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3 Small Business Marketing Strategies to Get Serious About for 2013

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January 8,2013

By Joe Pulizzi, Content Marketing Institute

Last month on the Content Marketing Institute site, I put together 42 content marketing ideas for 2013, which received some excellent community reaction. Even though all 42 were useful in some way, there were a few in that bunch that are worthy of further elaboration for small businesses. As we roll into next year, here are the 3 content marketing strategies that marketers need to now take seriously.

1. Headlines and more headlines

Upworthy is a content curation and news aggregration site launched earlier this year by some heavy hitters from MoveOn.org and The Onion. It took only a few months for them to reach over two million unique visitors and has been able to grow at a faster rate than even The Huffington Post and Business Insider.

Much of their success can be attributed to their headline work. Yes, you heard that correctly. While most companies spend just minutes on their titles and headlines for blog posts and articles, Upworthy will come up with 20 or more headlines for a piece of content and could spend hours getting the headline just right.

Even here at the Content Marketing Institute, we recently started working with someone to just review our headlines and titles. Since then, our traffic has been up over 25 percent, with a lot of the credit going to a more focused effort on compelling headlines that are both search engine- and sharing-friendly.

In the print magazine business, there is one purpose of a cover and that is to compel a reader to open the magazine. The reason for a headline is so the content is read. So many small businesses think about their headline as an afterthought. Don't make this mistake.  How much of your content is going to waste simply because your audience isn’t compelled to get started?

2. Defining the channel plan

Does this channel plan sound familiar to you?:

  • First, post compelling content on the blog.

  • Second, distribute blog post on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest (tagging the image), etc.

  • Third, start next blog post.

Simply put, most organizations don’t have a coherent content marketing channel plan. If you haven’t already, your organization needs to develop a content marketing channel plan that considers these seven factors:

  1.  Situational analysis
  2. Channel objectives
  3. Content/conversation plan (how you’re telling your story)
  4. Metrics
  5. Personas addressed
  6. Content management process
  7. Editorial calendar

Once you go through the channel plan, your Facebook channel plan may look something more like this than just a link from your blog:

Velocity: Three posts per day

Tone: Friendly, funny, and with a tongue-in-cheek attitude

Desired action: We want them to click through to the blog

Structure: 10 to 20-word post, plus pictures (if applicable) and a “conversion link”

 3. Public speaking training

Content marketers at small businesses are often so focused on becoming online influencers that we often overlook the obvious — content marketing for in-person events. If you are working to position people in your company as thought leaders, a public speaking plan has to go with it.

The sad truth is that most small business owners and marketers are horrible speakers. I know this firsthand from planning our big event, Content Marketing World. Most consultants and authors, on the other hand, get it. They understand not to use too many words on a PowerPoint deck. They understand that the audience needs to be “reset” every eight minutes. They understand that your non-verbals are critical to a strong performance. They understand that their future and career rest on how they perform on stage.

They also understand that speaking in public is, perhaps, the best way to spread your message. This is especially true today, where audience members can actively tweet and share your message, amplifying your purpose beyond the walls of your current event.

 So, as you prepare your employee influencer strategy for 2013, heed these four points:

  • Identify those employees who will serve as external spokespeople for your company.
  • Hold an internal educational session, just for employees, where your prospective influencers can speak. This is done mostly so you can see them speak.
  • Use some kind of public speaking rating system to identify those that need help.
  • Then you can decide whether to hire an internal public speaking trainer or send certain folks to your local Toastmasters group.

Please don’t overlook this point. As you grow your online influence, the speaking requests will naturally come. When they do, you’ll be ready to send out a number of candidates to spread your message.

Joe Pulizzi is a leading author, speaker and strategist for content marketing. Joe is first and foremost a content marketing evangelist, and founded the Content Marketing Institute, which includes client-vendor matching site Junta42 as well as the premier international content marketing event Content Marketing World and Chief Content Officer magazine.

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