How to Use Content to Build Your Brand

How to Use Content to Build Your Brand

We all need content, and by now I think most business owners know the benefits of fresh content on their websites, in their emails and on social media. And if you’ve been living (or working) under a rock, I’ll tell you why content is so important. It’s because content:

  • Exposes you to your audience, generating brand awareness
  • Helps you to illustrate what your brand stands for
  • Makes you stand out from others in the industry
  • Shows off the human element (personality) of your business
  • Educates your audience about what they need to know about your industry
  • Shall I go on?

But it’s not enough to just churn out content on a whim. There’s so much more that goes into using content to build your brand. If you’re struggling to create content that’s getting noticed by your audience, read on!

 

Know Who You’re Talking To

When writing copy for your website (or your email campaigns or social media), keep your one audience member in mind. Some people call this your “ideal client avatar” or “archetype” or “ideal audience.” While all these terms could work, try honing in on just one person you’re writing to.

When you’re talking to just one person, your message is much more clear and anyone that fits the mold or has the same pain points as that one person is much more likely to take action.

But I target several different audiences with my services. Yep, me too. But not when I’m writing copy. Try to hit too many pain points and you’re just going to confuse everyone. Target one message to one audience member. That’s it.

Develop a Strategy

Once you know who you’re talking to, it’s time to develop a strategy for your content. Determine the purpose of your content—to sell a specific service, to promote a product, to educate about something, etc. In general, I try to strategize around an upcoming launch or release and build on that.

(Tip: Work with one strategy at a time. You’ll change your strategy to meet the needs of your business, but don’t try strategies to more than one end game at a time. You’ll confuse your audience.)

For example, if you know you’re launching an event that you’re selling tickets to, work backward from that launch date about two months. Every blog post, email, Facebook Live, content upgrade, etc. should connect to that launch in some way, shape or form. It’s okay if the connection is loose for some of the content, but make sure there’s a connection at some level.

As you’re creating all this content, make sure you target that one audience member’s pain points. What is it that she needs or wants? How will you solve her problem? Address this with every piece of content you create during this period leading up to the launch.

If you’re not leading up to a launch, you can still create a killer strategy with your content. Focus on something timely in your business or on the calendar. Create content in themes that tie to an area where you’d like to focus or grow your business. Strategy is key if you want to see growth.

 

Be Consistent

This is where the big work comes in, and it’s where most business owners experience the most challenge. If you’re going to publish regular content (and we’ve already established the importance of that, right?), you need to be consistent.

I won’t tell you that you should be publishing content twice a week or four times a month. You truly don’t need to be doing what everyone else is doing. You need to do what works for you and your business and your schedule. Maybe that’s publishing one blog a month. Maybe you can handle once a week. Whatever you decide on, be consistent because your audience will come to expect it.

(Tip: I usually recommend once a month to those who are just starting out. See how that feels, get into a rhythm and increase from there. If you try to shoot too far from the get-go, you’re going to be left deflated when you can’t make it happen.)

The same goes for email marketing, social media posts and any other content you put out to your audience.

I’ll be the first to admit: It’s hard to be consistent, especially when life and client work get busy. Do your best, don’t beat yourself up if you miss a post and know that there are people out there who can support you by creating content for you, if needed. Don’t be afraid to hire it out.

Share and Share Again

If you’re creating blog posts and YouTube videos, no one will see them if you’re not sharing. Don’t be afraid to post your content on your business social channels, and post more than once. Especially on Twitter, there’s no harm in sharing your content multiple times. On other platforms, you’ll want to make sure that you space out your shares by several days or even up to a month or more depending on how often you’re sharing other content.

(Tip: Be sure that you’re posting curated content in addition to your own. Remember that your business is not all about you; it’s about delivering the value that your audience expects.)

Check Your Analytics (so you can start all over again)

At the beginning of this process, I assumed that you already had research data about your audience that told you what one message that one audience member wanted. And now it’s time to find out what your analytics and click-through rates were for your content.

Take a look at the numbers—either your Google Analytics, your social insights, click-through rates on emails, conversions to paying customers, etc. Did your content do what it needed to do?

If you had lackluster results, it’s time to do some more research, tweak the content and give it another go. There are many tools you can use to survey your audience and gain more insights about what they’re looking for.

Your content is so powerful in building your business, as long as you’re targeting the right one audience member and crafting your strategy and your message to her. Do your research up-front and make sure to keep it consistent. People notice, and when you get on their radar you want to stay on it. So that content can help you convert audience members into paying clients.

 

 

Abby is a content marketing strategist, copywriter and content coach for small business owners, helping to get her clients’ written message out to their audience, in their own voice and on their own terms. She specializes in working with female service-based businesses to generate ideas and strategies that help to move their businesses forward with content that attracts the perfect audience. Abby firmly believes in the power of educating and empowering business owners so they can grow their businesses without breaking the bank. Community over competition is truly her jam! You can find her on her website or follow her on Facebook or Instagram.

