Category Archives for "Content Marketing"

construction contractor leads
Nov 09

8 Effective Content Types And How To Use Them

Content Marketing

Content has become the currency of the internet, giving you limitless options to promote your brand, engage with your audience, hit new target markets and provide value to your customers.

That said, content is about more than blog posts. There are many types of content out there to keep your message fresh and your audience interested.

Take a look at these eight effective content types and learn how you can use them to drive growth for your contractor business.

Infographics

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Info + graphic, or infographic, uses graphics and visuals to present information in an easily digestible way for your audience. At a quick glance, a reader can often get all the same pertinent information as they would from a longer blog post, making infographics a popular content type.

Infographics get more views, shares and likes than other content types, mostly because of how easy it is to absorb the information. They also have viral potential and are shared far more often than other content types, and they work particularly well for data, statistics and research.

If you have a graphic designer on your team, that’s the person to recruit to create infographics for you. These creative professionals are experts at creating compelling visuals and organizing information in a way that communicates effectively to an audience.

If you don’t have a graphic designer, you can outsource your infographics or create them yourself with plenty of services. This route can be pricey, but worth it for the engagement you’ll receive.

It’s important to keep in mind, however, that simply having an infographic isn’t enough for viral content. To make an infographic that stands out, you still need to apply the same principles of effective content and craft a specific, compelling message.

Memes

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If you’ve spent even a minute on any social media platform, you’re familiar with memes. By their very nature, memes encourage sharing and have the potential to go viral. They’re also quite funny, in most cases, which automatically gets more attention.

Unlike infographics, memes don’t require any special skills or graphic design talent. Many sites allow you to include your own text in a standard meme format. If you have a funny idea or the mood strikes, put it in a meme to share.

Memes may not be appropriate for your blog, however. Memes are a social media phenomenon, so it’s best to keep them on your social media pages. You also want to be sure that they still provide some value and aren’t overused.

Videos

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Videos communicate valuable information in a concise, memorable way that is more likely to be viewed by a follower. From music videos to office tours to how-to videos, there are virtually limitless options for how you can use video to promote your brand and attract followers.

Videos are a more expensive content option, but you can start small to begin with and see how they perform. As you learn more about the role of video in your content marketing strategy, you can put more effort and expense into creating professional videos.

Guides

Guides are super-sized posts that go into detail about a topic, often far beyond the length of a normal blog post. They typically include advanced information for your readers that’s backed by research as well.

If you want to create guides, you’ll need a good writer, a graphic designer and the right topic. This content should be top tier and deliver the message in an effective, readable way, especially given the length of the post. The graphic designer will need to fine tune the layout and presentation to ensure the post is attractive and readable.

You can also present your guide as a free download for your followers in exchange for email addresses, which boosts your subscriber list.

Book Reviews

If your following reads books, a book review is a great way to connect with them and present yourself as a thought leader. A book review can be simple or in-depth, depending on how you choose to do it.

Keep in mind that book reviews aren’t suitable for all industries, so be sure you have the appropriate audience and that reviewing books makes sense for your brand.

Rants

A “rant” or opinion piece is a popular content option, mostly because of its light tone and humor. If most of your content is heavily researched and detailed, a rant or opinion piece gives you a chance to express yourself more.

For a contractor business, a rant or opinion piece should be relevant to the industry, such as opinions on recent news or industry trends and changes. With this option, you’re not only addressing popular topics that are of interest to your audience, but you’ll also boost your SEO and shareability.

Keep in mind that a rant or opinion piece should be occasional, since constantly ranting about various topics can come across as obnoxious. You should also avoid personal attacks or people-bashing, since a rant isn’t meant to be angry or rude. Also, welcome opposing viewpoints to prompt a discussion, rather than being guided by your ego.

Product Reviews

Product reviews can help you establish authority and thought leadership in your industry. When you engage manufacturers, developers, service providers and other industry professionals, you gain respect and recognition within your niche.

