Do you have a limited marketing budget? Do you think what you can accomplish with your budget is less than ideal because you don’t have the money of a large company? While that may seem true, there is one thing you can do to really move the dial and maximize your small marketing budget. Sure, there are many ways to get “free” marketing through social media and growing your referral network but using funds in a targeted way can have a huge impact on obtaining more customers and showing the community who you are.
Content marketing has been around for a while now. It began when search engines like Google started ranking sites by—among other things—the quality of the content as perceived by the audience. This caused many marketers to increase the quality of their content. But if you’re still wondering if you have the right kind of content for your business, you should check out this idea from Mark Schaefer. It’s one of the easiest ways to decide if you have a strong mix that will help drive sales.
The Content Hierarchy of NeedsMost business professionals understand they need to produce valuable content. But exactly how do you do that? Marketing guru Mark Schaefer used Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to create a content-based pyramid structure. Here’s how using Schaefer’s structure can help you create the right types of content to impact your audience:
Addressing Basic NeedsThe foundation of Schaefer’s pyramid is providing basic information and answering questions. This is the bare minimum of what anyone producing content should do for their audience. Many businesses address basic info in a Q&A section, but you can also create pages, blog posts, and videos dedicated to answering the questions you get most frequently.
Take some time to look at search and analytics. What are some of the most common questions asked in the industry or business that you serve? Use top-ranking keyword phrases in question form on your website and throughout your content.
Answering basic questions is a great way to rank in search but doesn’t do much for improving time on site or returns as website visitors get their information and leave. That’s why you need additional content including…
TeachingAfter addressing basic questions about your product, services, and/or industry, consider what your ideal customer needs to know to make a good buying decision. This educational component can also include content like DIY tips, background or historical information, and best practices. A site that posts this type of relevant content entices people to subscribe and visit it again as a first stop in getting the answers and advice they need by a subject matter expert.
Emotional ConnectionHere’s where the magic begins. Up until this point in the pyramid, you have been sharing what you know. You created content with basic needs and questions in mind, and you established yourself as a helpful thought leader, maintaining trust with your audience through your straightforward answers.
Now, you want to take your relationship to the next level by creating an emotional reason for your audience to seek out your content. You won their minds, now you are going for their hearts. You can do this by showcasing authenticity and vulnerability in your content. Share personal stories and experiences that relate to your niche or business views. Engage with your viewers actively through comments and social media to create a sense of community and foster a two-way connection.
Tailoring your content to address the pain points, concerns, challenges, aspirations, and emotions of your target audience ensures that they see themselves reflected in your content, creating a powerful emotional bond. Lastly, use storytelling techniques, visuals, and music to evoke emotions that resonate with your brand's values and messaging, leaving a lasting impression on your audience.
InspirationAfter you have established an emotional bond with your audience, they will look to you for inspiration. You can inspire them by tapping into their aspirations, passions, and desires. Start by setting a positive and enthusiastic tone in your content. Share your challenges and how you overcame them. Talk about others who have inspired you and share their success stories. Give actionable tips that your audience can apply to their own lives, making them feel empowered and motivated. Use your platform to showcase individuals who have achieved remarkable feats, highlighting their journeys and the lessons they've learned. Encourage open dialogue and engagement with your audience to foster a sense of community and support, encouraging them to share their own goals and dreams. Celebrate their accomplishments by calling them out and congratulating them. By consistently delivering content that uplifts and offers valuable insights, you can inspire and drive positive change in the lives of your audience.
Christina Metcalf is a writer/ghostwriter who believes in the power of story. She works with small businesses, chambers of commerce, and business professionals who want to make an impression and grow a loyal customer/member base. She loves road trips, hates exclamation points, and finds content strategy one of the most rewarding parts of what she does.
When I speak to small businesses about their local chamber, the businesses that have let their memberships lapse often make it sound like a gym membership. “I didn’t really use it.” What they’re missing when they make comments like that is the behind-the-scenes benefits of chamber membership. Just as your investment grows in a savings account in a bank, your business investment in chamber membership is growing even when you aren’t actively participating. Here’s what you’re getting that you may not even realize:
Ever notice how some offers are irresistible? You didn’t even know you needed the product or service. Then you saw the offer, and BANG!, you’re whipping out your credit card. This isn’t by accident. Someone down the line carefully created the offer that caused you to act with wild abandon. And you can do it too for your business. It just takes a little forethought.
If you walked into a crowded room and asked the question in the title of this article, what would you expect to hear?
The chamber of commerce is like the government, right?
No, it keeps track of business complaints.
No, they’re like greeters for the community. Like the Welcome Wagon.
They’re a country club for businesspeople.
They’re the people with the big scissors.
While we can see why people would say all these things about the chamber, none of those comments are exactly right. And if you’ve ever been a member of a chamber of commerce in another town, that doesn’t mean your experience there will be anything like the one you would have with your next chamber. There are a lot of misconceptions about chambers but we’re here to set the record straight and help you understand exactly what they can do for your business’ and your professional growth.
Have you ever attended a chamber event? If you’re not a member, you’re missing out. Before you think you don’t have the time to attend events, it’s important you know chamber life is not just mixers and ribbon cuttings. Chamber membership is one of the best-kept secrets for free or nearly free business resources like webinars, lunch & learns, and written collateral. Plus, a whole lot more. Chamber membership is one of the best business investments you can make for the money and return.
