As a business owner chances are that you spend a lot of time thinking about how to tell your brand’s story engagingly. If content marketing is something you have not yet invested in, here are some of our top tips for SME’s to get started.
Essentially, this is content marketing – the art of telling your brand’s story to a potential or current audience.
In a nutshell, your content marketing strategy is your “why.” Why you are communicating, what problems you aim to solve and how you do it. Brands typically use content marketing to build a new audience or reach an existing one, to increase revenue or lower their costs.
Just because content marketing is a hot topic right now – and everyone seems to be doing it – it doesn’t mean it is easy. Great content takes a lot of planning, time and careful thinking.
The good news is, creating an effective content marketing strategy doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out or complicated exercise. You can start with writing down some key questions and answers, then build upon this basic strategy as time goes on.
Listen – Who matters to you?
Try to be as specific as possible. Think about age, education, where they live, what they do for work, how they spend their money, what they value in life. Other more in-depth questions you can ask yourself are:
What causes them to buy products or services like yours?
What results do they expect to achieve from products or services like yours?
What influences their buying decision?
Which do they look at they consider alternative or competitive products?
What causes others to not purchase your products or services?
Developing one or more marketing personas can help you visualise the kind of audiences you are talking to. If you don’t have the answers to all the questions above, you can start with studying competitor case studies, reading industry analyst reports, going to forums and professional online networks – Facebook Audience Insights is a great tool! – conducting surveys and interviews or doing outreach via email and social media.
Where does your audience hang out online?
The evolution of the internet has changed the world so considerably that we don’t even need to question its sales power anymore. Nowadays, most of us have access to a fast and reliable internet connection, and all our buying habits are becoming well documented.
Customers use social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest, regularly sharing and uploading content themselves. Google searches are becoming the standard for researching information about specific products and services before making a purchase.
To find out where your audience is online, you can start with scanning your social networks. Get used to watching your social media accounts to pinpoint the websites shared by the most influential users who also follow your brand’s updates. Tools such as Google Analytics and Facebook Insights have tons of data about your audience if you know how to find it.
Another way to get an insight into your audience’s behaviour online is to look at thought leadership sites like Medium or general forums like Reddit. People ask questions on these sites and other users provide answers – so, you will be able to see what problems your potential customers are struggling with right now.
What type of content do they enjoy the most?
One of the big mistakes that content marketers make is to talk about their company and their product, rather than the things that their audience care about. This is a huge misunderstanding of what it means to find your target audience.
Of course, your product is helpful to your customers, but that doesn’t mean that it will also be helpful to your blog audience. That group of potential customers is probably interested in a much greater variety of topics, they need answers to their questions – or they simply want to be entertained or educated on specific subjects – and they will value your brand more if you can establish yourself as a thought-leader in your field.
What do you want to achieve with your content?
Ideally, your product or service solves a problem you know your audience has. In the same way, your content educates your audience through this problem as they begin to identify and address it.
A good content strategy supports people on both sides of your product or service: those who are still figuring out what their main challenges are, and those who are already using your product to overcome these challenges. Your content reinforces the solution(s) you are offering and makes your customers more qualified users of your product.
There are a variety of options out there for content you can create. Some of the most popular content formats marketers create include blog posts, e-books, case studies, templates, infographics, videos, podcasts, social media.
How do you define success when it gets to your content marketing strategy?
You will never reach your content marketing goals if you don’t know what you aim to achieve. Since different types of content work better with different audiences and for different purposes, it is important to clearly define success from your brand’s perspective first. In this way, you won’t end up wasting time on efforts that are not in line with what you want to accomplish.
One of the simplest ways to identify potential purposes is to examine the key area where your business has been struggling the most. For example:
Brand awareness: Are you struggling to penetrate a new market, launch a new product, or compete with a high-profile market leader?
Engagement: Do you need to raise your brand’s profile as a reputable source of information? Are you looking to attract social media influencers to evangelise your products?
Website traffic: Are your ad campaigns failing to drive traffic to your e-commerce website? Are visitors immediately bouncing from your site pages? Are they failing to find the information they need to drive their decision-making?
Lead generation/nurture: Is your sales team having trouble finding or qualifying new leads? Are they getting pushback in one area when trying to move existing leads down the funnel?
Marketing ROI: Are you looking for ways to reduce your marketing costs, grow sales, or open up new revenue streams?
Customer retention and loyalty: Is customer support receiving high volumes of calls? Are you failing to secure repeat business from consumers or up-sell them on product options and add-ons?
Once you have a firm handle on how to develop your strategy, you can move on to activating it through your editorial planning process, including deciding which roles and skills you need to account for and how to ensure that your team’s efforts will align with your strategy.
Creating a long-term, engaging and rewarding content strategy is not an easy task but if done well, with both long and short-term goals in mind, it will certainly pay off. If at first, it seems overwhelming, don’t forget that you are not just adding to the noise and pushing another product. Your role is being a storyteller who shares a story that deserves to be heard – your brand’s story