Tag Archives: Content Strategy

Content marketing strategy for landscaping business

This year I have written content for more than four landscaping businesses so it will be safe to say that people in this particular industry realize the importance of targeted content writing and content marketing. So what should be your content marketing strategy if you want to promote your landscaping business?

In this business people are primarily influenced by the following:

  • Your experience/portfolio
  • The clients you have worked for
  • Personal recommendations
  • Visual collateral
  • Constant communication

If you don’t have a blog then you should definitely start a blog for your landscaping business website. A blog is not just a “trendy” thing to have: it is a top-notch communication channel. If this doesn’t motivate you, a regularly published blog can increase your search traffic easily by 100-200% within 3-4 months (it depends on the frequency and quality of your blog posts).

When we use the word “content marketing strategy” it means you are not simply going to publish content – you’re going to make sure that the content reaches the right audience and then it makes the right impact.

Not all your landscaping clients will be visiting your website. They will be on Facebook, on Twitter, on LinkedIn, on other blogs and websites or simply looking around for a similar service on various search engines. Your content marketing strategy involves using multiple channels as well as multiple content formats to reach your prospective clients. Since I provide textual content, this is my focus.

So in order to launch a content marketing strategy for your landscaping business you need to do the following if you haven’t already done so:

  • Start a blog under your own domain name (something like http://your-business-website.com/blog) and start publishing content on it on a regular basis. Focus on quality but also be regular. In the beginning it will help you if you can post everyday or at least thrice a week. The growth of your blog should be gradual. It’s not a good strategy to hire a writer in the Philippines, for instance, make him create 50 blog posts and then publish them in one go. In a day, publish just a single blog post.
  • Create Facebook and Twitter profiles and start interacting with people over there. Although this might sound like social networking but your content plays a vital role in creating a solid presence for you or your brand. People will recognize you on the basis of the content you regularly post under your profiles.
  • Carry out a content analysis of your business website. Are all the necessary pages there? Do you think all the information the client needs in order to make a decision in your favor is present on your website? Does it have testimonials and the FAQs section? Does it properly explain what sort of landscaping services you provide and what sort of material you use?
  • Set up an account with an email marketing service such as mailchimp. Permission-based marketing, although as old as the contemporary Internet, still rules the roost when it comes to reaching out to your target audience in the most effective manner. You will need high-quality content for your email marketing campaigns.

You must be wondering once you have established these channels (and many more) what you’re going to talk about. For instance, your blog. Of course you will be talking about landscaping. You can start by explaining the various aspects of how you carry out individual projects and what parameters you take into consideration. You can talk about various forms of landscaping, materials, methods and architectural conventions. Once you have started, the ideas begin to come on their own.

Remember that link building must be an integral part of your overall content marketing strategy. Google looks for quality websites and blogs that link back to you. So continuously create content people would like to link to as this will significantly improve your search engine rankings for your targeted keywords – primary, secondary and longtail.

The same holds true for your social networking and social media profiles. Keep in mind that search engines these days list social media content also. So be careful of what you are posting.


The difference between content marketing and content strategy

Suppose you want to reach a destination “A”. In order to reach “A” you start walking and let us call that walking content marketing. Content strategy is the path that you take to ensure a safe and speedy arrival at “A”. If content marketing is an action, then content strategy is the brain behind that action.

Strategy, as we all know, is a series of actions that we take in order to arrive at a desired result. There is no use performing tasks without having an idea of what you need to do, at what time, for whom, and how.

Does content marketing precede content strategy or is it the other way around? Ideally, it is the other way around and in fact they both need to go parallel. But if I work for you, I would start with the latter.

Content strategy

As mentioned above, our actions must be well thought of if we want to achieve something. Here is what content strategy involves:

  • Knowing why you want to publish and distribute content
  • Figuring out whom you are going to target, and why
  • Devising data collection and analysis methodologies
  • Creating a content writing and publishing roadmap to figure out what themes and subjects you will be focusing on
  • Shortlisting channels (search engines, PPC marketing, social media or promotional campaigns) you will be using to disseminate your content
  • Drawing up an audience engagement policy
  • Deciding what content formats you will be putting your energies into

First of all you need to know what is the purpose of publishing and distributing content and exactly why you need content marketing? How it can serve your business and help you promote your cause?

