As small business marketers, we have a pretty tough gig. We're given limited resources and budget and expected to work magic. Most of the time we do, but sometimes we fail, and that's okay. At the end of the day, we still love our jobs and still enjoy marketing (you do, right?).
We're constantly being bombarded by professional marketers and thought-leaders telling us we need to do content marketing: publishing, distributing, and promoting valuable content with the intent of building an engaged audience whose needs are inline with your product/service offering, increasing the likelihood they'll convert from readers into customers.
You may be asking yourself, "who has time for content marketing?" Well, every marketer does, you just have to make it. (Click here to tweet this thought)
I always hear the, "I don't have enough time for content marketing" phrase. It's the number one excuse in the book. Why? Because it's an easy out. There's nothing we can do about that because we cannot add more hours in the day (although most of us wish we could).
I also hear that you might not have the "resources" or "skill set" needed to be an effective content marketer, and that's just not true. Everything you need is online and readily available, you just have to look in the right places.
These excuses are the same ones we hear from people who are trying to quit smoking, or want to go to the gym more. The key to starting is finding out how doing these things will benefit you. The benefits are obvious in the quitting smoking example (be healthier, live longer, etc), but for content marketing, they're a little harder to realize and understand. That's because content marketing, like fitness plan, is a long-term strategy that has to be tested and refined in order to be effective.
So, here's how to add content marketing to your small business marketing tool set.
1. Get Organized
Organization is key to content marketing (Click here to tweet this thought). If you're disorganized, then you might want to consider having someone who is more obsessive-compulsive about things helping you get to a point where you can easily find the information you need and filter out the noise you don't. A messy desk covered in papers and knick-knacks isn't the ideal writing environment.
You first need to make sure you're keeping track of your industry, competitors, and keywords. Find the resources that are going to help you and add them to your content aggregator (I use Feed.ly and it's great). You should also follow these companies and gurus via social media and try your best to interact with them through likes, shares, retweets, and comments. To receive, you must also give.
Use a content marketing tool like BoostSuite to determine which valuable keywords to write about and create a list of suggested on-page changes. When you implement them, you will be optimizing your content for organic search click-throughs.
2. Create a Strategy and Set Goals
It's a fact that small businesses with a documented content marketing strategy are more effective than those without. They are even more effective than those who have a dedicated person to oversee strategy.
Work with a team member (or with a trusted friend if you're a solopreneur) and decide what you're going to write about and when you're going to publish your articles (day of the week and time). Map out the next six months and try to set a topic or two to write about each week. Set a realistic goal of one article a week, for starters.
Not sure what to write about? Follow these tips from the Content Marketing Institute:
- Reuse content at the beginning and end of the sales funnel: This suggestion applies to any businesses that have a long sales cycle.
- Curate content: Instead of producing new content, share existing content - created by your organization or by others in your industry. This strategy can be used by businesses of any size.
- Produce evergreen content: instead of focusing on pumping out more new content, create a body of evergreen content that you can update, as needed. As a bonus, you may be able to curate content in a way that makes it more useful/gives it new life.
Set some reasonable goals for your content marketing strategy. If you don't know what you're trying to achieve, stop and figure that out before you do anything else. A beginning goal could be an extra 10 unique visitors a week, or one new inbound link or social share. Start with small goals and then revisit them in six months to see if/how they need to be modified.
3. Stay Disciplined
Discipline is a cornerstone to effective content marketing. You're not going to build an audience or reach your goals with flaky, inadequate efforts and disorganized, invaluable content. That's why you have to get in the habit of writing. Learn to love it, because if you don't, it will come across in the quality of your writing.
Write your articles outside of your normal business hours. Set aside 1-2 hours in the morning or evening, go to a quiet space, turn your email off, turn your phone off, turn your TV off, turn off anything that takes your focus off your content. Minimizing distractions allows you to write quicker and at a higher quality level. Less interruptions usually means your content reads and flows better.
Hold yourself accountable for your articles. If you miss a week, that's ok, but try to come back the next week with two pieces of content. Remember, being busy is different than being productive. We're all busy, but not all of us are producing results with our hard work. That's what separates the good content marketers from the great ones.
Motivate yourself by knowing what your competitors are doing, or even better, what they aren't doing regarding content marketing. Each page of content you create is another opportunity that you have to find and close new business that your competitor missed out on.
You, too, can become an expert content marketer
Marketers are being asked to do more and more these days. We've already got full plates, but to be effective marketers online, we simply have to do content marketing. I hope you'll employ my suggestions, get into a comfortable rhythm, and exceed your goals!
Content marketing should be a routine part of your work week, and it should be fun! Just like getting into a workout routine, you have to get over the first hurdle of actually getting out there and doing it! I may not be fun immediately, and you may feel like you're not seeing any benefit, but you have to stick with it and work hard at it to see results. Before you know it, you'll have 25-26 new pieces of content on your website. And that's a great achievement in itself!
Be sure to stay positive and optimistic. This isn't like your English class back in high school where you didn't have a choice what to write about. In high school, you force-read a book, then force-wrote a paper on it. Now, you're writing about things you're already an expert on or have a passion for, so it should be easy for most marketers, even if you're not a professional writer.Do you have any other tips on how to make time for content marketing? I’d love to hear them in the comments!