Do you want to know how to simplify your content marketing?
Listen as Susan Crossman shares some easy-to-implement tips and techniques to help make a huge impact on your content marketing efforts!
Do you want to know how to simplify your content marketing?
Listen as Susan Crossman shares some easy-to-implement tips and techniques that can make a huge impact on your content marketing efforts!
In this week's powerful episode "How to Best Make Your Content Marketing Easier" you will discover...
Get more dynamite advice from Susan when you become a Book Marketing Mentors Premium Member
Susan Friedmann: Welcome to Book Marketing Mentors, the weekly podcast where you learn proven strategies, tools, ideas, and tips from the masters. Every week, I introduce you to a marketing master who will share their expertise to help you market and sell more books. Today, my special guest is Susan Crossman. Susan helps spiritually-focused coaches, leaders and innovators write and publish their books that make a difference in their businesses and in their world. She does this through a variety of high-impact, one-on-one and group coaching programs that are profound, inspiring and fun. She takes great joy in fulfilling her mission of supporting more peace on the planet, and she believes that a well-written book can be a powerful force for good in our world.
Susan, what an absolute pleasure it is to welcome you to the show and thank you for being this week's guest expert and mentor.
Susan Crossman: Thank you, Susan. What a delight to be here. I'm so thrilled to be able to sit here with you and have a lovely chat.
Susan Friedmann: I love it. I know that you had me address your mastermind group a few weeks ago and that was a lot of fun. And anybody who is in the writing and publishing business, I'm like, we understand each other so that's great. Susan, I know that one of your favorite topics is talking about making content marketing easier, easy as one of those juicy, irresistible and motivational words. Let's delve deeper into how can we make content marketing easier. But first, before we do that, let's actually make sure that we're on the same page. Tell us what content marketing actually is.
Susan Crossman: Oh, that's a good question. Thank you, Susan. Content marketing is something that has evolved over the years into a term that refers to our online content. I'm a professional writer by trade. I cut my teeth on journalism and government communications and corporate communications and all that kind of thing. As time went on, I actually ended up as a marketing copywriter back in the day. What I've discovered is that as time went on and the internet, of course, turned everything on at [inaudible 00:02:24], we've had to become very flexible in how we market ourselves and online content marketing... Well, actually, content marketing has been around forever. Way, way back, once upon a time there were a lot of vehicles for businesses to appeal to their ideal audience with some content. If you think of the Michelin Guides, we all know about the Michelin Guides, they're the guidebooks that will take us through France from one wonderful restaurant to another, that's actually an earlier example of content, of content marketing.
And another one I can think of would be the Campbell Soup Company. The Campbell Soup Company, once upon a time, came out with a deck of recipe cards that used their soups. People who were cooking at home, basic homemakers and the like, they were able to get these decks of recipe cards that employed the different types of Campbell soup in the recipes and they were able to make lots of delicious meals. And so, that was a form of content marketing. Now that the internet has arrived and it's not new anymore, the world and businesses have decided, okay, we need to take that concept of using our content to appeal to our audience online. That's basically what content marketing is today. It's really a world of producing content that appeals to your target audience in a variety of interesting and delightful ways.
Susan Friedmann: Talk about some of those ways.
Susan Crossman: Sure. There are lots and lots of ways to create content. We've all heard of blogging. A blog is a very basic form of content marketing. Our social media is a form of content marketing, video creation, vlogs with a V, that's another kind of content marketing, but also eBooks. A lot of companies have created interesting eBooks that solve a problem for their customers and that's another form of content marketing and we could go really on and on. Basically, anything you create that solves the problem for your customer is part of your content marketing strategy. It's not actually advertising and there's a real distinction between a sales page and a piece of content in that a sales page is very directly promoting your business whereas your online content is really more focused on solving a customer's problem, entertaining them, informing them, educating them, giving them more details about your products and services not necessarily to really entice them to buy your product, but really to position you as a leader for them.
Susan Friedmann: And I know that many of our listeners are wanting to position themselves as thought leaders and experts in their industry. How can we make this easy? It seems so much hard work when you think of all these different things that you could do. How do you position it so that we can do this so that it isn't stressful?
Susan Crossman: I sure get that, and I'm all about easy. I think the world has become a really complicated place and marketing generally is an area that a lot of business owners find a little overwhelming, confusing, they're not sure really what it is. I guess I start to facilitate this whole project with a mindset piece, and part of the mindset is, well, what is marketing? And a lot of business people, surprisingly, don't really know, and I simplify it by just saying marketing is the process of starting conversations with people we'd like to do business with and we can start those conversations with our online content. Really, that's the basis for everything I do is when I'm working on a marketing project, I'm looking at how can we start conversations with the people we'd like to do business with and that's where our content comes in. It's an activator for a conversation.
