What is a content marketing strategy and why you need it (Yes, you need it!)
We’ve talked about omnichannel and multichannel strategies, why small businesses need digital marketing, how to retain your customers and so on, however, we haven’t discussed in depth what a content marketing strategy is and how you can develop one for your business. As we mentioned in one of our previous articles (link to Myth disproved: “I am a small business, I don’t need digital marketing”), developing a digital marketing strategy has 6 major steps, out of which we’ll unravel 3 in this article: how to set goals, how to get to know your audience, how to develop a content strategy, and how to create a content calendar.
When you start a new business, you generally have (or if you don’t, you definitely should have) a long-term goal, a purpose, a mission and a demand that you will satisfy. However, your content also should have goals, that is, specific goals, for example, brand awareness, customer retention, lead generation, website traffic, sales, etc. How do you set these goals, how do you decide about them? Well, of course, you need to know the most crucial needs of your business, however, you also have to tap into who your customers are and what they’re into – after all, they are the ones you create content for.
As Neil Patel says “Before you write a single word of content, you need to become best friends with your audience”. The best way to do that is to create buyer personas – fictional people who represent different types of customers. To do so, you naturally need to know your customer base to some extent and to further your knowledge, you’ll have to conduct customer surveys and research your target audience. A buyer persona should answer 6 questions: who (are my customers), what (they need, drives their behavior), why (they make a decision to buy), when (they decide to buy), where (they buy), and how (they buy and think). When you create buyer personas, it’s also useful to dive deep into demographics and psychographics: personality, values, interests, lifestyles, age, gender, race, location and employment status.
When you have a clear understanding of who your (potential) customers are and what they need, you can start identifying which type of content they enjoy the most. This information will help you define what kind of content you’ll be producing: social media posts, newsletters, blog posts, infographics, videos, PR articles, magazines, eBooks, mobile apps, webinars, podcasts, etc. According to Content Marketing Institute “companies who are most successful at content marketing use a wider variety of content approaches - an average of 15 different approaches”. Of course, there’s no need to start with 15 different approaches - it’s better to pick a few that you’re good at and have time for, and master those.
What and where you communicate isn’t worth a dime if the how is not attractive to your audience, though. “Every successful brand has their own style and personality. It’s one of the most important, yet unquantifiable aspect of a brand.” (HubSpot) What does it mean? People tend to gravitate towards personalities that resonate with their own personality so if you know your target audience, you’ll better know how to communicate with them. Don’t sweat all the small things, though, just try to be consistent and to cater to your audience because people are more likely to fancy similar people.
So far, we’ve covered how to figure out who your audience is, what they want, how they’re going to get it and now you just need to settle into a content frequency pattern, a.k.a. how often you will post which type of content. Generally speaking, the more a certain type of content costs (resources, time, effort), the less frequent you’ll be creating it, however, beside your own capability, you will have to take your audience’s needs into account as well. Once you’ve determined what, how and when you’ll be posting, go ahead and create a content calendar and schedule everything. Planning things in advance is a great way to execute successfully.
You’ve covered all your bases, had your audience down, figured out your brand style, produced and scheduled content – now what? Gaining organic traffic is a systematic and not exactly quick process so be patient and keep measuring, adjusting, surveying, refining and testing because your audience is an ever-changing creature and you need to evolve with it to have a fruitful online presence.