Twitter Facebook LinkedIn Flipboard 2 I recently asked a group of entrepreneurs, “As a small business or solopreneur who’s not using content marketing, what is your reason?” The answers were intriguing, read on to see if you have the same questions. Question: I’m not sure what “content marketing” is. If you are new to promoting your business on-line you have probably heard the term “content marketing” and wondered exactly what it is. The “official” definition is: “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” ~ The Content Marketing Institute Now, let’s break that down. Content marketing covers many strategies you are probably already using. It includes not only the content of your website but social media, blogging, podcasting, video marketing, books and more. It is any marketing strategy in which you’re using content to build a relationship with your audience. Sharing useful information with your target market establishes yourself as a thought leader so you can then offer your product or service for a fee. Many entrepreneurs start using content marketing under the impression that they just need to write a couple blogs and it will be easy. They look at their ROI (Return on Investment) and come to the conclusion that “content marketing doesn’t work.” You should know that content marketing doesn’t get you quick sales. What it does is build a long-term relationship with your target market and establishes you as a thought leader in your niche. If you continue to publish the quality content your audience needs and wants, you become their go-to person. One reason your content efforts are not delivering the results you expected may be that you don’t have a content marketing strategy. The goal of content marketing is providing useful, even valuable information that establishes you as a thought leader. If you have made a start, and not seeing any results, you may be missing a plan to make all the pieces work together. In other words, you need a content marketing strategy. When you create a strategy, you answer these questions: “Why are you creating content?” “Who you are creating it for?” “Why should they pay attention to you?” Your marketing strategy should also address what your goals are. This is one reason many entrepreneurs never start. Many times they tell me, “Everyone tells me I should use content marketing. But I don’t know what my end result will be. Your strategy will answer what you want to do with your content: Draw traffic to your website? Increase your reputation as an expert? Educate leads? Remarket to previous customers? The Content Marketing Institute has an article that explains each step and they include a template for a one-page plan. Check that out here. Question: How long does it take to see measurable results? Well, it depends. Ugh! Don’t you hate answers like that? Some experts will say you can expect to see results in as little as four months, I believe that is a bit optimistic. A more realistic estimate is six to twelve months. There are a number of different variables that will affect how long it will take you to see results. Where are you starting from? If you have an established website that receives organic traffic of at least 100 hits per day, you can expect results sooner than if you just published your site. Do you already publish high-quality content on a consistent basis? If every piece of your content isn’t top notch, you will be doing your reputation more harm than good. Each focus of each post should be laser-focused on your personas and goals. It must include keywords that you know your audience is searching for and be search engine optimized. Are you promoting your blog posts? Blogging isn’t the field of dreams. You can’t write it and have readers come. Your work has just begun. You must promote every blog post on social media, bookmarking sites, and content curation networks. Do you have an established network? Relationship marketing takes content marketing to a deeper, more meaningful level.In fact, the trend today is not the newest social media network, it’s relationship-building and community-building. Your success is dependent on the relationships you make with others. You could have high-quality content, and lots of organic traffic but the rapport you have with your target audience is all about engaging in a conversation with them. Question: A competitor is getting all the attention in my niche and I can’t compete. What should I do? All niches are not the same. Jeff Lenney lists the top niches for 2017 in a post on his site. His list is: Health Dating Make Money Online Learn to sing or play an instrument Learn to speak another language Green energy Spirituality and alternate beliefs Survival If you are in one of these niches, you will be competing with many other entrepreneurs. What is the “little guy” to do? Give up? No way. You don’t have to accept “status quo.” You just need to be tenacious in your marketing efforts. Find the Authority Competitors in Your Niche There are many ways to find your competitors and study what they are doing. Look for the gaps in their marketing and decide how you can fill those gaps. Neil Patel of Kissmetrics.com published a detailed post of exactly how do find this. Create content that is different than anyone else. There are boatloads of content on the internet and, if you are in a popular niche, chances are most of it looks the same. “One question marketers should ask before creating content: Is my content different from my competition?” Joe Pulizzi of The Content Marketing Institute If it’s not, why would anyone want to read it? They can get the same information anywhere. Here are a few ways you can make your content different are: Use different forms of content such as audio, video or graphics. Your goal is to appeal to the preferences of your readers. Go deeper in your niche. For example, your niche is Health and Fitness. As one of the most popular, and populated, niches you will have tough competition. You can reduce this by specializing in Fitness for Seniors. Develop and nurture your “Voice.” This is the personality in all your content and should be closely aligned with your brand. For an example, whether you go to McDonalds in California or Maine you expect them to be the same. The décor and menu will be the same. In your content, your tone should be the same as well. Question: I haven’t really created any content how do I get started? Your biggest hurdle may simply be to get started. Pick a time each week to write and don’t skip it. During your week, read everything relating to your niche. Find the gurus and study their content. If you have not created your content marketing strategy, do it now. If you just aren’t a writer, you don’t have to give up on content marketing. Consider working with a ghostwriter and/or a virtual assistant who specializes in content creation. This infographic from Kissmetrics will help you get started. Take advantage of content marketing to promote your business. When you invest some time and share your knowledge, your business will grow. Have a question I didn’t answer? Leave me a reply and let me know. Twitter Tweet Facebook Share Email This article originally appeared on HIT Virtual Assistants and has been republished with permission.Find out how to syndicate your content with B2C Author: Kane Pepi Kane Pepi is an experienced financial and cryptocurrency writer with over 2,000+ published articles, guides, and market insights in the public domain. Expert niche subjects include asset valuation and analysis, portfolio management, and the prevention of financial crime. Kane is particularly skilled in explaining complex financial topics in a user-friendlyView full profile ›More by this author:VoIP Basics: Everything Beginners Should Know!Bitcoin Investment, Trading & Mining: The Ultimate Guide for BeginnersIs This a Better Way to Set Your 2020 Goals and Resolutions?