How to Craft a Small Business Content Marketing Strategy in 7 Steps

How to Craft a Small Business Content Marketing Strategy in 7 Steps For a long time, marketing was all about getting your brand in front of customers and making sure they knew you existed. Historically, that has meant advertisements. Print ads have been around since at least the 1620s. From advertising specialty cures for consumption to pamphlet printing services, they quickly became a standard business activity that drove early modern economies. Ads were the only way – after word of mouth – to let potential customers know you were open for business. However, somewhere along the road to the digital age, something happened. Suddenly, we found ourselves exposed to upwards of 5,000 ads per day. We came to see their primary purpose as being to not to inform us, but to annoy us. Advertisements fell from grace so spectacularly that adblockers are now built-in to browsers. That left businesses large and small scrambling for another solution to increase their brand awareness – something that wouldn’t annoy, fall into irrelevance or get blocked. Enter content marketing. It’s a concept that’s been around for a little over a century and it’s making a big comeback in the way we think about advertising. For small businesses, it’s proving especially valuable. It’s a way to “advertise” that competes with larger competitors – without being annoying, expensive, or ignored. All SMBs need content marketing to survive. Here’s what it is and how small businesses can craft a strategy that works.

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How to Craft a Small Business Content Marketing Strategy in 7 Steps by @JuliaEMcCoy

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What Is Content Marketing?

According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is a marketing approach that emphasizes the creation and distribution of quality content. It posits that a targeted audience will be more likely to shop with you if you deliver valuable and relevant information consistently.

It might help to think of content marketing as an indirect form of advertising. Instead of trying to convince a reader to buy your product, you’re providing information that helps a reader solve a problem that your product addresses – whether or not they buy from you. For example:
  • A face wash company might publish a blog article on home remedies for acne, ending the blog with a CTA that links to the company’s e-commerce site.
  • A marketing company might distribute a free ebook that discusses how to set up email campaigns, with their contact information provided at the end for interested parties.
  • An interior design firm might create an online quiz to help potential clients identify their decor style, then follow up results with recommendations to their different services.
And how do you know that a piece of content is valuable and relevant? There are a few clues to go by:
  • People seek it out. Has the piece of content been viewed millions of times? That’s an indicator of quality and relevance. People want to consume this article, video, or Instagram post.
  • It’s targeted. Content marketing isn’t necessarily about making something go viral, although it’s never a bad thing when it does. Rather, it’s about targeting an audience in just the right ways that they learn to associate your brand as an authority on a topic.
  • It emphasizes the development of relationships with readers. Content marketing emphasizes relationships to attract and retain a defined audience. Does it seem like the company is more invested in making you a smarter, more well-informed individual? It’s using a content marketing strategy.
Simple Content Marketing Formula for Small Business

How to Create a Small Business Content Marketing Strategy in 7 Steps

Content marketing is an efficient, effective, and very economical way to drive traffic to your site. According to The Manifest, at least 53 percent of companies now use it to attract and retain customers. Here are seven steps to creating a small business content marketing strategy that works.

1. Establish Your Mission or Goals

Like all marketing strategies, content marketing should serve a specific purpose and meet specific goals. Make these goals specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. In other words, use the SMART strategy to create them. SMART goals look like this:
  • Improve your search engine ranking to land on the first page within three months.
  • Acquire 1,000 email subscriptions in 30 days.
  • Increase sales by 25% from a specific market segment within two weeks.
What Are SMART Goals?

