Content marketing is a long game … but that doesn’t mean we can’t create some quick wins.
Strategic content marketing is all about long-term results — but there’s actually a lot you can do to create some momentum right away.
In this 19-minute episode, Sonia talks about:
- The fastest way I know to create lots and lots of short, valuable, audience-friendly blog posts
- Leveraging your contact list for some quick, high-value content
- The technique I swiped from Seth Godin for creating juicy, engaging content from your everyday life
- An efficient (and fun) process to improve a skill as quickly as possible
- An ultra simple framework to use when you’re asking for the sale
The Show Notes
- This episode is brought to you by Acuity Scheduling.
- Pamela Wilson’s Copyblogger post on an efficient content marketing process
- Pamela Wilson’s book describing an efficient content marketing process
- Some thoughts from Marcus Sheridan on how he approaches FAQ pages
- I’m always happy to see your questions or your thoughts on Twitter @soniasimone — and of course it’s always great to see your thoughts in the comments.
5 Quick Wins for Content Marketers
Voiceover: Rainmaker FM.
Sonia Simone: This episode is brought to you by Acuity Scheduling. Acuity Scheduling makes scheduling meetings online easy. Clients can view your real-time availability, self-book appointments with you, fill out forms, and even pay you online. To learn more and get a free 45-day trial, visit AcuityScheduling.com/Copyblogger.
Hey there. Good to see you again. Welcome back to Copyblogger FM, the content marketing podcast. Copyblogger FM is about emerging content marketing trends, interesting disasters, and enduring best practices, along with the occasional rant.
My name is Sonia Simone. I’m the chief content officer for Rainmaker Digital, and I like to hang out with the folks who do the heavy lifting over on the Copyblogger blog. You can always check the show notes for links, additional resources, free stuff, all that good stuff, as well as the complete show archive by going to Copyblogger.FM.
It’s very excellent to see you again. I thought about doing a spooky Halloween post for this podcast, but I thought it would be actually more fun to do something pragmatic and practical. The thing I want to talk about today is some content marketing quick wins.
I want to talk about quick wins for content marketing precisely because we don’t get a lot of them. Content marketing is a long game. We say it all the time. I say it all the time. It’s something that you do have to put some strategy into, some effort into. It pays off, that patient work. But, frankly, sometimes you would just like to get something happening sooner, rather than later.
I thought about some quick wins that you can set up in your content that will help get you results sooner rather than later, while you’re waiting for that big payoff of creating that wonderful authority with your audience and all that good stuff.
Before I get started with specific suggestions, I want to give you a meta-suggestion, which is: If you want efficiency in your content — if you want to be able to create content efficiently, consistently, have it not take your entire life to write a blog post or record a podcast — you really need to set up some processes. Probably these should be processes that are absolutely, specifically tailored to you. Your strengths, your weaknesses, what you do have access to, what you don’t have access to.
Check the show notes for a couple of options for ways to set up content processes for yourself. We’ve got a free one, which comes in the form of a post by Pamela Wilson about how to produce one really excellent piece of content per week. Pamela, as it happens, has also written a book, and that has a little bit more of a thorough explanation about how you can set up processes for yourself. It’s still really reasonable. You can get it on Amazon or anywhere that you get books, and it comes in a Kindle version and a physical version.
Let’s jump into some quick win strategies for your content marketing. Many of these I have swiped and/or adapted from other people. Any time that I have done that and I can remember the person who inspired it, I will give you their name.
The Fastest Way Sonia Knows to Create Lots and Lots of Short, Valuable, Audience-Friendly Blog Posts
That first name is Marcus Sheridan. Calls himself The Sales Lion. Marcus has a technique that he’s written about and that he teaches when he gives talks. I think it’s really solid. That is to go through your organization.
In his organization, he was selling a physical thing, which is a swimming pool, and he had salespeople. He had people whose job it was to talk to customers about building swimming pools.
What he did for his business and what you can do for your project, is he went through his salespeople’s emails, and he looked for every single question anybody had ever had about installing a swimming pool. Then every one of those questions became a blog post, and he answered the question.
This is obviously a massive effort, if you’re going to do it on that scale. I think he must have had hundreds and hundreds of little pieces of content there, but in your environment that might look different. You may not have salespeople.
These may be questions that you’ve seen on social media or questions that you’ve gotten in your inbox. They can be questions that you have seen people post on Facebook groups in your topic. Those questions may not have even been directed at you.
But come up with a list of questions — whether it’s 20 questions, 50 questions, 100 questions, or more — that you can answer about your topic, and make each one of them a small, self-contained piece of content. Typically those would be blog posts.
The reason this is a quick win is because you don’t have a lot of decision making. You don’t have to sit around and think about what angle you’re going to take on it, what your positioning’s going to be? You’re just answering a whole bunch of questions.
The problem set is nicely defined, and you’ll probably find, if you know your topic — and most of you do — that answering questions is fairly easy. You know the answers to these questions. If you don’t know them, you can look them up. You know where to find the answers.
