If you’re a service-based small business, there’s no doubt you’re using content marketing as a strategy to grow your business.
And why not. It’s a cost-effective way to get in front of your target market, and a marketing strategy that’s proven to work.
Or, at least that’s what most small business owners think until they start writing, recording and publishing content.
And they find out it’s not quite as easy as it looks to come up with ideas to stand out. And it can take up so much time.
When you stop and think about how much content is out there online, it’s no wonder that it’s hard to cut through and make an impact.
That’s where having an effective content marketing strategy can make all the difference.
A content marketing strategy is what sits underneath those snappy blog headlines and quirky social media posts.
It provides a framework to produce content that cleverly draws the audience in and attracts your target market to your service offering without having to sell to them directly.
It also improves your efficiency, as the same content can be strategically shared in multiple places.
No more stressing about what to write about or spending hours creating another PDF checklist because the last one you produced isn’t relevant anymore.
When creating an effective strategy, there are some critical elements to consider including:
If you’re a little unsure where to start, I’ve developed the Ultimate Marketing Checklist to help make it easier for you.
Let’s look at these critical strategic elements in some more detail below.
Before you start creating anything it’s essential to decide what your overarching content marketing goal is. There’s no point in starting a blog just because everyone else is doing it. It needs to fit in with your marketing objectives and work together with the other elements of your marketing plan.
Whenever you create a piece of content, think about what your end goal will be. Is it to add another subscriber to your list, or is it to showcase your authority and build trust? Alternatively, is it to create brand awareness and increase website traffic?Whenever you create a piece of content, think about what your end goal will be. Click To Tweet
When it comes to social media, you may also want to highlight and bring through your brand values in the content you post.
For example, if you were trying to motivate or inspire your audience, then you could create content that does that. On the other hand, if you were trying to teach them something then tips and advice might be more relevant content to meet your objectives.
Researching how your target market would search for information about you and your services is critically important.
Are they typing key phrases or words into Google? Do they search for you by your job title? Is there a customer group that they identify themselves as belonging to?
Through your research, identify what content they specifically want.
If your social media bio’s, blog headlines and content can include these specific words, then you will increase your chances of being seen online.
It will be easier for your target market to find you as your Google listing will be higher and your content will catch their eye and stand out.
One costly mistake that you’ll want to avoid is creating generic content. It comes across as dull and won’t resonate with your target market.
It’s essential to be as specific as possible and always have your audience in mind if you want to cut through and create an effective content marketing strategy.
There are numerous online platforms that you can choose from to distribute content. However, it’s also critical that you have a content marketing strategy for your website and email list.
While social media can help you to create awareness and grow your business, you don’t own the data on those platforms and have limited control. However, you do hold your list data and have control over how much you communicate with them.
At a minimum, your website may include a blog, as well as a downloadable PDF or eBook to help you grow your email marketing list. Be sure also to use your target market keywords on your website.
For marketing ideas on how you could optimise your website check out the ‘website section’ in the Ultimate Marketing Checklist.
When it comes to social media, think about how your target market uses the various platforms and which ones would be most suited to your services.
You may offer a creative or visual service (like photography or web design) which is suited to Instagram or Pinterest. Alternatively, you may provide a professional service (like recruitment or consulting) that is more suited to LinkedIn.
Facebook still has an enormous audience, and while it is more difficult to get organic reach, it is still an important platform for you to have a presence.
Potential clients will often research your social media profiles and pages before purchase, so it’s essential that they don’t look neglected.
Whichever platforms you choose, try to focus on building your followers or connections on those accounts first before spreading yourself too thinly across all of them.
The types of content in your content marketing strategy could include:
When you first start, you’ll need to decide which forms will be the most effective for your target market. And what forms of content you think you can create productively.
As an example, online technical tasks are often better explained in a video where someone can show you the steps to take. As well as for functions where someone is looking for a quick solution.
It can be a lot easier to work something out by watching a short how-to video on YouTube rather than spending hours reading through online guides.
Videos can also be less time-consuming for you to produce which is one reason why Facebook Lives are now so popular.Videos can also be less time-consuming for you to produce which is one reason why Facebook Lives are now so popular. #videomarketing #contentmarketing Click To Tweet
Also, spend some time thinking about the kind of services you offer and the information your target market might be seeking.