Product reviews should include brief information about a product, the creator, aspects you like, aspects you don’t like and your recommendation. Complete your review with a call to action.

How-To and Tutorials

A how-to guide is one of the most popular content types, especially in niches that are specialized or technical. With their long introductions, they also offer long-tail search potential.

To plan a how-to guide, you need to identify a problem that’s common in the industry, then draft a post that provides a solution. There’s no limit to the possibilities for a how-to guide, especially for certain industries.

Keep in mind that detailed explanations, diagrams, pictures and videos are all helpful in getting your message across and helping your audience better understand your guide.

A Few Things to Keep in Mind

Now that you have all these ideas for new and interesting content types, remember that you don’t need to try all of them. Not every type of content is suited to every brand, so if you don’t think that a certain type of content works well for your contractor business, don’t worry about including it.

Still, don’t be afraid to experiment a little. Sometimes business owners will avoid different content types because they don’t know where to begin, they think it will take too long to create or they’re afraid to fail. Many tools are out there to help beginners create all types of content, so take a chance on something new and see how it performs.

Also, once you start learning how to create different types of content, don’t go crazy including something new every day. You’ll likely burn out and exhaust your ideas. Try a few new things each month to see how they perform, then commit to including the successful ones into your content calendar on a regular basis.

There are plenty of effective content types for you to choose from, and the more content you use, the more compelling your marketing strategy becomes. Content must always speak to the audience, however, so no matter what content type you choose, craft a message that the audience will share, listen to and learn from.

 

contractor marketing ideas
Sep 28

Starved for Content Ideas? Here’s How Original Research Can Keep You Blogging for Months

Content Marketing

Wondering how you’re going to keep your content calendar full for the rest of the year? Thousands of contractors struggle when it comes to coming up with content ideas, and a simple strategy can help them: conduct a study or survey.

Original research provides tons of benefits for businesses seeking content marketing performance gains. They can accompany the release of the study with a recap series, for instance. After that, they can dive in-depth into some of the findings for unique takes or insightful real-world applications of the data. At the same time, they can introduce their study to online outlets that get mega traffic with guest posts.

The beauty of conducting original research is that you don’t even have to do all of the content writing yourself! In addition to the content topic possibilities listed above, there’s also a good chance that someone might cite your data or share your report on their own blog. Well-performed research that answers important questions in your field can receive references and citations for months. You may even get quoted as an expert as a result of your own analysis!

The possibilities are practically endless, and they all start from a single research idea. Here’s how to get your own research project off the ground—and how to spin it into content gold for months to come.

Start With a Burning Research Question

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Research tells us something about the world we didn’t know yet. In other words, research answers a question through the data it gathers.

For that reason, all great studies have to start with a great research question. You can quantify something no one’s ever quantified before, such as the costs of never washing your car revealed through the corresponding damage to paint and mechanical components.

Or, you can give a more specific answer to a question that’s already been tackled. A lot of research involves bringing findings up to date, for example. You can also examine how a research question might be answered within a specific geographical location or within a specific demographic. Sure, you might know that a majority of Americans love hamburgers, but how do people in your hometown feel about grilled versus griddle-fired burgers? And would they take a bite out of a veggie burger if given the opportunity?

When devising a research question, keep in mind that it can’t just be something you find interesting. It should also satisfy a number of other criteria, such as:

  • Would my target audience find this interesting and informative?
  • Does my research align with my business goals or my unique brand story?
  • Will this research answer a question that hasn’t been covered yet?

With these criteria in mind, try to approach your research question from the perspective of the unique niche your contractor business occupies. The more parallels the research has with your brand personality and how you approach your business, the better.

Learn Research Best Practices

Research can be hard, especially when it comes time to compile your results! You want your data to tell a story somehow, but you can’t get to that story if your research structure is a mess.

