Content marketing is no longer the hot-shot new marketing phenomenon that businesses couldn’t wait to add to their marketing mix.
It is fast becoming an accepted practice to use content as a means of generating brand awareness, building brand credibility and increasing sales. Marketers are getting savvier with content marketing as they begin to trust its deliverability.
No longer do businesses see the benefits of content marketing with jaundiced eyes. The days of marketers convincing their bosses that they need content marketing are fast disappearing. If anything, business owners ask their marketing team why they aren’t using content to beef up their marketing strategy.
In this scenario where just about every business across diverse domains, irrespective of its size seems to be gung-ho about content marketing, it is difficult to believe content marketing is not really that old. It came into a prominence just a few years ago (some say it came into its own in 2013) and if you go looking for veteran content marketers (with many years of experience), they don’t exist.
This means even expert content marketers are still experimenting with various content strategies, fine tuning their skill sets and learning from their mistakes. What this also means is there are things businesses should know about content marketing but which they surprisingly don’t.
The problem is – ignorance in this case is definitely not bliss.
Small businesses especially are guilty of wading into content marketing waters without being fully aware of what they are actually getting into. One outcome of this is they develop unfair expectations from their content marketing strategy, which essentially leads to disappointment when it cannot deliver on these.
Here are some aspects of a content marketing strategy that small businesses either ignore or are not aware of:
The Need for a Separate Content Marketing Budget
Small businesses have to work under the ambit of a small marketing budget; sometimes this budget is ‘shoe string’. But, in spite of all the budgetary constraints such businesses have, they cannot ignore or paper over the need for setting aside a budget for content marketing. Its expense shouldn’t be clubbed with other marketing expenses, even if these are ‘internet’ marketing expenses.
The fact is you will need to hire specialists to implement your content strategy.
For e.g. you need expert writers to create high quality textual content that forms an intrinsic part of your content marketing efforts. You will need to hire content marketing managers who will manage and control all the activities that are a part and parcel of content promotion.
This is why you need to budget for content marketing separately; otherwise you might not be able to leverage its potential.
Diversity of Tactics is Critical
88% of small business B2B marketers use social media as a content marketing tactic. This is good news. But as a small business, you cannot afford to only depend on social media to get the results you are looking for from your content marketing efforts
A good idea would be to use a collection of tactics to score over your competitors, increase website traffic and boost conversions.
Do you have a website blog? Are you creating and marketing videos? Are you leveraging the potential of guest blogging? Are you publishing whitepapers? Have you thought of creating a podcast? What you need to do is use different content formats to market your small business.
While you might not be able to compete with the big players in the niche from the marketing resources point of view, content marketing allows you to put up a good fight (and quite often win the battle) by putting high quality, solutions driven content in front of your target audience in different formats.
Diversification allows you to attack your audience from different quarters. You need to throw everything at the wall and hope some of it will stick; and if you’ve actually done a good job with your content, a lot of it will stick and make an impression.
Consistent Continuous Communication
As a small business your eyes must be on the ball from the word go.
The first content you publish in the name of your brand must be of high quality and it should set the tone for all future content. Inconsistencies in the form of content quality will not be tolerated by your audience.
If your published pieces are known for the quality of research they bring to the table, think of this as their USP and deliver on it every single time. If your content pieces are known for their humor or the witticisms that are commonly used to make a point, make sure you do not lose sight of this humor whenever you are coming up with a content piece for your business.
Your readers will come to expect this consistency from all your published material. Disappointing them is not an option. Also, make sure you publish content regularly; daily will be a good idea. Think of content marketing as a process of continuous communication between your brand and its target audience. This is again something that your target readers will come to accept from you. Target readers must get into the habit of reading your content and this can only happen if you continuously publish content.
It’s important to remember that there are other businesses using content marketing to capture the mindshare of the same audience that you are targeting. You cannot afford to take things easy. If there is a huge gap in the time taken to publish two content pieces, you are in danger of ceding space to your competitors.
Be Prepared for the Long Haul
Don’t go looking for quick results when it comes to content marketing. Prepare yourself to put in efforts without thinking about immediate results. It’s not wrong for small businesses to expect quick results from their marketing efforts and in fact they actually need quick fire results to survive. But that’s not going to happen with content marketing. With this marketing tactic you need to be patient. If you follow the best practices, it will deliver and it will deliver results exponentially. But you need to keep producing and publishing quality content and sharing it with your target audience over a period of time to reap a rich harvest.
Therefore, it is necessary to not just focus on content marketing as a means of improving your sales figures. Combine it with other strategies like SEO and social media marketing. You could even mix it up with your offline marketing efforts as well. While the cost per lead of content marketing is at the lower end of the scale, and it makes great business sense for small business to use this tactic, it doesn’t make sense for them to solely depend on this approach to drive business profits. A combination always works best.
Think these are the only factors that small businesses ignore vis-à-vis, content marketing? Wrong! We have just begun scratching the surface. One way these businesses can make sure they get their content marketing strategy right is by making sure they understand how it works and the skillsets and resources needed to make it work. The idea is to also pick every tactic with the care and attention it deserves. Also, there are plenty of misconceptions going around. You need to avoid those too.
Yes, you will have your hands full while developing and implementing a content marketing strategy that works. But at the end of the day, it will be well worth the effort.
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