In order to be a successful communicator, you must know whom you’re going to communicate to. You should know your audience, you should know what they want, what they’re looking for, what are their concerns.

Data insight is a great power. When you set in motion your content marketing strategy, you will need to constantly analyze your data so that you can make timely changes.

A content writing and publishing roadmap is needed so that you remain focused and you always know what you’re going to published in order to cater to your core audience.

Merely publishing content doesn’t help you much these days. This is where content marketing comes in. You need to promote and broadcast your content so that it reaches the maximum number of people. For that you need to shortlist channels that you’re going to use to distribute your content, for example search engines, social networking websites like Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter.

You also need to constantly engage your audience. Unlike conventional marketing, content marketing involves two-way communication between you and your audience (your customers and clients). Without meaningful and regular engagement it’s difficult to establish a rapport and make yourself more relatable and identifiable.

Content can be of multiple formats and if you have limited budget, you cannot target all the existing formats. For example, you can have written content (content writing, etc.), videos, presentation slides on SlideShare, images on your own blog, Facebook and Pinterest, sketches, infographics and basically, everything that you can use to communicate data and ideas. You may like to do something like content writing or images in the beginning and later on start focusing on other formats of content too.

This basically sums up your content strategy.

Content marketing

This involves folding your sleeves and actually getting down to the work. According to the parameters drawn during the strategy part, you start writing, publishing and distributing your content. Content marketing is the operational part. You have to ensure regular publishing of blog posts, articles and all the necessary business pages that you think can help your customers and clients understand your point of view better.

After publishing your content you need to make sure that it reaches your target audience. You have to distribute your content using the pre-decided channels. Content marketing is more repetitive and might also be the most difficult because it is your persistence that pays off finally. No matter what great content strategy you have devised for yourself, unless you can implement it over a long period of time, it is not going to work.

What should a small business focus on, content marketing or content strategy?

Actually, strategy is always there, whether you consciously implement it or not. I know many bloggers and entrepreneurs who built their business on the strength of their content and there was always an underlying content strategy in the way they published and promoted their content. They had a clear idea of what they wanted to publish and for whom. Of course all of them confess that they wasted lots of time and effort figuring out what worked and what didn’t. This is where a pre-defined strategy can help you. It can help you optimize your effort, reduce content marketing time cycle and give you structured results instead of haphazardly doing things, getting random results and then taking the next steps accordingly.


Writing content for non-profit organizations

Of late I have started taking care of the online presence of a few non-profit organizations including their websites, blogs and social media profiles. Aside from maintenance I also prepare and strategize content for these organizations.

Writing and organizing content for non-profit organisations is totally different from creating content for commercial businesses. In this case you’re not trying to sell a product or service, but a cause. You need to touch people emotionally (although personally I believe the work these organizations do is a lot more practical than many for-profit organizations do). Rather than promoting products and services you promote stories and experiences that really make a difference.

Many hard-core marketers often say that everything eventually boils down to selling. After all, you are trying to sell the inherent benefit of a cause. Why do you have a website for a non-profit organization? Almost every non-profit organization is looking for donations and fundings and a vibrant online presence can help reach out to a wide audience whether it is from website, blog or social media/networking platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Of course it is selling but then we all have our way of expressing different things.

Publishing content for non-profit organizations

As already mentioned above you can use different platforms to publish content for non-profit organizations. The idea is to reach as wide an audience as possible without diluting the niche. My personal observation, when it comes to niche concerning with social causes and social work, is that people who feel emotional towards one particular cause also are eager to associate themselves with another cause. For instance I have closely worked with organizations helping persons with disabilities and most of these organizations readily get involved with causes concerning natural disasters, environment and ecology, social justice, animal care and old age care (just to name a few). The underlying idea is, doing something good and constructive, and doing something that makes a positive impact. This is the message that your content on various platforms must convey when you publish.

