Small business owners are often pro at juggling many ‘hats’ to get their business off the ground and keeping it afloat. However, often without a large advertising budget or marketing expert to hand, getting the word out about their products or services can often be a daunting task.
If the words ‘marketing strategy’ are enough to strike fear into your very soul, take a deep breath, sit back and let us guide you through the steps to develop your very own content marketing strategy and take your business marketing to the next level.
What is content marketing, anyway?
As far as marketing goes, a piece of content is simply an item of information presented in some form of media. Content can come in many different forms – blog posts, videos, infographics and ebooks are all forms of online content. The choices you make about which you use depend on your business and the information you want to get across, as well as what forms of content your audience are more likely to respond to.
Content marketing is the process of creating content which will have use and relevance to your target audience, with the objective of then creating profitable customer action in the longer term.
Why should I use content marketing?
Content marketing at its core is a way of showcasing your business’s knowledge. You could be producing a series of ‘how to’ videos or blog posts helping customers choose the right product or service for them. If this is produced and shared well, your target audience will find the information incredibly useful, which eventually leads to potential customers being more aware of your brand and developing trust for your business. When it comes to spending their money, you have already developed a strong relationship with your audience, who are more likely to spend their money with you.
The development of a wide range of content can also position you as an expert or leader in your area, in the minds of both customers and competitors alike – again developing your brand and making you a better choice for consumers.
So, how do I begin with content marketing?
Although it can seem daunting, content marketing doesn’t have to be a headache. We’ve got a 7 step plan below to make sure you target your efforts effectively and see the best return for your time investment.
1. Decide on your goal
What is it that you’re wanting to achieve? Long term this is usually an increase in sales, but short term goals could be things like an increase in your website traffic, higher social media engagement or gaining additional sales leads through getting prospective customers to give you their email addresses in return for content.
Make sure you think clearly about what your aims are before you plunge into creating content, as it will enable you to tailor your content appropriately and target the right people.
2. Research your target audience
Who will your target audience be for this content? Are you looking at growing your current target audience, or aiming at a new demographic to widen your reach? Get to know what your customers care about by analysing their movement on your website and social media engagement, and you can use this information to target your content.
One helpful trick for marketing to a target audience is to pick a ‘best customer’ – look for someone in the audience you’re aiming at – what they’ve bought, what they’ve been interested in before – and imagine you’re writing your content directly to them.
3. Look at the content you already have
Rather than starting from scratch, you may already have some content that you could use to begin your new strategy with. Videos scattered around your website or social media could be streamlined to create a new youtube channel as an alternative way of signposting people to your website and gaining more subscribers. Blog posts you’ve already written could be grouped into an ebook as a new piece of content, or updated and re-shared as part of your social media calendar.
4. Decide if you need a content management system
It can be overwhelming to try and manage a website, multiple social media channels, an email subscription list and so on. There are a number of content management systems around, each with different capabilities which can make this an easier job. They can make it quicker to share the same piece of content across various social media platforms, as well as helping you gain analytics of how your audience are responding to your content. Hubspot, CoSchedule and WordPress are all good places to start.
5. Begin collecting content ideas
Start a list of content ideas both to get you started and to keep you going! This will not only help you to plan ahead with a content calendar, but will also be invaluable on the days when ‘writers block’ sets in and you need some ideas to get the ball rolling.
You may already have information that could help you with your list – it could grow from looking at what your most popular website pages and social media posts are, to customer queries you’ve had that could form a basis of topics that would be helpful to your audience. Websites like Feedly can also help you find out what the trending topics are in your industry.
6. Think about what types of content you’d like to create
As mentioned before, there’s a wide range of types of content which can suit different businesses and audiences. Blog posts are a popular way to start: posted and shared regularly, they can help to drive traffic to your website as well as showing off your insider knowledge to new customers who come across your site.
If you’d like to work on more visual content, incorporating infographics is a high impact way of getting lots of information across, whilst videos are highly shareable across social media. Podcasts are an increasingly popular way of reaching a new audience who may not have the time or interest to engage in reading long blog posts.
7. Get your content out there!
A content calendar is a great way to plan out when you’re going to produce and share your content – look through your list of ideas to get you started, and you can also incorporate holidays as a way of deciding on appropriate content to share. Most of your content should be ‘evergreen’ – i.e. it will still be relevant in a number of months time – making itself useful long term as it can be reshared and continue to attract new customers. Once you’re posting your content, keep an eye on the analytics to see what’s popular and what you could tweak – you may even find the popularity of something gives you a new business slant to expand your business!