Hey there, Social Media Josh here.
I’m sure you’ve heard about content marketing.
The term was coined in 1996, and has exponentially become mainstream over the last few years against the backdrop of social media.
But the truth is: Content marketing has been around for more than a century.
For example, the first version of the Michelin Guide, which was created in 1900, offered drivers information about auto maintenance, accommodations and other travel tips.
Four years later, Jell-O distributed a free cookbook, only to see its sales rise to more than $1 million by 1906.
Remember the good ol’ Hallmark movies? Content marketing as well.
The Internet and social media have put the power of content marketing into the hands of almost everyone and every business, but these two platforms surely didn’t invent it.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is simply the act of communicating with your existing and prospective customers, without selling.
Content marketing is basically a two-step process:
- Accept the fact that your product or service is just a means to the customer’s end, and then
- Create content that focuses on that end, rather than the means
Unfortunately, most businesses and organizations resort to posting content about themselves, which is usually trivial and doesn’t add any real value to people’s lives. Again, our products and services are simply a means to someone’s end.
Added value means helping and/or enhancing people’s lives, based on what your product or service represents. Added value content could be entertaining, informative, educational, experiential, etc.
Content marketing isn’t just a short game; it also gives you more opportunities for long-term financial growth.
How I added 20 percent more revenue with content marketing
I started my social media consulting business during the summer of 2012, fresh off of graduating with a journalism degree from San Diego State University. (#AztecForLife)
Like most small businesses, it grew organically via word-of-mouth. Business was good for the next three years, but during the summer of 2015, word-of-mouth became stagnate.
I had always preached content marketing to my clients, but now it was time to do it for my own business as well.
The first thing I did was come to terms with the fact that most of my prospective and existing clients don’t actually care about social media and content marketing; they care about more exposure to new customers and higher lifetime value of existing ones. As a result, I started to create content that paints a picture about how social media and content marketing can achieve those two things. I also launched a “tell all” online course, which is now free for anyone in my network (more on that below).
The second thing I did was hire people to help service my existing clients, so that I could have more time to focus on content marketing. While I myself took a pay cut during the first three months of my content marketing efforts, I made that money back (and then some) during the last three months.
The third thing I did was set up my content hub and a basic email marketing program. The goal was to write one quality post each week and distribute it via my email list, LinkedIn Pulse, Medium and other social media channels. (More on how I developed an email list of what is today more than 1,100 relevant people in this post.)
The fourth thing I did was get serious about my own social media. I became much more active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Medium and LinkedIn — ultimately growing my network by more than 4,000 people. (This post talks about how to get anyone to follow you on social media.)
The fifth thing I did was host free lectures about social media and content marketing in Tel Aviv, Boston and Southern California. I met people face-to-face, and then connected with them on social media to “continue the conversation” from there. I also made it a point to connect on social media with every relevant person I met in day-to-day interactions.
Like what you're reading? Don't miss a drop of knowledge. Get my weekly column sent straight to your inbox.
And of course, connect with me on:
Here’s what I learned
Here are the three main takeaways from how I added 20 percent more revenue within six months of doing content marketing:
- Marketing is not putting yourself out there when you have something to sell. In fact, marketing is establishing and developing relevance, belief and trust with people before they’re willing, ready and able to buy what you’re selling.
Most people who I met or who were introduced to me were not willing, ready and able to buy what I’m selling when I first met them; but, by establishing and developing relevance, belief and trust with them over time via content marketing, many of these people became or referred me to clients. (More about this concept in the lesson “The Social Media Sales Cycle” from The Business of Social: A MasterCourse)
- Content marketing gives you the opportunity to transform a commodity into a brand, which inherently increases the value of your product or service. In other words, when you add value to people’s lives outside of your product or service, these people will place more value on it, and they’ll be more willing to pay a higher price for it.
For example, in the last six months, I was able to more than double my hourly rate because, through my content marketing efforts, people started to view me as a personal brand (“Social Media Josh”) and as a thought leader, rather than just another service provider.
- Content marketing isn’t just a short game; it also gives you more opportunities for long-term financial growth. While I made $20,748 in the last six months, I’ve also set myself up to generate more than $120,000 in projected annual revenue for 2016 — aside from the clients we’re already working with.
These two numbers — the actual and projected revenues — are simply variables. In other words, $20,748 represents a 20-percent increase in actual revenue; on the other hand, $120,000 represents a 40-percent increase in projected annual revenue — so these two percentages are really what you should be focused on for your business or organization (assuming you play your content marketing cards right).
Josh Hoffman (better known as Social Media Josh) is an international social media consultant, instructor and speaker, as well as the creator of The Social Media Freelancer (a digital hub exclusively for current and aspiring social media managers, consultants and strategists who want to build or boost their freelance business).
He also created #TCMTH (take control + make things happen), a movement designed to inspire, motivate and drive people to take more control of their personal and professional life, and make things happen. Join the movement at takecontrolandmakethingshappen.com :)