If Your Content Is Right, You Rule Your World

“Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting.”  – Bill Gates, 1 March 1996




This quote comes from an article entitled ‘Content is King’ by the now-famous and very-rich Bill Gates.  The phrase is still getting thrown around a lot lately, especially in relation to online marketing.  Since that’s an area I feel pretty strongly about (as in, you should be on the bandwagon without delay), here are some tips as it relates to the generating and publishing of that new King of Marketing, Content.

Keeping It Fresh

In one way, the content we write is simply a rehashing of what someone else has written, and posted somewhere else. But if people are going to read what you have to say, you want to make sure it doesn’t sound like the same old, same old.  Try some of these:

Write in your own voice, your own language.  Don’t try to make it sound ‘professional’ or ‘proper’ – just write what you would say to a client, to a prospect, in a presentation, to a friend.  You may tidy it up a bit, but the jist will be there.  (Sometimes when I can’t figure out how to say it, I write out exactly what I wish I could say, with no editing, and then read it over later and make some minor changes.)

Include good imagery.  Use sharp, clear, bright images (preferably photos, not clip art).  Buy them from www.istock.com, www.shutterstock.com, or www.123rf.com.  Google images is NOT an appropriate place to download photos for your own use – most of the time they are copyrighted by the organisation who put them there in the first place.  Microsoft Images are free, and there’s plenty of variety.

Apply it to your client base.  Even the most generic content can have more impact if it’s given a spin that applies directly to a particular industry or geographical location or product.  I could tell you to run webinars and do online training, but if you’re an accountant, it will mean more when I tell you to create online SAGE training (which is probably something you offer already, but requires a full day of a team member’s time).  Put it into articles and PDF’s and video and you only have to do it once – every successive sale is pure profit.

Make it about them.

Whoever is reading your content should feel that it was written just for them.  Our CRM system, Infusionsoft, is absolutely brilliant at sending emails – they only send me information that applies to me and is interesting to me, with the result that I always pay attention to their emails and make sure to read them.  They know me well enough to know what I want to hear about, and they don’t bother me with the rest.

Similarly, a marketing organisation sometimes sends me emails that ask if I’d like more information or to connect with them in some way – and I already have, last month.  That’s just annoying, and makes me feel like I’ve been added to a massive email list with no attention at all to who I am or what I am interested in hearing about.

Pay attention to Google priorities

Google has completely revamped the way it finds what you are looking for.  They have extensive algorithms that take into account the type of website you have, how up-to-date it is, how often you update content, how applicable your type of business is to the query that someone has typed in, your specific geographical location, and much more.  If you think you can post a few blogs and get found on Google you’ve got another think coming.  On the other hand, if you are genuinely a local business with applicable information and services, just keep posting your content. It will make a difference in the end.

Also, if you buy in generic content from someone who supplies it to other accountancy firms as well, and you publish it on your site or elsewhere, you are actually penalised by Google because if your content is the same as others’, they push you even further down the search engine results.  Having custom content – not just your website pages, but your blog posts and social media blurbs – is more important now than it has ever been.  You can, of course, start with the generic content and adjust it for your own needs, but the best content is that which isn’t appearing elsewhere online, on some other accountant’s website (or a hundred other accountancy firm sites).

“Community is Queen”

If Content is King, then Community is Queen.  Meaning, you can have all the content in the world, but if you’re not relating to your contacts, and connecting with them in a real and applicable way, it’s not going to do you any good.

Find out where ‘your kind of people’ hang out.  Are your best prospects on Facebook, or Twitter, or Tumblr, or using live chat, or sending text messages, or attending webinars, or on Skype?  Build your content so that people can engage with you as part of your virtual community – and the best part is, you don’t have to hire a developer to create something to rival Facebook.  Just use Linked In if it works for you – or something else if that’s better.  Guaranteed, if you have an idea about how you can connect with people online, someone else has already had that idea and it’s working well.  Save yourself the time and hassle, and use their system to your advantage.

Always a Call to Action?

In one sense, yes, always.  But that doesn’t mean pushing people to ‘a sale’.  You are building something here, not trying to make people buy what they don’t need simply to make you some money.

Call them to do something very simple, very easy.  To read your blog post online. Or share it on Twitter. Or register for a webinar. Or download a free report.

Use a series of calls to action.  The best plan is to have a whole series of calls to action that follow each other like beads on a string. Eventually, you will distinguish between those who are vaguely interested (enough to open your email) and those who are really engaged (enough to complete forms and download free content and get in touch with you).  It makes your sales process so much easier.

Negating Good Content

Having the best content in the world can be made completely useless if it’s not presented well.  Here are a few things that will turn your brilliant content to nothing:

Poorly titled – If your content is excellent, but you haven’t labelled it in a way that people will understand and connect with, you can lose your audience.  A classic example is the difference between “How To Grow Your Business” and “Top 7 Dental Website Marketing Tips”.  People read very quickly – draw them in to your good content fast.

Outdated website – All your content should be on your website, and everything you do should draw people there. If it’s outdated, old, slow, unclear, or just plain boring, your brilliant content will be lost.  Don’t let that happen.  (If you’re confused by the thousand options out there for a new website, let me know. Happy to make a few suggestions.)

Website that does not engage – Your site may be clean, clear, bright, and modern: but if it doesn’t have clear calls to action or draw people to take further steps, then all your content is in vain.  Remember our point about a series of calls to action, above.

Emailing too often – The definition of ‘too often’ depends on your audience, and what they expect or signed up for.  Usually, every day, or 2-3 times a week, is too often.  If you’re not sure, keep it to two or three times a month.

Pushy sales tactics – I attended an online demo for a product I was very interested in, having read their emails, followed them on social media, and connected with their blogs.  Unfortunately, though the product is great, the person doing the demo rushed through it at top speeds, barely letting me get a question in edgewise.  (And I’m not a shy retiring flower, either. I had to interrupt him constantly just to ask simple questions.)  I was very impressed with the product, but significantly unimpressed with the demo.  He even referred to himself as a ‘salesman’, which put me right off.   If you have great content, don’t ruin it by forcing it down people’s throats.

That’s probably plenty to keep you busy for a lifetime, much less just this week!  Enjoy putting it into practice.