Getting the kind of high volume of very useful, very audience-focused content like this onto your site does all kinds of great things for your site’s usability. It gives people who land on your site lots to browse, look at. Obviously it’s going to answer their questions, so it’s going to move them forward with what you want them to do next.
And for almost any site, this will have some benefit with search engines. We don’t do things for search engines as a primary tactic, unless that’s specifically what you’re going for. You’ve hired a well-qualified SEO to work on your site’s search engine optimization.
This is the kind of technique that’s great for customers. It’s great for your audience, and it typically will have very nice side benefits, side advantages, for your search engine presence. It’s just the kind of content that search engines find very appealing and very useful.
Leveraging Your Contact List for Some Quick, High-Value Content
Quick win number two: When you are stuck for ideas about content, when you are stuck for things to write about and you already have lots of questions and answers on your site, one great quick win is the interview Q&A or a series of interview Q&As.
You can do these as podcasts, the way that we have done many times on Copyblogger FM. You could also simply do them as emailing questions to somebody in your topic and letting them email you back the answers. Again, these are highly useful, interesting pieces of content.
You can always try to go after an influencer in your topic. It’s a great way to get to know an influencer better and a great way to get on their radar. But you can also do this with people in your topic who are in a similar position that you are in terms of the size of your audiences. It’s a great way to get your thoughts and insights and expertise in front of their audience and their thoughts and expertise in front of your audience. It’s a great way to make the pie bigger for both of you.
Sometimes people set these up as massive projects, where they have five questions and they send them out to maybe 100 people. They’re looking to get maybe 30 or 40 answers back, because, of course, not everybody will get back to you. You can also just do this as a one-shot or a smaller project as well. The scope is totally up to you, but it’s always worth doing, and it always generates a nice quick win.
The Technique Sonia Swiped from Seth Godin for Creating Juicy, Engaging Content from Your Everyday Life
The third quick win is one that I stole from Seth Godin, and I stole it through observation. I’m not sure if he’s ever explicitly talked about creating content this way, but something that I noticed on his blog is that he often creates a piece of content — a quick, focused piece of content — by going around in the world and noticing something that he really thinks is cool and that really illustrates one of the principles that he talks about.
Alternately, he see something that he thinks is not cool, and he doesn’t think it’s a good thing. He thinks it’s a bad idea. He doesn’t think it’s effective, or he doesn’t think it’s ethical, and he talks about why.
I have abbreviated this to “Things I love/Things I hate.” I have made ample use of these, particularly on the sister podcast to this one, and it’s a great way to come up with a quick idea that’s going to be a juicy, interesting idea, because it’s got some passion around it.
You have strong feelings about the topic, and you’re going to express them clearly in a way that lets people know who you are and what you’re knowledgeable about. It’s a great way to focus your attention, and it’s always a good way to focus audience attention. Because, when you’re talking about things you just can’t stand, that’s just inherently interesting.
We’re going to pause here for just a moment, take a quick break for a sponsored message. When we come back, we’re going to talk about some ways that you can get better at what you do quickly. Not necessarily quick content wins, like you’re going to post something on your blog very quickly, but how you can most efficiently get better at what you want to get better at.
We’re also going to talk about a quick win that you can use to actually make some money. To make an offer and get some revenue.
This episode is sponsored by Acuity Scheduling. You know how challenging the back and forth of booking appoints and meetings can be. Some of you may know that, right now, I am in a different time zone from most of the folks that I’m interviewing. Trying to do the back and forth of setting up podcast interviews, meetings, or other kinds of conversations when we’re talking about multiple countries, multiple time zones — it gets really tricky.
What if you never had to ask, “What time works for you?” again?
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Hey there. Welcome back. All right, so I talked about a quick, efficient technique to get better at something that you’re not good at. I am writing a whole post for this over on Copyblogger.com for the blog. So take a look over there, and you’ll see an expanded version of this technique.
An Efficient (and Fun) Process to Improve a Skill as Quickly as Possible
I wanted to touch on it for you here, because it really is one of the fastest ways that you can get really good at something that you might not be wonderful at right now. That is the self-directed 30-day challenge. I’ll give you an example of how this can work.
Let’s say that you write good content, and you know that it’s interesting. You know it has a good voice. It’s got good personality, and you know it’s about topics that the audience finds useful. But you’re not getting as many shares as you would like. The content’s not getting shared in social media, and the emails are not getting opened as often as you would like if you distribute that content on an email feed.
The problem is probably your headlines. In that case, very commonly the problem is going to be that the headline is not compelling that person to click through and see what’s going on or to click through and share it.
Once you’ve identified the problem, here’s my favorite way to go about becoming a headline ninja. For 30 days — maybe you start today or maybe you look at your calendar and decide you’re going to start Wednesday, or you’re going to start in a couple of days — make sure you’ve got all your ducks in a row, but for 30 days straight, you’re going to work on headlines. What the nature of that work is is going to be up to you.
