There are few easy wins in content marketing, especially given how crowded most verticals and categories are today. But one word that comes up often when discussing successful businesses is consistency, in large part because consistency wins for small businesses. Here’s how to make it work for your brand.
One of the downsides of being a writer is having your thoughts out there for everyone to see, read, and—sometimes—be challenged. That’s what happened recently, when I met with a small business owner who pressed me about one of
“OK, in one sentence, tell me what you think it takes for a business—any business—to be successful?” she asked. “I can do better than that,” I shot back. “I’ll give it to you in one word, and it’s true for life and business: .”
I went on to explain that, of the hundreds of businesses and business owners I’ve worked with, as either a , business strategy consultant, or a , the willingness to power through the toughest challenges without veering from the desired goal is the best indicator of success. Some had better ideas than others. Some had amazing ideas but failed in the area of execution. Still others had winning products or services, in addition to a strong staff and market advantages to boot.
Even so, when I look back at who was successful and who was not, consistency is the key differentiator. She wasn’t very convinced at first, but anecdotal evidence and science appear to be on my side.
Research proves that consistency wins for small businesses as well as in science and content marketing.
Parents, teachers, mentors and advisors have, for years, said stick-to-itiveness, or what is now called grit—the willingness to push through challenges, no matter how difficult, to see a task through completion—is one of the biggest markers of success. If you’re like me, you likely rolled your eyes and said, “Yeah, sure,” believing they’d say anything to get you to do your homework, take out the trash, attend school or make it to Wednesday night Bible study.
Then, several years ago, we started hearing about studies that seemed to corroborate this line of thinking:
- In college, I read of a study from the 1970s, which looked at why, among top young music prodigies, there appeared to be a good, better, and best group. The researchers concluded the top band resulted from the youngsters in that group being willing to put in more hours of practice than their peers.
- Later, I read a study of tennis players, which seemed to make a similar point: more practice yielded more success.
- I’ve read similar studies regarding math and sports participants as well.
I was still skeptical of this advice, however, when I started working with businesses of all sizes. I expected there to be some magical, obvious difference that separated the wheat from the chaff. Then, several years ago, when I hired a personal trainer from Boston, it hit me like a brickbat to the forehead:
Not only is consistency one of the biggest drivers of success, it’s one of the most manageable aspects for achieving success as well.
Being consistent is a powerful lever fully within your control
The trainer I hired, Eric Cressey, is a genius when it comes to strength training and rehab, for the bulk of his clients are Major League Baseball players. Through working with Cressey to get in better shape and develop good habits that’ll last a lifetime, I started seeing a pattern as I consumed his books, blog posts and videos.
The athletes he always singled out as being the most successful were not always the most talented; they were the most consistent, a topic he covered in a recent post when one of his MLB guys, Corey Kluber, was on the mound for the Cleveland Indians:
“…Just about every conversation I have with parents, coaches, and kids invariably winds up leading to the question, ‘What separates the best from the guys who don’t make it?’ My answer is always a single word: consistency. The guys who ‘make it’ and succeed are far more consistent in every aspect of their preparation than the ones who don’t.”
These words resonate with me on a very personal level because I’ve seen as much in my own life.
- The more consistent I am in the gym and in the kitchen, the better my results.
- The more consistently I work on any one area of my business, the better the overall results.
- The more consistently I focus on getting better at any one area of my life, the more that area improves, and with it, all areas of my life as well.
How successful small business owners put consistency to use to grow their brands
I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that consistency can and will help your business, no matter the area that needs improvement. Let me be clear, however: Consistency won’t make success easy to come by; it will, however, make success easier to attain.
Here’s the advice I give most often to small businesses:
Prioritize your category pages and other bottom-of-the-funnel content
Quit worrying about what the competition is doing and start working to become the definitive resource resource in your category. Ensure that your main product and service pages are locally relevant, well written, thorough, and easy to consume. No keyword stuffing. These are likely to be some of the most visited pages on the site—in addition to the highest converting—so spend the time and energy ensuring they reward visitors for their time.
Keep a close eye on your analytics to see which pages are getting the most visits, then be diligent in writing blog posts and, when needed, new service area pages, to keep those engaged and returning to your site.
Find and engage with your audience on relevant social media platforms
Social media often plays a huge role in the success of small businesses, especially those with owners willing to actively engage with their audience in a .
Remember, the goal of using social media isn’t likes or traffic or fans; it’s an opportunity to interact with prospects and customers to build connectivity, relevance, and create top-of-mind awareness. You should view the use of social media as an opportunity for your business to take advantage of fertile but underdeveloped real estate.
Use organic search to answer the most pertinent web queries for your business and to set your brand apart
You don’t need another rant from me about saying you don’t need to be a brand publisher. Instead, your brand should prioritize the use of search as a channel for serving up answers to the most pressing questions from your prospects and customers, while remembering that doing so is as much about brand building—being seen as the best option for the product or service you offer—as it is about conversions.
“Every visitor from search isn’t a chance for a sale, and marketers need to shift their mindset away from viewing every visit that doesn’t convert as a miss,” wrote marketer . “Clicks from search should primarily be viewed as an intro to a new audience member with a goal of earning their email, not earning a meeting on their calendar. The goal for SEO shouldn’t be to get them to buy right now, it should be to get them to follow along to the point where buying your product isn’t just a possibility, but the only path they consider taking.”
This is where knowing your customers’ and prospects’ needs can pay huge dividends. Instead of creating blog posts and web pages around keywords, focus the content around the exact language being used by searchers. For example: “burst sewer pipe burst” instead of “I need a plumber.” Also, as Sherck points out, experiment with content types, including video, to discern the best method of communicating the information.
What’s more, I recommend small business owners keep an Excel document to list the questions they get from prospects and clients, in addition to a list of questions and comments the staff uncovers via organic search, in forums and discussion boards, and via social media. The more you understand the language being used to find your business, the better able you’ll be to market your products and services.
Are you ready to reap the benefits yielded from consistency?
After seeing numerous small businesses recognize success by consistently working in these areas, I feel strongly that you can do the same and enjoy similar results. Not only does consistency win for small businesses, but consistency is often the easiest win, especially for content marketing.