Content on Twitter normally involves publishing small updates, links to useful information, news releases links and answers to some urgent queries.

Content on Facebook profiles is a bit more detailed, It involves messages that trigger conversations and other sorts of engagements. Since discussions can be threaded (multiple comments can appear under one posting) and there is no word limit, you can publish detailed messages, although they shouldn’t be as big as articles and blog posts.

Blogs are the best way to publish impactful stories and experiences. As long as they are interesting and gripping you shouldn’t worry much about their length. The style should be as conversational as possible although most of the non-profit organizations avoid publishing content on the first person basis (many businesses do this these days and it is recommended).

Making positive impact with content

When you write and publish content for non-profit organizations you are trying to achieve the following:

  • Raise awareness about an issue or a pressing need
  • Encourage more and more people to get involved
  • Encourage more and more people to spread the word regarding various activities and engagements of the organization
  • Encourage more and more people to provide monetary assistance

It is a humane activity and this is what you have to highlight in order to make people want to become a part of it. The stories should be personal as well as non-personal. Non-profit organizations are as much about people working there as well as people and environments they are impacting.


How to create content to engage your prospects

The primary purpose of content writing, content publishing and content marketing is to first, engage your prospects, and eventually, convert them. The biggest challenge, according to the graph published on this link titled “Create content that pulls prospects in” is creating a constant stream of engaging website material. This is the pie chart (I have recreated it to make it look more neat on my website)

The challenges, according to the levels of difficulty are

  • Producing the kind of content that engages prospects/customers: 41%
  • Producing enough content: 20%
  • Budget to produce content: 18%
  • Lack of buy-in/vision from higher-ups inside your company: 12%
  • Producing a variety of content: 7%
  • Budget to license content: 1%

Well this is a revelation that the budget constraint is just 1% of the challenges faced while executing a content marketing strategy.

Coming back to creating engaging content for prospects and customers.

In order to produce engaging content you first of all have to clearly define what is “engagement” vis-a-vis your business. How do you want to engage your customers and clients, what would that engagement mean and eventually to what it will lead? Then you start producing content accordingly. There are two key issues here that are highly crucial in order to produce engaging content:

  • Relevancy
  • Regularity

Your content has to be relevant in order to engage your prospects

Content marketing entails sending out content to your prospects on an ongoing basis. Now, sending out content doesn’t mean that they are automatically looking forward to it. They need to want it. Why would they want your content? It solves their purpose. Nobody is interested in hearing from you for sheer love except for your mom or your smitten girlfriend or boyfriend. You have to deliver them content that solves problems. You have to deliver them something that entertains them, informs them, and encourages them to remain in touch with you and engage in conversations whenever desirable.

But how do you deliver relevant content when different people have different tastes?

For that you have to properly understand your audience (your prospects). Why would they want to hear from you? Step into their shoes instead of assuming that they would like to hear from you anyway (because your product or service is so great). The relevancy of your content depends on

  • The product or service you are marketing
  • The format of the content people prefer in your market
  • The regional/indigenous preferences
  • The pressing needs of your readers/visitors

Once you have these things sorted out you can create relevant content for your market.

You need to publish content regularly

Just as quality and relevancy is important the regularity of your content publishing is vital too. You need to be constantly visible only then you can become familiar to your visitors. When you publish content regularly it gives everybody a reason to talk about it and consequently, maintain a buzz around it.

With the right mix of relevancy and regularity you can create engaging content that encourages your visitors and your friends and followers on social networking websites to engage in conversations with you and establish long-term relationships that eventually may turn into business partnerships.


What makes you an outstanding content writer?

So are you an outstanding content writer?

