Content Marketing 101 Series, Part 2
As I mentioned in my last post, content marketing is the fastest growing form of marketing on the planet.
Industry statistics suggest 89 percent of B2B marketers use content marketing, yet only 34 percent feel their efforts are effective. Why? Well, I don’t think it’s mere coincidence that only 32 percent of B2B companies have a documented content marketing strategy.
Planning is critical to success.
Because content marketing is such a fast-growing phenomenon, there are still a lot of learning curves for businesses just getting started.
Often times small business owners with limited resources go out on their own and attempt to try their hand at content marketing, only to get confused, overwhelmed and frustrated at a lack of results.
It’s important as a small business owner to remember that the plan itself is more than half the battle.
Making the effort to do the front-end work to execute over a three to six month period will help keep you organized, focused on priority business goals and will help you to track your successes and failures so you can make adjustments.
GETTING STARTED WITH CONTENT MARKETING
Mission and Business Goals
Before you start ANY type of marketing effort for your business, you simply must know where you are going.
Identifying your mission, your reason for being and exploiting that passion in your business mission is critical. Once you have a mission, you can then move on to determining what your goals are, at least for the next year.
Once the basic fundamentals of your business are in place, you can start to decide what role your content output will play in helping you reach them. While you may start to come up with a laundry-list of content goals, I recommend starting simple with no more than 3-4 content goals.
For example, if you have a business goal to increase brand awareness by 25%, you may have a content goal of increasing social media fans/followers from 5000 to 6000.
Know Your Audience
This is one area people often skip, and to their detriment. It’s imperative to know not only your target audience, but who your ideal client really is. Making an ideal client avatar doesn’t need to be complicated.
You can find fancy avatar templates on line, or, as I often do, draw a stick figure on a blank sheet of paper and start listing all the different characteristics, values and personality of this “perfect” client.
The point isn’t to bedazzle your plan with a beautiful rendering of a person. It’s to really get into the psychology of the person you want to most reach.
Knowing what their problem is, what their habits are and how you can entice them into hiring you to solve their problem is fundamental the creation of your content marketing plan.
Decide Content Tactics
Now that you have your content goals articulated and you can understand the habits and behaviours of your audience, you can start to brainstorm how you might meet your goals. It’s important to dump out ALL ideas. Even the ones that seem out-there, or too expensive.
Once you’ve done your brainstorm, go back and select the top 2 tactics for each goal that you feel will be effective and most reasonable to get done.
Again, you want to consider your time and resources as a small business. Simple and attainable is far more likely to be implemented than something very task-heavy and daunting.
Also important is to consider the format you will publish this content in. Live video, e-books, social media challenges and emails are all effective, but very different. Know your audience, your goal and go for the option you feel will have the best outcome.
Yes, I said feel.
Following your instinct is something that is passed-over in business too often as risky or even careless. But the truth is, you know your business, your message and your customers more than any other person on the planet.
If your first attempt doesn’t pan out as well as you’d hope, evaluate it and try again with another format.
The most important aspect of content marketing is authenticity. But a close second is consistency.
Determine Key Platforms
For the most part, your format will help determine your platform. One thing solo-preneurs often cite is that social posting overwhelm prevents them from posting consistently.
The most important aspect of content marketing is authenticity. But a close second is consistency. To produce content consistently you need to simplify where you are distributing content.
When just starting out, I recommend choosing 1-2 social media platforms, on top of your email list to distribute your content on.
When you feel you are able to stay on top of things, you can then start to branch out to a new platform, use a scheduling tool or hire a VA to ensure you are able to keep up.
Be patient: it takes time, and you need to experiment on what will work in your content that will get you to your business goals.
Determine all the different ways you may be able to measure success for each tactic, and measure all of them if possible. It’s far more accurate to measure something wholistically than to just rely on a single surface measure.
For example, if your goal is to increase engagement with your audience, don’t just measure likes and comments. Track other data such as post shares, external mentions, organic posts from members in your groups and new leads.
The wholistic picture helps you to see where engagement is stronger and helps you with refining future content marketing efforts.
It’s best to start with a small-scale 3 month plan if you are trying strategic content marketing for the first time. At the end of the 3 month period, take a look at your outcomes versus your efforts.
What was worth it? What wasn’t? And what has good potential but needs some tweaking?
Align your next plan with your most current content goals and start again. Your next plan may look very similar to your first if you have the same goals.
Once you meet your existing content goals, celebrate your success! It’s no small feat to smash a content marketing plan. And remember, the more consistent your efforts, the more success you will see – you’re playing the long-game.