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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.
Did you know that having a documented marketing strategy can increase your odds of success by 313%? That’s what the data says, and the data doesn’t lie. Download your SMB content strategy template below and make it easy to put together a plan:
1. Establish Your Mission or Goals
2. Identify Your Key Performance Indicators
3. Select Your Audience and Content Channels
4. Establish a Schedule
5. Craft Your Content and Distribute It To Your Market
6. Track the Results
7. Refine and Repeat
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:
And how do you know that a piece of content is valuable and relevant? There are a few clues to go by:
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.
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:
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):
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.
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:
Use tools like ReQueue by CoSchedule to create a consistent messaging or posting schedule.
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:
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. CoSchedule arms you with many analytics tools. However, you may also consider:
Many of CoSchedule’s analytics tools can help you track performance.
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.
For a small business, content marketing is a key strategy for increasing brand awareness, search engine authority, and reach. Don’t leave these critical elements for business success up to chance. Get the tools you need in one convenient place and spend more time managing the things you do best: your business.
Plan content and automate publishing to save tons of time now.
Start your 14-day trial to get organized with CoSchedule today.