When it comes to content marketing, you don’t need a full newsroom or a large budget to be effective. Whether you’re an enterprise-level organization or a startup, a lean content marketing strategy can take you a long way.
I had the pleasure of speaking at Seattle Startup Week 2017 about building a content team, creating a content marketing strategy that goes the distance, and getting to know your audience – on a budget.
When it comes to statistics around content marketing, my go-to resource is The State of Content Marketing from CMI and they didn’t disappoint. Here are the numbers I focused on at the beginning of my presentation.
- 68% of consumers feel more positive about a brand after consuming content from it.
- 70% of people would rather learn more about a company through articles rather than an ad.
- 75% of marketers are increasing investment in content marketing
These numbers alone prove that content marketing is here to stay. The methods and the platforms may be evolving, but at the heart of it, great content marketing builds trust, loyalty, and engagement.
So, if you’re a startup or a small business, where do you begin?
Your content marketing should ladder up to your business goals.
Content marketing cannot be an afterthought. Every piece of content that’s out in the world for your customers to consume should be aligned to your business goals. Content planning falls flat unless you’ve identified clear goals. The questions you should be answering are:
- What are your business goals for [the next year/quarter/month]?
- What are your marketing goals? How do they ladder up to your business goals?
- Who is your target audience?
- What is your budget?
- How will you measure your success?
The answers to these questions will give you a roadmap for your content marketing strategy to help you create content with a purpose.
A content strategy will fall through the cracks without a dedicated employee or consultant.
As a startup or small business, you have two options when it comes to building your content team.
- You have the budget to hire a person who will be in charge of everything related to your content marketing strategy & execution. (Hooray). This can be a full-time employee or a consultant who takes ownership of your content strategy and creation (that’s me – hi!).
- You have a team member who takes responsibility for all things content.
There is no option three. If there’s no dedicated person making sure your content strategy is being executed properly, it will fall apart. Things move pretty fast in the startup world. If you don’t stop and look around, your content could miss the mark.
So, what are the qualities of a great content marketer?
In order to be an effective content marketer, you need to be a good communicator. This doesn’t just mean “great writer” although that obviously helps. The person responsible for your content strategy will not only communicate externally, but they’ll also be handling internal communications.
This is the individual helping your developers, engineers, and sales people understand not only the value of content marketing but why your audience is asking for it.
They, in turn, will be the ones translating the incredible technical specs of your products into writing that will provide value to your audience.
A good content marketer also has great people and project management skills. Whether it’s making sure your editorial calendar is not missing deadlines or coordinating your freelance writers, the job of the marketer requires discipline, patience, and persistence.
There is a lot of information coming at you fast about your industry, your customers, and best practices about marketing in general. An effective content marketer not only creates excellent content, but they’re content consumers as well. They should be reading industry blogs, your competitors blogs, marketing best practices to stay ahead of the game and relevant.
You’ve got your goals, the person in charge of content…now what?
Content marketing goes the distance with a documented strategy
According to the 2017 State of Content Marketing, 46% of marketers said their organization has a documented strategy for managing content as a business asset. 44% said they don’t, and 10% didn’t even know.
I want to talk to those 10% because how can you not even know whether or not you have a documented content marketing strategy? What are you using to guide you in your actions?
I know content marketing can feel overwhelming, especially as a small business owner or a startup trying to grow, which is why it’s crucial to have a written plan you can follow throughout the year.
Here’s an interesting statistic from the same study. The documented content strategies are more prevalent in micro & small organizations. Enterprise is only at 40%.
This is huge for startup and small business owners. Use your small company size to your advantage. This means you can be more nimble with your content marketing efforts, the way you interact with your audience, and how you respond to events in real life.
But you still need a plan. Your content marketing plan should address the following.
Who: Identify Your Target Audience
If you’re a small business owner, your audience is your existing and potential customers. They’re the ones with the pain points and the content you create should be valuable to them at every step of the way. Identifying your target audience boils down to the same question—what are the pain points you’re trying to solve?
What are you bringing to the table? Who do you want to see your content?
Don’t be tone-deaf to your audience. Create content that’s relevant to them and their needs, not what you think they want to hear.
Once you’ve identified your audience, you need to make sure you’re creating content they care about, which is where keywords come in.
Some great free sources for getting to know your audience: Google trends, Google alerts, Quora, Twitter insights (if you’re on Twitter), customer surveys, and your customer service team.
What: It’s All About the Keywords
You want to create content your target audience will actually care about. This is where the beautiful and free keyword planner tools come into play. It’s hard to be creative all the time, especially when you have a business to run.
If you’re just getting started, I highly recommend this resource from Moz.
When: Break Out the Calendar
This is my favorite part about creating a content plan. As a small business owner with a limited marketing budget, timing is everything.
You know the big shopping days, but it’s important to look beyond the obvious promotional opportunities on the calendar.
- What are special events happening around your industry?
- Within your community?
- Around your customers’ lives?
Mark these days on your calendar and plan relevant content around them.
Why: Channel Your Inner Five-Year-Old
There are two million articles posted every day. Why should anybody read yours? Even if your content isn’t selling something, it should have a purpose.
How many times can you answer the question “but why?” about your content idea?
Don’t forget to put that content marketing plan in writing! I’m offering the same content planning and editorial template I use to help you with your content marketing execution. No email signups required! Just go to http://bit.ly/amplifySSW and make a copy of the doc.
As you can tell, this is just scratching the surface when it comes to lean content marketing for startups, but I hope it’s been helpful. You can feel free to reach out to me with your questions on Twitter @BerrakBiz.