The other piece about mindset, Susan, is that it's really important for us to remember that the world has become our audience. Forty years ago, the world was not our audience. We had to be very focused on a very narrow geographic area and, of course, if you're a bricks and mortar company and you're looking for walk-in traffic, then you want to still be quite locally focused. But for a lot of businesses, they can really do business with anybody anywhere and so, it's helpful to have a bigger vision on what your business is capable with. First and foremost, if people can't find you though, they can't do business with you. So along with this idea that your marketing, your content needs to be something that will start conversations with people, we want to remember that the search engines are always watching. And if people can't find you, they can't have a conversation with you.
And that one of the really important aspects of our online content is this fact that they trigger the search engines to be able to find us as well, and we all want to be placing well in the search engine results pages and that's one thing our content can do. It can help us show up higher up in the search engine results pages. So when someone's searching for someone and we all do this, we all search for the things that we're looking for in life to solve a problem, and if you're not producing content, then it's highly unlikely that you're going to be showing up high enough in the search engine results pages that people are going to be able to see an entry there for your business, so for the service that you provide. So the more content you create, the more you're telling the search engines that you are a going concern and they better pay attention because you're important in this area. The more content you create, the more response you'll get from the search engines. And so, it's a really important way to get visibility.
Another piece about that is, of course, remember that we have become publishing companies. As small businesses, we really need to be creating content and it might not just be text content, we've got to look a little wider. Video content is really important. Those eBooks are still relevant, little bit less relevant than they were a number of years ago but they still provide valuable content for our readers. Social media is an important part of that, and all of that feeds into this great, big, massive search engine colossal chaos, and the more content we create, the better the visibility and to allow people to find us, that's really the whole thing. So that's the first piece for me is mindset. We have to understand that we need to be creating content to reach our audience members around the world.
Susan Friedmann: That in and of itself, I mean, it's wonderful but it's scary at the same time, that once upon a time it was just a small universe that we had to worry about. And now, it's grown to encompass, as you rightly say, the whole world. So lots of eyes on us. How often should we be putting out new content?
Susan Crossman: There really isn't a one size fits all answer to that because content is expensive to produce because it takes our time. Depending on how big your team is, you may not have the resources to employ someone full time to be your content creator. I know, for me, for many years, I had to do all my own content and, of course, running a business and we have a lot of other things we're doing not just running businesses. You just can't work full time, 24/7 on creating content. It can be a bit overwhelming, but I always recommend people create as much content as they can comfortably with the resources and the time that they have. That might mean blogging once a month, even as little as that. Technically, the experts say we should be blogging at least once a week. I don't know about you, Susan, but it's really hard to write one blog post every week and throw that into everything else and promote it on social media and send out an email to your list about the fact that you've written another couple of blogs, it's a lot.
And so, I typically will produce two blogs a month. But as long as you're being consistent, even if it's every other month, if that's all you can manage, do that because consistency is really important. And the more you do, the better the results are but at the very least get started and get going regularly. And I love a blog because it's one of the simplest things or a vlog, a video blog, that's also another one. In fact, video is indexed by search engines a lot more positively than text content. A lot of people find it's a lot easier to create a four-minute vlog or a three-minute vlog and put that up on their website rather than write something because not everybody's a natural writer, not everybody's comfortable with it. And in doing that, what you're also doing is enhancing your search engine results even more because the search engines prefer video content. Now, they're not saying that they do, but most to the marketers that I know recognize that their results are significantly better with video content than it is with text content.
Susan Friedmann: How about a podcast? Now, you know that I only do this as an audio only, how does that rank?
Susan Crossman: I haven't seen statistics on that recently, so I'm not sure where audio is these days. I have heard that the visual content gets bigger boost, but to be honest, I'm not sure whether audio would outrank text or not. I suspect it would, but I'm so sorry. I don't have a number on that one.
Susan Friedmann: Oh, that's okay. I didn't mean to put you on the spot there.
Susan Crossman: I'll find out now though.
Susan Friedmann: Do you have any kind of formula for making this easy for us?
Susan Crossman: Yeah, definitely. You always want to work with a strategy. If you can set yourself down and determine what is going to work for you, a nice little easy format would be one blog a month supported by social media or well, let's back up a bit. We need to know who our ideal audience is, who our target audience is. Probably a lot of your guests have talked about that target audience and the more we know about who we want to be having those conversations with, the more targeted our content can be. Step one would be figure out who your ideal audience is, who is that person who really loves what you have to offer. If you know who that person is, then you can target them online. For example, there is information available about who hangs out on which social media platforms more. For example, 54% of Facebook users are female, but only 43% of LinkedIn users are female.
