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Help Me Write!

Content marketing is one of the most difficult things for business owners to wrap their heads around. To begin with, it involves an inordinate amount of writing. For most of us, this translates into copious hours lost to pots of coffee, delusions of grandeur, and bloodshot eyes that scare our partners. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, it requires us to consider little to no immediate ROI from our toils. This means we're basically writing, at least in the short term, for free.


For most people, this will sound like a loosing proposition. But we've found it to be an invaluable, perhaps even the most important step, for any online business. In order to provide your customers and clients with value, you have to ... drum roll ... actually provide your customers and clients with value! It's not incredibly earth shattering, but it does require an incredible amount of elbow grease, which is why most of us fail at it. We hope this page will help you get out of your writing rut (if you aren't sure whether or not you're in one, the answer is likely yes).


What's The Problem?

This is the first and hardest, step for anyone with an e-Commerce business.

Before you begin to write anything online, ask yourself this simple question: what's the problem?

If you think your problem is that you need to sell more widgets, you're making an incredibly common mistake. You're placing the emphasis on yourself, when you should be thinking about the needs of your clients/customers. Specifically, what issue has led them to your digital doorstep?

That's what you want to focus in on with the intensity of a laser beam.

Stop thinking in terms of what you can sell people and start thinking in terms of what specific problems you can solve for people.

Solving problems requires that you identify a specific problem to begin with. A real world application of this would be the following:

Carrie the Construction Company owner wants to write something that will help her rank high through organic search results on Google, Bing, and Yahoo. She's been considering a number of topics, all of them centering around her carpenters' ability to create quick and durable residential decks in a variety of materials.

So what's the problem?

She knows she needs to identify the problem her company's ready to solve, but she's unsure of how to find it, even though she feels like it must be staring her in the face.

The key is to not be afraid to get specific. If she considers "needing a deck" to be the problem, she's gone far too general to be effective. When your problem is general, dig deeper. If someone is already looking to build a deck addition for their home, what sorts of specific questions might they ask?

What about ranking the different materials a deck is built with alongside each other? Now we're getting somewhere! Once you've isolated a subset of questions worth pursuing, focus on one or two things to help you identify the issue you can solve.

In Carrie's case, something like the difference between a composite and wood deck would be a fantastic article to write for her website. That's a specific question Carrie is sure to have a chance at ranking for if she puts in the work.

Remember, the problem your business solves should have general appeal (i.e. hold some interest for everyone looking to build a deck), but be specific enough as to allow people to find a granular solution from the article alone (meaning no pay walls or flagrant product promotions).

In the example above, Carrie correctly identified a problem she could provide information for, free of charge.

Her initial instinct might be to write something like this:

"If you're looking to build a deck in the new year, look no further! We'll have your deck up and running within 30 days, built of the best composite or lumber of your choice! We take pride in fulfilling your order as efficiently as possible!"

What's wrong here? For starters, Carrie has completely forgotten the problem she centered on - namely, the difference between composite and wood decks.

If it sounds like a sales pitch, it's going to be perceived as a sales pitch. The underlying issue is that Carrie's actually provided little to no information for potential customers.

If a customer has a question about the difference between building materials, they're not going to get anything from someone claiming to use the "best composite or lumber of your choice".

That's sales talk for "I'm just a sales person with nothing substantive to provide."

Avoid the sales pitch pitfall - focus on real information people can use immediately to their advantage, without providing any sort of immediate ROI to your business.

Taking our cue again from Carrie's example above, good content marketing centers around information that is both genuine and useful. We might try to rewrite her initial attempt using the specifics of composite versus wood for building decks.

Her article's title should be something simple like The Difference Between Composite and Wood Decks. Her article's content should then proceed to unpack exactly what the title implies.

Authenticity is valued highly by search engines, precisely because it is valued highly by the people who find answers to their questions in your content.

A good opening paragraph in Carrie's case might read something like this:

"Planning to build a deck for your home may seem like a cut and dry operation, but choosing the right material for your deck can quickly derail the operation if you're not ready to make quick informed decisions. Conversely, choosing the wrong material for your deck can break your bank account, materialize something needing constant repairs, or end up as aesthetically displeasing."

In one felt swoop, Carrie's identified both the problem AND why the problem is an important one. This is an excellent first draft - Carrie's headed in the right direction!

Why Customer Lifetime Value Matters.

That's right - you're an information hub - not a one-time lead generator. If you're focused on closing the deal one time, you've grossly underestimated your value as a company with an online presence. What makes company websites truly valuable is their ability to solve a specific subset of problems again and again.

Let's say it's the year 3100 AD and you sell personalized jet packs. You can prove to your intended customer base that you're a reputable fountain of information for all things related to jet packs if ...drum roll... you become a reputable fountain of information for all things related to jet packs.

Authenticity is key, and a large part of maintaining that authenticity centers around providing the freshest content available. If there's a new law in place that will affect the use of jetpacks in certain neighborhoods, by writing about it you're both demonstrating that you are an authority on the subject of jetpacks AND showing potential customers that if they have any questions about jetpacks they should come to you first.

At the end of the day, isn't this what we're after as business owners? The ironic reality is, however, that you won't get the sales you're after if all you're worried about is sales. By providing actual informational value, search engines will pick up your indexed pages AND your organic traffic will increase. Don't rely solely upon Google Ads and FaceBook Marketing to bring people to your site. Once they land on your URL, you still need to prove to them you have something of value. You can't do that if you're busy selling them a widget they don't need or want.

Don't misunderstand our position - we strongly believe in digital marketing. But content marketing in particular is what provides real value to potential customers over time. You need to become a vital part of answering a specific set of questions for your intended customers. Otherwise you'll blow all of your capital on lead generation services that don't generate any substantial leads.

First, try to do all of the above on your own. It's undeniably difficult, but as with anything, the more you do it the better you become.

Best case scenario: you can rock out all of your content marketing on your own! No need to ask us or anyone else for help. With every subsequent article, you'll become a wordsmith samurai - we really do believe in you!

Worst case scenario: you're too busy to deal with this, OR you need a bit more assistance.

Don't worry, this stuff is tough!

Content marketing is the single most effective AND difficult portion of any e-Commerce business (or any business with a presence online, for that matter).

Navigate to the Writing Resources page to see if we can help you get on track. While we do offer service packages for content marketing (like the Blog Me! package below), you're going to want to try to go this alone for as long as you can stand it.

Why the pain?

Because it will make you a better online marketer! Pain is an excellent incentive to learn - and who are we to rob you of that struggle?!

Hello, truth seeker!