Last week, Kathryn and I met with a local business owner for a coffee and a chat about how she could get started with content marketing.
It can seem daunting when starting a content marketing programme from scratch, with nothing but a blank sheet of paper.
But this stage in the content marketing journey is also exciting and packed with possibilities.
You can formulate a powerful, effective content marketing strategy without constraints or baggage.
In this blog post, how to get started with content marketing as simply as possible.
1 – Know thy audience
A clear picture of your ideal customer is crucial but often overlooked.
We discuss with our clients the importance of creating a customer avatar, a semi-fictional representation of your perfect customer, including where they hang out.
Get as detailed as you can during this step. The more you bring your target customer to life, the more the content you create can speak directly to that person.
Don’t fear the niche. Being specific at this stage can scare a lot of small business owners who fear they will be excluding the majority of potential customers.
In our experience, the more niche you are with your target audience, the easier they will be to reach and convert.
And, in time, nothing is stopping you from creating multiple niches.
2 – Understand their most significant challenges
One of our clients refers to the 2 am moments we all face from time to time.
What wakes up your ideal customer in the early hours.
The better you understand your target audience and the challenges they face, the better a job you can do creating content that addresses those challenges.
While your business might not provide solutions to the sorts of issues that wake people up in a cold sweat as their alarm clock ticks over to 1.59 am, the ultimate goal of every (successful) brand is to solve problems.
The better you can define those problems, the better you can reach your target audience and offer a compelling solution.
3 – Define your content pillars
What makes you, you? What do you stand for?
Before embarking on a new content marketing programme, we encourage small business owners to define their content pillars.
Sometimes known as content buckets, these are broad themes or topics your business uses to base critical messages.
Relate your content pillars to your target audience, and ensure they speak directly to those individuals and the unique challenges they face.
A small business should have three to five content pillars, with each piece of content neatly fitting into one or two.
4 – Build your authority
Why should someone buy from you?
We tend to do business with people we know, like and trust.
There is a whole load of psychology behind the factors that drive buying decisions, and it’s worth getting to grips with some of this science.
Before you go in for the kill (sale), it’s essential to establish your credibility as the person offering a solution.
We know that people find it easier to buy something that others have already happily purchased. Following the herd removes some of the risks from the buying decision, and it’s why testimonials are such a powerful form of content marketing.
There are multiple ways to build your authority, including through the delivery of content. Get this step right before going too far down the content marketing rabbit hole.
4 – Answer the big questions
What are the most important questions relating to your products or services that your ideal customers are asking?
If you can provide answers to these questions, you position yourselves as the trusted experts.
Google and other search engines also work, in essence, by matching up questions (search terms) to the most suitable, authoritative answers.
We would encourage every small business to determine the questions being asked by their customers before creating written, video and audio content containing the answers.
5 – Build a content creation and delivery process
How do you deliver a content marketing programme without taking up every waking moment?
As a small business owner, you wear a lot of hats. You have a busy calendar, being pulled in many directions each day.
While content marketing deserves your attention, too, assuming you want your business to grow, you need to find a way to do it without eating into already precious working hours.
You can drive efficiency into your content marketing by planning (create a content calendar), batch producing your content (one filming day a quarter can yield enough content to keep you going until the next time), and repurposing each piece of content to create stacks of micro-content.
So, how do you get started with your content marketing?
It can seem daunting at first, but if you take it one step at a time and follow these simple tips, you’ll be on your way to creating content that engages your audience and drives results.
Define your audience, understand their biggest challenges, build your authority, answer the big questions, and work smarter when creating content.
These are the essential steps to getting started with a successful content marketing programme.
How will you get started today?