What is Content Marketing and Why is it a Successful Strategy
If a small business doesn’t have millions to spend on marketing, how do they compete against large companies who do?
I had a meeting with a company not too long ago. They were a small business, but they have a fantastic service that really assists their clientele to improve their lives.
This company understood that marketing is a necessity, but they have been discouraged with trying to compete against their competitors who seem to have an endless supply of finances to execute their marketing strategies.
Despite their best efforts their Paid Advertising was always being out bid by their competitors. They couldn’t get their keywords in major search engines above their competitors. At events the competitors always had the biggest booths with all the latest technology and leaving with very few interviews.
It was a constant source of frustration for them. I was the umpteen marketing company that had interviewed to try and figure out something, anything they could do to compete against the “Goliath” companies that have millions to spend on their marketing strategies.
After this meeting I was reflecting on many other interviews I’ve had over the last year with a very similar theme. The David vs Goliath type of scenario in the marketing world.
There are 30 million small businesses in the United States with a GDP of 5.9 trillion dollars. Small businesses are essential for the economy of the United States and need all the help they can get to ensure they can expand and increase their revenue.
It is true that marketing costs money. In 2018 the United States alone spent 12.8 billion dollars on marketing. That is a LOT of money.
It is also true that there are millions of “marketing companies” who spout that they know exactly what they are doing, while throwing their client’s money away trying to figure it out.
Business owners have become cynical about marketing and whenever possible will hire in-house employees to do the work so that they can oversee exactly what is happening. Unfortunately this doesn’t work out well either, because what is being taught in colleges around the country or youtube about marketing is…lacking results to put it politely.
So is there an answer, or is it all doom and gloom?
The first thing every small business needs to understand about marketing is this – There is no magic formula for marketing that will automatically take you from where you are, to where you want to be over night.
It takes hard work, it takes understanding your industry, it takes long nights, planning, execution and everything else you already do to keep your business delivering to your clients.
Here is a question for any small business owner. Did you get everything right on your product or service the very first time? Or like almost everything else in this world you came up with an idea, put something together and then tested it out.
Most likely found that adjustments needed to be made and then did it all over again until you had a product or service you could deliver to clients in exchange for a monetary amount.
Why expect anything else from marketing?
Is there a way for a Small Business who doesn’t have millions of dollars to spend on marketing; have a chance of competing against the large companies that do?
The short answer is YES.
Your next question is how? The answer is hard work and a lot of it. But let me be a bit more specific.
Let me preface my next few paragraphs with the following statement. What I am about to tell you has to be in addition to every other marketing effort you already do, NOT a replacement.
Have you ever heard the term Content Marketing? Chances if you have been around for the last 10 years you have.
So what is content marketing? Most people seem to think it’s just a fancy word that doesn’t have a lot of relevance to the real world. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Content Marketing – Content Marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience and to ultimately, drive profitable customer action.
Instead of trying to sell your products or services, you are giving information that makes your target audience more intelligent. The core of this strategy is based on the belief that if your business delivers consistent content, ongoing valuable data to your audience, you will be rewarded with their business and loyalty.
If you think about it, you will see that this strategy isn’t new, it’s actually been around for a long, long time.
Consistent content. That sounds like a lot of work.
It is a lot of work, but well worth the payoff.
Let us actually look at this. What is involved in Content Marketing?
You could literally look across the board in regards to marketing and anything that is involved with marketing is involved with content marketing.
It is a fully embracive strategy that HAS to be consistently done. Or in words that really put it into perspective. You have to outwork your competition.
If content marketing is done correctly, your target audience will actually be looking forward to your marketing. Why? You are answering their questions, you are helping them solve their problems, you are making their lives easier to live.
So when they do travel the buyer’s journey for something involving your industry, guess who they will turn to. Your company, because they trust your company.
You were the company that helped them improve their flow lines, or you gave them a free tool that allowed them to better handle all the communication or…a thousand other things you can help them with.
How to get started with a Content Marketing strategy.
- Figure out what your company hopes to accomplish with content marketing
- What is the Brand Story
- What is the company’s differentiating value proposition
- What are the details of each of the company’s buyer personas
- What does the customer buyer journey look like
- What content do we need to create each aspect of the buyer’s journey
- Content Marketing Calendar and Content Tracking Framework
Figure out what your company hopes to accomplish with content marketing
Goals are extremely important. Thus the first step in any content marketing strategy is determining what you would like to accomplish with your strategy.
These should be SMART goals. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.
SMART goals are essential for any marketing strategy so ensure you apply them to your content strategy.
What is the Brand Story
You will need to determine the structure of your content strategy and that is hard to do without having a Brand Story.
Each piece of content will need to fit within the overall Brand Story. Coming up with consistent content all the time can get frustrating at times, but having a structure based on the overall Brand Story helps to define your process.
There are no set rules for a Brand story. But you need to have a character (Your company), a problem/opportunity that existed and what was done to overcome an obstacle to fix or solve or handle a problem/opportunity.
What is the Company’s differentiating value proposition
Fully understanding what you bring to the table is important and could be considered part of your Brand story, but it needs more attention.
Your company’s value proposition is how you individuate yourself from the competition. It is how you stand out and need to be fully articulated so that it is easy to highlight in any form of marketing.
What are the details of each of the Company’s buyer personas
Understanding WHO you are communicating to with your content marketing is a MUST! Why? How do you expect to help them handle their problems, if you don’t even know what their problems are.
There could be a thousand things to concentrate on, but we will highlight the main points:
Who is this person?
What is his or her need? (Not why they need your product)
Why should they care about your company?
What can you offer this buyer persona?
Also remember that you can have many buyer personas and will need to individually work this out for each one.
What does the buyer journey look like?
You need to break down the buyer’s journey for each persona.
Buyer’s Journey being:
Understanding this journey will give you a picture of what these persona’s go through to obtain a product or service.
What content needs to be created for each aspect of the buyer’s journey?
Once you understand the buyer’s journey for each persona you have for your company you can start determining what type of content you need to produce.
You will need to have content for each step of the buyer’s journey for each persona.
Try to use a pyramid effect with the content you decide to create. Meaning if you create a helpful blog post, think of the ways you can use other aspects of marketing (social media, video, infographic, collateral, etc) to forward the same blog post.
This is working smarter, not harder.
Content Marketing Calendar and Content Tracking Framework
Now put together a Calendar together for the quarter at least or each piece of content that needs to be done.
I would highly recommend making it color coded or some legend to understand everything that needs to be done for the plan.
Once the calendar has been created, you will need to create a way to track each piece of content necessary to ensure that you stay on schedule for the calendar.
This is a content tracking framework. It is going to track making sure the blog post, social post, video, etc is getting done and is on track to meet the scheduled due date.
I just laid down a thousand plus words and it is a lot to take in at one time. So here are the highlights:
- Yes you can compete with large companies
- It takes a lot of hard work
- Content Marketing is legit
- How to start a Content Marketing Strategy
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