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Content Strategy: The Key to Becoming a Subject Matter Expert

Content is not king. Content is a king maker.

Content: The Key to Becoming a Subject Matter Expert Entrepreneurs need an edge to get noticed – something other than the same “excellent service” provided by everyone. A content strategy can be the advantage that elevates an entrepreneur above the competition and crowns him or her king or queen of their industry.

Entrepreneurs that attend my small business workshops hear me say repeatedly, “Content is not king. Content is a king maker.” The landscape is crowded with competitors providing similar products or services. As such, entrepreneurs need an edge to get noticed – something other than the same “excellent service” provided by everyone. A content strategy can be the advantage that elevates an entrepreneur above the competition and crowns him or her king or queen of their industry.

Entrepreneurs that provide something above and beyond the product or service set themselves apart from the competition. That is why entrepreneurs experience greater success when they complement their expertise and reputation with a content strategy that validates them as subject matter experts in their industry and makes them top of mind in a crowded field of providers.

A sound content strategy can transform an entrepreneur from one of many in the field to one-of-a-kind. The right content provides a solution to a customer’s or potential customer’s pain points, creating instant credibility and developing long-term loyalty.

“Content gives companies of all sizes the opportunity to engage with somebody,” RSL Media’s CEO, Robert Levin, told me during an interview on my radio show. “It’s an opportunity to build a relationship, to build trust and to demonstrate expertise.”

“Entrepreneurs experience greater success when they complement their expertise and reputation with a content strategy that validates them as subject matter experts in their industry and makes them top of mind in a crowded field of providers.”

A content strategy can include activities such as publishing articles in traditional media or online, creating and posting videos on YouTube or other social media platforms,  hosting podcasts on topics of interest to customers and prospective customers and developing white papers and other technical guidance.

“When we define content we are mostly talking about the stuff that we consume when we are at our computers, televisions, radios, phones, tablets and now on other devices like our refrigerators that are enabled through IoT technology,” said ABC News Radio host Aaron M. Sanchez during an interview. “While content also includes the old school newspapers, magazines and other hardcopy materials, today we fill our time mostly consuming on our digital devices.”

“In today’s digital marketplace, producing regular content is critical to any company’s success,” Joe Issid shared on Monster’s website. “The prevalence of social media and the content-driven platforms upon which they rest can reap incalculable benefits for your business.”

As Karen Leland described in Pinterest for Business: The Basics, entrepreneurs must “curate content that is meaningful, attractive, social media friendly, and on message with your brand.” This involves creating or searching for content that is presented in a desired format (e.g., whitepaper, video, etc.) and that solves a problem or makes the customer’s life easier.

Doing this well positions the entrepreneur as the best in the business because he or she demonstrates a keen understanding of the challenges that occupy their customer’s time and provides actionable steps to resolve the pain.

An example of an entrepreneur that “gets it” is Christian Jorg. Christian realized “it was very difficult for companies to find the right content and have enough,” he said on my show. This prompted his launch of a content-marketing software firm, OpenTopic, dedicated to providing entrepreneurs with the tools to effectively deliver such material. “The Internet is great because there is so much out there. But it is hard to find the right stuff,” he added.

“In today’s digital marketplace, producing regular content is critical to any company’s success.” – Joe Issid

But what is a content strategy really? The Content Marketing Institute has defined it as “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.”

“All companies are now media companies,” Levin observed. “Whether you have the ability or desire to spend the money to produce a print magazine, to create a video or simply place content on your website, you no longer need to go to a media company to put out your content.”

Entrepreneurs that want to get above the noise must get comfortable with the idea that just doing a good job is no longer good enough. Seth Godin writes in The Dip, “If you’re not going to put in the effort to be my best possible choice, why bother?”

Today, as Levin suggests, entrepreneurs must leverage content to set themselves apart from the competition and establish themselves as subject matter experts, thought leaders and the “go to” providers in their industry.

The following five tips can provide a blueprint for rolling out a content strategy:

1. Rely on the right tools.

Copywriter and Internet marketer Pamella Neely recommended on Web Marketing Today use of such tools as Google Alerts, Paper.li, List.ly,Scoop.it and Swayy.co to identify content of possible value to current and prospective customers.

And appropriate tools, Jorg said, can help entrepreneurs “to find the right content that helps them drive engagement with a Web site, social media or their newsletters resulting in additional business.”

2. Customize the content.

Content marketing means sharing content, in many cases, others’ content. Editor Miranda Paquet recommended on the Constant Contact blog that entrepreneurs add their own perspective to the content shared.

Make sure the content applies to the entrepreneur’s business, perhaps addressing how to make better use of the product or service.

3. Start with what you know.

Levin recommended that any entrepreneurs aiming to create their own content begin with what they know: their customers and their expertise.

Content created about customers provides them a great reward and benefits the entrepreneur when an excited customer begins to share such content with their own clients and prospects.

And content created to highlight a firm’s expertise allows for showcasing business competencies and begins to establish the entrepreneur as a subject matter expert.

4. Give proper attribution.

“Make sure you’re giving the original author or source credit by mentioning them whenever and wherever you’re using their content,” Paquet wrote.

“Include a link if you are going to use a writer’s exact words, whether that is a sentence or a paragraph,” Neely said. “Without acknowledging where you got the content, you’re not doing curation. You’re stealing, violating copyright laws.”

5. Imitate others.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, “One of the best ways to learn about content marketing is to see what others are doing.” Levin advises to “Look at other small businesses that are good at marketing and that already have a strong social media following.”

Any content-marketing strategy will have hits and misses. By studying successful content marketers an entrepreneur can reap greater success. Consider visiting or calling professionals (who aren’t competitors) to pick their brains about what works.

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About Jesse Torres (35 Articles)
Jesse Torres has spent over 20 years in leadership and executive management positions. Jesse maintains a wide range of skills that include risk management, internal audit, operations, information technology, marketing and public relations. Jesse has written books and articles related to entrepreneurship, marketing, and social media. Jesse is a contributing writer for Entrepreneur, a frequent speaker at conferences and is often interviewed by business publications. He holds a B.A. from UCLA and is a graduate of the Pacific Coast Banking School. He holds several certifications, including Certified Information Systems Auditor, Certified Internal Auditor and Certified Information Systems Security Professional.

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