Laura Hanly, a writer specializing in content marketing for online businesses joins me today to drop some incredible value for business owners struggling to nail down their content strategy. Through her business, Laura Hanly Content Marketing Agency, she helps online businesses hone their competitive edge with powerful content marketing processes. Great news for us all, Laura is also writing a book entitled, Content That Converts: A Profitable and Predictable B2B Content Marketing Strategy. You can follow Laura’s progress, get early chapters, and loads of free advice on writing in her private Facebook Group.
Laura has been in the industry of content promotion for a long time. She worked in the major Australian publishing houses for several years, promoting and reviewing books, before starting her own online business. When she moved online and started working with e-commerce and B2B companies, she found that most of those businesses had a really incomplete approach to their content marketing.
When Laura is onboarding a new client and getting familiar with their needs, she has three key questions that get at the basis of any sound marketing strategy:
- Who are your customers?
- What are you offering them?
- How are you delivering that?
It’s all about understanding who your audience is, getting really clear about who you’re actually communicating with, what your offer is, and, finally, figuring out your messaging.
Her introductory questions ensure that her clients are really clear about those three elements, and then helps to determine a guiding principle, a north star, for their content marketing strategy. This is how Laura is able to hone in on someone’s voice, whether to assist her in ghost writing the content for them, or to help them be more consistent in their messaging.
“You have to start with a really broad view and get to know the business and the people running the business, before you can get down to those nitty-gritty bits.”
There are a couple areas that many entrepreneurs are struggling with:
Many entrepreneurs don’t have a complete strategy around their content.
“It’s really not enough to just pump out blog posts or podcasts. They really have to be part of the ecosystem.”
- You want to make sure you have an opt-in offer, or a lead magnet, that’s going to capture all of the traffic that comes to your site
- You want to have email funnels that educate people and move them towards taking action with you
- Regular sales offers and goodwill campaigns that make money and keep the list healthy
People struggle to produce content regularly.
“A lot of entrepreneurs have these amazing skills and really are experts in really interesting fields, but it’s a struggle for them to communicate their expertise. My big focus is helping them put systems in place that are really going to enable them to communicate their expertise in a way that’s not overly-draining or time-consuming for them.”
The most important high-leverage system that Laura has implemented for her clients is a quarterly content plan filled out with content themes. Pick three or four things that you really want to be known for in your industry, and put those into a quarterly content plan that maps out exactly what each piece of content will be each week, along with three or four key points you want to touch on for those posts. If you fill out this plan, you will know what to do whenever you sit down to produce content.
How and when you deliver your content will vary based on industry. High-end consulting and coaching businesses will want to create a luxury or catered experience. B2B will want to be consistent and less frequent than B2C, where you have more flexibility. However, every business in every industry is different, so you will need to test any content distribution methods to find what is most effective for you and your industry.
Deciding the right email-marketing client to use can be daunting. Laura uses ActiveCampaign because of their segmenting capabilities, and because their workflows create effective funnels. Drip has similar capabilities, and is a little more visually appealing. If you are looking for something enterprise-level, InfusionSoft and ONTRAPORT are amazing tools if you have a complex offering, a business with a lot of moving parts, or your business is already established. It’s important to be aware of your company’s needs, your current budget, and not to sign on with a platform that is so overwhelmingly techy that it prevents you from getting started.
Laura often encounters resistance to delegating content production responsibilities, when she is working with entrepreneurs who have a defined personal brand. “Everyone who is the face of their brand, or whose reputation is connected to their business, is just terrified of outsourcing their content.” It’s totally understandable, but it also puts hard limits on what an entrepreneur can achieve with their content.
“This is where the quarterly planning spreadsheet comes into play, because it’s an opportunity for you to map out exactly what you want to be communicated to your audience, the language you want used, the positioning and everything. Planning all of that out with a writer you really trust gives you the opportunity to communicate all of that, while only spending a very small amount of your own time.”
If you aren’t working with a content marketing team or specialist, then the quarterly planning spreadsheet can still help. After you have your content schedule, plan days to write and finish batches of content. Batching can be a more approachable way of getting that work done, and it can help you make sure each piece of content relate to each other.
If your business is a little bit newer and you are looking to grow your list, web summits are performing really well for list growth. A web summit is a collection of people within an industry who, usually over the course of a couple days, will talk about a variety of topics within an industry.
“If you can get together with a few other people in your industry, and do a bunch of interviews and make it really valuable for people who are interested in your particular expertise, then that’s a great way to cross pollinate with other people in your area who have complementary businesses. It’s also a great way, down the line, to establish affiliate relationships.”
Lately, Laura has also been helping people produce books for their business by ghost writing. “I think books are one of the biggest opportunities for businesses online at the moment.” Producing a book is a great way to differentiate yourself from your market, particularly if you have a lot of aggressive competitors.
Writing a book shows that you are a serious player in the industry, and you can use a book to create multiple revenue streams. There are the sales of the book, but you can also send the book to prospective clients. “When you have a really high price-point offering … it’s a great way to show that you’re really going to be worth it.”
Laura packed this interview full of value and helpful tips about content production, email marketing and writing books for The Bold Life Movement. I highly suggest heading over to the Content That Converts Facebook Group to check out updates on the book.
THE BOLD LIFE MOVEMENT
SOME QUESTIONS I ASK:
- What was the transition like when Laura decided to double down on her writing skills and create a content marketing agency?
- When Laura is onboarding someone, what are some of the typical questions that you will go over with them?
- What is one thing that entrepreneurs seem to be struggling with the most?
- What are content production systems that entrepreneurs should have in place?
- How does someone know which email client they should use for content marketing?
- What are some ways that people can repurpose old content, and not feel like they are starting anew every quarter?
- Tips for growing and nurturing a baby list?
IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL LEARN:
- How to plan a complete approach to content marketing
- The three questions that can help any business draft a sound content marketing strategy
- The areas that entrepreneurs struggle with most in content marketing
- The importance of a quarterly content plan
- How to decide the right email-marketing client
- Plus much more…
DON’T STOP HERE…