Content marketing is a small business secret weapon!
A solid content marketing plan is how small businesses can compete with the big dogs. With little to no outlay costs (except for time and effort) you can craft a content marketing strategy that will have your small biz seen, heard, and selling.
So, how do you get started with content marketing for your small business?
Simple steps are best!
Follow the steps below and you will have developed an effective content marketing strategy for your small biz.
Who is your target audience?
Taking the time to develop your buyer persona is a crucial first step to a successful content marketing strategy.A buyer persona is your ideal customer. The person you picture buying or investing in your product or service. Can you see them clearly?Click To Tweet
This semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer is based upon market research and discovering real data about them.
You need to think about:
- Where are their pain points?
- The problems they want solutions for?
- What are their challenges and goals?
- The demographics of your target audience?
- How do they search for information?
- Where do they hang out online (or offline)?
The more you understand your buyer persona the more pain points and solutions you can identify. You will KNOW what your ideal customer needs, WHY they need it and HOW you can best solve their problem.
Identifying your buyer persona helps develop an effective content marketing strategy full of compelling ideas that will have your audience growing in no time.
Market research and content marketing.
Market research is essential for your small business to develop an effective content marketing strategy. You can use it to identify your buyer personas and opportunities to make the most of your marketing efforts.
The idea behind market research is to discover what your ideal customer likes and needs, gaps in the market and what your competitors are doing.
The first step in market research is to understand WHAT areas to study.
- Products and/or services
- Business location
- Industry trends.
The second step is to use and build upon existing market research.
- Market reports
- Government statistics
- Trade and industry publications
- Research products and services
- surveys/interviews/conversations with your customers or other businesses in your niche
- Positioning of your products or services (high-end, low-cost, budget, competitive)
- Demand for your product or services.
The third step is to research your potential customers.
- Use emails, surveys, interviews, or simple discussions with existing or potential customers.
- Find out what their needs are.
- Work out how much your ideal customer is willing to pay for your product or service.
- What is the demand or gap in the market for your product or service?
The fourth step is to research your competitors.
- Who are your competitors?
- What do they offer?
- Where are they located?
- What strategies are they using for marketing?
- Where do they hang out online?
- How do they communicate with their customers?
This may seem overwhelming, but don’t let that put you off. Break it down into small manageable tasks and tackle it one bit at a time.
If you put the hard yards in now to nut out all of this research and information you will create a strong foundation for your business. It helps you set and achieve goals and build a content strategy that will propel your business forward.
What makes you unique?
Tapping into what sets you apart and defining your point of difference from your competitors will create a unique selling point. One you can leverage to your advantage.
WHY should people buy from you?
What sets you apart?
What makes you different? Convince your audience why they should pick you over someone else offering the same (or similar) product or service.
Use this unique selling point throughout your business branding and content marketing to develop a recognisable brand. This helps build trust and authenticity. Two things that will have your ideal customer knocking down your door!
Create compelling content your audience will want to consume.
Now you know WHO your ideal customer (IC) is, WHERE they hang out and WHAT they NEED and LIKE, it is time to create compelling content that takes all that into account.
The number one trick here is to create content that targets each stage of your buyer's journey:
- Awareness. Where your ideal customers are researching their problem.
- Consideration. Your customers know what their problem is, now they are actively searching for solutions.
- Decision. This is where your IC has decided on their solution, now they are searching for the perfect business to help.
I have made this super easy with the 4 EASE pillars! The pillars provide a framework for content creation that steps your target audience through the buyers journey and has them clicking buy.
There are so many formats that your content can come in:
- Blog posts
- Social media posts
- Videos (YouTube clips, Instagram, TikTok)
- White papers
- Slideshare Sides
TOP TIP for beginners - pick a format you are comfortable with and stick to that for a while.
For example, if you are a photographer you are going to be most comfortable (probably) taking photos. So you can focus your time and energy on taking and posting photos to social media with in-depth captions. Eventually, when you feel comfortable you can repurpose those posts into long-form content like blog posts, videos, or even a podcast.
For me, I am most comfortable with writing. So it makes sense to develop this blog for content marketing purposes. Eventually, I am going to repurpose these blog posts into YouTube videos, Facebook and Instagram Videos, and who knows, maybe even a podcast!
The trick is to not take on too much. Start slow and increase your efforts when you feel ready.
It is a bit like exercising. When you first start, you don’t want to go jumping straight into lifting huge weights. You want to focus on correct technique and slowly build up your strength so when it comes to lifting those heavy weights you are in the best position to succeed.
Make sure you have a plan in place for content creation efforts.
Here comes my favourite saying!
"Failure to plan is planning to fail". - Winston Churchill.
I LOVE to plan. It makes my heart sing.
But it is also what provides the best chance of success.
Creating a plan for your content creation efforts will ensure you get the maximum bang for your buck. The key is to develop a schedule for content creation and publishing that suits you and the limited time you may have. If that means you can only post a blog twice a month, then do that. Consistency and quality matter over quantity.
So, create a schedule for content creation that works for you.
I love Asana as a content management system. Other people use a paper planner or other software like Trello or Monday. Find one that works best for you and is simple.
A good old spreadsheet never goes astray either. Nab a free one here (I use this one for my own content efforts as well as most of my clients)!
Share your compelling content so your IC sees it!
It is no good hitting publish and forgetting about it. There is still so much you should do so your amazing content is seen and heard.
You need to promote your content. How you do this will depend on what platform you are publishing.
For example, blog posts can be promoted in many different ways:
- Pin to Pinterest
- Share to social media profiles
- Post in Facebook groups
- Share to Linked In.
Social Media posts can be promoted by:
- Sharing in Facebook groups
- Posting to your non-business profile
- Facebook Ads
- Instagram Ads
- Ask friends and sources to share your posts.
Make sure to include a CTA or content upgrade.
The whole point of content marketing is to grow leads and convert those leads to loyal and paying customers.
One fantastic way to engage readers and convert them to paying customers is an email list.
And the best way to grow your email list is to include a Call-To-Action (CTA) or content upgrade to collect email addresses.
Content upgrades are value-adding materials that your audience can opt-in to your email list to access. Such as an ebook, checklist, or template.
Use these opportunities to create a funnel. A funnel is a series of emails or an autoresponder sequence that continues to provide value. They lead your subscribers through their buyer's journey to the point you persuade them to buy your product or invest in your service.
A CTA is asking your reader to take action. Such as “contact me and find out more”.
Including CTAs and content upgrades in each piece of content you publish ensures you make the most of every opportunity to engage, delight, and inspire your audience.
Putting it all together for an effective content marketing strategy.
With the right tools, plans and resources you can create an effective content marketing strategy for your small business.
- Get to know your target audience.
- Conduct Market research.
- Find your unique selling point.
- Create compelling content.
- Develop a content plan.
- Share your amazing content.
- Include a CTA and content upgrade.