The past few months, this one idea has been transforming my business as if by magic. Best business advice? Love the work, love every word you write, love every client (yes, even that client), love every task and challenge and success and setback. Love every invoice, and every payment. Love every time sheet, every tax form, every proposal, every call. And if you can’t find it in your soul to do that, get out of the way and make room for someone who can.
According to Sasha LaFerte at the Content Marketing Institute, branding fails happen “because of a lack of a clear style guide, which can result in inconsistency or miscommunication among you content team.” Creating a brand style guide helps ensure that all of the content you create is consistent, polished, and enjoyable. Your brand style guide will create some rules for your brand, which will tie all your content together like matching dishes at an excellent dinner party.
Image source: Content Marketing Institute
First, look at your brand voice.
In order to create a great style guide, it has to align with your brand’s voice. If you aren’t sure what that sounds like, ask yourself these 5 questions to help find your brand’s voice.
In addition, LaFerte suggests revisiting your company’s mission statement and “About Us” section (if you have them) to “make sure it’s not only on point with what it says but how it says it. If you’re defining your brand voice as conversational, but your mission statement is filled with corporate jargon, it’s probably worth revisiting.”
Second, pick your editorial style base.
Of course, recognizing you need a brand style guide and actually having one are two very different things.
Both the Words Girls and the Content Marketing Institute recommend starting with a base (we use the AP Style Guide.) Go through the baseline and add additional rules if you need them, like whether or not to use the Oxford comma, or specific emoji guidelines (we’ve got a rule about that poop icon. Nope.) You can also add in guidelines on formatting bullets, lists, hyphens, or quotes, anything that defines your particular style.
Finally, add a few more details to your brand style guide.
This is the part that gets tricky. LaFerte suggests including “a section on how to engage, words to stay away from, and any other details that are important to your brand.”
Having a well-defined brand voice will definitely help with this section. Content Marketing Institute has prepared a list of brands with awesome style guides that you can use for reference. With a well-defined brand voice, a bit of time, and a few details, soon your brand could be one of them.
Not getting the results you crave on social media for your brand? It could be that you need to work on optimizing your social profiles. Keep in mind this one critical fact:
Your customers aren’t actually looking for you.
They’re looking for a good solution for their problem.
And social is the new search.
Being found on any search engine – Google, Bing, or the search functions of any social site – starts with a solid search engine optimization strategy. (Need a primer on New to SEO? This video from Search Engine Land will give you a good overview.)
Good SEO on your social profiles is important for two reasons:
- The major search engines show relevant social profiles in their search results; and
- Social platforms themselves are often used as search engines.
Improving your brand’s social profiles will help you and your customers connect no matter where they search.
In this report we’ll give you pointers and pro tips to help you enhance your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram profiles.
Download your free copy of Be Found – Pro Tips for Better Social Profiles from The Words Girl, no strings attached. And starting making progress on social media!
Image Credit: stevepb via Pixabay
Getting the word out about your business is a huge priority, especially if you are just starting out. However, marketing can be costly, and all the tips on making your mark on your industry tend to advocate creating high quality content, and lots of it. Yet, although there are definitely benefits to having a big budget for content marketing, that does not mean you need to spend a fortune on day one.
As more and more individuals take their first steps into the world of ecommerce and online business, the call for effective marketing on a minimal budget has grown significantly. So whether you want to give your startup a boost in its first weeks, or revive a struggling business with some low-cost marketing, here are some straightforward tips on creating valuable, quality content that won’t break the bank. (Before you start, check out these five tips for finding your brand voice).
Every cost-effective scheme begins with a plan. Before you create any content at all, you should set out your marketing objectives, determine exactly how much you can afford to spend, and create a content calendar that fits both your budget and your schedule.
There are many ways to make the most of your time. For example, you can create batches of similar content at the same time, reuse data in multiple contexts, and assign tasks according to individual workloads and skill sets.
By clearly defining what you want to achieve and the time frames in which this needs to happen, you will be able to more efficiently assign objectives for yourself and your team. Set your priorities each week and be diligent about clearing those targets first. If you happen to get ahead of your schedule, then there is nothing wrong with doing a bit extra, as long as it does not interfere with your ability to meet the following week’s targets.
Set attainable goals, and consider creating a list of secondary objectives to focus on if you have the time. These should be minor tasks that will not negatively impact your business if they are not completed.