2. Identify Your Performance Indicators

Choose key performance indicators, metrics that directly reflect how well you’re moving towards your goals. This might include (but is certainly not limited to):
  • Unique page views
  • Referral rate
  • Number of downloads
  • Net revenue
  • Conversion rates

3. Select Your Audience & Content Channels

Content marketing relies on having a clearly defined audience. You aren’t trying to reach everyone and anyone. You’re crafting a specific message which holds value to a specific market segment full of people who are most likely to purchase your product or service. Collect demographic data from your site or social media platform. [BS4] Google Analytics can help with this, but so can many of the features and reports within CoSchedule. Once you’ve figured out who’s reading your existing content (or who isn’t), you’ll get a sense of where you’ve already developed a viable online presence. Follow it up by homing in on the channels that will get you the most exposure and engagement. Common SMB content marketing channels to get started with

4. Establish a Schedule

So, you’ve got your KPIs, your audience, and your channels. You might be tempted to start flooding them with your insights, giveaways, and thought-provoking articles. After all, if one post is effective, then ten must be ten times as effective, right? Do NOT do this. Instead, start with a basic posting schedule to avoid freaking out your followers with content overload. For blogs, consider a weekly post (same day, same time) to get into the habit. Social media posts should range between once daily and a few times each week. There’s actually science behind how often to update your company’s Facebook or Instagram. Quite a bit of the evidence out there that suggests posting too frequently can be just as damaging as not posting enough, or posting inconsistently. Create a schedule because:
  • Consistency is key. Consistency helps train readers to come back, to anticipate new material, and indicate that you’re a reliable, active source of information.
  • It will help you vary the content. Seeing the big picture helps you spot opportunities for variety to enrich your offerings.
  • You’ll save time and energy. A schedule is like a road map. Knowing what you’re going to do next helps you join the ranks of the 36 percent of content creators with efficient project workflows.
  • It supports KPI tracking. One of the features of a SMART goal is that it’s time-based. Visualize your time-based goals with a calendar.
Use tools like ReQueue by CoSchedule to create a consistent messaging or posting schedule.  Use tools like ReQueue by CoSchedule to create a consistent messaging or posting schedule.

5. Craft Your Content and Distribute It to Your Market

With all your research assembled, it’s now time to spread your genius insights far and wide to attract a loyal following. Kind of. Writing great content is just as important as the quality of your ideas. You can be a creative genius, but it won’t matter if your content is lackluster, rushed, and weak. Even Google won’t be impressed. Craft your content as thoroughly as you researched your audience and content channels. Check out these 26 surprising rules for creating amazing content – just in case. Here are some additional posts that will walk you through how to create and promote your content:

6. Track the Results

Within the first hours of delivering your content, you’ll begin to see how people respond. Pageviews, likes, and share represent some of the first metrics indicating engagement. Over time, you’ll also see conversion rates, qualified leads and closes, or change in revenue. There are many tools out there to help you track KPIs. Here are a few you may consider:
  • Google Analytics. It’s free and easy to measure page views, traffic sources, keyword performance, and more.
  • Databox. Databox offers an array of powerful tools for tracking almost any metric.
  • Excel. If you’re comfortable with Excel, you can create your own KPI tracking spreadsheets. This works best with metrics like revenue, subscriptions or referrals.

7. Refine and Repeat

With great content marketing, consistency is key – don’t release just one or two pieces of content and call it a day. Learn from your KPIs, tweak your content strategy and repeat. Over time, you’ll build a consistent foundation of valuable and relevant information that leaves your readers smarter, more well-informed, and impressed with your thought leadership.

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About the Author

Julia McCoy is a serial content marketer, entrepreneur, and author. She builds great marketing that will last and stand the tests of time. Her expertise is in how to earn audience trust and grow a brand that lasts through powerful inbound content marketing. Julia started her career as a freelance writer and quickly realized the demand for high-quality content in the digital marketing industry. With a passion for helping businesses succeed through effective content strategies, she created Express Writers in 2011. Express Writers was a resounding success and Julia sold the company in 2021 for seven figures. Julia currently works at Content at Scale as the VP of marketing. Content at Scale is a revolutionary company that helps people navigate the new world of artificial intelligence in SEO-focused content marketing without losing quality. Julia is a frequent speaker and author on the topic of content marketing. She is also the author of multiple best-selling books. She has been featured in several industry publications and is a regular contributor to the Content Marketing Institute. Julia is also the host of the "Write Podcast," a show that features interviews with successful writers and content creators.