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The Top 10 "Must Have" Tools for Growing an Online Business

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How to Make Your Content Stand Out Online

Recently, I was in the heart of Times Square giving a presentation in the glamorous headquarters of Conde Nast, the home of glossy magazines such as GQ, Vogue and Vanity Fair.

As I walked down the halls and glanced into their offices, I couldn’t believe how many different magazines they publish!

CondeNast 21.36.03

I mean, have you ever tried to choose a magazine at the airport? It can be a rather overwhelming experience as there are literally close to a hundred options – all with gorgeous images and intriguing headlines. 

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that many of us share the same struggles as Conde Nast.

(No, we may not have Anna Wintour roaming our halls) but we too have to find a way to stand out in a sea of options and information so that we can connect with our customers.

Do you ever feel frustrated by the fact that you are competing with the endless choice of online content?

Competition for consumer attention is fierce.  People spend about 10.7 hours each day consuming media, and more than half of that is now online. 

digital media use graph

 Source: GlobalWebData

And, believe it or not, it’s only going to get busier in the online world with digital content estimated to grow by 600% by 2020!!  Source: BusinessGrow.com

With a finite demand (we’ve still only got 24 hours in a day) is free content still a sensible strategy for marketing your business?

Let me give it to you straight:

If you don’t know what you are doing, your free content will just mix in with everyone else’s and be a complete waste of your time.

With more choice, consumers become more selective, filtering information and only paying attention to what is truly valuable to them.

So will your free content hit the mark?

For those businesses doing it well, free content is a BIG influencer of buying decisions.

Content infographic

To get customers to spend their most finite resource with you (their time) in an online world where there is increasing choice of content available, the bar is going to be raised.

Spammy or non-valuable promotional content just won’t cut it.

Low-quality content will de-value your brand and disappoint customers.

As they say, “the cream will rise to the top.”

Quote

So when it comes to free content, what is it that your customers are really looking for?

Your goal should be to create content that gets people talking.

Content-graphic 20.06.48

Here are some solutions to the biggest questions/struggles people have when it comes to creating free content for their businesses:

  • How do I create free content?

Start by getting out of your own head and try and think from your customers point of view.  See creating content as answering their questions and addressing their needs.  Original content and the type of content that they want is the kind that will truly be of value.

○      What are the questions your commonly asked by customers?

○      What comments do you get from followers on social media?

○      Which are your most popular blog posts?  Which generated the most comments?  How about popular posts from your industry peers?

○      Tell a story.  Use case studies to show your product or service at work.

○      Use curation as well as creation.  Gather information that might be relevant to your customers and be seen as an authority.  Use online tools like Flipboard, Alltop and BuzzSumo to simply your information-gathering. 

  • It takes too much time and/or money.

○      Think smart.  What information do you already have created that might be of interest to your customers?  Is there web content or sales literature that you can use to re-purpose into blog content?

○      If you’ve created videos, think about transcribing them into an ebook or blog series.

○      Turn old blog posts into infographics or slideshares.

○      Turn what you do in your business into “how to’s” for your customers.  What systems or processes do you have in place that might be of use to your customers?

○      Share smaller chunks of information, such as branded images and infographics.

  • My free content has low engagement from customers.

No one wants to spend a bunch of time and effort creating content and then get zero response! Creating content is only half the job.  When what you’re sharing is of great value, the next step is in spreading the word.

○      Share with your email list.

○      Make it visual.  Create compelling images to go along with your free content that are sized appropriately for your chosen social media platform.

○      Share your content with online communities that you’re actively part of.  In real life and the online world, one-sided conversations are boring so get involved in discussions and adding value to communities before crossing the line into self-promotion.

If you don’t have the time to create content that will excite and inspire your customers, don’t be tempted to put out mediocre content.  Instead, consider outsourcing. Which leads me to…

How to Delegate Content Creation

As well as saving you time, using someone external to your business can have the benefit of bringing a fresh perspective.  You can find content writers on sites such as Elance, ODesk, PeoplePerHour and Freelancer.com.

Just make sure you provide people with a clear direction in your brief and be sure to use this checklist:

delegate-content-creation 20.06.48

Remember, creating content is your entry to the game but it’s having great quality content that will stand you apart and ensure that your customers choose to share their precious time with you.

So what do you think? Is creating free content for a business still valuable?

I’m currently developing a training on how to create and use compelling images to increase your sales. Click the button below if you’d like to get on the wait list and be notified when the program is available. (You may even get an extremely exclusive invite to become one of our beta testers).

To your success xx

Melanie

 

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The Top 10

must have

tools

For Growing a Business

For Growing a Business

The Top 10

"Must Have" Tools

For Growing an Online Business