Apparently, it looks impossible for small businesses to stand out from the crowd especially when hundreds of thousands of new blogs are being launched, millions of copies are getting published every day, and billions of dollars are being spent on the marketing.
You got to agree with the ‘Reba McEntire’.
“Be different, stand out, and work your butt off”, say said.
Content marketing is a lightning rod for the small businesses that haven’t been able to pull off something exceptional online. Still on old-school web design, 5-page HTML site with the gloomy look?
If that sort of web philosophy could work today, the brands would not have been looking at the fancy designs, UI-UX concepts, responsive pages, and rich-text based pages on their websites. Sit tight. I’ve got this covered for you. I meet people, some of them have thriving brands and some of them are in struggling situations, both of them strive to use the content marketing ecosystem.
So, one day I sat down and figured it out that why some brands focus a lot more on the USER-EXPERIENCE and AUDIENCE than PRICE and SELLING.
Tell me you didn’t see a $1 trial offers for a whole month!
Tell me you never came across a free sign trial sign with no credit card required offers!
Here is the deal.
I’m going to walk you through the process of overhauling the web marketing strategy and help you avoid your brand going off the rails. In other words, I’m going to show you a pathway of simply using the content for your small business. Because the opposite side of this is actually not-understanding the content marketing, which is clearly a no go.
What is Content Marketing?
The content marketing is a process of using the text, graphic, audio, and the video content to find, engage, educate, and convert the audience into loyal customers. Now, it’s probably a two-line definition but in reality, it’s a whole process of harboring the group of people, making them your audience, choosing the certain kind of segment of people, and ultimately helping them with your content. If some thoughts crossed your mind about “content marketing” and “small businesses” connection, then let me explain it to you. It’s not something NEW, but it’s rather something NEW to you. In that case, it’s totally fine because we’re going dig deeper and find out everything about using the power of content marketing for small businesses.
Let’s take a minute to see what sort of jobs a brand has to be indulged in to get started with the content marketing:
1) – Building a Publishing Platform: A publishing platform is more likely to be a blog that becomes a go-to place to write the content that could engage, entertain, and convert the visitors into the leads. Most of the brands out there tend to have an official blog on a different directory of their domain, which is fine. Having a website is important as it helps to promote your brand to a larger audience and makes your company look even more professional. It is important to do your research into something like best web hosting for small business canada to help find you the right web hosting services to get your website up and running. Every site needs a host in order for it to become live.
2) – Choosing the Audience: The identification of the audience enables a brand to look at the prospective market and imagine the appropriate type of future customers to take the right footsteps to actually reach them.
3) – Creating a Content Strategy: A content strategy defines what a brand wants to achieve and that goal helps achieve the target defined by the brand. The content strategy covers it all, from what to write, who to write for, and how to get it done.
4) – Publishing the Finest Content: The highest-quality content is pretty much is unbeatable when it comes to content marketing. The more a brand publishes an in-depth and high-quality content, the easier it becomes to influence the readership because of the value being delivered through that content.
5) – Promoting the Product: If the content marketing doesn’t actually involve in attracting the audience, delivering the value, and bringing up the product to offer, then it won’t be called the content marketing process. Maybe having a business line card would make it a lot easier to promote the products you provide. If you are not sure how to create one of these, this line card template is worth checking out. You can then hand these out to potential clients, as you try to grow your business. The gauge of promotion is important in this regard. What people do wrong is that they increase the marketing part and the content starts to seem salesy immediately, and that’s where the problem starts.
A 4-Step Guide to Understanding the Process of Content Marketing
Being a small business owner, you would like to reach out to the audience that might become your paying customers. A well-designed content marketing plan will ensure that you don’t go otherwise. Take a look at this 4-step guide to content marketing:
1) – Imagine the Prospective Faces to Invite
At step 1, start thinking. Imagine possibly the ideal group of people who comply to the description of your product’s target audience. If you haven’t been able to identify the righteous type of people for your product, you’re not going to find them. Do you know about The Vampire Diaries’ character Rayna Cruz (played by Leslie-Anne Huff) who turned out to be a vampire hunter and she used to mark them (somehow) to kill them?
Speaking of which, the point is you should know who your exact audience is. You might not want to keep scratching the clutter and end up frustrated. The process of content marketing begins with a plan and that plan does have a list of priorities and consider identifying and knowing your exact audience at the top of the list.
Ask yourself the following questions about the target audience:
- Where do they exist?
- What is their age-group?
- What kind of people are they?
- What do they like?
- What part of the world do they live in?
