Planning to Use Content to Grow Your Business with The Three Simple Circles

Stains

If you’re a small business that wants to use content marketing to grow your business but don’t know where to start, I’m here to help. And as usual, I start by developing a plan.

There are a lot of people that dive into great detail about creating and executing content strategy/planning, and that stuff is all great – if you have the time to read it, I recommend you do so. But, if you’re time-crunched – and who isn’t these days – here’s a quick and dirty plan you can use to get started with content marketing.  As with any good plan, this one is made up of questions that should be asked and answered in order to guide your actions.

That said, here are three key questions you need to ask and answer in order to use content marketing to grow your business. If you picture each question representing a circle that overlaps the others like a venn diagram, then the common area of this Three Simple Circles approach is where you want to be:

  1. What’s my competitive advantage or my “BIG Diff“? Why would someone choose to buy from me vs. anyone else? What are the things about my company/product/ service that would influence someone to choose them? For example, I LOVE The Keg, and the thing about The Keg for me is that it’s great value for the money, it’s a good atmosphere with good service, and it’s very consistent experience – those things are very rare (no pun intended), if not unique, for steak houses.
  2. What are the key challenges or higher-order needs of the people/organizations I want to sell to? The answer doesn’t have to be limited to the problems your product/service solves – it could (and arguably should) be anything related to it. For example, if I run a dry cleaner, my clients have a variety of problems they need solved that go beyond having their clothes cleaned. They may need to find time to drop their clothes off, or may be having trouble keeping up with the latest fashion trends given the wardrobe they’ve got. Neither problem is directly related to having their clothes cleaned, but nonetheless, they’re still problems those clients face.
  3. Given your competitive advantage, and the problems that your clients have, what are the topics you can comment on that address your clients’ problems AND that reinforce your competitive advantage, without discussing your products or services directly?

To tie this all together, let’s go back to the dry cleaning example, and assume that you’re known for getting stains out that others can’t – that’s your competitive advantage.  Further, let’s also say that you recognize that your clients (like most people) have problems with stains on a variety of surfaces, not just clothes, including table tops, cutlery, and carpets. Putting these two pieces of insight together could lead you to develop content (e.g., advice, perspective, news) focused on anything having to do with stain removal.  Not only does it reinforce your brand/competitive advantage and speak to problems your clients have, but in this case, it also opens up a whole new world of topics you could educate your clients about that go beyond clothing stains, keeping you more top of mind than if you were just focused on clothing.

For a quick and dirty (this time, pun intended) plan to get you up and running using content marketing to grow your business, asking and answering these three questions in the Three Simple Circles approach is a great place to start.

What’s your BIG Diff?

competition_advantage

As my first post, I think it only makes sense to talk about a topic that should be the first question every organization asks itself – what makes us different?

What is it that separates you from the crowd and helps you drive more profitability and growth?  Afterall, being different in a way that doesn’t drive the bottom line won’t pay your bills.  So, what is your big difference?

I’ve recently developed an acronym that helps me identify which of the many strengths a company possess should be the one(s) focused on to drive competitive advantage.  In other words, it answers the question of what is your company’s difference by saying it must be B.I.G. :

B = Brings value to your prospects and customers, as determined by them, and brings value to your company in the form of profits.  How many times have I sat through meetings where colleagues have arbitrarily identified things they think their customer wants without really knowing for sure.  And how many competitive advantages actually drive profitability based on the existing business model? Whatever your company’s “BIG Diff” is, it must hold value for your market and for you.

I = Integrated into your operations to ensure it’s lived everywhere and offered to your customers and prospects at every touch point, making it sustainable over the long term.  Your “BIG Diff” can’t just be your latest marketing campaign that’s fun and creative but has no bearing on how you actually run your organization – that’s easily copied.  It must be woven throughout your organization at every point as that is what will ensure it’s effectively delivered. Plus, the act of integration throughout the business makes it that much more difficult to copy.

G = Gets noticed and is provable.  If your difference isn’t noticed, it doesn’t matter.  And, if you can’t prove that it exists, or at least that you’re trying to create it, no one will believe it.  It must get noticed and be provable to be considered your “BIG Diff”.

And that’s it.  In order for your competitive difference to be considered the one that your company should focus on to drive bottom-line results, i.e., your “BIG Diff”, it must be valuable to your marketd, be able to be integrated into your operations, and noticeable and provable.

Start by answering that question and you’re on your way to making your dreams grow more profitable.