“Content production is hard. I’m wasting too much time and resources and never getting any results.”
The reason why most brands fail to reel in potential customers is that they’re focusing on the wrong strategies. Small businesses adopt corporation-level marketing strategies and get poor results. In the end, these businesses become convinced that content production and engagement are just huge resource sinks.
But really, the first step isn’t to write a blog. The fundamental step that most people gloss over is creating a process that makes content production easy and sustainable for your business, whether you’re a five-team startup or a ten-man ecommerce platform.
So how can you make sure that the content marketing strategy is the best one for your business? It starts with figuring out what you want the content marketing team to focus on. From there, set up a proper budget with a detailed allocation to ensure that there’s no overspending on unnecessary strategies.
If you thought content production is a 21st century solution, think again. Content marketing is a pretty old trick used to promote business dating as far back as 1732. Benjamin Franklin published “Poor Richard’s Alamanack”, a yearly almanac Franklin printed out, to promote the printing business he started.
Hundreds of years later, the manner of putting out written content in promoting a brand and engaging your audience is still one of the best ways to put your business on the map. Only now, the internet allows us to cast a wider net.
Different business sizes have different content creation capabilities. A small company can’t catch up with the volume of written and visual content that a large corporation publishes. And even if they can, it’s nearly impossible to ensure that each and every piece of content you put out is being tracked, monitored, and optimized if you’re publishing in hordes.
So how can small companies compete with large enterprises for the consumer’s attention? It all boils down to creating a system that works for your team. The most important factor in content production isn’t volume, it’s consistency, authenticity, and optimization. And the good news is any business size can make that happen.
The best content marketing strategy has less to do with the gargantuan content marketing group in the middle of a business empire, but more about having a team who knows what content to focus on, how to create it, and when to publish it.
Here are different content marketing strategies tailored to different businesses sizes, and how you could scale up as your brand grows.
Budget and time are the foremost concerns of businesses in this stage, most notably start-ups and ecommerce platforms. Since every penny counts, content marketing teams from small businesses should watch out for technologies that make content production easier. Think automation, streamlining, and ease-of-use.
In creating a strategy for a small business, prioritize these two things over everything else: harnessing important data and starting an email newsletter.
Producing content in a small company has its limitations. That’s why it’s important to harness as much data as you can and turn it into attention-grabbing content. Start utilizing free online tools like Google Trends, Facebook Insights, and BuzzSumo that analyze what your target audience is interested in. From there, create one piece of content that can be easily repurposed into other consumable formats.
For instance, you can write one article and break it down to smaller social media posts. You can break it down further into smaller pieces of content to be shared through your email newsletter.
An email newsletter is a cornerstone of customer communication. The problem with most newsletters today is that they are too general and too sales-driven. By this we mean that too many brands make the mistake of skipping right to the sale. Not all buyers will be purchase-ready, and email is a great way to convince them what they’re missing out on.
Instead of making it a direct sales tool, use emails as an opportunity to look at the problems that the customers want to solve. Build relationships and figure out what kind of information your prospects are looking for, and aim to answer those questions through content.
Most small teams just don’t have the time to write their own content. At this point, outsourcing to a content solution service is a great way to get on-demand content.
On top of articles, infographics, newsletters, and other visual content can be leveraged to increase engagement. The good news is that you don’t have to have a graphic designer on the team to make this happen. Use tools like Canva to create quick bite-sized content for your audience.
And if you start to notice that the published content isn’t bringing in any new customers, maybe it’s time to consider switching up priorities. If the five articles a week strategy isn’t moving the brand forward, take a step back and reassess.
Go from five articles to two more in-depth pieces a week. At the end of the day, there really is no magic number as to how many you should publish as long as you do it consistently. Create a schedule and figure out which topics to cover VS thinking up titles on the spot.
With extra resources, medium-sized companies can get better results quicker if they invest in the right strategies.
After establishing a good relationship with your customer base and understanding what they like through data, you can invest more resources into content production, specifically more in-depth pieces like whitepapers, eBooks, and other invaluable resources.
Developing Lead Magnets and In-depth Resources
Blogs, social media posts, and newsletters are the entry points for more comprehensive content. Shortly after establishing a good archive of these types of content, the next step is to look into more comprehensive value-building lead magnets like eBooks, whitepapers, and case studies.
These lead magnets help expand your prospect list through lead generation. But more importantly, they foster buyer confidence and cement your brand’s authority. An actionable eBook with how-to-tips and explanations let prospects know that you’re exactly what they’re looking for. Having it sets you apart from brands that only have blogs and nothing else.
Paid-Per-Click Promotion and Ads
Incorporating social media ads is a great way to supplement your existing content. PPC methods allow you to tap into markets and audiences you otherwise wouldn’t have had access to. Think of it this way: content creation brings you slow but steady organic growth, and PPC and ads function as fertilizers that speed up the process.
Make the most out of your ad spend by paying attention to engagement metrics. Use A/B testing to optimize your campaigns. Track KPIs alongside engagement metrics and adjust your ad strategy to ensure your resources are well spent.
Building additional landing pages and creating new resources would make up the bulk of a medium business’ content budget. With extra resources available, brands have the opportunity to take on paid opportunities for growth to further scale the engagements they received from organic growth.
Bigger budgets allow brands to perform more experiments and be flexible with the kind of content to publish. The main goals of bigger enterprises should be tapping new market segments and creating more sales-driven content using sales-marketing alignment. Here’s how you can achieve these objectives:
Adopting Agile Principles
Taking advantage of agile principles are not only for startup or tech companies. If you want the company to survive the next decade in the industry, you will need to adapt agile principles for content marketing. This methodology is especially helpful when you are trying to tap into a new market segment.
With agile content strategies, the marketing team can respond to the stories that are affecting the new target market and tweak the content to their needs and preferences. Since enterprises have more resources, they can innovate faster and scale more successful campaigns easily.
This was how IBM was able to gain the attention of aspiring home cooks with their “Cognitive Cooking” campaign by “Chef Watson.” The IT brand initially introduced the Watson AI for several functions including personalized customer experience. By utilizing the AI’s ability to process data, the company published new recipes and secured one of the many potential market segments that their innovation can help.
Aligning the Marketing and Sales Teams’ Goals
Both the sales and marketing teams of a company should be communicating their plans with each other since they both aim to increase the company’s revenue and customer base. By publishing content that aims to educate the audience about the product or service, the marketing team provides the sales team with a groundwork that can help them clinch more sales.
For example, the blogs posted by Progressive already answered all the questions that a prospective customer might ask a salesperson. At this point, the buyer is already primed by the content and the sales team can easily secure the deal.
Effective content marketing strategies are about precision and knowing what kind of content to publish or what strategy to include in the monthly budget. There’s no point in exhausting all the resources trying to copy successful marketing strategies by big corporations if it’s not the right cut for the business size.
Engage with your audience more. Learn more about what kind of content they prefer and tailor-fit your strategies to meet their needs.