I've been blogging for almost four years now. Over 500 posts later, I can tell you it has been the single most important marketing tactic I’ve done to grow my business.
I recently went back into the archives, to my very first post, and pulled out this paragraph.
One thing is for sure, it is the organizations, not individual users or publishers, that have the greatest opportunity (and possibly learning curve) to create valuable content that makes an impact on people. Smart organizations are doing it now. More will come. Things are going to get interesting.
That statement was true then, and is even more so today. You are the publisher, and you can and will do great things.
What I'm saying may not entirely make sense. That's okay. What we are seeing is a complete shift from the way we've marketed in the past to leveraging new channels. Is this challenging? Yes. There are more opportunities for you to connect with consumers now, than ever before as an HVAC contractor and a small business.
Here's 15 points to consider as you take the journey.
1. Who owns the brand story? You will have trouble being successful with content marketing and social media unless someone in your organization champions the brand story with customers and throughout your organization. What does this mean? It means telling a story to your customers that is consistent and is interesting.
2. Your problem with social media - part 1: If you don't have anything interesting to say, you probably shouldn't be doing anything proactive in social media.
3. Your problem with social media - part 2: If your employees don't understand the basic rules for engaging with customers online, how can you manage the process? Social media guidelines will help, and are necessary. See these guidelines from IBM.
4. Viral isn't one big content hit. It's a consistent drum of compelling content that hits a tipping point. Viral is rarely just the one, but the one after the many.
5. Finding the measurement silver bullet. How do you measure your traditional marketing efforts (PR, display placement, direct marketing)? Use your current measurement practices to measure your content marketing and social media, then revise. Ask yourself "what will be different in one year?" Then create objectives from that question.
6. Write better content. If your online content is not as good or better than the "real" publishers in your industry, you are going to have trouble hitting your goals. There is no reason your content shouldn't be the best.
7. Don't expect travel. Do you have family members that want to see you but don't want to travel? The same thing happens online with your customers. Go to where your customers are online and take your content with you. For example, if your customers are on Facebook, shouldn't you be there too?
8. Don't forget print. Watch how teenagers use media. With texting they have fleeting moments, with computers, it's to get specific tasks done, with print, it's a love affair. Ever watch how a teenage girl covets a magazine? Don't overlook the opportunity to engage in print. Click here for more information on print.
9. Never, ever turn down a content opportunity. If someone is willing to let you into their community so you can dish out some great information, make the time to do it. Remember that no opportunity is too small. Take every interview. Tell your story.
10. Waiting for perfection. Most things are never perfect and they never will be. Start with a plan, and then execute it. Stop making excuses. If you have something important to say that can impact your business, why are you waiting?
11. Your customers don't care about you. I remind myself of this every day. It keeps the content focused on them, not me or my brand. If you are in charge of your brand story, paste that statement above your computer.
12. Content marketing is not product or service content. Click here for more information.
13. Advertising is a luxury. Content is survival.
14. We don't just do content marketing for altruistic reasons. Some companies (and individuals) forget that online and print content needs to maintain or create a profitable behavior for your business. Remember that content marketing is marketing, not just content.
15. Your point-of-view. What makes your content marketing different is that you take a stand, you have an opinion. Really great content marketing uses research to take a stand. So should you. Content marketing that never gets noticed stays on the sidewalk. Great content marketing plays in traffic. Click here for an example of great content marketing.
If you need more guidance, click here for a content marketing white paper . It's my favorite and you should find it helpful. Now go out and be the publisher in your industry and grow your business.
Joe Pulizzi is CEO of SocialTract , a blogging/social media service for HVACR contractors. Joe is also co-author of Get Content Get Customers, which details how companies can publish content to drive revenues. SocialTract is a division of Z Squared Media, LLC . Joe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org . For speaking needs - http://joepulizzi.com.