Start by determining what sort of research you’ll conduct. It can be a:

  • Simple survey
  • In-depth survey that includes qualitative responses
  • Review of existing research that combines two or more “knowns” to explain an unknown
  • Manual data gathering from raw data sources
  • Field research with data gathering at the source of information

Those study types are listed roughly in order of complexity and effort required. But don’t underestimate how even the simplest of surveys can turn into a difficult process when you neglect to follow best practices!

First, approach your data in layers. The “layers” of your data refer to different qualities of that data.

For instance, suppose you wanted to conduct a study of the types of restaurants in your hometown. “Chain/franchise restaurants vs. independent restaurants” serves as one layer. “Quick service vs. sit down” can act as another layer. You can also organize the restaurants by location, such as “downtown vs. just off the interstate”.

All of these qualities provide details that can be used later in your analysis. You can make observations like “chain restaurants are more common along busy stretches of road except in downtown.” Or, you can be able to say that “the ratio of chain restaurants to independent businesses has shrunk 50 percent in the past year.” Findings like these tell a story, but you need your data to be organized first.

When conducting surveys, you can make this process easier by including a demographics portion in the beginning of the survey. You can then use this information to discover trends among responses, such as “twice as many business owners worry about energy prices compared to non-business owners.”

Come Up with a Hypothesis That Uses Research Layers to Answer Questions

construction contractor marketing

Research isn’t just about gathering data; it’s about using that data to prove or disprove assumptions called hypotheses.

Accordingly, you want to go ahead and come up with a few hypothesis ideas before you start assembling your data. Go ahead and predict your results based on your gut instincts or what you consider common knowledge. If your research aims to debunk a commonly believed fact, you can operate on the hypothesis that the fact will be wrong.

If you’re completely at a loss for hypotheses, you can predict that there will be no trends whatsoever among your data.

Use Your Hypotheses to Come Up With Pertinent Survey Questions or Data Sources

Your hypotheses guide your research in very concrete ways. If you’re conducting a survey, a hypothesis will help you determine questions to ask that can directly answer it.

For example, let’s say that your hypothesis is that “people are willing to spend more money at a local establishment compared to a franchise.” To prove or disprove that hypothesis, you can ask things like:

  • How often have you visited a franchise business in the past month?
  • On average, what do you spend within the following ranges: $5-$10, $10-$15, etc.
  • Do you try to support local businesses on purpose?
  • Which of the following reasons encourage you to support local businesses? I know the owner, I want the money to go back to the community, etc.

Assign Categories Early on Within Your Analysis

After gathering all the data you need, it’s time to process that data into something people can digest at a glance. One of the easiest ways to do so is to lump datasets into different categories.

Going back to the local vs. franchise question, maybe you think that people who have lived in the town all their lives are more likely to make a choice compared to newcomers. Or, maybe you think that people who make a certain amount in their yearly salary are more apt to make a certain decision?

Consider these assumptions as secondary hypotheses, and test them out as you compile your data. If your hypothesis is wrong, try approaching data from a new angle.

Of course, you should also leave yourself open to discovery! Sometimes just dropping data into bar graphs is enough to have findings jump out at you all on their own.

Use Your Findings to Brainstorm Different Uses for Your Study

construction contractor marketing

Completing your study is just the beginning of a new phase: publishing your results and using those results for related content.

Examples of ways to use your results include:

  • A summary press release
  • An in-depth report
  • Sharable infographics or slide shows
  • Blogs discussing specific trends you’ve seen
  • Editorial-style blogs combining your research findings with your own thoughts and other commentary
  • Promotional materials that use your findings to make a point
  • Guest posts presenting you as a subject authority where you get to assert your findings with data to back it up
  • E-books

Sort these ideas into priorities, including your “yeses,” “nos” and “maybes.” Then, work your way down the list!

With this method, you can keep chugging along with new content based off the same information for months. You can also always update your research later with a newer, more-current study.

