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Publishing quality content can help your small business get new leads, develop a bigger presence online and convert more prospects into clients. But the process of planning, creating and distributing content can be a tall order for many small businesses who have limited resources.
An outstanding content marketing plan doesn’t have to be out of your reach! By following these keys you can put content marketing to work for your small business.
1. Get clear on your content budget.
There are literally dozens of different content pieces that you can use to market your business online – and that doesn’t count all of the distribution methods you can use to get your content out there. It’s a bit like going shopping at Costco. Before you know it, you’ve turned a short trip for ice, bulk candy bars and a new Magnum flashlight set into a $200 excursion.
Setting a clear budget for content will help you spend your marketing budget wisely and narrow in on the techniques that will be most effective for your business.
How much should you spend on content marketing? According to a recent survey from the Content Marketing Institute, 27% percent of businesses spent 15 to 30% of their marketing budget on content development. Small business marketing budgets are typically 8% of revenue. So for a small business with yearly revenue of $250,000, a monthly content marketing budget would be around $550.
Of course you may need to invest more initially for new content marketing plans and development. But having a clear figure in mind before you start developing content in house or looking to outside providers can help you stay focused and spend wisely.
2. Know your customer.
Your content marketing has to be customer-centered to be effective. Content marketing isn’t a promotional brochure. It’s a way to connect with your audience and help them solve problems with information. You can’t create content that is all about you and you alone.
Your job with content is to provide the information that your customers are looking for in a way that is attractive to them. For example, your customer does a search for “fax machines” and you have a high ranking article titled “5 Things to Look For in New Fax Machines.” They read your article and are impressed with your small office supply store’s insight into buying a fax machine. They explore the rest of your site and sign up for your weekly newsletter with more informative articles and regular deals. Then they become a customer.
Apply the same strategy to your own business. Figure out what your customers need to know and create content that responds to those needs.
3. Repurpose wherever you can.
One of the biggest challenges that small businesses face in content development is time. They don’t have enough time to actively create multiple content pieces each month. An effective content marketing strategy requires consistency – but repurposing can help you bridge the gap between what you should be publishing and what you can spend on content development.
Repurposing isn’t about copying someone else or repeating yourself endlessly. With repurposing, you can take one piece of content and make it stretch. Just like you’d make spaghetti sauce and then use it with several different meals, you can create an ebook and then draw several blog posts out of the content. You can then turn those blog posts into fodder for your email newsletter and use tips from the blog posts for your social media updates. It’s less work for you and you’ll get more content to keep your marketing machine going.
4. Don’t be afraid to curate!
Although it’s important to create your own content for your small business, you can also supplement your marketing with strategic curation. Curation is sharing helpful content created by other people.
Curation can be as simple as highlighting blog posts from other companies on social media or as complex as creating a blog post or white paper that reviews content from others. Not only does curation help round out your content schedule but it helps “spread the love” around. If you’re sharing content from related companies, they’ll be more likely to share your content with their fans and followers.
There are several different tools and platforms that can help you become a content curator. Google Alerts is a good way to start. Once you’ve started to see what is out there, you can use more sophisticated tools like Paper.li, Scoop.It or Storify to easily capture and share relevant content.
5. Support content with social media.
If a great article is published online and nobody read it, is it really that great? Content marketing and social media go hand in hand. You need to support your content marketing plan with regular social media usage.
Develop a following on Twitter and Facebook, at a minimum (LinkedIn if it’s appropriate) and then update your fans and followers when you post new content. Look for opportunities to post your content on additional sites or guest post with related businesses.
Small business content marketing doesn’t have to be overwhelming if you follow these five keys. Take time to map out your content budget, get clear on what your customer wants to know and then use repurposing, curation and sharing to make content marketing work for you.
Courtney Ramirez is a certified SEO copywriter and content marketing consultant. As a student of search engine marketing, web usability and social media, she’s been able to craft a writing style that is both inviting to readers and ranking factors.