If your product or service targets females, women, then you might want to be looking at Facebook rather than LinkedIn. There is a company called Khoros, K-H-O-R-O-S.com is their website and they have an excellent analysis of who is located where predominantly across all of the main social media platforms today. 3.2 billion people use social media every day, that's half the world's population almost. People are there. You can do a bit of an analysis to figure out, okay, who's your ideal audience and where are they going to be found online in terms of social media platforms. Your social media is a form of content as well. Your content on social media really matters, but you want to make sure you're putting your resources in the locations where your audience tends to hang out. That's a really important part of all of that too. So post once a day, you don't want to post more than once a day on social media. You can get an automator, an automation tool and we use Hootsuite, H-O-O-T S-U-I-T-E. Hootsuite is a tool where you can schedule your posts and it's lovely.
It saves so much time, and the challenge is that the search engines don't like that. We found in our business that LinkedIn doesn't like you to use a tool. They will penalize you for using a tool in terms of giving you more credibility on the site... Not credibility, but showing your posts to your audience. LinkedIn for sure is one of the platforms that likes you to post manually. That's all very well and good, but well, it takes a lot less time to post on Hootsuite. So you have to balance this idea of convenience versus results. In my business, we've made the decision that some of the things that we post we do manually, and some of them we schedule. We're getting good results with that balance that we have so we're quite happy with using the scheduler, but that's one tool, Hootsuite, that you can use.
Another one is something called Buffer. Sprout Social is another one. You just get yourself a profile on these tools, these platforms, and they can help you schedule what you want to do. That helps, that's really convenient. Your blog content, I'd say you want to post, create new content at least once a month at the very minimum. But if you can do it once a week, great. Social media, ideally once a day. Creating articles, that's another one. Well, you can spend an unlimited amount of time creating content, but articles are good. One of the things that we post on our social media feed are quotes. Great quotes, interesting quotes by people. Infographics are another one. People love infographics. You might want to create polls, poll your audience, people like those too. Industry research is another one. Maybe you came across a really interesting article in a news site somewhere that really is important, has important information for your audience, put that in your social media.
Occasionally, you can produce posts that promote your business. What they say is if you're working on social media, if you have a social media strategy, you don't want to have any more than 20% of your posts promoting your business. People don't really want you shouting at them with how great your business is and that's not the point of content anyway. The purpose of content is to really position you as a thought leader and give valuable information to your audience so that they see you as someone who can provide value to them. It's not so much about the advertising part although why wouldn't you promote your business on social media?
Susan Friedmann: Well, that's, to me, people want to. I mean, they want you to know who they are and what they do. Somehow, subtly, you need to drop those little tidbits and those sound bites almost whether it's an article or-
Susan Crossman: Yeah. Yeah, but again, start with the strategy. Just see what your resources are with time and money. You can hire a VA to help you, if you like. That's always another option. But figure out what your resources are and then determine out of that what your content needs to be. If you're going to be blogging once a month and that's all you can see your way to, that's okay. Just do it regularly. Whatever you do, do it regularly. There is nothing worse than going to someone's website and seeing their blog and seeing that there were five posts in 2016 and nothing since then, because it makes you look dated. It looks like you've almost gone out of business. If you're going to do it, do it regularly. So when someone comes to your site, they can see, "Oh, there's been a blog every month. Wow. That's really great. They're consistent." People like consistency. Same with your social media.
The real advantage too is that if you meet someone at a networking event and they think you're interesting and they're maybe thinking of moving forward into a relationship with you, they are going to go and check you out online. They'll Google your business name and every piece of content you've created that's affiliated with your business name or your personal name, depending on how you set yourself up online, they will find that online and they're going to go and check that out. If they go to LinkedIn, for example, and they discover that your LinkedIn profile is three jobs out of date, that's not going to reflect well on you. So keep your profiles up-to-date as well on social media so that it does say the right things about you and positions you properly in your business.
Again, same with your blog. If you've got a blog and you've met someone at a networking event and they go to your website and look at your blog, you want it to be fairly up-to-date. Again, I know how much time it takes but do the maximum that you possibly can with the resources that you have, but just be consistent.
Susan Friedmann: Well, that's some dynamite information there. How about mistakes, Susan? What are some of the common stakes that you see people making here?