I was just now going through this “Business Insider” article that talks about how you have to be above average, or rather extraordinary in order to survive today’s work environment. Of course we have different definitions of exactly what is extraordinary and outstanding; it depends on your level of expertise and the degree of competition you face around you. But the article makes sense.

Since I provide content writing services, I am thinking in terms of a content writer; what makes you an above-average content writer? To understand this we have to go to the root of exactly what service you have to provide in order to become extraordinary.

Although my primary business is providing content I have no hesitation in admitting that it’s not the most important thing in your Internet marketing kitty, nonetheless it is the most fundamental thing. I mean, if you don’t have content, you have got nothing. It isn’t just content that can help your business. You need to disseminate that content, you need to market it (and hence, content marketing), you need to grab attention, you need to improve your search engine rankings, and you need to maintain a constant buzz on social media and social networking websites.

Of course you should be able to write quite well and create compelling content that converts, but that’s a given. Listed below are a few things you can do in order to become

An outstanding content writer

  • Practice your art, constantly: Like any other art or skill, content writing needs brushing up every day. It is an invisible muscle that begins to grow weak if you don’t use it all the time, and use it in the right manner. Write as much as you can. You should write even if you don’t have work right now. I have seen many aspiring content writers and bloggers shying away from writing unless they have got paying assignments. This atrophies their ability. Write just for the sake of writing and you will sooner or later – provided you promote your services in the right manner – will get paying assignments. But unless you write well, you’re not going to get paying assignments. So practice, practice and practice.
  • Stretch your content writing abilities: You shouldn’t just write about things you are comfortable with. Write on totally alien topics because this is how you have to write when you begin to create content professionally. You are not just going to get what you like. Many times you will get assignments you have never even heard of. You will have to learn many things, and learn them in such a manner that you can write about them clearly. So you might as well start writing on “difficult” topics right now rather than getting into a fix later on.
  • Read constantly: There are very few professional writers who don’t read regularly. Reading isn’t always about entertainment and passing time, it gets you into that mode that creates conducive environment for writing. Reading begets writing. It triggers your muse. You get to learn many new expressions and you also get to learn how various writers express various emotions and expressions in their own ways. You should also read contemporary literature, articles and essays so that your language is not antiquated.
  • Expand your intellectual horizon: Writing doesn’t just mean you can write error-free sentences. Good readers can read between the lines and they can easily make out what’s your intellectual level. Always try to broaden your perspective. A big reason why I constantly get new content writing assignments (I have been providing professional content since 2004) is because I haven’t limited myself to providing just content. When my clients hire me, they get a complete package and in most of the cases, especially when it comes to doing business online, they rarely have to brief me or provide me extra information. When you know stuff, you can write with conviction. It also saves you lots of time and speeds up your writing.
  • Create an active presence for yourself: Unless people know of your existence how are they going to give you work? And since most of the people these days come in contact with other people via social networking websites, you have to be present there, and not just as an inactive account, but a vibrant and active profile. You don’t have to be present on every platform. For example, you can just choose Facebook and Twitter and be regularly visible there. It also reassures your prospective clients that you’re not someone lurking around quietly without any testimonial and reference. When they know that you can be easily found, it’s easier for them to trust you as a reliable content writer.
  • Provide a turnkey content writing solution: Your client shouldn’t have to work with different vendors in order to meet his or her content writing and content marketing requirements. Provide exceptionally well-written content, and if your client also has to market the content and disseminate it, you should be able to help him or her out. Even when your client needs to formulate a long-term content strategy he or she shouldn’t have to seek another content provider? Have enough experience and knowledge to provide strategy and consulting whenever required.

So these are a few work habits and professional traits that can help you become an outstanding content writer. You don’t always have to wear different hats at the same time, it’s all about knowing what you do. This is where you can get an edge. You will notice that most of the content writers simply create a website, somehow manage to create a search engine presence, and after that provide totally uninspiring content writing services. You can survive that way, but you cannot thrive. In order to thrive in the content writing business, provide a package, instead of a service. Provide a solution, instead of a product.