7 Success Factors for Authentic Content Marketing
To reach more people and make a deeper impact with your message, and ultimately grow your business, work on getting better at the following 7 factors.
Look at it as an audit of your content marketing process, and make time to gradually improve in each of these areas.
Without the attention of your audience, you’re just talking to yourself.
With their attention and care (which you earn by caring enough for them) you fulfill the mission of your business by serving them well.
The core task of caring for your audience is getting to know them deeply.
I do what I call “fan interviews” several times a month.
This is where I reach out to an audience member (e.g. someone who has bought one of my courses, or perhaps has engaged with my newsletter) and have a 1-1 “meet and greet” conversation with them.
We split the conversation into two.
In the first half, I am asking them questions to help me understand:
1. What they are buying (or wanting to buy) in the realm of my type of products and services.
2. What they’ve bought that is working well for them.
3. What’s not working well.
4. And what they’re still looking for.
The second half of the conversation I invite them to ask me any questions, so I can help them with what is important to them, in the short time we have together.
Another way to understand them better is to look at their social media profiles: what are they sharing? This shows what they care about. What can you learn from that, and how can it help you improve your content topics, format, or style?
You can also care about your audience, and better understand them, by engaging with their comments on your content, having a back and forth conversation if possible.
Ultimately, your audience -- even if they’re brand new to you -- will be able to feel whether you really care for your audience, or are merely trying to get them to opt in, or buy something.
It almost doesn’t matter how skillful you are as a writer, or how attractive you are as a speaker, or how amazing your website looks, if the topic of what you’re writing or speaking about isn’t what your ideal audience is looking for, you’ll have a very hard time getting any traction.
Create content that either (1) they are looking for or (2) didn’t even know to look for it but once they encounter it, they’re glad to find it.
This comes back to Care: have you gotten to know your audience well enough to know what Topics would excite or deeply interest them?
Even if you’re not a skillful writer or speaker, the topic will save the day. You’ll notice this as you browse social media: people often re-share things that aren’t necessarily well-produced (though that doesn’t hurt either!), but because it’s on a topic they care about.
Another way to discover the Topics people are looking for is Keyword Research -- both a science and an art, and much more than I can cover in this article.
If you have already been creating content, notice what pieces of your content does your ideal audience engage with the most? That points the way to what Topics they want you to talk more about.
Everybody has a different style, and that’s a good thing.
Some people copy others’ style because it looks successful. This may work for awhile, and make you seem attractive, but it is also a path to losing your own authentic soul. You’ll also burnout due to trying to pretend all the time.
Instead, I hope you’ll discover your own authentic style, and really step into it.
Imagine being with an audience that completely supports you (in their eyes you can’t do any wrong)... how would you behave? What style of writing, or speaking?
It may help to imagine being with an unconditionally loving friend, family member, or mentor. If you were sharing your message with them, what would your style be?
This is an ongoing inquiry to find and settle into your most authentic style.
For some people it’s humor. For others it’s having gravitas. Some people may enjoy being formal. Others can’t do that, but excel when they’re casual.
Your authentic style is your authentic brand. What colors do you gravitate towards, what personality are you when you’re being your most natural and best self, and what values do you feel passionate about?
The more you understand your authentic style, your natural brand, the more you can activate that superpower that is uniquely yours, and your ideal audience will find you naturally attractive.
Your style will shine differently in different formats. It’s up to you to experiment enough to discover your various strengths.
For example, I can communicate powerfully on video in a way that can’t be done in writing.
On the other hand, people who don’t know me yet, don’t like to watch my videos (I’m no George Clooney!)
Once someone has resonated with my writing, they’re much more likely to watch my videos as well, and might then enjoy watching, and then contact me for coaching.
What about images? I’ve never enjoyed posting them, so I’m foregoing Instagram for now.
I’m focused on the formats of blogging (my website, Facebook, Medium.com) and video (Facebook and Youtube) which is already plenty.
You don’t have to show up in every format. But it is wise to experiment with them all, so that you can focus on the format(s) where you shine the most.
A common mistake:
“If I need more skill, I’ll just take more trainings.”
Trainings, courses, workshops, coaching can point the way forward... just like reading blog posts can.
However, there is no true skill without consistent practice and real-world experience.
You grow in skill much more quickly with consistent practice than if you only did things when you feel “inspired” or “in the flow.”
For example, I have committed to writing 2 blog posts per week, every week, and I’ve been consistent at this for 3 years now. Prior to 2015, I felt I had had writer’s block for years.
In 2015, I dedicated to a rhythm of daily (Mon-Fri) writing. After a few months of doing this, I felt like my writer’s block had dissolved.
The more I’ve consistently written, the less writer’s block I have.
It doesn’t have to be good writing. But it needs to be consistent. That is what builds the muscle of creativity, and eventually makes you very skillful, whether you want to write, make videos, post images, or anything else.
Dedicate yourself to the consistency of practice, and you’ll build true skill that others will truly benefit from.
Without understanding the strategies of Reach, you will barely build an audience at all. You might as well be writing in a private journal, or making videos just for your clients (both of which can be great ways to start, by the way.)
My favorite ways to reach more people with my content are:
Facebook Ads. It has been hugely beneficial to my business, and to my clients who use my strategies. To learn more, check out my online course on Facebook Ads.
Partnerships. The simplest way to do this is to reach out to a peer that you resonate with, who has a similar audience type and size as you. Trade content promotions with each other: you’ll share one of her best posts/videos to your audience, and she’ll do the same for you. It is a win-win for everyone.
Influencer Marketing. For a service-oriented approach, read this: How to Do Influencer Marketing For Free.
Other ways to grow more content reach that I’ve tried include SEO, Google Ads, Instagram Ads, guest blogging, speaking on podcasts, and Amazon Ads (for my books). My favorites are the 3 I’ve described above, so you might want to start with trying those.
How much are you requiring your audience to invest, to consume your content?
How much does it cost in dollars? Free content is of course the easiest to consume.
How much energy does it take from them? Longer articles like this take more energy, but tend to filter forward a more ideal audience.
The easier your content, the more you’ll tend to reach but the less ideal the audience.
The harder your content (or the more costly), you’ll reach fewer people who are more ideal.
When I first started to build an audience, I used shorter, free content (less cost) which built an audience more quickly.
Now I’m focused on filtering forward the people who are most ideal for my business, so I’m using more “costly” content -- longer articles like this, longer videos, and paid content in the form of my online courses.
You can combine Reach + Investment in order to reach more people who are also more likely to be ideal audience members. This is what I’m doing in my side business.
I write long articles, and then use Facebook Ads to reach new people. Those willing to read such long articles and engage with it, are more likely to be ideal audience members.
If you work on improving yourself in each of these 7 (or any combination of them), you’ll keep growing the reach and impact of your message, and ultimately fulfill more of the mission of your business.