- What do they think?
- What do they do for a living?
- Where do they hangout?
- What could be there hobbies?
- What could be there priorities?
Once you draft the answers to such questions, it will help you identify your prospective faces to target. One of the key purposes of content marketing is to communicate with the audience through your content. Now, it clearly means you should be reaching out to the right audience because the wrong audience means someone else’s audience which could be alien to you.
The team at Wistia certainly knows about this. Because they’ve clearly mentioned something on their homepage:
So does the Publisher. They’ve done this thing incredibly as well. Not only does it show how well you are clear with your plans, but it also helps people to understand that what your brand can do for them. For instance, Publisher has clearly mentioned this on their website:
You’d never build a concrete content marketing plan if you’re not clear with WHO to target and WHY to target.
Have you ever attended a friend’s marriage?
Of course, you have.
Every single guest at weddings is invited through a formal invitation. Isn’t it?
Similarly, your content doesn’t have to invite every kind of reader to your website(unless you own world’s best search engine). Instead, it should edge out the uninvited ones and keep the funnel clean for the ones who desperately need your product.
2) – Cater the Best Meal for Them
Have you ever ordered the tasteless food for the party you’re hosting?
Never ever. Right? Because you don’t want to spoil the party. No one would ever do that. Similarly, we will never allow ourselves to publish content that degrades our brand’s value.
At step 2, we will see, how we can curate the best possible content for the readers who will arrive on our website. Just like the guests at our party.
What would you do at your party?
- You’ll take care of the decoration
- You’ll check up with the catering
- You’ll make sure the home gets cleaned up
- You’ll keep your outfit ready
- You’ll make sure that everyone on the list gets the invitation
- You’ll arrange the best music system for the party
- You’ll try to meet everyone and thank them personally
Why all this?
Because it’s you, the host of the party has to do this. You hosted the party and it’s your duty to make sure that all this goes well.
Similarly, when you’re creating the content for marketing, it has to fulfill the certain responsibilities, such as:
What you do: This might look the simplest thing to explain. Most of the brands end up creating a brief ‘About’ page on their websites and think it’s enough. Well, it’s not enough until your tracking tells you that your ‘About’ page is the most engaging and popular page on your website. Your content does have the responsibility to bring, engage, and convert the prospect and that can’t be done without creating an in-depth and valuable content.
How you can help: Telling exactly how you can help the audience will not only make them mesmerized but they will also look forward to coming back again. It doesn’t mean you have to write it down somewhere on your website that ‘how you can help’, instead, start doing it with your content. Your content is your medium to talk, help, and solve problems.
Who you’re going to help: Before start creating your content, you should know who you’re dealing with. Your content is your thing to offer and when you make it digestible for the audience knowing the fact that they need this, it will be fruitful for the campaign.
Why you’re the best: Putting something extra is like going an extra mile. Prove your WHY, meaning why you’re the right person/brand for your audience. The content creation process does give you a chance to prove that you’re irreplaceable and the value you’re delivering can’t be found otherwise.
The team NordVPN for Kodi knows this. They are the best when it comes to creating lots of articles that help the audience as well as engage them as a community . They have a pretty engaged official blog where they continuously publish useful and helpful content.
The reason for explaining all this is that you can’t achieve the same of kind of results without creating great content.
This subheading wasn’t ‘Cater the Meal’…
Instead, it was ‘Cater the Best Meal’…
Because we’ve seen over and over again, businesses who have managed to start creating valuable content get the edge over the businesses who don’t.
This infographic shows the ideal size and weight of shareable content on various social and online publishing platforms.
3) – Decorate your Dining Room
Would you rather clean up the house and set up the dining room for the dinner or just keep it all messy around?
I bet you’re going to clean the place up and put some curtains, nice cushions, and spray the area with an air freshener. Obviously, you’ll want everyone coming to the dinner feel good and happy.
At step 3, we’re going to assume the same situation and put the website and your visitors in that situation.
Visitors land on your website through various means. They come from social media, online ads, search engines, and from your newsletters. So, there are, of course, a number of visitors’ streams available that you’d be utilizing to let people come to your website. What you would want in this situation (when people are arriving on your website) is that it should be optimized enough for them to visit, help them consume the content, and push them to subscribe for the future updates.
In order to make your content work for the audience, you don’t just make content, you also try to make that content look good. Here are a few things that need to be considered for making your content look good:
A Nicely Designed Website Theme: It’s a harsh reality that a badly designed blog or website could ruin the well-written content. There is a connection between a good web design and the visitors. People tend to stay longer if they like the site’s interface. In fact, they might end up reading the content, if they like the whole inner environment. It seems like the web design stops the visitors from going off the hook.
