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Concise, meaningful content (words and images) is how you tell your customers, clients, and everyone else why and how you are valuable. Digital and print are integral to a successful marketing strategy. It does not have to consume all of your time or resources to get results.

In a recent Hubspot article, MaryAnne Flynn, vice president of content services at SkyWord, talked about how changing algorithms and the ever growing sphere of data has shifted the value of content from one of low-value commodity to high-value resource, with some companies reportedly investing up to 25% of their marketing budget in content creation. Flynn said, “That started to change about a year ago when companies recognized that prospective customers do a whole lot of research before going to a website. Thus, the real requirement is for higher-quality content that educates. And content plays a role far earlier in the buying process.”

Check out this 2013 infographic by DOMO breaking down the amount of content published on the internet every minute to grasp the enormity of information flow.

Many small organizations don’t capitalize on the power of content because it feels like a complex, costly, and time consuming endeavor. The secret to marketing in the Digital Age for small businesses and organizations is something you already know how to do. The outline below presents five accessible, high-return steps you can take using skills and resources you already have.

Skills and Resources

  1. Relationships and ability to build more
  2. Planning and execution
  3. Knowledge of your industry


Building a base of customers, donors, or clients is the same as it always has been – authentic relationships.

Think about it. The doctor, lawyer, financial advisor, painter, etc. that you refer and keep going back to “takes care of you.”

The beauty of living in a free market system is that on the most basic level businesses are made up of people serving their fellow man. It’s a trade of goods and services for a piece of paper backed by the bank.

You worked hard to produce the good or service that resulted in the currency exchange. You expect the same of others. Tactics that feel stilted or disingenuous produce reduced results. It does not matter if the seller is knocking on a door or deploying the full range of social media tools.

Be valuable. Don’t try to sell your friends or anyone else something your aren’t sure they really need.

Planning and Execution

The death of many good ideas and intentions is a lack of planning followed by execution. You won’t likely get something done if it’s not part of your big picture plan. Next, it must be calendared in order to ensure execution.

Think carefully about your time and objectives before taking on any of the tasks listed in this article. If your’e not committed, it won’t get executed.

Knowledge of Industry

Your’e an expert in something. Start with what you know and then identify a narrow niche within your industry. Also, consider what your customers or clients ask most about or need the most help figuring out.

Put valuable content out there for free (or the cost of an email) and over time you’ll see a return. There’s a lot to be said about where you place that free content, but that’s for another post.

Five Easy Steps

1. Build an authoritative, inviting web page

Many will say, “We spent thousands having a new website built.”

Good for you. Does it work? That is, does it inspire those who are looking for what you offer to stay and explore or better yet call for an appointment or buy something?

Conduct an audit of your home page. Go to it with fresh eyes. Do the words and images tell your story with power? Ask others in your industry or just friends to give an honest assessment of your front page. After all, this is the equivalent of a brick and mortar storefront.

It is better to have one well-written, visually enticing web page than twenty pages that don’t do the job. If you find your webpages need improvements, start with rewriting the messages. Have someone go into the CMS (content management system) and make the changes ASAP. Also, if you don’t have access to your own website via password and username, it’s like not having a set of keys to your house.

Need a website and want to do it yourself. See WordPress.

  1. Create an E-Letter template that links back to content on your web page(s)

There are many free or low-cost template based email services, e.g. MailChimp, Benchmark, IContact, etc. Pick one. Set-up an account and template. Upload your database of customers and potential customers. Always practice good “hygiene” with your e-list and best management practices, i.e. remove emails that bounce, don’t send excessive, unsolicited email to anyone.

Whether you run an ecommerce platform or use a website as an advanced brochure,  your content’s perceived value determines whether or not someone will share an email and phone number. How valuable is that information to you?

Here are some email/E-letter open rates to consider based on international research conducted by Silverpop, an Atlanta-based international digital marketing firm.

Open Rate (unique) Mean Median Top Quartile
U.S. 18.9% 16.5% 34.7%
Healthcare (int’l) 18.7% 17.9% 30.0%
Corporate Services (int’l) 18.1% 15.7% 32.6%


3. Determine the best outlets for reaching your “people.”

Think about how much you and your team currently use the myriad forms of communication: phone, email, website, advertising, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, brochures, etc.

If you don’t have a Facebook account and use email primarily to share photos and inspiring stories, don’t start with a complex social media strategy. But do start to think about using the current tools to let people know you’ve got some good information for them, after you’ve started creating and gathering valuable content.

The biggest barrier to consistently developing, presenting, and capitalizing on content is established commitment and process. Without intentional process and deadlines, time feels wasted, something “urgent” takes over the time designated to following the content plan.

Every professional should at least have a LinkedIn account. But not everyone will benefit or use FaceBook and Twitter.

4. Decide on your one to three focus areas and make a list of headlines, including trends you see developing, lessons you’ve learned in the “trenches,” and problems you’ve solved for customers or clients.

If your clients are other businesses, you want content that establishes you as a trusted authority: well researched feature-type articles, experiential case studies/white papers are a must. If you are appealing to consumers, your content should focus on helpful tips, price, features, and superiority.

Next, identify your realistic willingness to create the content or pay someone else to do it. How often would you care to hear from yourself: weekly, monthly, quarterly?

Set a schedule and start compiling and writing quality content.

Must Have Content Qualities

-Authoritative and touches clients at those critical points when they realize there’s a problem and/or opportunity

-Quotes and references the known experts and documents real-life experience that answers questions

-Describes authoritatively how to get the best results or value from services/products like yours. Note: don’t go on about how great you are but what you consider highest standards in your field. That you provide the best is a given.

5. Deliver good content on the schedule you’ve established

Everyone is in sales from brooms to blood drives. If you don’t consider the value of content, you are likely missing a relatively low- cost, high-return option for building your brand. As of 2012, according to the Fleishman-Hillard and Harris Interactive Annual Global Study, “Eighty-nine percent of consumers surveyed use internet search engines to make purchasing decisions…”

How and what you deliver is not formulaic, but delivering consistently valuable stuff is vital.

Here are some examples:

Use a simple email or phone call to people to say, “I thought about you when I read (or wrote) this. And for crying out loud, be genuine. Make sure you think it will impact them.

Dig in and write an award-winning case study. Feature it in your newsletter. Tweet about one point. Ask FaceBook friends to visit your website to download the “free” new case study.

Rewrite the descriptions for your lowest producing product and then send out an E-letter announcing a 15% off coupon.

Let us know if you need help.

West 65 Inc. can help you aggregate existing content on your topics or write original stuff. We’ll help you strategize and organize to begin producing and posting content that will pay-off. Contact us here.