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Small business owners spend an enormous amount of money on marketing, many of which fail to see a return on their investment. And in times like we’re living in now, when acquisition costs are higher, there’s growing competition on social media as global adoption continues (a total of 230 million people in the United States use social media daily, or 71% of the population), and we have an overwhelmingly amount of information available to us, it becomes more important than ever to be mindful of what and how we’re investing in marketing.
The problem with “just getting content out”
I recently hired a contractor on Fiverr to work on my social media content (I’m a big believer in delegating), and I gave her a clear outline of what I needed, along with links to image templates, a content calendar (content and instructions for images included) and my brand board. Yet, what I got back was generic, “templated” content with things like statistics, quotes, and commonly known advice like what SMART goals stand for. Now, don’t get me wrong… this doesn’t mean that no one would find this valuable or that the contractor didn’t do a good job at putting the images together with this content. But, first, she ignored the content calendar I provided, and secondly, it didn’t connect my brand identity, my brand’s differentiators, or to who I am.
This got me thinking about the volume of generic, repetitive content that lacks any strategy or brand positioning being produced today. The contractor had a profile full of positive reviews, suggesting that her previous clients were happy with this type of content and failed to see the importance of quality content, strategy, and humanizing their brand so they can use social media for what its intended: to build relationships and connect with their target audience.
No wonder many small business owners fail to see a return on their marketing efforts!
And they are not to blame — as I mentioned before, there is an overwhelmingly amount of information available to us, and there is a lot of competition out there, so business owners feel pressured and trapped in this cycle of creating more and more, faster and faster in an effort to “beat” the competition and compete for the attention of their target audience.
How to get a return for your time, money, and effort
So, what can you do?
How can you get the most out of the time, money, resources, and effort you spend on marketing strategies like social media?
Below, I’ve outlined my top four strategies.
1. Take a moment to pause
To approach marketing strategically, take some time to brainstorm and analyze what you’re doing. Get curious and ask smart questions. What I see happen quite often is business owners are investing in marketing efforts that they’ve seen work for others. Or follow popular advice and trends, but they don’t consistently look at data or analytics to ensure it’s working for them.
Is it driving value? Is it profitable?
From what you’ve produced so far, what’s working and what isn’t?
What evidence is there for that? What can you learn from the data?
Integrating and using software like Google Analytics and social media management tools can support you in collecting the data you need to understand what’s working and what’s not. From there, you can make informed decisions to optimize your social media efforts.
Also, consider your competitors and target audience.
What differentiates you from competitors? Where does your audience hang out on the web? Are you spreading yourself too thin by sharing mediocre posts on multiple social media platforms instead of high-quality posts on the platform where your customers spend the most time?
For instance, if your customers prefer Instagram, you might decide to use all of Instagram’s features like reels, stories, and carousel posts strategically rather than create and publish content on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Pinterest in addition to Instagram.
2. Improve your marketing operations
Another common mistake I see is business owners focused solely on creating content without thinking about the systems and processes needed to support their content marketing strategy. Do you have the right systems, technology, and/or processes in place to capture leads and guide them through your customer journey?
For example, you might decide to create a lead magnet, such as an ebook or free training, that you will give to everyone who joins your mailing list. Do you have a system for your lead magnet that includes a landing page, custom trackable link, thank you page, and email sequence that welcomes them to your community and nurtures them while bridging the path to becoming a customer?
Do you have the software in place to track how they found your lead magnet, the actions they are taking after the sign-up, and to understand if this lead magnet is a generative source of moving contacts down your funnel to purchase from you?
If you’re new to this and interested in learning what systems (like a lead magnet) you can leverage to drive consistent results in your business and get a flow of new customers on autopilot, check out my free training here.
3. Create impactful content that tells your brand story faster and consistently
Many business owners who are struggling with the pressure of creating content are caught in this trap because they understand how important it is to be consistent. And while consistency is important, what’s even more important is high-quality content that speaks to your target audience. And there is a way to achieve both — it’s by using content pillars.
Content pillars serve as the foundation for every successful content marketing strategy and help you create impactful content faster. They are necessary to support your overall objectives and help ensure that your efforts are spread evenly across all objectives, from awareness and lead generation to conversion.
Here are a few characteristics of content pillars:
- Often referred to as content buckets or content clusters, pillars consist of the most relevant topics for your industry and your target audience.
- It takes time to develop social media and blog posts, and if you’re just picking content pieces at random, it could make the process longer and harder. Content pillars streamline content efforts for maximum efficiency.
- Generally speaking, most brands select three to five content pillars to consistently create content for and amplify across social media.
- Content pillars heavily rely on your niche (Don’t know what that is yet? Check out our Business Foundations Planner!)
Knowing your content pillars makes it quicker and easier to consistently create high-quality content that communicates your brand story and connects to your target audience.
4. Consider going beyond social platforms
Social networks provide a great way to build an online presence and generate leads, and many have shifted to supporting the “creator first economy” by providing features that support content discovery and easy ways to sell products. And yet, with constant changes to features, algorithms, and outages, it’s important to remember that we have no control of these platforms. Remember when Facebook and Instagram went down back in 2021?
With that in mind, it’s important to leverage these platforms to create an independent community that doesn’t leave you reliant on one particular platform. This provides your target audience with another medium to experience your brand and purchase from you. Whether it’s an email list or building a community on a platform like Mighty Networks, consider how your content marketing strategy can support you in creating your own community of fans and loyal customers.
Take a step back and breathe
I know I’ve gone through a lot of information here, and if you were to take action on one thing, I encourage you to take a step back and analyze the performance of your social media marketing efforts. This will give you the space to explore how you can fine-tune your marketing strategy and be more efficient with how you use your time and money.
If you’d like some help leveraging marketing and business systems, check out my range of guides that will support you in getting more exposure for your business strategically.
And, if you’d like to know which direction to go, where your focus should be, and how to create the results you want in their business, let’s chat. Schedule a free discovery call here.