How to use content to market yourselfFeatured

As a content strategy consultant, I help a lot of high-growth startups and individual entrepreneurs get started with their marketing. Something I hear again and again? “We need content to market ourselves, but I don’t have the time to publish weekly blog posts [or an equivalent].”Here’s the good news: You can effectively use content to market yourself efficiently, even if it’s just you dedicating your spare time to the venture. All you need is some time dedicated upfront to thinking and some creativity. Here’s how to use content to market yourself when you don’t have the time to dedicate to this full time. First, understand how you’re positionedBefore you start using content to market yourself, first document the primary talking points about yourself that you’ll return to again and again:* Target audience — who are they, what do they need from you?* Offering — how do you help your audience, emotionally and functionally?* Reasons to believe — why should your audience believe you can deliver on your offering?* Differentiation — how are you different from other alternatives to working with you?This ensures you’re consistent in communicating who you are and how you help. I promise, it makes your life a whole lot easier down the road! Second, prioritize your content pillars and formatsYour content pillars are your core topics that reflect the audience needs you’re uniquely positioned to address. Think about what you could talk about in your sleep, or what you have a strong opinion on — that’s your content pillar. I recommend having two to three. Every. Single. Piece of content should bubble up into one of your content pillars. It’s easy to think you need to create all the content formats. Instagram images and stories. Blog articles. Medium posts, LinkedIn posts, Facebook posts! Webinars! Events! AH! There are so many content formats out there. Pick two to three. They should align with how you most easily communicate and/or network with others. If you’re a verbal communicator, try Instagram Stories or videos on LinkedIn. If you’re visual, try infographics through easy-to-use tools like Canva. When it’s just you with limited resources, your marketing efforts need to feel natural and easy to produce. Otherwise, it will be much harder to stay consistent in marketing yourself. Third, identify your content workhorsesI hereby give you permission to create less content. Much less. Create one to three pieces of content workhorses. Yes, in total. Invest as much time and energy as you can making them comprehensive, helpful, and closely aligned with your positioning and one of your content pillars. These pieces will be the source of new, recycled pieces (see Step Four). They’ll also provide you endless material for marketing yourself. For example: My website’s blog has “only” five articles. They are all on foundational topics related to my content pillars. I’ve used these five articles over the past three years to market myself. Here are just a few ways I keep it fresh:* Pull different sections of the article to use in promotions* Pull different images or charts to use in promotions* Use the link as the kick off for a relevant question or request for advice* Use the link as the kick off for a relevant stance on somethingFourth, recycle!I also hereby give you permission to rarely create 100% net new contentI promise, recycling your content will save you time AND communicate a more consistent message across your marketing. Here’s another way to think about “recycling”... Take something you’ve already created, and build it in another content format for the respective target audience. For example: I primarily consult with growing startups to build out their content marketing functions. Over the years, I’ve developed a very structured approach to how I work with clients on this. I have deliverable templates, project plans… the works. I wanted to share my knowledge more widely with fellow independent consultants. So in the past two years, I’ve documented my approach to content strategy in the below content: * Online workshops or webinars* Downloadable toolkits to build your own content strategy (https://www.adrienneksmith.com/content-strategy-deliverable-toolkits)* A free, 7-day email course on how to build a content strategy (https://www.adrienneksmith.com/content-strategy-email-course)These pieces of content are all built from the content, essentially, I’ve built for my consulting services. But I’ve adapted it to different formats, to help a wider variety of people. I’d love to know: Have you created content to market yourself or your business? What challenges have you come across along the way?
jennguyen's profile thumbnail
Thanks for this advice! The agency I just joined has been doing extremely well through word of mouth and networking, but we're going to be more active with our marketing to achieve ambitious growth goals (which is why they hired me). A big part of our strategy is developing original content and it can be overwhelming to think of all the possible topics to write about, but I have to remind myself to keep it focused.
adriennesmith's profile thumbnail
Exactly! I really feel like focus is freedom. That's what a strategy is for in the beginning. You don't need to create it all. Honing in on a few key topics, formats, and marketing channels to experiment with first will help you drive more impact as you get started.
LaniAssaf's profile thumbnail
This is phenomenal! I loooove the reminder to create 1-3 pieces of super powerful content and recycle them again & again. It's true that not only does this save a ton of time, but it means you actually create a much more consistent story around your brand or business! ❤️
stephaniecn's profile thumbnail
Yes agreed with @LaniAssaf! I also think people actually need to hear your message over and over for it to sink in, be understood, and to be remembered.
adriennesmith's profile thumbnail
Such a good point and another benefit of turning to your core 1-3 pieces again and again. What may feel like repetition to you feels like consistency to your audience.
erikajon's profile thumbnail
This is such a great summary for how to use content marketing in a clever way! I will definitely try re-using some bigger pieces of content across different mediums. It’s so overwhelming to keep up with producing a consistent amount of content all the time, so this could be a lifesaver!
adriennesmith's profile thumbnail
Yes! I hereby grant you permission to re-use, re-use, re-use :) Unless you're a media publication or news focused, you really don't need to constantly churn out new content. Creating new pieces all the time diverts energy away from *marketing* your content effectively.
JadeP's profile thumbnail
Love this! I've been thinking about all of the ways that I can create content but often felt like I was banging my head against the wall lol. I find it much easier to create content to market a business. Marketing myself (even as a marketer) can feel like an uphill battle sometimes. Thank you for making it easier
adriennesmith's profile thumbnail
Happy to help. You've got this!
Faith88's profile thumbnail
Thank you so much for this, Indeed helpful.
lydiaume's profile thumbnail
Wow, Adrienne, this is so insightful. One thing I've always believed is that great content has a long life span and you can reduce its potential when you just keep producing more and more without a strategy. For instance, why write a 2000 word article, share it once and just move on to the next when you can turn into social media posts, newsletters etc? It will really serve companies to work on their distribution and repurposing strategy.I'm about to formally kick off a B2B writing service for SaaS companies and it's been overwhelming trying to figure out how to market myself with content. This has reminded me to take it slow. Thank you.
adriennesmith's profile thumbnail
I couldn't agree more @lydiaume - there is often such a focus on generating new content. In many regards, it will pay bigger dividends to focus more on distribution and repurposing. Good luck as you kick off your writing service - sounds like an exciting next adventure :)
TriciaK's profile thumbnail
I signed up for your free email crash course!
adriennesmith's profile thumbnail
Thank you and enjoy @TriciaK!