In this way, original research is the gift that keeps on giving! It can help you make a name for yourself, drive engagement on your content, position you as a subject authority, and so much more. At the very least, you’ll never be lacking for new content ideas.

best seo for contractors
Aug 10

How to Find a Content Writer Who Can Spin Your Blog Into Gold

Content Marketing

Writing’s really hard. Even people who do it for a living admit that. Not only do you have to know how to string together sentences that keep people’s attention, but you have to make some sort of blasted “point” out of the whole thing. It’s maddening!

All silliness aside, content writing and blog writing are really complex acts that can appear deceptively simple on the surface. Structure and rhetorical knowledge can help make your point clear, but you also need to be engaging. Add SEO best practices to the mix, and you have even more issues to deal with.

Getting it right takes either a lot of practice or a lot of time spent revising. Even a business owner who happens to be an excellent writer will need help making it all happen on a deadline.

So that’s when you turn to outside help. It can be a freelance writer or a content marketing agency, but the goal is to find a writer (or several) who can meet your guidelines and turn things in on time.

Locating a writer like that is exactly as hard as it sounds! Luckily, there are five tips you can use to make your search easier and ensure you find just the writer you’re looking for.

Always Request Samples and a Trial Draft

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You can find great writers you enjoy working with no matter where you turn as long as you follow one simple rule: check out their writing before you commit. That means requesting samples of their prior work. It also means paying them to write a first draft of what you need that you may or may not ever use.

That’s right: you’re likely going to have to invest in crummy writing to find your diamond in the rough. Ideally, you’re paying several writers at the same time to write the same prompt or a similar one, so you can compare the talents of each person.

While it may seem like money down the drain to receive samples you won’t ever use, it’s better than the alternative of hiring a writer for a multi-blog project only to find out they aren’t a good fit.

Also, be very specific about the types of samples you request. You may wish to see live, published blogs, since these prove that a writer’s work actually gets used. Be warned, though: many freelancers are also ghost writers. You are either going to have to take their word for it that a sample with someone else’s byline is their work, or you will have to go through the effort of contacting the client and hoping they will reveal who wrote their blogs.

If someone sends you samples that you like but that don’t quite hit the mark, ask for more work! Far too many bloggers get passed up not because their samples weren’t good, but simply because they couldn’t read the mind of the job offerer as to what they were looking for.

Avoid Typical Job Listing Sites Since You Get What You Pay For

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In the business world, quality and convenience don’t typically mix. If you want to find a patio chair at the same place you buy your kids’ breakfast cereal, you are going to have to lower your standards on how long that chair will last.

Similarly, if you go to the absolute first place you think of when looking to find your content writer, you’re going to end up with low quality.

The biggest problem? Labor pools from non-native English speakers. They may charge just a few cents a word, but their end product will likely be riddled with broken grammar and be all but incomprehensible. Since Google specifically recommends that you use proper spelling and grammar, having an unreadable blog likely works against your SEO and branding goals.

So as a rule, skip Craigslist, Monster and Indeed unless you really don’t know where else to turn. Definitely don’t just Google “content writer” and hire a person or company that ranks first. You want to know that you can get a decent level of quality, and sifting through the bargain bin is not a good place to find it.

Hunt Down Content Writers in the Spaces Where the Pros Lurk

Some of you are going to be frustrated by the above tip. “If I can’t just look for a content writer on Monster or Craigslist, where should I go?”

Well, our vocal and hypothetical friend, there are several specialty project-related websites where you can find freelancers:

  • ProBloggerProBlogger is dedicated to writers and editors, and it also has an amazing community of professionals. Posting your listing costs money, but you’re highly likely to get responses from mid- to high-level talent.
  • WriterAccess—WriterAccess straddles the line between full-service referral agencies we’ll mention below and simpler job listing sites. The site does a handy job of organizing writers by experience and quality, however, and you do get a personal account manager in the upper tiers.
  • Contently—Contently acts as a broker to find you the perfect writing talent or team for your project needs. Yes, that’s as expensive as it sounds, which is why the platform is mainly aimed at enterprises with larger content budgets.
  • Upwork—The world’s largest freelancer platform happens to be quite picky about letting job-takers aboard. That means you have access to a higher caliber of writers. Note that Upwork also allows agencies to apply to your project offers by default.
  • Guru—Guru is far less choosy about who it lets on its platform, so you will end up with applicants that may not have the firmest grasp of English. Nevertheless, the platform makes a name for itself by having an integrated project management and payment system.

