Small businesses often struggle with marketing, and finding and keeping new customers is one of the first things a new business needs to do in order to be successful. Unfortunately, it can also be expensive to hire marketing professionals and pay for effective advertising. However, there is one way to market that is effective and low-cost. Content creation is a value-add way to perform consistent marketing to both repeat and potential customers.
Content creation is the practice of adding content in some form that your customers can use. Online videos, podcasts, articles, blog posts, and informational social media posts are all forms of content creation that can be used to help expand your business.
Define a Target Audience
Before you can create an effective marketing or content creation strategy, you have to know who you are marketing to. Understanding who the target audience is, their pain points, and what kind of content they engage with helps in creating relevant and valuable content. One way to define your target audience is by creating an ideal customer and then creating your content as if you were talking to that person.
Stick to Your Brand Voice
Choosing a brand voice and style for your company is an important part of marketing. When you are making content for your social media, website, or video platform, you must stick with the brand voice you have already established. Creating a recognizable brand image is one of the goals of successful marketing. Choose your brand voice carefully. The brand image for a beauty salon will be different from restaurant branding. Once you have a recognizable brand style, stick with it over all your communications and platforms.
Conduct Competitor Research
Studying competitors’ content marketing strategies and what works for them can inform and inspire your own efforts. While you don’t want to do anything that could be seen as copying or mimicking another brand, studying the marketing strategies of successful businesses is a good way to learn more about your target audience. Studying competitors can also allow you to see their weaknesses and find areas where their customers are dissatisfied, and market your own strengths in those areas.
Establish a Content Marketing Plan
Before you embark on your new content creation journey, you need a roadmap. A content marketing plan will help you strategize what content to create, how often to create it, and what channels to use to share it. Your content creation plan should be an extension of your overall marketing plan, supporting and extending it.
Utilize a Variety of Content Formats
Experiment with different types of content, such as blog posts, videos, infographics, and social media posts to reach a wider audience. By trying a variety of content styles and platforms you can find out which methods and mediums are most appealing to your particular customers. Once you have found a few types of content that really resonate with your ideal client and that bring you the highest rewards, spend most of your content creation efforts on those areas.
Focus on Quality Over Quantity
High-quality content is more likely to be shared and remembered, so focus on producing content that is well-researched and informative. Your customers aren’t seeking to be advertised to, they are seeking information and value-add posts. Focus your content on providing value to your customers through information, how-to guides, reviews, and sale announcements. You should use your platforms for both advertisings as well as value-add posts, but they should be kept in a healthy balance.
Use Data to Inform Content Creation
Utilize data and analytics to understand what content is resonating with the target audience and adjust the strategy accordingly. When you find a strategy or platform that works well, focus more of your time and budget on that area. Have a regularly scheduled time to check your data metrics to see if your content is still resonating and producing results. Be willing to change things as needed based on your analytics.
Optimize for Search Engines
Implementing search engine optimization (SEO) techniques in your content can help increase its visibility and reach. The goal with SEO is to have your content rank in search engine results, bringing organic traffic to your site. While your content platforms can help you continue marketing to your current and repeat customers, SEO can help bring your business in front of new customers.
Collaborate with Influencers and Industry Experts
Partnering with others in your industry can help expand your reach and give your content credibility. Networking is a good way to increase the audience your content can reach without spending additional money. Hosting blog posts on your site (and guest writing for other sites) is one example of collaborating with other content creators that can be mutually beneficial and can be arranged to cost nothing.
Engage with your Audience
Encourage and respond to comments, and use social media to engage with your followers and build relationships. When businesses respond to comments with copy-and-paste, generic answers, or when they don’t respond at all, it can lead potential customers to feel unheard and take their business somewhere else. While it can be time-consuming to respond to comments, it is important. Many businesses hire remote content managers to help keep up with this and other content-related tasks.
Use existing content in new ways to save time and reach new audiences, such as turning a blog post into a video or infographic. This is a great way to save time and money while helping more people get access to your valuable content. Most people prefer to get their information in specific ways and content creators should appeal to as many audiences as possible. Restructuring a popular blog post into an online video or podcast will bring your content to people who would never see it otherwise, and takes little time compared with creating completely new content.
Consistency is key in content marketing, so develop a calendar and stick to a schedule of publishing content regularly. Whether you decide to post daily, weekly, or send out a monthly email article, consistency is important. Over time, consistency in posting will give you a lot of content for your customers as well as create a pattern that establishes trust and reliability.
Stay up-to-date on the latest content marketing trends and best practices by attending conferences, reading industry blogs, and networking with others in the field. Self-education and continuing education are important parts of all business management, and marketing is one of the areas that experiences frequent changes. Trends and strategies come and go, algorithms change, and new platforms are created. Effective content creators will keep abreast of these changes and use them to their advantage.
Marketing and content creation are skills that take time and experience to learn, but with practice and education, business owners can start to reap the benefits of free or low-cost marketing through content and social media.