your purpose.
Think of your content as a conversational way to connect with your future clients.
Just like the example, I showed you before, you need to take it easy and go step by step in the process to know somebody before asking them to marry you.
The good news is that, once you establish that connection, those people are engaged with your message and you.
This is what Kevin Kelly defined as your 1,000 true fans, those people that have adopted your message and truly believe in you.
Building your 1,000 true fans should be your main purpose if you are creating content.
Have you noticed how good it feels to hit that number? 1,000. Not 1 million, nor 500,000, nor even 50,000. Just 1,000.
That’s the starting point to create whatever you want to create with your content strategy, whether you are growing your business or just starting your online project.
That’s the base that any profitable business, based on a content marketing strategy, needs.
So, what’s the outcome here?
Commit to your long-term content strategy, because it is not going to produce any meaningful results in a short time.
But be ready to enjoy the number of benefits that it will bring you after your job has been done.
I remember, when I was little, my mom used to tell me all the time that I need to ask people if I didn’t know something.
Of course, I never did it, and I missed a lot of things because I ignored my mum’s advice.
But when I started building my audience, I was lucky enough to start asking people what they wanted.
Maybe, for some reason, the advice was placed in my subconscious waiting for the right moment to appear.
Asking people was relatively simple, in my case, because I was starting from scratch and I didn’t have a clue about what people like or what they would be willing to pay.
I said relatively because I was connecting with people who were starting an online business, just like I did a few years ago.
Be careful with this if you are serving people based in your own experience. Helping clients who are now in the same situation you were in a while ago, that is.
Do not take anything for granted.
I am telling this to you because I started talking to my audience based on my own experience, assuming that any other person in the same journey would be facing the same problems I did.
NEVER assume you know your audience.
Even if you have been one of them in the past or if you have many clients right now, do not assume.
Never ever assume that you know what your audience wants or what problems they have before they have told you.
And trust me, if you ask them, you’ll be surprised.
I use the simple method of surveying people once they join my email list. This is a simple, yet effective, system to get feedback from your audience on autopilot.
Understanding your audience is an essential part of building an audience and, of course, a necessary step in building your 1,000 true fans base.
Start asking yourself generic questions like:
- What do they want?
- What they are struggling with?
But then go deeper and deeper with questions like:
- Where will they expend an unexpected $1,000 income?
- Which shows do they watch on Netflix?
- What are the last 5 books they have read?
- Actually, do they read books or listen to audiobooks?
Once you know every little struggle and challenge that your audience has, you can start drawing the “journey” of your audience.
This part is extremely important in order to understand what they need and what they will expect from you.
What happens after doing all this is that you have a clear idea about the audience you want to reach, and you’ll know 3 things:
- Where are they at the moment?
- Where do they want to be?
- And, what is blocking their progress?
The result of this is your CONTENT ROADMAP.
Your content roadmap is your whole content strategy unfolded into a journey that your audience will be able to follow without getting lost on the way.
That means you are understanding that your audience is integrated by people with a common purpose but with different challenges and, more important, at different stages along the journey.
When you understand this, you can create content for every different segment that composes your audience and you can establish a deeper and stronger bond with them.
Because you know the different phases in your content roadmap, now you can take your audience by the hand and lead them exactly where they want to be.
Ok, back to the example —sorry, this is the last time.
If you are asking somebody to marry you, there are a few reasons they should or shouldn’t.
Maybe you have been together for a few years and you have demonstrated to be a caring, resolute, ambitious, honest, and loving partner.
Ok, of course, that makes you a “good person”, but is that enough to marry someone?
Of course not.
Very often, the reason we fall in love with somebody is that, for us, that person is UNIQUE.
Maybe it’s because they look at us in a unique way and make you feel special. Or maybe it is the way they bring you peace of mind and give you balance to your life without any effort, just because it happens naturally.
So, now you have your audience. You know what they want and what are they struggling with.
The question is, why you? What makes you special?
Please, don’t feel overwhelmed with this step. It is normal to feel that you don’t have anything special or different to offer than any of your competitors.
But this is not true.
You already have a unique voice to approach things and express yourself. Please use it, don’t use a neutral voice that makes you feel like any other person.
Tell your stories. I am sharing stories about me, my mum, girlfriend, and basically anything.
Share because that’s what makes you human and humans like to connect with other humans.
Finally, as a quick tip, I want to encourage you to define your UNIQUE ANGLE in solving the problems that you are resolving for your audience.
I mean, take a position. If you don’t like a certain way of doing things in your industry, just say it!
Have you heard about Ramit Sethi? He is an author and entrepreneur who helps people with personal finance advice.
He approaches the subject from a behavioural perspective. This is rather than teach you how to set up budgets and cut your expenses on lattes, as most of the personal finance bloggers do, —he says— he teaches you how to develop a “rich mentality” to spend as much as you want on what’s important for you.
That’s controversial for most people, especially old school finance guys who disagree with that approach.
Do you think Ramit cares about this?
No, because he has over a million readers every single month.
If you define your voice and your unique angle, the chances are that a lot of people will disagree with you, cool, but a lot of people will love what you do.
And that’s great because those people are your audience.