This blog is based on a speech given by Julie Ford and Mike Valenti at George Brown College in August 2018.
There’s lots of talk today about personal branding and self-promotion. When it comes to creating a self-image online, we have more tools than ever before at our fingertips free of charge.
Digital marketing uses digital tools to help you achieve your goals—marketing yourself, connecting with new prospects, generating new sales leads, staying in touch with current clients or growing your network.
One piece of digital marketing is content. Content could be anything from text on your website to a blog post to a brochure and everything in between. It’s what drives your digital marketing efforts.
Whether you are a professional looking to define yourself as an industry expert, a passionate side-hustler or a budding entrepreneur, self-marketing is key to building a foundation for success. Here’s your guide:
Make content that’s valuable
Creating valuable content allows you to reach new audiences, differentiate yourself, provide extra value, increase your inbound marketing performance and improve your outbound efforts.
So, how do you make valuable content? Valuable content answers a question that your prospect has. With content you can be the person that answers their question or provides a specific piece of information they are looking for. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes and address why they should care about your content.
- What do they need?
- What kind of challenges are you addressing?
- What kind of content could you create that can attract people to you and/or your business when they’re going online looking for a solution to a problem?
Creating this content is a great investment because it’s easy to re-use, edit, update or delete. Here are some easy steps to get started:
- The best thing about content it is you have it all inside of you. Once you understand what you want to talk about keep a little notebook nearby or a notepad on your phone dedicated to content ideas. Jot your idea down when it’s fresh, expand on it and publish it because overthinking your content idea is just going to take you down.
- When you’re puling content together put your own spin on it. People want to hear what you think from your perspective.
- You don’t necessarily need to invest in your own blog right away. You can find other publishing platforms where you can start to share content and start to build up your own presence online. Places like medium.com can be a great place to get started
- Look at what the competitors in your space are doing. Follow them on social media and subscribe to their email lists. They might have a massive marketing team or a small one but take some notes from their playbook and use them to help inform your own content choices.
Monitor your audience’s reaction
We’re not really fans of developing a full comprehensive marketing strategy without doing anything to validate it. Put some content out there and see what you get. You could be surprised.
You can gain all sorts of insights from releasing content online. It’s really interesting to look at the analytics your content creates. Getting insight from putting out blog posts and seeing what’s popular and what people are interested in can help you become more effective in what you publish, when you publish, and who you speak to. That’s knowledge you can use to help you grow and evolve as you position yourself, or your business, to your audience.
You don’t have to do everything 100%. Go for 80% and know that it’s going to change over time. If you don’t do anything, you’re not going to get any results.
If you’re creating something—an Instagram post, an eBook, a post on LinkedIn, a blog post—distribute it on the channels of your choice and then look at the data. You can find ways to tweak the content, tailor it, and send it out again in a different way to restart the process.
Connect with people
People want to work with people they trust. Marketing yourself and building your personal brand is a great way to connect with people, evolve your network and build trust.
But to do that you must get past the fear of putting yourself out there. Publishing content to the world and reaching out to others is crucial to growing.
Once you release your content see what your target audience is saying. See what the feedback is and engage with them! Use that information as market research and use that to inform what your next steps are.
Beyond that, engage with industry groups online. For example, LinkedIn groups are a great place to jump in on conversations to ask questions and talk with others in your space.
When you are connecting with others and engaging with your industry those who might be interested in learning more about your business or partnering with you on a project can see your content which improves trust and interest.
Trust is a key ingredient to good business. An easy way to build trust initially is by sharing your knowledge and helping your audience with valuable content. From there it’s easy to get feedback, discover what your audience wants, connect with others and allow your network to evolve.
Julie Ford speaks at industry conferences and educational institutions about digital marketing and entrepreneurship.
Mike Valenti speaks at educational institutions about digital marketing.