In the bustling world of small business, as entrepreneurs and professionals, we often find ourselves caught in the whirlwind of routines, habits, and attachments that no longer serve our growth, personally or professionally. In the pursuit of success, we accumulate emotional baggage, physical clutter, mental burdens, and antiquated processes that hinder us from experiencing the success we truly desire.
These things are familiar, and thus, safe. They seem harmless enough. But when you look more closely, you’ll see they are holding you back. Perhaps it’s time to make room for things that will serve you—and your company—better.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “You are the company you keep?” It has good and bad ramifications, doesn’t it? It’s often applied to young people and their friends. But did you know this “Halo Effect” influences customers as well? And you could be using it in your business for amazing results.
If you’re old enough, you likely remember your parents addressing the issues of group think. Maybe they said, “Monkey see, monkey do.” Perhaps you were trying to win an argument by telling them how you’re the only person not allowed to do something, to which they replied, “If everyone jumped off of a bridge, would you do it too?” But as much as your parents were trying to raise you to be a person who thinks on their own, we are social creatures. We long for acceptance. We have a fear of missing out. And it’s those very social drives you can leverage to get more customers.
Do you think of LinkedIn as something to be used solely by job seekers? While the world's largest professional network is widely recognized as a platform for job seekers and recruiters to connect, that’s not all it can do. Its potential goes far beyond job hunting. For savvy business owners and professionals, LinkedIn offers a treasure trove of opportunities to find customers, strengthen their brand, and expand their network.
It's estimated there are about 310 million monthly active users and 900 million account holders worldwide. According to Linkedin, of that 900 million users, 199 million are in the US. The number of the site’s registered users has almost quadrupled in the past decade.
9 Ways to Leverage LinkedIn for Your BusinessThere are several ways you can leverage LinkedIn beyond job searches to drive growth and reap the numerous advantages the platform has to offer. Use it to:
1. Build an Engaging Business ProfileA well-crafted LinkedIn company page is the foundation for success on the platform. Ensure your profile showcases your brand's unique value proposition, mission, and offerings. High-quality images, a compelling description, and relevant keywords will attract potential customers and help strengthen your brand's online presence on a site that’s removed from a lot of the social media noise.
2. Target ProspectsOne of the most powerful features of LinkedIn is its advanced search capabilities. You can use filters to identify your target audience based on industry, job title, location, and more. This allows for highly targeted prospecting to find potential customers and decision-makers within your niche, increasing the chances of successful conversions. You can also use it to research someone who’s going to a networking event you’re attending.
3. Improve Your Content Marketing and Thought LeadershipHave something to say about your industry, line of work, or process? Position yourself as an industry expert or approachable guru by creating and sharing valuable content on LinkedIn. Posting articles, industry insights, and thought-provoking or helpful posts can establish your thought leadership and build credibility among the platform's professional audience. Engaging content encourages likes, comments, and shares, broadening the brand's reach and attracting potential customers.
4. Join and Engage in Relevant GroupsLinkedIn groups provide an opportunity for you to interact with your target audience directly. By joining and actively participating in relevant groups, you can share your expertise, answer questions, and showcase your products or services (as allowed in the group). Provide value to the conversations. Don’t engage in overly promotional activities.
5. Gain a Wide Audience with LinkedIn AdsWith LinkedIn's advertising platform, you can reach your target audience with precision. By defining specific demographics and professional characteristics, you can create ad campaigns that appeal directly to your ideal customers. Sponsored content, sponsored InMail, and display ads can be used to drive traffic, generate leads, and ultimately increase sales. However, because of the professional users on this site, you’ll be paying more for the exposure than you would on Facebook or Instagram.
6. Strengthen Partnerships and AlliancesLinkedIn is an excellent platform for fostering partnerships and collaborations with other businesses. By connecting with complementary brands or potential affiliates, you’ll expand your reach and tap into new customer segments. Building a strong network of strategic partners can lead to fruitful collaborations, joint ventures, and shared promotional efforts.
7. Showcase Products and ServicesShowcase your products and services directly on your LinkedIn company page. Utilizing multimedia elements like videos, infographics, and product images can help potential customers understand the offerings better. Customer testimonials and case studies will reinforce the credibility of your business.
8. Measure Analytics and InsightsLinkedIn's analytics tool provides valuable insights into the performance of your business content through engagement levels. By analyzing data regularly, you can identify what content resonates most with your audience and fine-tune your marketing strategies for optimal results.
9. Engage EmployeesAccording to LinkedIn, 30% of a company’s LinkedIn post engagement comes from their employees making it an excellent way to connect with employees and provide valuable content for their networks. Your posts and presence on the platform can also help instill pride in employees as they share the important things your business is doing.
LinkedIn is not just a platform for job seekers; it's a goldmine for business owners looking to expand their customer base, engage with employees, strengthen their brand, and foster valuable connections. Embracing LinkedIn as a multifaceted tool for business growth can lead to increased visibility, heightened credibility, and, ultimately, a thriving and prosperous enterprise. And best of all, it’s not owned by Meta.
Christina Metcalf is a writer/ghostwriter who believes in the power of story. She works with small businesses, chambers of commerce, and business professionals who want to make an impression and grow a loyal customer/member base. She loves road trips, hates exclamation points, and thinks she could do a better job updating her LinkedIn profile.
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