There are dozens—if not hundreds—of other websites like these where you can post project listings and track down decent writers. These are just the top ones you might want to consider during your hunt.

However, you definitely don’t want to overlook your best option: getting referrals.

Ask Fellow Professionals for Referrals

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Referrals are always your best source of freelance writer leads for a few reasons.

First, the best writers out there aren’t actively posting on or looking through job boards. They’re hard at work, hammering out content for their clients. But they may be persuaded to take on a larger workload if the details and the price are right.

Secondly, you can get personal testimonials from people you know and trust. Someone who can appear like a perfect fit online could turn out to be awful with deadlines or bad at following instructions.

Since not every business engages in content marketing, start by asking people whether they have a regular SEO or blogging contract. If the answer is “yes,” follow up by seeing what agency or writer they work with.

If their answer is “no,” then you may have to do some probing. Don’t be afraid of reaching out to a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend, though. Not every company works with content writers, but those who do will likely have strong opinions about who to recommend or avoid.

Track Down Popular Writers from Their Online Work

If you have the budget for working with a top-caliber freelancer, then the place you should start your search is on publication sites rather than a job board.

Start by taking a second to look back at enjoyable industry niche articles you’ve shared or read recently. Keep an eye out for pieces that get a high level of shares and don’t have controversial pushback from commenters. Then, simply find the writer’s byline.

Make a list of several authors using this method. Research to see if they have their own personal website and whether they are accepting freelance contracts. If they are looking for work, reach out to them with a “pitch” for your project needs. Preferably, this pitch includes an offer, details on the level of depth the work will require and a rough timeline for everything to be completed.

Since making a name for yourself as a professional writer these days is tough, expect some sticker shock if they reply! But if quality is really what you’re after, you can likely find a way to work long-term with someone whose reputation and published work you admire.

Work With a Reputable Content Marketing and SEO Agency

All of the tips above pertain to finding an individual, but you also have the option of hiring a content marketing agency to satisfy your SEO needs.

The same rules above apply: pay for samples, avoid bargain bin job listings and look for referrals. But your search should be easier, considering marketing agencies often do a decent job at marketing themselves!

Plus, you can work with several writers at once and have the security of a guaranteed contract. That means you aren’t left hanging if your writer leaves the project; you can simply work with someone else in the agency. You also have access to scale, meaning you can get a higher volume of projects accomplished at once that would normally take a single writer weeks.

In the end, the search for your content writer is all about finding a good fit and knowing where to look. If you fail at first, don’t get frustrated! There are tens of thousands of writers out there who can do good work but don’t have enough of it right now.

Good luck!

seo for contractors
Jul 06

How Often Should I Be Posting to My Blog?

Content Marketing , SEO

Blogging frequency is somewhat of a sticky topic in the digital marketing world. Some people have hard and fast beliefs about how “you have to post seven blogs per week or EVERYTHING WILL EXPLODE!” Others only post whenever they feel like it, which can be as unpredictable as it sounds.

In truth, both camps are wrong. Posting on a regular schedule is absolutely essential. It helps you build audiences, stay organized and discipline yourself to continually push out worthwhile content.

On the other hand, posting too frequently leads to diminishing returns. Posting every day, for example, can mean that a fair chunk of your blogs never get read. When promoting your blogs on social media, the algorithms may also be much more likely to pass over your umpteenth blog promotion for the week.

So what is the happy medium? How often is the right blogging frequency for you?

The answer is a resounding: “It depends.” The circumstances surrounding your contractor business and the unique qualities of your audience both dictate the right number of times to publish a blog post each month. Your marketing goals also come into play, especially if you intend to use your blog to increase your search engine rank or support lead generation.