Susan Crossman: Well, the inconsistency piece is the big one for me is, again, starting a blog and then abandoning it because it really makes you look dated. I would say that's a real biggie. I think also confusing people by not having a target audience member in mind. You're not here to service everybody. Your business serves a particular client and maybe you have several types of clients at different stages of a decision making process that you look after, that you may have a variety of services and products that are for different target audiences, but be very clear about who they are and make sure that your content reflects that audience member. If you're in a business, you want to make sure that the content is serving the needs of your target audience. Again, the other part of that is know what their pain points are. Figure out what are your target audience members struggling with and then you can create your content so that it conforms to the needs of the target audience, like you can show that you can meet that need.
That involves a little bit of market research, and I highly recommend people do a little market research on the people they think are in their target audience and ask them, what are you struggling with? What are your pain points? What's the worst thing about whatever topic area you cover and get that information. Interview 20 people. The answers may surprise you, but at least you'll have solid information that will be valuable in creating your content rather than guessing at what you think people are struggling with. Find out. I've done that a number of times when I made some assumptions about what I thought my target audience was certainly way back when I first started blogging which was probably around 2010 or '11, a long time ago now.
I was cheerfully blogging away and getting absolutely no results with my blog until I started to tune into who I wanted to do business with. That's when I got much more serious. It took me a number of years to really get serious about that. And I'm in marketing, I know better, that's my big mistake. I was lazy is I think what that came down to. But once I got quite clear about my target audience, then I was able to create blogs that really focused on what their needs were and that would be a big piece of information and advice there too. It's all a learning, you know what, Susan, and this world is changing all the time. The online world is shifting and it's very hard to keep up and so, another little tidbit I would toss around here is don't beat yourself up if you're not doing everything you think you're supposed to do.
The marketing gurus hold a very high bar for us. I think it is virtually impossible to do everything unless you have a team. If you don't have a dedicated team to look after your online content, just do the best you can and work towards expanding that and know that it really does work. If you follow a pretty good strategy or at least a consistent strategy that includes the blogging, the videos, social media at the very least, a little email marketing is good too, do the minimum that you can, but do it consistently and do it according to a plan. You don't want to waste money and we don't want to waste time. The more targeted you are, the more successful you'll be.
Susan Friedmann: And that's so great because I know so many of our listeners are you get enticed by the gurus. As you rightly said, they're doing so much but they have a team behind them and they make it look so easy yet when you have to do it yourself, it's like, this is hard work to do all this stuff. That was really nice to hear and I'm sure listeners really appreciate that. Susan, if our listeners wanted to find out more about you and your services is, how could they do that?
Susan Crossman: They're welcome to go to our website, the best web address is, we have a couple of those for different purposes, but is awakeningauthor.com.
Susan Friedmann: Awakening author, great. We'll put that in the show notes so that anybody who's listening to this while they're traveling or mowing the lawn or exercising, that they can see it there. If you were to leave our listeners with a golden nugget, what might that be, Susan?
Susan Crossman: To some extent, I think it's important in all of this that we trust our instincts. We are inundated with messages about how we're supposed to do things. I think it's really wise to listen to what the experts say and then go with your gut.
Susan Friedmann: I like it. At the end of the day, you've got to feel good about it. You've got to enjoy doing it. You won't keep it up if you're not enjoying it.
Susan Crossman: Definitely. Oh, for sure.
Susan Friedmann: Yeah. Enjoy the journey.
Susan Crossman: Yeah, exactly and try and make it fun. I can remember I had a boyfriend way back when and we were talking about housework and I said, "I hate housework." He said, "Well, you just have to make it fun," and I thought at the time, Well, that was such a silly thing for him to say. And yet I've realized in the years since there, you can and make almost anything fun. With enough care and attention and a good will, we can do that. But seriously, if it isn't your love, for example, if you hate to write, you're just not comfortable with writing so this idea of creating a blog and blogging regularly makes your toes curl. Well, do a video blog, do a vlog instead. That's awesome to do that and do it regularly. I love what you say, Susan, about making it enjoyable, making it something that works for you.
Susan Friedmann: Yes. So much so and like use, make your programs profound, inspiring, and fun. I remember reading that in your file.
Susan Crossman: Oh.
Susan Friedmann: So yes. Well, that's good.
Susan Crossman: Yeah. I like to have fun. Yeah.
Susan Friedmann: We've got to have fun. Susan, what a pleasure it is to have you here. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and thank you all for taking time out of your precious day to listen to this interview. And I sincerely hope that it sparks some ideas you can use to sell more books. Here's wishing you much book and author marketing success.
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