inconcertWhen I sat down with Matt Ward, President/CEO of inConcert Web Solutions, I wasn’t expecting content marketing to be the focus of our conversation.

Matt is a Constant Contact Solution Provider, best known for his work helping businesses, both large and small, with their website design, hosting, and maintenance.

But while I expected our conversation to be primarily focused on the interworking of designing and hosting a great website, I quickly learned that content plays just as big of a role in that conversation as it does with any other marketing dialogue.

Whether you’re looking to get discovered by new customers, build stronger relationships with current customers, or find a way to save time and energy when it comes to marketing your small business, Matt says that your strategy should begin and end with the content you create.

Here are 4 content marketing secrets every small business owner should know:

1. You can’t do everything all at once (so, don’t try to)

If you’re new to content marketing (or to marketing in general) it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

Matt’s solution is a simple one: don’t try to do everything at once.

“How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time,’” Matt explains. “The issue with marketing is that there’s just too much you need to worry about. What channels should you be using? How often should you send an email? When’s the best time to post on Facebook? But none of that stuff matters if you don’t do anything at all.”

Instead, Matt says that businesses need to start small and find a path that works best for them.

“It’s easy to get ‘paralysis by analysis’ when you’re trying to focus on everything at once,” Matt explains. “Instead, find a starting point and go with it. Once you have a system in place and make it happen, it will become a habit and part of your routine.”

So where should you start? That brings us to secret #2.

2. Start with a blog

“If you’re going to start with just one thing, start by creating a blog,” Matt explains. “The reason you should start blogging is because it is the content creation piece. It’s a lot easier to sit down and put together an email or Facebook post when you already have your content created.”

Again, Matt says that starting small gives you the best chance to follow through and fulfill your goals.

“When you have about 8 articles, I’d recommend sharing those things out,” Matt explains. “If you’re sending an email once a month, than you’ll already have 8 months of email content. If you’re on Facebook or Twitter that could be 8 days or weeks of posts depending on how frequently you decide to do it.”

Remember, the content you create (especially early on) probably won’t be award winning. That’s okay! Start small and when you do hit a road block, think about the person who will be reading it. Who are they? What questions do they have? How can you help them overcome a certain challenge?

These are questions you’re well suited to answer. How? That brings us to secret #3.

3. It’s ok to tell people how you get your job done

“The best content is educational,” explains Matt. “It doesn’t matter who you are. You have some expertise your customers can learn from.”

While in years past, most businesses took a sell-first approach, Matt says that business owners need to think differently about how they communicate with customers online.

“People will be much more likely to pick up the phone when you help them with a problem than when you’re just selling all the time,” Matt explains. “Instead, focus on making your content real, personal, and local as well.”

This strategy to content creation isn’t limited to certain industries either.

“I worked with a client who cleans pools and helped him create content about the work that goes into doing it,” Matt recalls. “When you actually show people all the work that’s involved and how to actually do it from scrapping algae, to cleaning out leaves, or fixing problems with their vacuum, they quickly realize how much trouble it can be and will be more willing to outsource the work.”

4. You need to create new content on a regular basis (whether you like it or not)

“When a new client comes to us and is looking for more sales or to generate new business, I typically start by telling them that they need to create content on a regular basis,” Matt explains. “A lot of people think you can just create a website and leave it there but that’s really not enough.”

Since inConcert opened for business in 2002, Matt has witnessed a number of important changes in the way businesses get discovered online. With search engines like Google playing an increasingly important role in this discovery process, Matt says that having a way to create content can give your business website an important advantage.

“Ideally, we want our clients publishing at least one blog post a week,” Matt explains. “Because recent content is favored by search engines, clients that consistently create content about the topics their customers are interested in will have more chances to be seen.”

But it’s not just search engine optimization (SEO) that businesses need to keep in mind. Content marketing is about a fundamental shift in the way you approach your marketing efforts. It’s about providing something of value that customers can’t find anywhere else. It’s about understanding the needs of your customers and giving them an experience that they enjoy, trust, and will want to share whenever they get a chance.

“The same content that’s helping you get discovered by new customers is also extremely valuable for building relationships with your current customers and clients,” Matt explains. “The benefits of continuously creating content are hard to ignore.”

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