Standing apart is hard to do. Standing apart when everyone else is doing the same thing is even more difficult. With more and more businesses becoming educated about content marketing, and actually jumping on the bandwagon, the competition for attention is fierce. According to the UC San Diego News Center,

… by 2015, the sum of media asked for and delivered to consumers on mobile devices and to their homes would take more than 15 hours a day to see or hear. That volume is equal to 6.9 million-million gigabytes of information, or a daily consumption of nine DVDs worth of data per person per day.

That is an insane amount of media! (They included things like social media, television, etc.) What is a small business, or any business, to do?!

Here are a few tips (in no particular order) for standing apart from the crowd:

1.) Be interesting and informative. You can write content until you’re blue in the face your hands go numb, and you might not have anyone read it or care. This is hard to guess, so use tools to follow others in your industry to see what they’re writing about. Better yet, you can use tools to see  what is doing well and where it’s doing well. You don’t have to write the same article or even cover the same exact topic, but seeing how they write can also be helpful.

2.) Keep at it. Content marketing is something that takes time. In order to see the desired results, you have to keep at it. Unfortunately, many companies that try content marketing don’t see the return on their investment because they don’t keep at it long enough. But that’s just part of the puzzle.

3.) Produce/update often. In addition to being consistent and keeping at it, try to provide or update your content on a regular basis. More importantly, though, you should be producing high quality content. Producing content that is low quality will not help your marketing efforts as you will lose readers and your rankings could take a hit.

4.) Utilize all of your available tools to promote your content. After the ever crucial points above, be sure to promote your content. You could write the best content, but without sharing it, no one will know it’s there! Social media is a great tool, and you can share it to your network on a personal and public level. If it makes sense, send a personal message to people you know to let them know about a new article, video, etc., but recall that there is a fine line between spamming and direct messaging.

5.) Try some humor. This is hard for some people, but I believe that in (almost) any industry, humor is necessary. I would even dare say that in all industries, humor can be used. Humor is often entertaining, so try to encapsulate that with something informative.labracadabrador

“What do you get when you cross a dog and a magician?”

“A Labra-cadabra-dor!”

6.) Find your niche. Within your niche, find your niche. (Kind of like inception, but less confusing.) There are people out there who do exactly what you do, but you are the only one who does it the way you do it. You have something special to offer. Embrace that and translate it for your target market to answer the question of “so what?”

7.) Provide value. People will continue to come back and keep you in mind if you’ve provided something of value. Today’s consumers are hard to please, but simply sharing your expertise in your industry is a great way to build authority, provide something valuable (like a how-to video), and reiterate your knowledge.

8.) Find your voice. Personality is a great way to encourage readership. Having a consistent voice can help to build authority and trust, and can help readers to create a relationship with that brand. These things can all translate to engagement, which can translate to business.

9.) Network in-person. We wrote an article about Rand Fishkin’s Serendipity Theory and its relevance is becoming more important as relationships become more influential in business. Word of mouth has always affected businesses, and with the plethora of content competition, having a personal interaction with people in your industry can make a big difference.

10.) Build relationships and engage. Your audience, which can be seen as a community, doesn’t want to be treated like a group you’re simply marketing to. They want to be treated like you would treat your friends. In the same line of thought, you wouldn’t talk to your friends all about yourself or all about what you’ve been up to. You engage them, you ask them questions, you listen. Do the same with your audience to encourage interactions.

Once you’ve done all this and you actually get someone to reply to your article or share it on social media, be sure to reply and thank them for sharing your content or responding. Continue the conversation to keep your brand top-of-mind. Be sincere, and avoid marketing yourself and your company 24/7. People will see through that and look elsewhere for their needs.