Color Scheme and Combination: Colors have their psychological impact on the visitors. The design of any website is incredibly important to the website’s success, which is why the psychology of colors is a widely known and discussed topic over the internet. Brands are tend to know more and more about the colors psychology. Online tools like Heatmap and CrazyEgg provide visitors engagement tracking on the websites, which plays a key role in understanding the importance of colors on the websites.
Optins and Popups: Optins boxes and popups help the website owners to engage the audience, when the content successfully attracts them. If the content is not being supported by the optins, it won’t be able to convert the visitors into subscribers or paying customers. The funnel creation process is something small businesses need to study in order to use optins and popups for their benefit.
Call-to-Actions: The call-to-action button is a clickable graphic or text button that drives the visitors through the engagement funnel and help them proceed in the engagement process. These CTAs either help businesses to collect leads or get subscribers.
Fonts and Typography: When it comes to the support of overall website design to the content marketing, it can’t be justified if the fonts and typography aren’t discussed. Fonts are so much important in the readers’ engagement and this is something you might come across but you won’t find people telling you this. Have you ever opened an article on a blog and left the blog right away because of an annoying fonts all over the layout? This happens sometimes. So, never use filthy or annoying fonts on your website. Check out this guide on Google Fonts for utilizing the Google fonts.
So, this step pretty much tells you how your design elements help support your content. The content strategy is certainly based on the targets to achieve with the creation, publishing, and promoting the content. What we don’t have to forget behind this is the engagement aspect of content which has a solid connection with the design of our web property.
Zapier does this quite well. They know how to use the homepage to engage and attract the visitors, which is why they’ve mentioned smartly that people can use Zapier every day:
4) – Serve Them Well
There is no reason you won’t serve the guests at your party. We all do.
Similarly, at step 4, we’re going to see that how we can serve the audience on our websites and blogs. Ever thought about a reader who left your blog because he couldn’t find the thing you promised in the title? It would be devastating to say the least. In order to avoid that embarrassment, you should know that what it takes to make a reader happy. Take a look at these 4 key elements of serving the audience:
- Picking up the Right Issue: It all begins with choosing the right thing to discuss. Once you identify the right kind of people that you want to serve as discussed at step 1, then you’ll be able to know what they actually need. However, it more or less depends on the understanding of the content creator (that how well he/she understands the prospective audience). For instance, the idea of a niche site is based upon creating the content for a specific kind of people that need to resolve some issues or might be interested in some kind of a solution.
- Providing the Walk-through Process: If you’re there to help with some issue, then provide each and every possible step involved in the process, keeping in mind that every visitor has a different approach and understanding of things. Explain and articulate as much as you can throughout the content.
- Cutting the Fluff: Trimming the content will cut off the unimportant part of the piece. You would rather remove the clutter than wasting your lead that could go away because of the lengthy content.
Solving the Problem: It could all go in vain if that doesn’t solve the problem. Solving the real problem should be the purpose of your content. Help people out with your tutorials, storytelling, and engaging content. Your content should help them understand the particular topic that you’re covering.
If you, being a business owner, think that content marketing has nothing to do with your business line, then you’re mistaken. One way or the other, you’ll come across at the point in the future, where you would feel that content needs to be published online to help educate the prospects.
Let’s jump into the past days, when iPhones and Netflix weren’t there. Most of the brands use billboards and brochures to engage the audience. Do you know why?
Because those were the best and possible options back then. In fact, they used a certain kind of short and precise content on the billboards and brochures to engage the people. So, the content marketing is sort of a modernized form of the same marketing tactics.
The process of content marketing does require planning in order to execute it well. Without a good plan, it’s pretty much a waste of resources that are being spent.
Take off that shell you live in. It means:
- Hit the stereotypes of content creation
- Spill the beans to bring the out-of-the-box things you know
Sharing those ultimate secrets with the audience is something that makes the content phenomenal.
The content marketing is all about taking a few steps closer to the audience that is unknown to you, but you can feel their existence. If you’re struggling with your content marketing, it is worth checking out Digital Meal. My friend tells me he has had fantastic results with them and their services.
The next time you want to start content marketing for your small business, you may not need to buy the fanciest subscriptions at the moment, what you would need is to start asking yourself some questions and those questions would begin with WHY, WHO, HOW etc.
And creating the content without a strategy is similar to answer without knowing the questions.
What would you do to start the content marketing process?