Perhaps one of the toughest tasks for small business owners who utilize digital marketing is figuring out just what topics they should be writing articles about. What will resonate with readers the most and hence encourage engagement (Likes, Shares, Comments)?
It’s an understatement to say I absolutely LOVE actions that have highly leveraged results. Reducing redundancies and getting the most from my time is always on my mind. So, one of my favorite ways to come up with article ideas is to think about the FAQ’s your customers are asking.
Put yourself in a position to listen to potential customers, then take the time to write notes about what’s being said. I call this approach "Notes About Needs."
If you’re just starting out with a new business, it’s likely you have more time than money. Use this to your advantage. Take the time to have REAL conversations with your potential customers rather than trying to sell them something. The sales will come eventually if you prioritize listening.
Listen to every little detail about what their struggles, frustrations, and needs are. I can’t stress enough the value of taking notes while talking to customers or even hearing what potential customers say in public. Developing a habit of taking notes about needs will help you spot trends and commonalities that you can then use to organize your articles around.
How a 10 minute conversation you overhear in a Starbucks can be turned into a blog post, LinkedIn article, Facebook Page post, multiple Tweets, sales copy for an ad, and a Checklist lead magnet...
Recently I had the good fortune of sitting down next to a couple of guys talking about social media marketing in a Starbucks. They were at the next table over, about 2 feet away, so I couldn’t help but hear everything. One of them was a business consultant trying to get better results with his marketing efforts, and the other guy seemed to have a basic understanding of the technology through his own experience.
I set aside what I’d planned to do and instead just sat and listened, taking notes on what problems the consultant was having. What answers was he still not getting? What were his pain points? During his conversation, he mentioned:
From this, I was able get a deeper understanding of what information might help someone that’s a perfect potential client. I learned how my potential clients phrase their questions, what their real priorities are, how they’re losing money, and what they wish someone else could just do for them.
For example, at one point the consultant stated he would “be better off spending time networking and building client relationships, rather than trying to figure out how these marketing tactics work.” Talk about a HUGE insight! Now I have a great talking point for my marketing efforts - “Have me handle your social marketing so you have more time to network and build client relationships."
I then used my notes to create an outline of needs and solutions. Next, I wrote a detailed article on how to construct a digital marketing strategy. From there, I broke the Core Content into content chunks for each respective marketing channel. I turned the information into a LinkedIn article, a blog post, multiple Tweets and Facebook Posts, and the copy for some advertising. (I talked about the concept of Core Content and chunking content in my post on Facebook Marketing HERE)
Getting the most from Your Notes About Needs...
The most valuable habit you can get into is creating good systems for your business. Systems for every aspect, including marketing. To achieve this in my marketing business, I use Evernote Premium to organize my notes and ideas for articles. I also maintain a highly categorized Bookmarks system in Google Chrome to quickly find reference material for articles.
For example, in my Blog Posts Notebook in Evernote, I have numerous Notes that are just titles for articles I plan on writing. These titles are simply answers to common problems my potential clients have. I've made a habit of writing them down as soon as they come to mind so that whenever I don’t have a naturally inspiring idea for an article, I just pick one I've already conceptualized and know is relevant to my core audience.
How do I benefit from giving away what I know? Won’t the reader just do it themselves?
Will there be people who read your article and then just go do the work themselves? Sure. But they would never have been your customer anyway (at least not one you want). The point isn’t to gain customers short-term, but rather to establish yourself as a credible authority on solutions to the problems your potential customers have. You’re demonstrating to the reader your knowledge and ability to help them.
Even if the reader uses your information to solve that particular problem on their own, who’s to say they won’t have other problems they’d rather YOU solve for them? Also consider the reader might eventually have you just do the work for them once their time is better spent on other things or they have the resources to pay you.
My example above illustrates this well…the consultant clearly stated he would rather spend his time networking and meeting with clients. But for now he’s doing the task work of social marketing on his own, presumably because he either doesn’t know who can meet his needs or he doesn’t have the resources to pay someone else to do it yet.
Keep in mind, it’s not just the Core Content article we are concerned with here. We are creating Core Content so that we can break it up into chunks to feed all the other marketing channels we are using. This way, we do the heavy lifting only once, and the rest of the work becomes simple cut/paste editing and posting. Tools such as IFTTT, Hootsuite, and Buffer can even automate a lot of this work for further leverage on our Core Content efforts.
Hopefully you’ve started to gain an understanding of my approach to only digital marketing, but also how to leverage your time. With higher leverage of time comes easier achievement of a healthy balance between entrepreneurship and personal life. What I share here comes from my own experiences in working to achieve a better balance myself. I’d love to read your comments and get any feedback you may have. Yes, I’ll actually reply.
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Author - Justin Smith
I owned a small service business from 2006-2016, and you could say I'm totally obsessed with automation and business systems. I believe the need to be physically present is the single biggest challenge small business owners like myself face.