On average, posting once or twice a week should hit the “just fine” mark. But if you want to know how to calculate exactly how often you need to publish in order to benefit your objectives and audience needs, keep reading.

Why Posting Every Day Isn’t Smart or Necessary

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First, let’s get some reasons out of the way for why it’s pure overkill to post a new blog every single day.

For starters, you’re going to wear out your audiences. If they happen to follow you on social media or subscribe to your email list, a daily promotion talking about your latest in a slew of new posts is going to get under their skin really quickly.

Forty-six percent of people say they have unfollowed a brand because it promoted too often, and 35 percent say that they’ve unfollowed someone because they post too much in general. Constant nagging in their inbox or begging on social media ran its course, and they jumped ship.

Even among audience members who absolutely love to read your content, posting every day is too much for them to keep up with. They’ll inevitably fall behind, meaning not every blog gets the attention it deserves. This may be less of a problem if, say, you’re an outlet with millions of readers, but the average website only gets so much attention for its blog per week.

Similarly, social media algorithms may begin to think that people don’t like engaging with your content. The more of your posts that end up with an extremely low engagement rate, the more likely the algorithm is to decide that you aren’t worth showing up on someone’s newsfeed.

Plus, having hundreds of posts without a single like or comment can start to look downright sad. Someone might even write an article about the embarrassment if you’re a big enough brand.

Earning comments and engagement serves as “social proof” that looking at your content is worthwhile. It’s the same thing as seeing a line outside a bar; people think “that’s gotta be the place to be!” Popularity brings more people.

But when you have no engagement, it kinda makes people steer clear. You start to look like the one kid sitting by himself at lunch. Someone might feel bad for you, but engaging at that point could be social suicide.

So don’t overdo it! Any way you slice it, it’s going to make your brand feel like a social outcast. It will also mean that you’re wasting resources in the process on superfluous blogs that hurt, rather than help, your marketing goals.

The Importance of Consistency

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In addition to realizing that there’s a blogging frequency line you shouldn’t cross, recognize that consistent publishing benefits your blog performance for several reasons.

One of the biggest reasons consistency helps your readership is that it means you’re predictable. People know that if they visit your blog or check out your social feeds, they’ll see something new every so often. Even if you prefer to only publish blogs once or twice a month, people can anticipate when the next post will drop as long as you release them on a consistent calendar.

Realize that 18 percent of people will unfollow a brand because it’s page is “too quiet.” Someone may just end up checking out because they decide you’ve run out of things to say.

Consistency also forces you to be disciplined about blogging. Search engine optimization (SEO) takes several months to begin working. Search engines need to be able to index a consistent volume of content regularly over weeks and weeks before they begin to consider linking to your domain. They also seek out fresh content, meaning that what helped you rank last year could quickly get stale and overtaken this year.

Publishing on a regular schedule therefore ensures that you are constantly planting seeds for a sizeable readership and SEO. Each new blog helps your previous efforts take root, and just as a piece of content begins to become less effective, a whole new crop is ready to take its place.

One last benefit of consistent blogging frequency worth mentioning is that it forces you to plan. If you have a set number of blogs to publish each week or each month, you’re strongly incentivized to create a content calendar.

You may also be more inclined to plan out your topics. Preferably, you are bookmarking interesting things you’ve seen throughout the week to develop a content idea queue. As you place these ideas on your calendar, you can determine how to have a variety of topics that keep your blog interesting while covering your desired keywords.

Determining Your Ideal Blogging Frequency

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Now that you know why blogging on a consistent basis—but not every day—are the golden rules, here is how you can figure out the best blogging frequency to meet your needs.

  1. Define your goals and key metrics to measure
  2. Form a hypothesis for how often you think you should post to meet these goals
  3. Post at your hypothesized frequency for at least two to three months to establish benchmark data
  4. Hypothesize how you might improve your key metrics by adjusting your posting frequency
  5. Measure the difference averaged over a few weeks
  6. Go back to step four and continue experimenting to optimize

Notice that step six implies that this is a never-ending process. The perfect posting frequency for you now may change in a few months.