Your first day might be spent reading the Copyblogger free book on headlines, on crafting really effective headlines to get the click and get the share. You’re going to read through and make some notes about things that you want to practice.
Then, on day two, you’re going to take one section of that ebook, and you’re going to practice it. You’re going to practice coming up with headlines that put a strong benefit front and center. Then, on day three, you’re going to practice number-based headlines. You’re going to come up with taking some of your existing headlines that maybe weren’t so exciting and reworking them so they have a number in them. You get the idea.
For 30 days straight, you are going to work, actively work, on becoming more masterful at headlines for your content. Now, at the end of the 30 days, are your headlines going to be better? Yeah, your headlines are going to be miles better. Even more so if you’ve taken advantage of your 30-day challenge. Which you will, because over 30 days, you’re going to be scratching your head somewhat for things to work on. Not every day is all that fun to write 30 headlines just for something.
One of the things you’ll do in your 30-day challenge is you’re going to go back to your existing content, and you’re going to make those headlines better. In the process of doing that, you will have materially improved your site. You will have materially improved the chance that, when somebody comes to a page from social or from search, that they’re going to share it. And you’re going to have a skill that you can take forward with you for the rest of your career as a content marketer.
It’s not instant. Thirty days is not instant. But you’re going to start seeing benefits literally from day one, and then just snowballing and snowballing all the way through day 30 and beyond. If you want to master a new technique, a new habit, anything like that, try one of these 30-day challenges for yourself and see just how far you can get in 30 days.
Then, finally, I promised you a quick win that had a paycheck at the end of it. I’m going to walk you through — I’ve walked through this before a couple of places — a quick way to make an offer. In other words, you’re going to make an offer for a product, for a service. Maybe it’s an ebook, maybe it’s an affiliate offer, and somebody is going to pay you for it. You’re going to get a couple of dollars.
You can also do this with other calls to action, like signing up for your email list. It works really well for any time you’re asking your audience to do something for you.
This particular one is swiped from John Carlton. John Carlton is a very accomplished traditional copywriter. I can almost promise you that John Carlton swiped it from somebody else. I don’t know who. It’s not exactly a unique formula.
What it is is simply a distillation of what happens when you make an effective offer. In other words, an effective piece of communication that gets somebody to do something. It has four steps.
An Ultra-Simple Framework to Use When You’re Asking for the Sale
Step number one is let people know who you are. Who is the person who is making this offer? I think even if your audience knows you quite well, it’s probably a good idea to remind them who you are, what do you stand for, what’s your qualification for making this offer?
What is it about you that you know something special that allows you to create this ebook or this course? Who are you? What’s the context of who’s making the offer, and why is that person qualified to help?
If this was an affiliate offer, this would be the time that you would introduce the person who actually created the thing that you’re going to sell. You would give the context of, “I’m making an affiliate offer for my friend who has created a course for you, and this is why I think this friend is so qualified to be able to teach you what you want to know.” Step one is “Who are you?”
Step two is “Here’s what I’ve got.” Here’s what the thing is. Here’s what the offer is. It’s a course. It’s a SAS app. It’s an ebook. It’s a WordPress plugin. Whatever it might be, “Here’s the thing that’s going to be offered for sale. Here’s what it consists of.”
Step three follows very quickly on step two, which is, “Here’s what it’s going to do for you.” This product, this service, this course, this plugin, this app is going to give you these things. It’s going to do this for you. These are what are called the copywriting benefits. These are the things that you get, that your client gets, out of spending the money.
Then, step four is “And here’s what to do next.” You just spell out absolutely clearly what the person does next to move forward. Do they go to an order page? Do they enter their credit card information? Do they enter their PayPal information?
What is it that they have to do in order to move forward with the thing that you’re asking them for? Be very clear and as succinct as you can while keeping clarity. In other words, make it short, to the point, very clear. Not clever, not silly, not jokey. Very clear.
That one-two-three-four punch is something that you could use right now. You could use it today, if you have an email list for example, and you have something that you do have available. Let’s say you have an ebook. You could go right now into your email program and type up an email that hits these four elements, click send, and you will make some revenue.
“Here’s who I am.” In other words, “Why I’m qualified to help. Here’s what I’ve got for you. Here’s what it does for you, and here’s what to do next.”
This is just the shell, the bones, of an effective offer. Everything else we do, all of the money-back guarantees and telling stories and case studies, all that technique of copywriting, serves this bone structure — one, two, three, four — of making an offer.
“Here’s who I am. Here’s what I’ve got. Here’s what it’s going to do for you, and here’s what you should do next.”
If you’re looking for a quick win that has some dollars or euros attached to the end of it, give this one a try. You can give it a try literally today. Certainly this week. Let us know how it works for you.
That’s it for this week. It’s a quick episode with five quick wins. Thank you, as always, for your time and attention. You know how much I appreciate that. We’ll catch you next week. This is Copyblogger FM.