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A very good friend of mine has recently started to get into content marketing. He is a performance coach with a difference. The difference being that he is able to tackle negativity in a way ‘standard’ coaching cannot. Most coaching teaches us to effectively ignore negativity by focussing exclusively on the positives. What Sean does however, is tackle the negatives that are holding you back, head on.

He can help people in all sorts of ways, from dealing with stage fright to giving up smoking. Check him out here at his website stagefrightfreedom.com, and on Twitter here @seancgrey.

I genuinely consider ‘content marketing’ as a tremendous opportunity for him. When it comes to his particular performance coaching, he has found it difficult to explain exactly what he is about to new and prospective clients in simple terms. So the idea of a content strategy is perfect for him. Not only is he able to deliver a complex and layered message in easy to  assimilate chunks, he will be able to really deliver the personality of his brand, the trustworthiness of his approach and the testimonials of everyone he has been able to help so far in a really straight forward manner.

Writing, or otherwise producing content is challenging for a lot of people, but you should really give it your full consideration. If you have a service that tries to help people its perfect to tell the stories of what you’ve done and what you hope to do. If you need to develop relationships to help your sales process along, there’s nothing better than a well-aimed, informative and so-called ‘thought leading’ blog.

Of course, you also need to build an audience for your content. How do you build this readership? This community if you prefer? How do you go about targeting people and getting them to read (in Sean’s case) what you have to say?

The following is based on my personal experience with this very blog, and all are therefore tried and tested techniques that really have worked.

1. Great content – is, believe it or not, is an underestimated element of content strategy! Writing, producing videos or releasing great podcasts or taking awesome pictures is the place to start. The internet is the great leveler. Its inhabitants are entirely focussed on finding great and relevant stuff to read watch and listen too. All the most brilliant audience techniques in the world will be useless if your content sucks. Your best bet is to build your audience one reader / viewer at a time. attracting and retaining loyal communities because what you have to say is just so damn good.

2. Search Engine Optimisation Having said that content is the place to start, SEO is most likely where you should go next. I hate the term search engine optimisation (SEO) as the inference is some cold-hearted manipulation of your website. The good news though, is that SEO is getting a make over. Led by Google  and its insistence that it wont give in to those cynical sorts that want to ‘game’ the system, the algorithms that find great and relevant content are getting more and more sophisticated all the time. And generally speaking, that means more social.

For example the more links on your page, the more Google will promote your page. Thats always been the case. But these days they check these links like never before. Links from real people and to real people and back again have real power, robbing the ‘link farmers’ their ability to unduly influence. Google plus is a great example of what they are trying to do the with +1 button acting as a way for Google to ensure the most popular (in other words the best) content gets pushed up the rankings.

We also know regularly updated content is very important, like that provided by a daily or weekly blog posting. All these things will happen by the way, if you follow the instruction in number 1. and produce great content! So there is a lot to be said for simply concentrating on that. But as well as that it’s also worth becoming familiar with things like ‘key words’ and ‘search terms’ and how to use them.

3. Great Headlines – Self explanatory really, but again over looked. I have lost count of how many times great headlines have driven traffic to blogs I felt were average, and conversely been frustrated that great articles, some of my best work doesn’t seem to get the attention I thought it maybe deserved. Headlines like the hardest sales objection in the world and Sales Managers have the easiest job in the world, both driving lots of traffic as examples. I’d also point you to the incomparable Dino Dogon over at Triberr, (the blogging networking site) Dino writes the best headlines, including my personal favourite ‘How to destupify yourself in 10 hard steps‘!

4. Targeted Followers – The fundamental part of the content marketing approach and arguably given most coverage. Essentially this is all about finding the people that you think will be interested in what you have to say, and following them, connecting with them, reaching out to them. Twitter is the perfect example and even basic Twitter searches can give you great opportunities to begin to grow your community. Simply searching for your blogs key word or category name will provide you a whole host of tweets and tweeters to follow and learn from. The beauty of Twitter of course is that the vast majority of these people will follow you back!

5 . Blogosphere Profile – The other major tactic to employ is to delve into the Blogosphere yourself. Find like minded bloggers and reach out to them. Commenting on their posts is a great way to effectively invite them to your own blog. Building relationships this way will help you find new avenues and even source ideas for content. The bloggers you engage with will also be loyal supporters of your work, provided you join in genuinely, with authenticity and a real desire to share and learn and support each other.

In  terms of these last two ideas, I bow to the expertise of one of the foremost bloggers in the world of content marketing Mark Schaefer. Check out Marks blog The Business {Grow} blog, and you should certainly read his seminal work in this area The Tao of Twitter. Originally Marks self published book, its has just recently hit the big time being re released by a major publisher with some 50% new content. It really is a bible for content marketers, being straight forward and very easy to read.

So there you go. 5 ways to help you get started. As ever, I’d love to hear what you think. Tweet me on @radiojaja or email me directly on [email protected] Even better, leave a comment below and everyone else can join in too!