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“If you have the ability and persistence to create valuable content, you can distribute that content and build a list of willing buyers.”

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Russ Henneberry writes, speaks, trains, consults and executes on content marketing strategies and tactics using WordPress. This includes content strategy, SEO and social media. He is a trained educator with 7 years of experience in the Internet marketing industry.

Russ has been quoted as saying “I wouldn’t know what to do with a million dollar ad budget, but I know exactly what to do with a personal computer, a little imagination and a few well-placed dollars.”

Tiny & Mighty Media is an Internet marketing firm that provides training and do-it-for-me Internet marketing services for tiny businesses.

Russ Henneberry, Tiny & Mighty Media - Principal

MO: How can content be used to drive sales, leads and referrals?

Russ: Content is the basic building block of the Internet. SEO, social media and blogging are powerful tactics within a content strategy. But they are only tactics. Without content and content strategy, these tactics will have little impact.

Content Marketing can be used to generate new sales, leads and referrals by moving prospects from the Apathy stage to the Referral stage.

This is illustrated through the image below.

In this scenario, a human resources consultant needs to move a human resources manager from Apathy about her services to Awareness, Interest, Evaluation and eventually Sale. If she executes well after the sale, she will move to the Referral stage.

As you can see, the human resources consultant creates an article that has stand-alone value to the human resources manager. The article is not a sales pitch, it is a valuable, informational article.

When content like this is consistently created and distributed to members of the target market, it will move them through the funnel toward the Sale and Referral stage.

MO: How do you distribute this content to your target market?

It’s a great question because creating valuable content is certainly not enough. You must have distribution methods in place to get the content to the market.

You do this by gaining access to lists.

As with all things in business, you can either build or buy. Buying a list is the advertising model. You are purchasing access to someone else’s list. Think print ads in a popular magazine or newspaper. Or radio ads on a popular radio station.

The newspaper and radio station has created the content (e.g. informative news, sports talk or movie reviews) that has created an audience. The audience is the list. You are buying access to that list when you advertise.

The other option is to build. You build your own list and advertise your own products and services to them. In other words, you become a publisher. You become the newspaper or the radio station.

In order to build a list of your own, you must start with creating the content that will attract an audience. The audience is attracted to the content, not the advertising.

If you have the ability and persistence to create valuable content, you can distribute that content and build a list of willing buyers.

Lists are everywhere. If a person opts-in to something that allows you to reach them tomorrow, they are a member of a list.

Your Facebook “fans” and friends are list members. Your Twitter followers are list member. Your email subscribers are list members. Some lists are better than others, but these are all lists because you can reach them in the future.

Use these lists to distribute new content and mix offers in from time to time.

MO: Can you explain why you think WordPress has the ability to level the playing field for all business owners?

Russ: WordPress gives all of us the same power that the New York Times or Fox Broadcasting has. The power to publish.

There are certainly other Content Management Systems out there that give business owners this power, but none with the ease-of-use of WordPress. I have trained business owners with very weak computer skills to use WordPress to grow their business.

Because WordPress is an open source platform, it is always on the bleeding edge of the marketing scene.

MO: Can you give our readers of some examples of some overlooked barriers to their target market?

Russ: There is no question that we put up barriers between ourselves and new customers.

For very small businesses with no real branding, the prospect is “shaking in their boots” that you can’t do what you say you can do.

Here are three ways to build trust with your prospects:

• Become findable – Before someone writes you a check, they will Google you. Learn basic SEO and make sure that they find you and your website.

• Provide Social Proof – When your prospect finds your website, they should find evidence that you can be trusted. Social proof, such as customer testimonials or logos of other clients you have worked with, will calm their nerves.

• Provide a free trial – Give your prospects an opportunity to engage with you without putting much skin in the game.

MO: What were some struggles you faced while starting your company? What are some things you wished you knew before starting your businesses?

Russ: I knew where I was headed but I couldn’t take a straight line to get there. I had to zig and zag to pick up the cash needed to keep moving forward. I realized that straying from the straight path to my dream was necessary. I need cash to operate. I need cash to raise my children.

I am still zigging and zagging but I am closer than ever to where I want to be. And, I have found that some of the most fulfilling work came to me when I strayed from my dreams.

MO: What trend in marketing or social media are you excited by?

Russ: 3 Years ago I read a book called “Get Content, Get Customers” by Joe Pulizzi of Junta42.com.

I began holding a monthly meeting in St. Louis that taught SEO, social media and blogging. I never mentioned the word Content Marketing, it just wasn’t what people were calling it at the time.

Although Content Marketing is much more than SEO, social media and blogging, this was a trinity of tactics that was very effective for my clients.

I preached about content and the distribution of that content. I branded myself to the word content.

Today, I am thrilled to hear so many marketers talking about content. Business owners are beginning to become familiar with the idea of Content Marketing. It’s very exciting.

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