Imagine this: you’re an NFL player headed into the biggest game of the season. Everything is riding on you and your coach’s expectations are high. Your teammates are depending upon you. You’re out on the field now and they all look to you for direction and, guess what? You don’t have any because you never took the time to develop a pre-game strategy.
That would never happen, right? Right. In sports, strategy is everything and it would be crazy to enter a game without knowing how you wanted to play it. Believe it or not, the same goes for content.
When it comes to your small business, developing a content strategy is an important step toward success. From drawing customers to helping you establish yourself as an authority, content strategy is the foundation upon which everything else is built.
You can build yourself upon content, as a business–with a good strategy.
A Guide to Small Business Content Strategy: 12 Essential Tips
Here’s what you need to know about small business content marketing and how you can make yours better.
How Do You Define Content?
First things first – what is content? To put it simply, content is the material you produce to further your company’s goals. In many cases, it acts as the vessel for content marketing, a practice within which companies use content to create and distribute valuable information to their fans, customers, and readers, thus driving profitable customer interaction and helping establish themselves as authorities in the field.
According to a recent Content Marketing Institute report, 86% of small businesses are currently using content marketing and 40% say that the approach is effective for their companies.
5 Key Types of Must-Have Content: Strategy for the Small Business
When you’re building your small business, one of the most important things you can do is take some time to invest in content. While it may seem more important to jump right into selling, focusing on building content first will produce higher-quality results in the long run.
Here’s are the five main types of content you should build when you start your business:
1. A blog
Blogs are huge right now and they’re not fixing to slow down any time soon. Companies that build and maintain a blog earn more leads, gain visibility, establish themselves as authorities in their industry, and expand their customer base at light-speed. In fact, marketers who prioritize blogging are 13x more likely to see a positive ROI than those who don’t.
This is due in large part to the fact that blogs are a great way to help your company get found online. According to HubSpot, customers will undertake 85% of their company relationships without ever talking to a human by 2020. This means that it’s hugely beneficial and important for companies to start blogging as soon as they start functioning.
2. A web page
Think of a web page as your home base: it helps people learn more about your company, gives you a great place to showcase new products, goods, and services, allows customers to locate your contact information, reviews, and purchasing options, and provides a platform that all of your other content can meet on.
There are many different options for building a small business web page, and in most cases, it can be done for only a few bucks in only a few minutes. Most platforms today allow for drag-and-drop website building, which makes designing a beautiful page easy, even if you’re not a pro.
3. Great keywords
If you’re doing anything online, you’ll need to learn about search engine optimization (SEO). Specifically, you’ll need to learn about keyword research and how it can benefit your company. In order to rank well in Google’s indexes and make yourself more visible online, you’ll need to research and target relevant keywords. This helps you appear prominently for relevant search queries and ensures that customers looking for a company like yours can find you easily.
4. Social media
While Google still rules the roost, it’s important to remember that social media platforms are search engines, too. If a customer is attracted to your brand or products, it’s likely that person will search for you using social media. If they can’t find you, it’s likely you’ll miss out on business.
If customers can find you, though, they’re more likely to engage with your company. For this reason, it’s important to focus on building up a social media presence from the get-go. This means selecting 1-2 social media platforms (Facebook and Instagram, for example) and building your presence there. This allows you to expand your reach with your customers and make more connections.
5. A buyer persona
Before any of the above tips can work out well for you, you’ll need to establish your buyer persona. A buyer persona defines who you’re trying to sell a product to and why. It looks at your target demographic and answers questions like: who are these people? How old are they? Where do they live? How much money do they make each year? What are they worried about? Knowing the answers to these questions is a fantastic way to set yourself up for success and to target your content marketing more effectively from the beginning.
Building Your Content Strategy: 7 Actionable Tips
Now that you’ve got some types of content to work with, it’s time to start building out your content strategy into a functional machine that helps you drive sales. Here are seven key steps.
1. Segment your audience
You used buyer personas to identify your audience, but now it’s time to segment them into individual groups. If you’re like most companies, you have several sets of populations you’re trying to target. In fact, Content Marketing Institute reports that the average small business targets four separate segments of customers. Segmenting your customer base will allow you to target each segment more efficiently and to tailor your content accordingly.
