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Tiny Business Training: Content Marketing 1 – Identifying Your Core Themes

It’s Tiny Training Tuesday, and today we’ve got a Tiny Business Training in the series:

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Tiny Business Trainings are designed to empower you to grow your business with more ease.

Tiny Business Training: Content Marketing

So what is Content Marketing?

Content marketing, as defined by the Content Marketing Institute is,  “a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”  I would change this a little to be, “with the long-term objective of driving profitable customer action.”

Valuable and relevant content that serves to define you as an expert in your field and build a relationship with your potential client base is content marketing.  Blogs, newsletters, e-books, articles, Slideshare presentations, webinars, social media posting, YouTube & other videos – these are all examples of content marketing.

While content marketing is certainly the “buzz word” of the business world these days, it’s also a great tool in our strategic tool kit.  With a little bit of effort – and what will be a series of Tiny Business Trainings here on the blog – you can use this strategically to grow your business, while making your life easier too.  So how are we going to do that?

Building A Body of Work

I recently attended a weekend workshop with the fantastic Alexandra Franzen.  The workshop, called Write Yourself Into Motion, was all about developing your individual writing style, and she used a phrase that made so much sense to me.  She said we are “building our body of work,” one blog post at a time.

A recent work of mine - very different than early pieces in my "body of work"

A recent work of mine
very different than early pieces
in my “body of work”

 

As a creative person, I certainly understood the concept of a body of work – I have an extensive body of work of fiber art that I have designed and created over 20+ years of working in the medium.   My work has grown and evolved as I have, and I can still “fit” each of those pieces into who I was and where I was in my personal journey as I created it.  Even though the early pieces no longer define me, they are still of me.

 

As a solo-entrepreneur, building a personal brand, what if everything that you put out from your business was also a body of work?  Stone's wayHow much power could you claim if you didn’t worry about having to be “stuck” with something you wrote or espoused 5 years ago? What if you could simply claim it as a stepping in stone in the evolution of your body of work?

You can create a structure for your content, that is both focused so as to be valuable to you and your clients today, while also being fluid enough to roll with your own organic growth and changing desires.

Identifying Your Core Themes

I spent a lot of time thinking through how to break this down into a teachable structure – this could honestly have it’s own 6 week course, and perhaps I’ll develop something of that depth in the future.  For the sake of “Tiny Trainings,” I’m going to cover a single step today that can be the foundation of your content marketing efforts – I’m calling this “Core Themes.”  Not only will this simple step will make the process of creating content much easier for you, it will assist your audience in knowing what to expect from you – creating the kind of match that ultimately leads to that “profitable customer action” noted in the definition above.

Just answer these few questions:

About you and your business:

 

Why do you do what you do in your business right now? What has inspired you to do this at this time? What do you care about or want to change that has you do this at this time?

About your customers, clients, or audience members:

What problems do they come to you to solve? What do they want to change or have different in their lives that drives them to seek out you or your industry? What do they worry about? What doesn’t work in their lives related to what you offer?

About your services and solutions:

What would you tell these individuals about their questions or problems? What is the future you stand for for these individuals? What do you believe in that empowers you to serve these people? How do you do this that’s “your way” – that’s unique or different?

With this set of answers, you have your core themes and some detail pieces that can fall under the various themes.

Take the last set of answers – about your services and solutions – and find the patterns.  If you were required to create a list of no more than 5 things that you were committed to standing for, teaching, or empowering others with, what would they be?

For example, my list is:

  • Your dreams and desires are yours to be fulfilled – because YOU are here to fulfill them.  Your unique gifts and talents are yours so that you can thrive financially and soulfully in this world.
  • Nothing changes without action and everything starts with Imperfect Action. What Imperfect Action can you take today toward the fulfillment of your dreams?
  • Dreams and goals give us a direction for the path of our lives – not someplace to “arrive.”  Life is not about the destination – it’s about the journey.  There’s duality at work in this, and holding loosely to both sides give us power. Our joy comes from recognizing the value of both effort and achievement – and not being attached to either.

UniverseGraphic copyThink of this as your “business universe.”  This is what’s in your world – and other stuff is outside of your world.  You now have a clear place to stand when you wonder what to blog about, who should you follow, what would my audience want to hear from me, does “topic x” fit in with my audience or business?  All of those questions can be answered against this Core Themes document.  And just like any great artist building a body of work, Inspiration may occasionally take you out of this sphere to some degree, but having your essential core remain inside this context you are doing content marketing – and not just writing a personal blog, or putting your opinions out for the world to see and hear.

For right now, try not to get too caught up in having this be perfect – remember – Imperfect Action!  You can refine these, and they will refine – as you create your body of work!  So don’t let not having these be “perfect” keep you from taking action, because it’s precisely that action that will have it all start to come together beautifully.

Of course, these themes may also morph and change over time – and you may even choose to go in an entirely new direction with your business in the future.  When you do, just like any great artist, you’ll both see how this body of work informed the new body of work you are choose to build, and you’ll have an ability to speak about that transition in a new and empowered way.

There’s much more to content marketing, and more on how to use these core themes, and this is the end of today’s Tiny Training!

I would love for you to share some of the Core Themes that you’ve developed. Please post them in the comments below, and I will reply as well.  Of course, any questions that you have are also welcomed and encouraged!

Let’s build a body of work together!