If you have a high-end service for example, then your potential client is likely to have a greater need for information. Their decision-making process will be longer, and they will have more questions.
In this scenario, longer forms of high-quality content would help build greater trust with your target market and provide them with the information they want.
Setting up an automated email marketing sequence would also be an excellent way to nurture potential clients who are not ready to make a decision straight away.
Alternatively, your services may have a shorter decision-making time before purchase. For these types of services, it’s about creating quick-to-read content on a consistent basis to build awareness of your brand.
Writing a blog or posting on social media sounds simple, but when you’re a service-based business, it can be a little harder to come up with ideas.
You don’t have photos of your products to share, and you’re no launching new services every day. You may also be working from home, so there are no shop or office photos available.
However, there are content formulas you can follow to make it so much easier.
Starting with your blog, one tip I can share is to come up with eight or so keywords that align with your brand and will resonate with your target market.
Then set these keywords up as the categories for your blog and start writing one blog post for each category. Once you’ve written your eight blog articles, return to the start and write another eight posts, one for each category.
It may feel a bit restrictive or boring to write about the same topics, but your blog will end up with a great structure, and those keywords will add valuable SEO goodness to your site.
You also won’t need to come up with as many ideas for content upgrades or downloadable PDFs as you can use the same ones on multiple blog posts.
When it comes to producing social media posts, make it easy for yourself by developing a structure and plan that you can follow each week. For example, on Monday’s you may post motivational quotes, and on Wednesday’s you could give a quick tip.
Other ideas that you could add to your structure could include posting about your latest blog or podcast or video, promoting a service that you offer, asking questions, sharing client testimonials, posting photos of yourself (your audience needs to see you!), or a short story or behind the scenes look at your business.
You also don’t just have to share your content. Keep an eye out for other pieces of content that you think your audience will love and curate them on your feed.
I highly recommend using WordPress for building your website and storing your blog content, because you can install the Yoast WordPress plugin which is excellent for search engine optimisation (SEO).
This plugin guides you on the appropriate length for your titles and meta descriptions and gives you prompts for how to improve your writing.
This website SEO tip is included in the Ultimate Marketing Checklist along with other ideas for marketing your business online.
For social media and my downloadable PDFs, I love Canva for creating my content. I use the upgraded version called Canva for Work, which allows me to store my logos, images, brand colours and fonts to save time.
When I first started my business, I posted all my social media content manually.
It was a good way for me to work out how each platform worked, and I could stay close to what other people were posting online.
However, there came the point where my time was much better spent on other things.
It’s crucial that you don’t wait too long before deciding to invest in automation tools.
Once you’re comfortable you know how it all works, then set up the tools you need.
It will not only improve your productivity, but your content will also be more consistent and effective.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t also post some ‘in the moment’ content as well. You should, as it will add valuable timeliness and personality to your posts which is essential.
It’s essential that you track the performance of your content marketing, so you know what type of material is the most effective.It’s essential that you track the performance of your content marketing, so you know what type of material is the most effective. Click To Tweet
Once you have determined this, set up systems that help you productively create similar content.
One strategy that I use is to batch my content creation. I find that when I do this, I get on a bit of a roll and the task becomes a lot easier.
For you, this could mean writing a month’s worth of social media posts or blogs all at one time.
It will result in you having a lot more time during the rest of the month to focus on growing your business and serving clients instead of worrying about what to produce.
The other thing to remember is that you can share the same content across multiple platforms. You don’t need to create different content for each account.
Additionally, stretch those blog posts out as far as you can. For example, once you post the blog article be sure to write an email to your list about the blog article. Then post the blog on social media, talk about the blog in a podcast and come up with questions, quotes and short stories that link to the blog post, so you can promote it and drive more traffic to your lead magnets.
Be sure to save all your content somewhere so that you can come back to it in a few months’ time for inspiration. Often you will find that you can change a word or sentence and use it again.
There is so much content out there that people don’t necessarily remember what they’ve seen in the past. And, with the pace of social media, they might not have even seen it at all the first time around.
If you want to improve your marketing communications, I’ve developed a section on communications in the Ultimate Marketing Checklist to help you know where to start.
Knowing what will resonate with your target market, having a purpose for the content you create and establishing productive systems for what to produce and where to publish it are the keys to making your content marketing strategy effective.
What else do you include in your content marketing strategy to ensure you stand out? Let me know in the comments below.
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