As for how to make an educated guess for how often you should post, you can use some of the following decision-making criteria.

Current volume of content

Blogs with little to no existing content should push themselves until they have at least a few dozen articles under their belt. Don’t publish every day, but don’t be afraid to publish far more often than you intend to, just so you can build out your content with a healthy backlog.

Current readership volume

If you have thousands of readers for every blog post, you should always see what happens when you post slightly more often. Chances are great that your priority metrics and views will only go up.

If you don’t have very many readers yet, posting more often could risk dividing their attention. Experiment with shifting days around and adding slightly more posts per month rather than assuming more is always going to be better.

Best traffic sources

Your main source of traffic—or the channel you intend to use as your main source—matters a great deal for how often you post.

Neil Patel points out how blogs like Moz that produce high quality content can depend on new backlinks and search engine referrals bringing people to their content for months, sometimes years.

On the other hand, blogs like Buzzfeed, that earn most of their traffic from social media, have to “feed the beast” with constant new articles and updates. For blogs that get lots of viral shares and engagement via social media, sometimes posting multiple times a day can actually be a strategy that works!

Your own capacity and resources to create blogs

This is an incredibly important point that can all but negate everything else we’ve already suggested. Specifically: only write as much as you can. Otherwise, you are going to get burnt out and start publishing sub-par work.

The best way to avoid burnout is to have enough polished content that you are at least a month ahead. That way, you can take a break if you aren’t feeling inspired or motivated. You may also need to find outside help from a content marketing agency or a freelance writer.

In the end, just listen to your brain when it comes to how positive you feel about blogging. Developing a schedule and a content calendar can make you more productive, but it can’t make you an amazing writer every time you sit down at the keyboard.

“If you post only once every two months, but the content is truly awesome, you will be much more successful than someone publishing crappy posts every day,” reflects SmartBlogger—and we couldn’t agree more!

contractor marketing strategy
May 04

Are You Stealing These Content Marketing Strategies? You Should Be!

Content Marketing

Generating ideas for your content marketing strategy can be extremely tough. It gets even harder when you focus so much on your brand goals that you get tunnel vision. Fortunately, there are plenty of brands out there doing an amazing job with content marketing and getting great results.

You should totally steal from them. Really.

Think of it as evolution rather than imitation. You see what works for them, and try to put your own twist on it. As you measure results, you refine your campaigns over time to become a better version more-suited for your unique branding and goals. If you’re doing it right, someone will steal from you someday.

To get you inspired by others’ inspiration, here are five amazing content marketing campaign strategies that are completely worth ripping off.

Focus on Storytelling and Client Successes

contractor marketing ideas

Some content fails to hit the mark because it’s too deeply embedded within the brand. It lacks a human touch, and people may therefore end up trusting the messages less.

To come across as more authentic, pull back. Think less about your brand or product and more about what your particular solution does. Or, focus on a pain point it solves.

An amazingly creative example of this is the Fixodent video “Saving Aslan”. It covers the struggles of a gorgeous white lion who suffered from a loss of his canine. To save the lion and ensure he enjoys a good quality of life, Fixodent sponsored wildlife activists efforts to perform surgery on the lion.

The video hits tons of high points: emotion, gorgeous animals, environmental advocacy, people performing powerful acts of kindness, redemption. It has all of the ingredients to go viral, and it communicates a parallel message to the branding without beating you over the head with it.

Another great example comes from REI. It’s Co-Op Journal site highlights feats and lifestyles for people who live to have outdoor adventures. The stories are human-focused and promise to show readers things they’ve never seen before: a powerful recipe to draw clicks. People get inspired, they learn a lesson, and they get to learn about new heroes worth keeping track of.