2. Decide on your topics
What do you want your content to do? How is it going to achieve that goal? The one true way to ensure that your content is successful is to ensure that the topics of your content are interesting, valuable, and relevant for your customers.
To gain ideas for topics, look at things like your FAQ section – are there repeated questions there that you can turn into a lengthy blog series? You’ll also find a whole host of ideas on question and answer sites like Quora or by using a service like BuzzSumo, which will allow you to find and track the top-performing content in your industry. In the process, you may even find that brainstorming topic ideas helps you come up with new keywords, which paves the way for a SEO and visibility boost.
3. Define your objective
According to QuickSprout, you can define your blogging objectives by asking yourself the following six questions:
- Do you want to drive physical traffic to your office or retail location?
- Do you want to increase leads or generate sales?
- Do you want to entice prospects to visit you from outside of your local area?
- Do you want to draw in overseas clients?
- Do you want to educate your readers on your company’s mission?
- Do you want to provide your customers with business updates?
- Do you want to build and strengthen your brand?
Now – these are all great questions, but in order to truly define your blogging objectives, you should only be identifying with two or three of these objectives. Any more than that is a recipe for content marketing disaster and a sure way to wind up being disorganized and ineffective. Pick a few objectives and stick to them for the most focused strategy possible.
4. Make the delivery exciting
Content, content everywhere, and not a delivery method in site! Now that you’ve decided on what you’re going to write and for whom you’re going to write it, you’ll have to think about how you’re going to get it to your target audience. The average small business uses 12 different content distribution tactics. Often, these tactics include methods like the following:
- Social media
- In-person events
- Visual content, including infographics and photos
- White papers
No matter how you choose to distribute your content, it’s important to ensure that you vary the method. This helps prevent people from becoming bored with your content and, most importantly, ensures that people can find your content because you continue to place it in the places they frequent. Keep in mind that the average small business uses 6 separate social media platforms for content distribution.
5. Create a content calendar
Now that you’ve built the bones of your content strategy, you need to focus on bringing it to life. You can do this by building an editorial calendar. An editorial calendar is the ultimate organizational tool for small business bloggers worldwide and when used correctly, can help you plan all of the following details for your content:
- Distribution channel
- Content type
- Reader type
- Seasonal content
- Trending content
- Content creators
An editorial calendar is meant to be a fluid thing and will likely change as your business grows and shifts. The important thing, however, is that you develop one and that you keep it going as you continue to hone your content strategy. Doing this will allow you to create real, organized content. In other words: an editorial calendar is one of the single best tools you can use to make your content successful.
6. Create, create, create
It’s tough to have a content strategy without – you guessed it – content. That said, you’ll need to dedicate some time simply to creating content. Write about the topics you’ve brainstormed and put your fresh new content out there for your customers. Keep tabs on your content by monitoring user comments, social shares, and interaction in order to get a feel for what performs best and what seems to get no reaction. While it seems simple, a great deal of constructing an efficient content strategy is simply trial and error. By getting out into the game, you’ll quickly learn what you need to do.
7. Track your results
It’s impossible to know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been. That’s why it is so important to track the results of your content creation efforts. CMI reports that 87% of small businesses state that lead generation is the priority for their entire content strategy.
If that rings true for your company, you can track the success of your content by metrics like social media activity, web traffic (67% of small businesses report that this is their most important content marketing success metric), and lead sources. Doing this allows you to plan, execute, and measure accordingly, which in turn allows you to adjust your content strategy as you go along, creating a bombproof strategy that promises to serve your company well for all of its days.
It’s Time to Start Rocking Your Small Business Content Strategy
According to the CMI report, 74% of marketers are creating more content this year than they were one year ago. This is likely due to the fact that content has proven time and time again to be one of the most effective forms of marketing material. From providing a way for your customers to interact with your company to offering a platform on which you can provide value and relevance to your readers, content is a hugely important piece of any small business’ success. Fortunately, when you take these 12 tips to heart, you can quickly develop a content strategy that allows you to stand out from the crowd and succeed in small business content marketing.
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