 

 

 

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How Not to Be a VA: A Case Study

How Not to Be a VA: A Case Study

I recently ended a working relationship with someone for whom I was performing VA services. While I don’t like to get too personal with this blog and would like it to be an education resource, I felt like this experience has taught me a lot about how to work with people, how to structure contracts, how to provide/outline services, and how to stand up for yourself when it comes to a professional relationship. In a word: how to and how not to be a VA.

Instead of pointing out things that the client did wrong which led to the relationship breaking apart, I’m going to try to focus on things that went wrong that I can learn from and prevent in the future.

How Not to Be a VA: A Case Study

Make Sure the Client Understands the Agreement

No matter what it is you’re doing for the client, make sure everyone involved understands exactly what is expected of them. One of the main reasons my VA/client relationship didn’t work out is because I offered my services as an SEO VA, meaning I performed certain tasks but also meant to provide insight, help, and suggestions. The client ended up refusing the latter, gave me many tasks that a normal, administrative VA could do, and then felt I was charging them too much. In my contract, I should have outlined that better.

Be Crystal Clear in Your Contracts, No Matter How Simple

The contract I wrote up for this client was a retainer contract. This meant that I performed up to a certain amount of hours worth of work and I get paid a flat weekly rate. However, it was incredibly weak. It was one of the first contracts I wrote by myself and I didn’t write in nearly enough to protect myself in worst-case scenarios.

In your contract, make sure you outline and that your client understands:

  • How much work is to be done per week – I had 4 hours max, but the client told me that I had 3 weeks to complete any given task. Because this was not my primary form of income, I wouldn’t rush to complete tasks within the week. Doing it this way would have made things a lot easier on both of us.
  • What kind of work is to be done/assigned – As I said, the work I was being asked to do did not line up exactly with what it was I pitched/offered. As a result, the client began to feel they were paying me too much and they became frustrated.
  • Allow for revisions – I didn’t organize my time well enough. I would forget to leave time for revisions. The client was a very busy individual and sometimes wouldn’t review the work for days. A major problem between us came when I had one week left to complete the work. Unluckily, that week was the week I had no internet access for 3 days and so I didn’t finish until Friday. Come Tuesday, after I was no longer under contract, revisions were being requested. The client was very unhappy.
  • Discuss a timely way send invoices and receive payment – There was a lot of confusion and unhappiness on both ends about payment. I was new to sending invoices and there was very little respect for paying me on time. The client insisted they needed 48 hours to fulfill an invoice, even though they were the invoice would arrive the same time every week. It wasn’t until the very end of the process that I figured out how to send invoices well prior to their due date.
  • Outline what will happen if the client doesn’t hold up their end of the deal – Again, my contract was very, very weak. The most important things missing were just-in-case scenarios. Namely, what would happen upon termination. All I had stated was that I needed 14 days notice and that I would make a reasonable attempt to finish the work in progress. The client told me that they were “thinking about” using a new VA, but when they confirmed, only gave me 5 business days to complete the work. I should have referred to and enforced this. Also “reasonable attempt” is very subjective.
  • How you’re being paid (weekly, hourly, by project, etc.) – The client didn’t at any point seem to understand what a retainer contract meant. They wanted to pay me less because they were giving me less work. I had to explain about 9 times that they are not paying me hourly or by project, but weekly, no matter what. It seemed to be the last straw for them.

 

Be Organized About How You Use Your Time

One of the things I regret most about this situation was how I didn’t manage my time well. I would have had more of a leg to stand on when termination came into the conversation and I would have avoided revisions being needed after the termination date.

I’m rubbish about tracking my time anyway, in all forms of my work. I know it’s something I really need to work on and it really comes in handy. If I had tracked my time, when the client shared with me that they felt they were paying too much for my services, I could show them exactly how much time I was spending.

If I had managed my time better – for example, decided that Mondays, 12pm – 4pm I would only work on their assignments – I would have had the whole rest of the week for revisions. And that final week would not have seen the majority of the work done late in the week.

 

Establish Strong Verbal Communication

One of the things throughout this relationship that really hurt it was the fact that this client was always too busy for me. We spoke on the phone a few times near the beginning, but after a while, they only emailed and refused to answer calls.

I totally understand the need to run a business and deal with what’s in front of you. The point of a VA is to get things done without having to spend extra time and effort. However, I think it’s incredibly important, if you have employees of any kind, to make yourself available on the phone. It’s easier to communicate, easier to understand each other, and prevents misunderstandings. It’s hard to communicate tone or emotion in written messages, so I was never sure if they were happy or not unless they used a smiley face.

Especially closer to the end of the relationship, it would have made things a lot easier to jump on a call and hash things out honestly. Moving forward, I will make sure to set times weekly or bi-weekly to talk to clients who hire me for continuous services.

Are you a VA? Do you have any mistakes that you learned from that helped you be a better VA? Leave them in the comments!