The Empty Wallet Entrepreneur: DIY Marketing Guide



A Perfect Marriage of Content with Social and Earned Media

Modern marketing is overwhelming and confusing. You have to run your business AND keep track of many new marketing terms and technologies. After all even her Majesty Queen of England is now on Twitter), so you should jump on social media too.

Your head is starting to spin… but quite frankly, it feels it more complex that it is.

The Three Pillars

You just need to learn more about the three interdepended pillars of marketing:

  • Content strategy
  • Social media and
  • Earned media(public relations)

Partnered, these three strategic pillars work in perfect concert to create a strong foundation for your marketing plan.

Beginner content strategy: Taking your first steps 

Did you know that websites that regularly publish new content receive 4x more traffic? They also converted 5x more leads.

You may be saying: “they are asking me to blog…again! I tried it and it did not work!”

If done right, blogging is an amazing technic to grow your business. Consistency and connection to your customers are more important than keyword research. You will do more research later as you explore connections to media.

If you understand your customers’ main problems, you have everything you need to create a winning content strategy.

Content Strategy:  Three Simple Rules

  • Listen before jumping In.Top bloggers in your industry spend time researching your customers. Google them and pay attention to what they are writing about and how they engage on social media. Use tools like Hootsuite to spot patterns and trending topics.
  • Create consistencyBased on your research of top bloggers, choose one core theme for your blog and then create 2-3 related topics. Blog Topic Generator and Content Idea Generatorare excellent tools if you are stuck. Once you have ideas for posts, determine the posting schedule that you can maintain. Even if you post just once a month, it is better than not doing it at all
  • Sharing is caringSharing your content on social media will expose it to new eyeballs, especially if you do it more than once and in a variety of different formats. The same key idea can be a blog or a Slideshare deck. You can turn several of your blogs into a free eBook or create an email mini-course.

Social Media: A Simple Formula for Maximizing Value

 Social media is more than a place to sharing what you had for lunch. It is a powerful platform for conversations that can lead to new customers.

We studied 100 traditional companies perceived as “unlikely to engage in social media”. Over 85% of their CEOs had LinkedIn presence and 65% of the companies had Twitter and Facebook profiles.

If you are struggling with where to start, just know that you do not have to be everywhere. Choose one social media platform and master the art of the conversation.

Step 1:  Make the first connection

Social Media is like dancing – You have to make the first move. Once you do, you will see new followers appear on your account daily.

Try adding top 10 bloggers to a Twitter list and following their followers. Then set aside 15 minutes a day to engage with your new followers. Ask your followers a question; reply to their tweet or like something they said.

Step 2:  Deliver Value before selling

Always deliver value before selling anything. You have to build trust and establish the connection before you can start selling. Aim for 60% of your updates to be industry related content shared by others. Promote your own content 30% of the time. Direct call to action should be no more than 10% of everything you share.

Step 3:  Follow-up 

The best way to sell is to build relationships first. Email is still one of the most powerful tools in closing deals. If you turn your blogs into an eBook, you can start collecting email addresses. Invest $10 into the automation workflow and you launch your first email engagement campaign. For example, create a rule to send a simple bonus tip 3 days after someone downloaded your eBook.

Earned Media:  The Entrepreneur’s Other Tool

If you are actively engaged in social media and content marketing, then you need to extend your bandwidth to include a third “pillar” of your market outreach strategy:  Earned media.

Earned media, popularly known as public relations, is not a separate silo from your social and content efforts. Indeed, with Google’s Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird updates, the net effect has been a reduction in the value of SEO, and an increase in the impact of content.

The bonus prize-in-your-digital-cereal-box is this search-boosting content focus is a valuable driver for your enterprise’s social strategy.  Indeed, sharing of your digital ink across your social channels is critical to success.

The Three Reasons Earned Media Drives Social:

  1. Google and search highly-value earned content, as discussed
  2. Original content, or coverage, is valuable for earning social credibility, boosting credibility and thought leadership
  3. Sharing content is a relationship builder: Sharing any media posted by the journalist from their channel, as well as posting from your own will allow you and the journalist to mutually benefit from the shared social exposure.

And of course, the highest-value bonus of earned media sharing is that these pieces invariably point the social community back to your website and digital presence.

Now you’re wondering how to generate this earned media goldmine. It takes work, but the satisfaction of engaging in high-value thought leadership, and the publication that will earn you, is well worth it.  We promise.  Here’s how to get started:

Media Coverage Comes from Three Big Buckets

Media coverage has changed significantly in the past few years, in addition to its importance in the social realm.

The key is to re-imagine your media outreach not in terms of products and services, but industry issues, market pain and social change.  The best way to do this is to think of your outreach strategy in terms of three “buckets:”

  • The issue bucket: If you can bring valued perspective, fresh insight or a bold opinion to a journalist covering your industry, a welcome conversation, and an opportunity to earn coverage as a thought leader, can emerge.
  • The market pain bucket: Your marketing research is the key to success here.  What is the pain point in the market, what is driving those pain points, and what are strategy-driven solutions?  This is an area in which you need to be careful not to “sell” your offering, but to offer insight and innovation.
  • The social change bucket: This is what we like to call the Big Picture Conversation.  It’s a high-altitude look at something driving significant change across society.  The key is for you to weigh in with opinion, suggestion, knowledge or research that drives an opinion or solution

Yes, this will take putting on your thinking cap, but the results are worth the effort.  Credible media coverage can deliver industry authority, search engine results, social interaction – and prospects.

FREE Tools You Can Use

There are plenty of free tools you can use. The following are just a small sampling of tools to get you started:

  • Big picture trends & influencers:  BuzzSumo
  • Breaking opportunities:  HARO (Help a Reporter Out) is the tool for you.
  • Social engagement and coverage:  SocialMention
  • Competitors:  SpyFu is a great tool for Adword strategies and more
  • MondoTimes is a great media list resource
  • MuckRack lets you see what journalists are writing about
  • Don’t forget your Google:  Check your analytics for trends and phrases.  Sign up for Google alerts, monitor media coverage, topics, companies and journalists. Search on your industry key words to see what is trending.

See?  Not overwhelming, and with the three pillars of marketing communications firmly in hand, your ability to create your own digital and social buzz, drive leads and earn credibility for your brand is just a tweet, post and feature article away.




Image credit: CC by

About the author: Maria Dykstra

Maria Dykstra is an author, speaker, and technology entrepreneur. She is a Microsoft veteran and a co-founder of Tredigital ,a fast growing digital agency in Seattle. Maria spent 18+ years working with Fortune 100 and emerging brands. She also serves as an advisor and board member for several startups and women leadership organizations.

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