You don’t have to be quite as ambitious as these two brands to find your own version of storytelling success. Just take a step back to focus on your clients or the difference you make in the world.

Tell a great story. Highlight great things happening in your industry. Demonstrate what your philosophy or business approach can do. Clicks will naturally follow.

Crowdsource Content

Crowdsourcing is an brilliant way to win engagement, improve the appeal of your content, and develop relationships with your audience.

Airbnb, for instance, combines storytelling with crowdsourcing. They let their own user base tell them what makes the platform special, and then they add a layer of gloss to the story so that it fits their brand standards. The stories end up coming across as more authentic and interesting as a result.

Another option for crowdsourcing is to let your own audience decide on your next campaign. Makeup brand Bobbi Brown allowed its social community to vote on the lipstick shades they would bring out of retirement.

Coca Cola let people submit entire marketing campaign ideas for a slew of their campaigns.

You don’t have to have huge audiences to get this type of traction, though. Simply let people feel like they are participating in something and that their voice matters.

A stellar example would be to highlight a particular community or organization through crowd input. Or, you could donate to charity and let people decide on their favorite cause. Campaign strategies like these build momentum as they continue and have huge payoffs when people see their own ideas come to life.

Be Quirky, Go Viral

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For a time, brands tried oh-so-hard to be weird with mixed results.

Yet, weird, humorous and unusual content often gets the most attention through social channels.

The key to success with this strategy is to approach content like a normal social user would. Think about what would genuinely be funny, intriguing, or at the very least worth a closer look. Let go of your professionalism (but don’t be offensive!), and see what happens when you let your own interests or weird ideas come to life.

Denny’s has found huge success with the strategy. Quirky posts like this Twitter photo earn tons of attention and retweets. They barely have anything to do with a traditional ad goal, but they get people interacting.

An auteur-type strategy works especially well if your content can find appeal within a niche community. Arby’s use of packaging and branded imagery to create artistic references to video games, anime, and popular pop culture franchises has been a huge hit with online communities.

People go online for good art and entertaining content, after all. Give them something they would love to see, but keep your brand visible so that people understand a connection is there.

Create a Subtly Branded Publication to Build Trust

Not to give you whiplash, but this strategy is in many ways the opposite of the above one. Rather than offering amusing or beautiful diversions, your content can become one of the most trusted and valued resources among your audiences.

Turbotax company Intuit offers a great example. Taxes and financing are a dense subject not too many people feel comfortable with. A handy blog that answers their questions and defines key concepts is therefore likely to bring them a sigh of relief.

American Express’s small business blog expands on this concept even further. In addition to advice and introductory information, they provide news, highlight success stories, and offer opinions on important matters in the small business community.

The true mark of success for these blogs is that people will readily link to them and click on them in search results without bracing themselves for an ad pitch. Provide value. Satisfy your audience’s needs. If you can, they will trust you wholeheartedly.

Collaborate With Micro-Influencers

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Now is the time to stop ignoring micro-influencers.

Chances are almost 100% that there is someone in your field with more followers and perceived authority than you. Your job is to locate these influencers and find some way to collaborate with them.

A “collaboration” can be something as simple as a request to share your content or review something you send them. A subtle way to do this is to include a quote or reference to the person in a piece of content and tag them when promoting the content on social media.

Collaboration can go much deeper than that, though. Many makeup companies are finding huge success by partnering with YouTube channels that offer makeup tips and reviews, for instance.

Makeup brand MAC even asked top beauty influencers to come up with unique shades and product types related to their content channels. The brands get to share exposure and motivate the audiences of the channels, and the influencers get to feel like they are now a part of the products they review and interact with.

Just make sure to follow best practices for influencer marketing campaigns. The most important is to align your campaign to your goals and prioritize things like conversions over vanity metrics.

Steal to Succeed

Every business idea is an iteration on something that came before it, and that includes content marketing strategies. By using the above ideas or looking to the examples to come up with your own, you can branch out and try new things.

Well, they’ll be new to you at least!

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