A Content Marketing Starter Guide for Small Businesses

July 18, 2017by Lynette TanMarketingSEOWriting0

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In our line of work, we’ve met many small business owners who are keen to start using content marketing to help their business, but do not know how or where to start.

There was(and still is) a period where all types of businesses were afraid to miss out on the social media train, and jumped onboard without knowing why they are doing it. Now, it seems that the same is happening with content marketing.

Comparing to social media, content marketing is a little hard for an enterprise to dive straight into. After all, you need a site to host your content, someone to actually sit down and write the content, and find ways to distribute and promote it. It’s a little hard to measure your success as well since likes and shares may not be as visible, depending on your distribution channel.

For small business owners who started searching for ways on how to start their content marketing strategy, they may be bombarded with “too much information” from content marketing hubs and expert sites such as Content Marketing Institute, Moz and Hubspot, which are all great sources of information but too in-depth or intimidating for the beginner. But content marketing is not the same as content strategy which requires planning on a much larger scale; content marketing sits right within an overall marketing strategy, which means it can be easily added into your marketing programme on a scale matched to your available resources.

This is the reason why we are writing this – we understand the feeling of being stuck and we are proponents of doing instead of having a plan that is “perfect” before starting. Because really, when is something “perfect” since there’s always room for improvement?

Source: Curata

So here’s a simple 3-step guide to help you, small business owners or marketers working in a lean enterprise, to take that first step into content marketing:

1. Establish objectives

Ask yourself why you want to start introducing content marketing for your business. Is it to build brand awareness, reach new audience, build engagement for existing clients or to educate your customers on topics related to your business?

This is an important step, because establishing objectives also means you will be able to set goals and KPIs when you start on your content marketing journey.

While you are at it, don’t forget that hoping that your content marketing strategy will translate immediately into sales is wishful thinking. Content marketing is a long-haul effort; you want to provide useful and relevant content for your target audience, get them coming back to you for content they want to read, build trust in your brand, and eventually convert. While you may not see a huge increase in sales, what you can get with good content is leads and traffic to your site, as well as a better brand awareness and recall if you become so good that you establish your company as a thought-leader in the field.

2. Define your audience

Who are you writing for? The simple answer is your client, but you need to understand that writing for FMCG consumers is quite different from writing for C-level decision makers. So spend some time creating buyer personas.

Buyer personas are generalised representations of your target customers. Creating a buyer persona requires some simple market research or you can simply look at your current customer base to get some ideas.

Creating buyer personas will help you understand your customers better and make it easier to tailor content to the specific needs. It can also help you focus on where you should publish your content in order to reach them. You can easily accomplish this on your own with simple questions such as the following:

These are just some sample questions to get you started. You can also use some of these useful persona templates listed below:

Digital Marketer’s Customer Avatar Worksheet
HubSpot’s Buyer Persona Template
Marketo’s Marketing Persona Cheat Sheet
MakeMyPersona by HubSpot

With your buyer persona in hand, you can brainstorm with your team what type of content to produce, the most appropriate channels to distribute them, and set the key metrics to track to measure your success.

Source: distilled

3. Assess Resource and Capacity

One of the key issues small businesses face is that they work with a lean workforce. Undoubtedly, diverting resources into sales and production may be seen as more important as marketing, especially when some consider it as a cost-centre. This is why it is important be realistic about how much you can do.

Source: Ninja Outreach

Some questions to think about:

  • Where can you host your content? Your own website, a microsite, Linkedin or medium?
  • Do you have the technical and editorial expertise to produce the content?
  • Do you want to outsource your content? How much budget can you set aside for this?
  • Who will be your content guardian? What will be the approval process like?
  • Who will distribute/promote the content? How would you do it?

4. Content Production

Now that you’ve done all that research and background work, it’s time to produce the content! It will be helpful to set up a content production workflow that involves the following tasks in order:

  1. Outline
  2. Write
  3. Edit/Review
  4. Approve
  5. Publish
  6. Measure

At the same time, write down who will be responsible for each task. Need help to know what to write about? Here are some tools to help you:

Content Idea generation

Portent
Hubspot’s blog title generator
Buzzsumo’s Content Research tool
Tweak Your Biz Title Generator

Happy creating, and let us know if you’d rather like our help to start your content marketing campaign.

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Lynette Tan

Content Strategist at Pixel Tie. Lynette has more than six years of professional writing experience, having started out as a commodities analyst and specialising in personal finance content. Increasingly, she sees content production as a key marketing component that businesses should adopt as part of a wider marketing campaign and hopes to help companies amplify their brands through effective content strategies.