Do you own a business, and are you struggling with bringing more customers, subscribers or partners on board?
Is your production stagnant? Maybe you just can’t seem to grow your order numbers.
It’s no secret that Haitian entrepreneurs are on the rise. It seems like almost every week I learn about a new Haitian business or startup in the works.
We are finally beginning to talk about developing businesses as opposed to aid —at least in my circle.
As these businesses emerge, there is a possibility that the founders will create another salaried job for themselves. There is nothing wrong with that, if that is your goal.
But for the rest of us, we want to start a business because it will allow us the economic freedom and the flexibility to live life on our own terms.
The only way to create a business that will eventually allow you those options is if you can scale and grow a profitable business. If you have no paying customers, you have no business.
Adapt to how the new consumers buy
You can’t grow a business in 2016 by following a 1990s marketing model. Most of the old methods of gaining clients no longer work because consumers today are more demanding. They are looking for quality information and a greater experience with your product.
It’s been fascinating to watch a number of companies (that I will refer to below) that have managed to use the secret of content marketing as a strategy to build multi-million dollar businesses. Those entrepreneurs have caught on with the times and are reaping the benefits.
For some Haitian businesses, there is an assumption that if you create a page on social media for the business, the orders will pour in—well, not quite. Unfortunately, social media does not work that way.
Don’t get me wrong, social media is a fantastic way to grow a personal brand and let potential clients know about your business. But social media will need to be integrated with your platform or company to drive your business revenue goals.
You cannot start a business in our present digital age and operate in antiquity. The way you advertise, market and promote your business or your personal brand have changed, and you must keep up with the times if you want to grow your company.
Education is the new form of marketing
The idea of providing news to educate and engage with your potential clients has been happening for the last decade. This news comes in the form of what is known as content marketing, and content can come in many formats—blog, email marketing, videos, podcasts, YouTube, etc.
I recently studied some of the companies that had just launched several years ago when I first started paying attention to the digital marketing world, and I realized that a number of those companies have become multi- million dollar enterprises in the last five to ten years. And content marketing in the form of blogging has been the driving force.
Take Buffer as an example—one of the leading social media app-sharing companies. Buffer has transformed its five and a half -year-old business into a multi-million dollar company primarily by using content marketing.
In a report titled “Buffer’s Top 10 Lessons from growing to $10 Million ARR”, Leo Widrich, co-founder and COO, stated, “At Buffer, we employed a single marketing strategy for the first year or so—which in our case was content marketing—and it’s been one of our best decisions in order not to spread ourselves too thin.”
You might be asking, what exactly is content marketing?
Well, I am glad you asked.
According to Copyblogger, another company that has created the highest standard in the field:
Content marketing means creating and sharing valuable content to attract and convert prospects into customers, and customers into repeat buyers. The type of content you share is closely related to what you sell; in other words, you’re educating people so that they know, like, and trust you enough to do business with you”.
As a content developer and blogger, Copyblogger has been influential in my training. I have personally experienced how effective this form of marketing is when it comes to building my own platform.
The company started out as a blog almost nine years ago and now has grown to an eight-figure annual revenue firm. The company’s blog has provided solid, useful, and timely information to users and potential clients from the moment it launched.
I can name a number of other companies, such as HubSpot, Hootsuite, Smart Blogger, and many others that have used this content marketing secret for building multi-million dollar businesses.
In our community, it is often challenging to access information. I hope this post will give you enough food for thought to consider content marketing for your business.
Can you grow a business using content marketing?
But I want to warn you, this will not be a strategy to bring in quick revenue. Content marketing requires time and learning.
Another thing to consider is that you have to be willing to admit what you don’t know. R.M. Hare, author of Plato, an introduction to the philosopher’s dialogues, sums it up best for us. “The first prerequisite for learning anything… is the knowledge that we do not know.”
You need to ask yourself, what else can I learn to do and do differently to grow my business?
Content marketing takes time, investment and a commitment to show up consistently by providing value to the right audience before you can see concrete results.
To be the best, you have to learn from the best.
If you are serious about growing a business today, especially if it’s online, you need to consider content marketing as an avenue for growth.
Neil Patel, another successful entrepreneur and one who has built a multi-million dollar business through blogging, says, “If you want to attract new customers and build a loyal fan base, you need to place a premium on creating and curating high quality content.”
Below is a brief summary from Moz, a leading SEO and content marketer on the web, on how to think about creating valuable content.
Some of you reading this post are probably thinking, Well, I don’t necessarily want to grow a million-dollar business. I would be happy with $150K annually. That’s fine. You can still find a way to provide high-quality and useful information to your potential customer base while building a niche in your market.
And if your business is online, you are probably using the usual social media channels to promote your business. The challenge is, social media has a short lifespan. After a few hours your posts are gone, but if you have your own marketing channel through your blog or company website, then you can build a stronger brand.
You need a plan to integrate your company’s content marketing message with your social media channels. I find that this integration works best.
Here are some additional things you might want to consider as you think about content marketing:
- Integrate content marketing in your current marketing mix of radio, print, PR, and social media.
- Measure your content to determine if what you are producing is resonating with your audience.
- Plan to invest in content marketing for the long haul. There is no shortcut if you want to see results.
A personal story: Content marketing has been the main driving force behind the Bien-Aime Post. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have made the partnerships that I have.
Just this month, because of the work I’ve been doing for the last few years, I became a partner with Christine Souffrant, one of Forbes’ “30 Under 30” to organize a tech conference in Haiti. We are doing this through We Startup Haiti, an online startup accelerator.
It is true what they say. If you do the work, and you show up daily, the right partnerships and business opportunities will come along.
I want to leave you with a book recommendation. If you are serious in understanding how the new digital marketing world works, I would suggest reading Seth Godin’s Permission Marketing.
With hard work and determination, it’s only a matter of time before you start using the secret to build your own million dollar business.
Your turn: What about you? Are you currently using content marketing for your business? Share some of your tips or challenges in the comments section below.
About the author: Daniella Bien-Aime is the founder of the Bien-Aime Post, a digital media platform that focuses on business, leadership, education, and social media within the context of Haiti and its diaspora. Follow her on Twitter @dbienaime.