Having a special proposition is important. Knowing your audience is critical. Having a suite of great content is lovely. Failing to follow up consistently on all this, is terminal.
Dramatic? Maybe. But marketing is all about consistency, otherwise, you are constantly restarting and wasting time and money. There is nothing ruthlessly efficient in wasting time and money, so how do we avoid this?
Different Forms of Consistency
Being consistent can mean a few things and they are ALL important.
Delivering a consistent message, so you are well known for something
Putting out content consistency, so people expect and want your content
Interacting with different platforms consistently, so you are recognised and for the algorithm gods to like you
Stop Being All Things to All People
We’ve talked a lot in the past about knowing your customer, understanding your niche and really focusing your messaging. That’s where a consistent message is so important to your marketing.
People have to understand what you stand for, what you believe in, why you are special. If you talk about a different subject every other day, you won’t appeal to anyone.
People always panic that narrowing down their focus restricts the people they can appeal to. This is the wrong way round, by trying to talk to everyone, you end up talking to no one. You worry about a narrow message only appealing to a small number of people, but an engaged smaller audience is 1,000% better for your business than an unengaged large audience.
If you are an accountancy firm and are looking for new clients, you have multiple niches you could look at. Maybe it’s a location thing as people like supporting another local business; it could be you work best with startups and solopreneurs’; maybe you are brilliant with service-based business rather than brick and mortar retail.
Whatever your niche, if you talk to them directly, they will want to work with you. If you talked generically about helping all businesses, you won’t stand out. Taking another example, if I’m opening a new restaurant and looking for someone to build me a website, which of these two messages will I go for?
Business A says they ‘build lovely websites on WordPress and Wix’
Business B says they ‘specialise in high-converting websites for restaurants’
I want an expert in my field, so I approach business B. It’s a smaller set of people, but I will attract them. Option A appeals to more but will get selected by none.
Build Expectation and Delivery On It
A key part of content marketing is about delivering content on a regular basis, so people come to expect it from you. If you are doing your job well, then people will know when to expect your content and actively look for it. This won’t happen if you produce content in an ad hoc fashion.
You need to deliver content at a consistent pace - that might be something daily, something weekly or even monthly - the frequency is not as important as following through on it. It is also likely that different forms of content will have a different frequency. You’ll tweet daily but maybe write a blog weekly or monthly. You’ll run a Q&A live on Facebook once a week, at the same time.
This builds momentum and recognition from your audience. If you fail to deliver on that, then they will very quickly tune you out and you’ll become just another account they follow, alongside 500 others. You stop standing out.
One technique to help with this consistency is having regular slots for specific themes. The classic is #throwbackthursday but you can come up with anything that fits your business. At Thirty Three Percent, we have a #mondaystories on LinkedIn about our journey setting up this business or each Wednesday we have a theme of efficiency. They are both special to us and we know what is expected each week. By having these in the diary, we will know when something is needed and what to write.
Engagement Is God
The final element of a consistent approach happens to be the most important. Whichever platforms you have selected to focus on (and these should be those that your ideal customer hangs out in), you need to spend time engaged in them, dropping in and out when you can find the time will not work.
And we understand that’s not easy. You are busy running a business, but if you are taking responsibility for growing your business, then you need to engage consistently where your audience is. This is why we are so adamant you focus on just a few platforms, hence why we always talk about knowing your customer like your best friend. If you try and engage with 10 different platforms, you’ll never have the time to truly engage people.
Once you have that focus, then it’s about a routine to allow you to interact and engage, with the minimum time you can afford. To help get your mind around it, let me explain how we engaged with LinkedIn to quadruple our audience but spending less than 30 minutes a day doing it.
Step 1 - Ensure your personal profile is optimised. Have a picture of your smiling. Have a banner (not the generic LinkedIn backdrop), treat this like a business card. Have a title that is more like a headline, don’t waste it with job titles or company names. Fill your About Us section with information on the problems you solve.
Step 2 - Focus on engaging with other people’s posts. This is more important at the start than posting yourself. Genuine engagement is key. Comment on posts that matter to you and interest you. Put more than “thanks for sharing” or “that’s pretty”. You want to write something that causes the author to respond and potentially others as well
Step 3 - Start posting about interesting things that your ideal customers will care about. That doesn’t have to be all work-related. Mix up the content but when talking about work, focus on the theme you want to be known for. Ask questions that people can respond to. Have an opinion, bland and generic statements get ignored. Add images and videos on occasion. Work on the 4-1-1 rule. 4 pieces about interesting subjects; 1 piece on an interesting topic that specifically talks about your business; 1 post about a service/product you offer. If they are all sales focused, people quickly check out
And if you are worried this will take up hours a day, it won’t. Go in twice a day, for 10 minutes each time. Spend 5 minutes scrolling through your timeline and find 3-5 posts of interest and comment on them. Spend the next 5 minutes responding to connection requests, messages and notifications. Job done, 10 minutes in the morning, another 10 in the afternoon and you’ll have a consistent presence, build your customer base and grow your business.
Small and Often
Marketing doesn’t have to be time-consuming, by being consistent you can spend less time, not more. The danger with lacking consistency is you have to build up that audience again.
If you spent a whole day talking in Facebook groups, you’d start to build a good reputation and people would be open to your sales messages, but then you drop out of circulation for 2 weeks and have to start all over again building up that reputation. If you took a different approach of going in 5 days a week for 30 minutes, you’d build that reputation and maintain it. It would take about half the time of blitzing the platform for a day and would return better and more consistent results.
And ultimately, consistent results and new clients is the single most important ‘consistency’ in marketing that every business should target.