This post was originally published on AllBusiness.com.
In San Diego, there’s a taco shop on every corner—you think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. And while every San Diegan has her go-to shop for the city’s famous fish tacos, most of the shops look the same:
- Bars on windows
- Bright colors
- Maybe a sombrero or sarape hanging on the wall
- Decor is background noise because you’re there for the food
I of all people understand that small businesses have small budgets, and that every expense should be scrutinized. I am the queen of DIY, in an effort to save a few bucks.
But I also understand the value of hiring help where it’s needed. While I’m a professional content writer, you probably aren’t.
Do you really think writing your own content is the best way to reach your audience? If you’re not skilled at writing — or just don’t enjoy it — that will come off in how your brand is portrayed to potential business.
The last thing you want to do is turn off the very people you want as your customers.
As you build your marketing budget for this year, let me give you a few arguments for hiring a professional content writer.
Happy New Year!
Today is the first day of a blank slate. What will you make of it with your business?
For me, there’s always been something so symbolic about having a fresh start. It’s a great excuse to rethink where we want to take our businesses. When you’re chugging along the rest of the year, you rarely take the time to look up and consider whether you’re still moving in the direction you want to be, or whether that direction has shifted.
That’s why I make New Year’s Resolutions for my business.
(and hey, if you’re not feeling up to it this year, check out what I did last year: focused on just one goal for the entire year.)
This time of year, I’m typically writing articles about the importance and value of sending clients gifts. While I completely advocate doing so (and am pretty proud that I ordered my client gifts in November!), this post is about something more intangible.
I’ve been in business nearly 12 years. While I’ve worked with my share of divas and slave drivers, I have to say, I’m pretty proud to have a roster of clients who genuinely are a joy to work with.
Not every entrepreneur is so lucky.
I’m reflecting on the many gifts I’ve gotten from them. Not cookies and flowers, though I occasionally am delighted to receive those, but more lessons and experiences that help me be better as a business owner.
Quite honestly, I don’t read and review a lot of marketing books these days. They tend to say the same thing over and over. But when Jon Wuebben, author of not one but two books on content marketing, asked me to review his new book Future Marketing: Winning in the Prosumer Age, something told me to read it.
Rather than covering the same tired digital marketing topics, Wuebben, a fan of futurist authors like Dr. Ray Kurzweil and Alvin Toffler, applies their theories about the future to marketing. It turns out, they all saw it coming. The technology. The social networks. The sharing of information. It’s fascinating to line up their predictions to marketing, even if they weren’t specifically aimed at marketing.
The funny thing about books in the digital marketing space is that they become outdated nearly as soon as they’re published. It’s hard to write a current book, not knowing what technologies and tools are coming down the pipeline. But some books — for example, The Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing & Digital PR by Luke Nicholson, Charlie Marchant, and Tim Kitchen — provide long-lasting value by focusing on strategy and tactics rather than the latest and greatest trends in marketing.
I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. It was right in my wheelhouse: full of actionable advice any small business owner can follow to stand out in a sea of competition. I tend to favor books that teach you how to do something rather than just talk about high-level concepts you can do nothing with.
Tomorrow’s a special day for us at Egg. It’s the day we celebrate being in business for…wait for it…10 years! We’ve beat the odds, and come out better than 96% of small businesses. That’s huge.
When I wrote my first press release for a client in 2006 (who I found on MySpace Classifieds, by the way), I was looking for a way to make money until my next job. But after a few more projects, I realized: this is what I wanted to do. I wanted to help small businesses who couldn’t afford to hire full-time marketing staff to attract customers. I’m proud to say that we’ve stuck to that mission.
A lot’s changed in 10 years:
I manage guest blogging opportunities for several clients, and it can be a challenge to keep up with which topic I’ve pitched for them, and where. Because most blog sites don’t respond right away — or even publish within weeks of my submitting an article — it can easily become a logistical nightmare keeping up with it.
Like Goldilocks and the Three Bears
Last year, I resolved to find software that would help me track which articles I’d submitted, which editors showed interest in, and when and where the articles were published. I started off trying editorial calendars like Kapost and CoSchedule, but what I needed was less of a calendar and more of a tracking system. Plus, some of the calendars I looked at were $20+ a month, and I can’t justify the cost if the software doesn’t do exactly what I need.
So, like Goldilocks working her way through the porridge, I continued on my search.
When you think about marketing events, you probably think about conferences, seminars, or workshops. But what about job fairs? Open houses? Grand openings? Each of these events depends on having a good turnout to be successful. How do you get lots of people at your event? You market it smartly.
The Secret? Advanced Planning
People are busy, so for those who don’t plan events for a living, they might start planning a given event just weeks before. Don’t do that. While certainly the bulk of your promotion should be right around the event, you actually need to start months in advance, depending on the event.
Start by developing a marketing plan that includes:
- Specific blog posts you’ll write about the event and topics related
- Content calendar of social media updates. Get heavy in promotion in the weeks before event
- Press release
I find that breaking down your marketing activities helps small business owners actually expand what they do, rather than throw a list of “you should be doing this!” at them. So, here’s a suggested calendar of things to add (or improve upon) to your marketing mix in the new year.
January: Get On Board with Video Marketing
If you’re not yet using video marketing to reach your audience, you’re missing out. What once was a nice-to-have is now an essential tool. Here are tips for getting started:
- Don’t just put out content. Have a content calendar and a plan.
- Vary the types of videos you produce. Talking heads, product reviews, and how-tos are all popular.
- Practice. The more you run through your script (yep, you need one), the better it will be delivered.
February: Better Target Your Content Marketing
Sure, you’re regularly publishing content to your business blog. But is it what your audience wants? Here’s how to find out and improve your content this month: