Simply put, content marketing is a practice of providing relevant content to your prospects that “pulls” them toward you.
Over time, you keep creating or curating nuggets of useful content with the goal to convert the prospect into a paying customer.
You don’t send them sales pitches; instead, you send them ongoing and fresh information that makes an impact. The readers reward you with their loyalty by becoming your customers.
Well. At least that’s what content marketing was supposed to be.
Recently though, many small business owners, marketers and educators have been making some grave content marketing mistakes such as:
- Churning out low quality content: Your reader is smart. Sooner or later, they will feel the lack of quality and hit the unsubscribe button.
- Making it all about you: Content marketing is about your readers, not you. Stop being narcissistic.
- Not weaving in stories: Business is built on good relationships. Relationships are built by people. And what do people love? Stories. It’s been that way for centuries. Look up the history of storytelling if you don’t believe me.
- Not stepping out of your comfort zone: If you don’t experiment with new forms of content and give your readers better content than your competitors, who will?
My point? It’s time to stop making these mistakes and stand out from the crowd of your competitors. Here are three ways to get started:
1. Find a persona
Let’s face it. There are more mediocre bloggers and content creators out there than truly excellent ones.
And those excellent ones have one thing in common: They know what they stand for.
All these people stand for something. They bring their offline traits online. And it’s refreshing! Plus it makes them easily recognizable.
2. Be different
Almost anyone who can string two sentences together can write.
However, what you need as a content marketer is to write well and differently.
Let me explain.
If there’s a trending topic in your industry, you can take it and write from a different angle.
For example, instead of writing “How visual content boosts your marketing,” I could write about “How creating visual content is breaking your bank and what to do instead”.
In short, I pick a new stance and instantly differentiate from everyone else.
Another tip is to write something controversial. For example, a common saying in the online world is “The money’s in the list.”
You can take that topic and put a different spin on it by saying the opposite: “The money’s not in the list” like this post does.
Last but not the least: Be different by adding some pop to your content. How? Try visuals. Infographics, images with text overlays and “snackable” presentations pulled out of your blog posts are all great examples.
3. Be genuine
According to Jon Morrow, one of the most important traits for your content is empathy.
In many ways, genuineness and empathy go hand in hand. Once you show real empathy, you are honest and can connect with your readers.
And isn’t that the goal of stand-out content marketing?
Taking Jon’s example, one of the most genuine posts he wrote (where he also empathises with the struggling blogger) is called How to be Unforgettable.
Notice how Jon opens up with a story and instantly builds a connection. Each sentence does its job well – and keeps you hooked to read the next one.
Genuineness also brings a grain of truth in your posts. Here is an example of Joe Pulizzi being refreshingly honest about a mistake they made, and how they corrected it.
Are you creating content that moves, touches, or brings about a positive change in your reader? How are you using content marketing to stand out from your competitors?
Tell me more in the comments below.