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“Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting.”
-Bill Gates in his essay, “Content Is King”
Bill Gates saw the potential of content as early as 1996. Since then, content marketing has evolved in many ways. It’s much more than just a buzzword. By 2021, the content marketing industry is set to have a valuation of $412.88 billion. The industry is growing at a compound annual growth of 16%.
Content marketing is a way to inform and engage with your target audience. You can share content in the form of blog posts, social media posts, videos, photos, podcasts, and more. Content published by businesses can help boost brand visibility, awareness, credibility, and trust.
While big businesses are already pushing out a ton of content, small business owners are often skeptical about its benefits. However, content marketing for small businesses doesn’t require a big marketing budget and can drive huge returns.
It’s cost-effective and can help small businesses grow. For each dollar spent, content marketing generates three times more leads than paid search.
Here is how you can create a content marketing strategy for a small business:
1. Determine Your USP
On any given day, more than 4 million blog posts are published in different niches. The internet is full of content. In any topic that you pick, marketers have likely already produced thousands of articles and videos. It’s easy for your content to get lost in the virtual content pool.
If you want to stand out, you need to make sure you are offering the readers something unique. Before you delve into a content marketing strategy, you need to be clear about your brand’s unique selling point (USP). How is your business different from all of your competitors?
Once you figure out the USP for your business, you can focus on ideation of content. In your content, highlight your unique selling point. That’s a great way to make sure your audience understands what you can offer.
2. Research Your Target Audience
Content marketing for small businesses is all about knowing your audience. Invest some time into understanding who your audience is.
Create an audience persona based on the ages, genders, interests, locations, buying habits, and other factors of your target customer base. This will give you a better understanding of who your target audience is.
Look at what your audience wants to read or see. That’s the best way to come up with new content ideas. If you can give your target audience what they’re looking for, they’re more likely to see your content.
3. Find Your Brand Voice
Your brand voice is essential to your content marketing strategy. It will determine how you will communicate with your audience. The way you create your captions, posts, videos, tweets, and other content should reflect your brand voice.
Whether you should adopt a formal or casual brand voice is absolutely up to who your audience is. For instance, if your target audience is teenagers, your brand voice can be friendly. To get their attention, you can create creative content in the form of memes, videos, GIFS, or even jokes.
Image via Instagram
Take inspiration from Ben & Jerry’s Instagram posts. The ice-cream brand is known for their experimental and controversial flavors. They’ve integrated this quirkiness into their brand voice and their content. They use puns and witty captions to connect with their audience.
4. Decide on Your Marketing Goals
Many small business owners focus only on content creation. But that’s only half the battle. If you don’t market your content well, how will it reach a large audience?
An effective content marketing strategy requires that you identify the goals of your marketing campaign. If you have a solid idea of what you want to achieve, you can plan better ways to reach your goals.
Do you want to generate more leads? Do you want to launch a new product? For every small business, the content marketing goal will be different. First, identify your marketing goal, then think of ways to build content that will help you achieve it.
5. Pick Your Distribution Channels
Even if you have created the most creative content, it’s of no use if you don’t distribute it well. Picking the right distribution channels is crucial to driving engagement.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common distribution channels.
93% of B2B marketers use email to distribute content. Furthermore, 40% of them also say that email newsletters are essential for their content marketing strategies to succeed.
Image via Content Marketing Institute
Email marketing is a great way to generate more leads. You can send out your content in the form of personalized emails to your potential as well as existing customers.
A study by GetResponse showed that emails have an average open rate of 22.86% with a CTR of 3.71% globally. On the other hand, the average engagement rate on Facebook was only 0.16% per post in 2018. It’s clear that emails have a better chance of getting the attention of your target audience.
When it comes to sharing content, social media should be an obvious choice. However, it’s not necessary to be present on all social media networks. Being active on multiple platforms can help, but it’s crucial to find the right platforms
This doesn’t mean, however, that you need a presence on every single social network out there. Find the platforms that your target audience is most active on. Then choose the networks that fit your products or services.
You can use tools like Hootsuite and Buffer to automate the process of sharing content on social media. It can ease your workload and help you consistently post content at specific times of the day.
To boost engagement on and the visibility of your content within a short period of time, paid advertising works well. Through paid ads, you can precisely target your audience using location, online activity, device, and other factors. This gives you complete control over who sees your ads.
6. Use SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) is another strategy that can help small business’ build credibility and visibility in the long-term. It is a strategy that focuses on driving organic traffic to your website. SEO marketing strategies are aimed at increasing your rankings in the search engine results pages (SERP).
But how is SEO relevant to your content marketing strategy? Before you create content, invest some time into finding out which keywords people in your target audience are searching for.
Although it’s important to use the relevant keywords in your content for SEO, don’t overdo it. Focus on creating content that is relevant and interesting, and only use keywords organically.
7. Set Up An Editorial Calendar
The final step for your content marketing strategy to be effective is to set up an editorial calendar. This will help you to keep track of your publishing schedule and map out the overall goals of your content marketing strategy.
Tools like Trello and Evernote can help you create an editorial calendar with ease.
Content marketing isn’t just for big businesses. Small businesses can boost awareness, visibility, and engagement by marketing their content as well.
For the uninitiated, content marketing can seem overwhelming. But at the heart of content marketing is creating quality content and distributing it to the right audience.
Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in sales funnels, targeted traffic, and website conversions. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.