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How to Stand Out: a Content Marketer’s Guide – The Pond

OK, so I spent all of last week’s post¬†explaining the fundamental double-obstacle in front of every content marketer out there: people don’t have time to consume as much content as we’re producing, and people literally don’t have enough brainpower to comprehend the content they do consume. Today, we’re going to get into the good stuff: what you can do about it. Or at least, one thing you can do about it. This is going to be a bit of a series, I think. So let’s kick it off with Stand Out ProTip #1: Controlling Your Pond.

Small Fish
The fundamental truth of the obstacles mentioned above is that they’re a problem of scale — when you talk about ‘people,’ you’re looking at a massive quantity of individuals. The collective that is ‘people’ forms an insanely densely-packed bell curve that stretches in every conceivable direction outward from “perfectly average.” In the context of those millions and millions of lives, of course any effort you could take is going to seem kind of pointless.

But just because you’re a small fish doesn’t mean you have to swim in the largest possible pond. Instead of worrying about the average person’s enormous overexposure to branded messages and their limited amount of time and brainspace, focus on only the groups most relevant to your success. What are those? Let’s talk about that.

Pond-Shrinking Factors 1: Your Geographical Area
Probably the most obvious factor for any small-to-medium-sized business (SMB) is the geographical area in which you do business. There’s no point in advertising to Seattle if you can’t deliver anywhere west of Philadelphia. Geo-targeting your pay-per-click marketing using the existing systems within AdWords, choosing keywords with geospecific elements, and other methods of focusing your ads on just the people that matter will go a long way toward reducing your costs (PPC) and making it easier to rank on the SERPs (keywords).

Pond-Shrinking Factors II: Your Target Market
One of the most fundamental truths of advertising is that (successful) businesses fill a void in the market, and that void represents a want or a need that your market segment feels. By crafting your content to appeal to the need that your company/product/service fills, you are basically using Google itself to ‘weed out’ people who would otherwise naturally shrug off your advertising and limit your exposure to those people who are most likely to engage your advertisement.

Pond-Shrinking Factors III: Avoiding Your Competitors
Here’s where things start to get just a little more tricky. If you want to shrink your pond further, you’re going to have to look at where your competitors are advertising least, and advertise there. Are the other two bakeries in your town both doing well on Facebook and Twitter? Go for PPC advertising. Is one rank 1 in the SERPs and the other has a plethora of banner ads on other local business websites? Try gathering your existing customers’ email addresses and do some targeted email marketing. There are hundreds of ways to advertise, and by picking a medium your competitors aren’t advertising on, you maximize your messages’ chances of getting through.

Pond-Shrinking Factors IV: Niche It Up
The final, and many online marketers would say ultimate, way to find a small pond is to address your content toward a niche market — a narrow and easily-winnable market segment that, if addressed, will be your loyal customers because you will be the only person focused on their needs. This isn’t always easy. Take the example of the bakery — let’s say you have one competitor that offers killer gluten-free products, one that offers amazing exotic pastries, and of course all three of you offer locally-sourced organic free trade everything. What other niches are there that you can target? This is ultimately an exercise for the business owner, not the content producer, but once a niche is identified and products and services modified to suit, the pond quite naturally shrinks to fit.

Next week: Standing out by making ‘awesome-focused’ content. See you then!


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