What is content marketing and how do I get started?
Confused about content marketing and how it applies to your small business? In the words of industry veteran Gary Vaynerchuk (aka Gary Vee), content marketing comes down to creating and distributing content to help create awareness. More content. More often. More. More. More…!
Content Marketing is different from traditional marketing in that its ultimate purpose is to give valuable, helpful or informative content to the reader to form a relationship built on trust and transparency. The premise of traditional marketing is to see more immediate results – ticket sales, purchases or appointment bookings – or to sustain brand awareness (think billboards taken over by McDonald’s or Holden).
That’s not to say content marketing doesn’t attract sales….! In fact, providing free, consistent, valuable content goes a long way to attracting and retaining customers, but sadly, many small business owners I speak to are concerned they won’t see an ROI on content marketing – they think they are giving away all their knowledge that people should pay for.
So let’s explore what content marketing is and the tips I’ve created to show you how you can apply it for minimal cost (thereby reducing the perceived risk!) in your small business.
With this simple A-B-C-D approach, you can start putting together your own content marketing plan and make the most of the resources you have on hand.
A IS FOR AUDIENCE
Understand your target audience
When you start a business, your main agenda is to get people to notice you and buy from you. Where so many small business owners fall short is in thinking they are the star of the marketing show, when in fact, the audience is. Always.
This means that you can’t start marketing or content marketing without some detailed understanding of your target audience. Start by listing out the age, location, gender, income, education level and profession to start developing your customer avatar. You might have one or two core customers, or you might have seven or eight. Start with your top clients or customers right now and move into ideal personas as well.
Understanding your target audience allows you to be more focused so you make sure you’re attracting the right kind of customers. Every piece of content you make should be geared towards a specific “buyer persona,” not just a general audience so this is a critical step! Once you have your buyer persona, then you can start making content.
B IS FOR BEHAVIOURS
Identify your audience’s behaviors and interests
Once you have a general idea of your target customers, the next step is to start diving deeper into their behaviors and interests outside of their interaction with you. What do they do in their spare time? How old are their kids? What keeps them up at night? What makes them laugh?
Start really fleshing out your buyer personas now with more about what makes them tick. Are you your target market or is there someone you know that fits the profile that you can ask? Start there! My soon-to-be-released Outshine with Content Marketing Course includes 25 questions like “do they own, rent or board?” and “what is their health like?” so you can really get an understanding of their personal lives, because whether your business is B2B or B2C, we’re all really P2P – person to person (or I’ve heard this called H2H – human to human as well).
C IS FOR CREATE
Create the content
Once you’re sure of who your target audience is, it’s time to get the ball rolling on actual content planning and creation. Since it’s safe to assume that your products or services are there to provide a solution to a problem your consumers are having, the first place to start with content marketing is creating content that is relevant and informative regarding the problem.
Go back to the basics. Why did you start your business in the first place – what is your “why?” Or what is the number one question you are asked? Or how about, why are you different from your competition? Any of these thought starters will kick off your content marketing program.
What you want to play with here is the format you deliver the content in. Use video, blogs, infographics and quotes over images to distribute across newsletters, social media and other platforms you have available to you. This step requires considerable trial and error, as it’s a process of getting to know your audience and actively listening to them. For example, are many of them readers? This means you should do more blog articles rather than long videos. Do they work out? Perhaps a podcast they can listen to while at the gym is more effective than an infographic. Pay attention and create from there. No matter what your business or industry is, there really is SO much content you can create!
When you know you have content that people love, then you can start exchanging it for email addresses or contact details to nurture later in the forms of e-books, webinars, podcasts and more, and that’s precisely how small businesses should be leveraging content marketing! The most efficient way of planning your content is to use a content marketing calendar, where you can plot all the topics and formats into a guide (don’t worry, if you do the Outshine with Content Marketing online course you get access to the one I developed and use every day!) This means you can sit down in blocks of time and plan, schedule and forget, or jump in when you have an idea, record it and come back to it later.
D IS FOR DATA
Track your results, revise and revisit where necessary
Data collation and analysis is critical in creating a successful content marketing strategy in your small business. It’s like taking a monthly blood test to ensure all your levels are correct!
Many small business make the mistake of thinking that once they’ve published a blog post or uploaded a video, their work is done, but the reality is, that’s only the start. Once you have your content published, it’s time to see if it actually works! Are people reading your blog? Are they commenting on your infographic? Did they find the case study you put up useful? The answers to all these questions will determine how you move forward.
Knowledge truly is power, so use the free insights from Facebook, check in on your LinkedIn and Instagram stats and get familiar with Google Analytics so you can see what content your audience is reacting favourably to. Don’t be put off by sad faces or comments that disagree with you – in fact, as long as it’s a balanced customer sentiment, then digital algorithms will reward you with increased organic reach as they love seeing engagement!
The biggest thing stopping you from content marketing is likely a lack of awareness of how it works, because when you see it building your email lists, increasing your website traffic and bringing in more DMs on social media, then you would have started it sooner!
Get your content marketing working harder for you with our free step by step guide to creating a marketing message that sells. Grab it under the video here!
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