Work With What You Have
It is tempting when you begin the marketing journey to distribute your content on as many channels as possible. However, everything you do has a cost, even if that cost is simply your time. Be selective about how and where you publish your content; you can always branch out later.
Determine your target audience, and tailor your content to them. Reach out to existing leads, such as those who have signed up to your mailing lists, or who have previously shared your content. They have already demonstrated an interest in your business, so they should be easier to convert with your marketing content.
Get the most out of your website by creating an on-site blog, and encourage friends and family to share your posts, and talk about your business. This is especially valuable for small startups as your first few sales are likely to be to people you know personally. Ask them to leave a review or mention their purchase on social media. If you have a business page on Facebook, or a similar site, encourage customers to leave a rating and a review.
All of these interactions generate social proof, which can be a significant influencer, especially in the early stages of your marketing journey. Do not be afraid of negative reviews; these are a chance to show off your customer service skills by handling the complaint with understanding and professionalism.
Analyze Potential ROI
One thing to remember with content creation is that, like most forms of marketing, it has diminishing returns. Often referred to as the 80/20 rule, it is generally accepted that about 80 percent of your returns will come from 20 percent of your efforts.
This means that it is important to keep track of your content’s performance, and monitor your return on investment. There is no point doubling your workload if it only increases performance by a few percent. Investigate prices of content creators, and automation tools such as content delivery systems, and weigh these against your projected income from your marketing efforts.
You may not be able to invest in these additional resources at first, but once you have an idea of pricing structures, you will be able to identify when your business may be able to scale up its efforts.
Analyze content performance metrics, and don’t forget to keep an eye on what’s working for your competitors. Tools such as Google Analytics can help you keep track of this data, allowing you to refine your marketing strategy, and optimize your investments.
Image Credit: stevepb via Pixabay
Outsource Content Creation
It is a reasonable assumption to make that the most cost-effective way to build content is to do it all yourself. However, this might not be the case. After all, content creation takes time, and it is likely that your time could be used to greater effect.
Weigh up the cost of outsourcing your content against the cost of your own time were you to create it yourself. You may even be able to secure free content, in the form of guest posts. As your site’s reputation grows, it becomes more and more likely that you will be approached to host guest content.
While it is important to be selective, ensuring that guest posts are created to an acceptable standard, and relevant to your site, this is a great way to build up a body of content, and even secure some valuable backlinks.
Set some ground rules so guest writers know how to style and angle their content for your readers, and keep in touch with content creators in case you want to collaborate with them in the future.
Reuse and Repurpose
As any budget-savvy individual knows, one of the best ways to save money is to reuse what you already have. Of course, this doesn’t mean simply republishing the same content again and again. However, if you sand it down and give it a fresh coat of paint, you will have created a range of additional content, with minimal time and effort expended.
Pay attention to which pieces of content perform best, and look at how well your “refurbished” content does in comparison to the originals. This will give you some valuable insights into how your audience consumes content, helping you to determine the most effective means of getting your message across.
Go back over old content to find items that didn’t do as well as expected, or those that could be updated to make them relevant again. You may even find pieces that can be combined into a more in-depth post, summarized in a content round-up, or visualized in the form of an infographic. Piktochart is a great way to make free infographics.
Image Credit: created with Canva
Seek long-term goals
Ultimately, the beauty of effective content marketing is that it will pay for itself in the long-term. So while your initial budget may be limited, you will be able to scale up your efforts over time as you begin to see a return on your investments.
Don’t be discouraged if you cannot do everything you had hoped from the word go. There is always time to add to your marketing strategy, and any ideas that are impractical now can be shelved for future use.
In the world of ecommerce, you have plenty of free resources and cost-effective store builders that can keep initial project launch costs low, allowing you to focus on content creation and promotion. It’s essential to ensure that you aren’t spending too much money on the wrong things. Content creation is easily pushed aside when people start discussing web design and development — but stick to your guns. There is no point spending thousands of dollars on a store, and having nothing left to promote it! Savvy entrepreneurs know to invest in content first.
Focus on a few projects at a time, pay attention to customer feedback, and continuously work to optimize your content approach. Then when your business begins to grow, you will not only have more funds to work with, but you will also have developed a full complement of good habits to help you to prioritize effectively and get the most out of your increasing budget.
Victoria Greene is a branding consultant and freelance writer. On her blog, VictoriaEcommerce, she shares tips on how to create a successful business using ecommerce & content marketing.