As a small business, you likely have limited resources and limited funds. You don’t want to be spending them on the wrong marketing campaigns. Content marketing is one of the most effective methods of marketing, especially for small businesses, but only if it is done properly.
Where is my content going wrong?
The number one reason content marketing fails is because it feels like a sales page. No one wants to click onto a blog and feel like they are reading an Amazon product description, especially when they know that what they are trying to be sold is the blog author’s own product.
It’s also possible, however, that your content is not focused enough. A blog does offer you the freedom to talk about anything you want, but the most effective blogs stick to their pre-determined topics, topics that they know that their readers are interested in (or would be interested in, if they knew about that topic), instead of taking diversions into any subject the blog writer feels like covering.
The posts themselves may not have a consistent enough voice. Some companies, especially small companies, in which one person cannot devote their entire career to writing the company blog, require many different staffers to write posts, so that there is always fresh content. What happens, however, is that the blog lacks a consistent voice and style. For a new blog, this can be a serious problem, as it is during this time that they should be trying to establish a consistent voice.
Another issue that many content creators face is the desire to make something that will go viral. This creates an unrealistic expectation for content, one that will be failed to be met time and time again. In this same vein, many blogs will churn out content, just for the sake of having new content. Both of these are serious sins that can be difficult to bounce back from, once your blog is labeled as “trying too hard” or “not trying hard enough,” respectively.
How can I effectively employ content marketing?
A consistent style and posting schedule is essential for a successful blog, but it is not everything that is needed for an effective content marketing campaign. Here are a few tips to ensure that your content marketing strategy gets off the ground quickly, with as few hiccups as possible.
1. Write a list of topics. As soon as you decide you want to start a blog as part of your marketing scheme, start writing a list of topics. Keep this somewhere where you can easily access it and add more topics as they occur to you.
This list can be either active or stand in reserve—you can either actively draw topics from this list, or wait until you cannot think of anything else to write about, and then revert back to these topics. Either way, they should reflect what your ideal customer would want to read, as well as topics that you actually find interesting and valuable.
2. Write a list of goals. What do you want this blog to achieve? Like most content marketers, you likely want to improve customer engagement and draw more page traffic. With those two goals in mind, start planning a blog strategy that mirrors the end result you desire. As problems arise, look at how your solutions relate to those end goals. Carefully consider the message and persona you want to project to you customers.
3. If you are going to have multiple authors, set specific style and content guidelines. These can be as simple as “no swear,” to being as complicated as ensuring that headers are in a bold typeface and twenty-point font. Once you decide what the voice of the blog should be and what the face of the blog should look like, incorporate those things into your style guide so that creating content is easy for those who are assigned to the task. It might also be worthwhile to include how to find images to use in your posts, how to create infographics, and other information that will make the content creator’s job even easier.
4. Think about your customers locally. Most small businesses rely on their local customers for a great deal of their business. In creating your content, consider the fact that many or most of your customers live in your local area, and that if you tailor your content to that area and their needs, you are far more likely to draw page visitors and store visitors. Putting a focus on the local nature of your business is usually a very good thing, as people tend to trust local businesses far more than large, international ones.
5. Engage with your readers on a regular basis. If people take time out of their day to read and comment on your blog post (or Facebook post, or Tweet), make sure to acknowledge that and even respond to it. This will build a personal relationship with your customers that is essential to the life of small businesses. This is especially important if someone asks a question—do not leave them hanging without an answer—they will remember and it will affect their desire to do business with you, even if it seems, on the surface, like a very petty offense.
6. Measure your performance. Analytics are just as important and useful for your content marketing campaign, as they are for a mega-blog’s. Use your analytics to see what works, what doesn’t work, what posts have generated the most buzz and engagement, and which have fallen short. Find a free online tool that shows you statistics about your posts and allows you to extrapolate insights from those numbers.