In my previous post, I listed four reasons businesses should engage in content marketing: to gain a presence on search engines, increase visibility and brand awareness through social sharing, build trust among customers and prospects, and generate leads.
However, the big question that haunts the minds of small to medium-sized businesses is how to allocate already overstretched resources – money, time and personnel – to make room for content creation. Even companies large enough to have a marketing team find that those persons are often too busy to devote time to routinely create fresh content.
If that’s a dilemma in which you find business, here are 10 ways to get started.
1. Share your story. A lyric from an old song said, “everybody has a story tell,” and that includes businesses. What’s yours? Spend a little time on the front end thinking about what would resonate with customers and prospects. Jot down everything that comes to mind, then categorize and filter the ideas.
Then, think of ways you could share your story. A blog is one good way, but if writing is not your forte, how about a short video or podcast. Could you spare five or ten minutes each week to provide an update, which could then be shared on social networks or via email?
2. Define your purpose. In his seminal bestselling book, The Purpose Driven Life, pastor Rick Warren asked, “What are earth am I here for?”
Though he was talking to individuals, the same question applies to business. Some of the most successful brands today are purpose driven. And while the purpose of every business is to make a profit, there’s more to it than just the bottom line.
Consider these questions:
What motivated you to get into business in the first place? What do you love about it? What ignites your passion? In what ways does it improve the lives of others including your customers? How does it make the world a better place?
Don’t’ be surprised if you find that your company’s story is directly linked to your purpose in starting the business. Use that as inspiration to start creating content.
3. Share your customers’ story. Rather than limit content to your own story, get your customers to tell theirs as it relates to your business. This could come in the form of testimonials, case studies, or interviews that can be turned into blog posts.
In fact, interviews are a great way to build a content library. If you can ask questions, you can conduct interviews. And who better to interview than your customers.
4. Repurpose existing assets. What collateral already exists that could be repurposed and shared? Do you have videos, articles, press releases, FAQs, or email newsletters?
For example, if you produce an email newsletter, turn it into a blog post. Conversely, blog posts can become the centerpiece of your newsletter. (That’s exactly what we do with our monthly newsletter eBurst.)
How many times do you answer a customer’s question via email? Guess what, you’ve just written a blog post! Turn it into one.
Many companies create content for their website and give no thought to sharing it on social networks. Make it an unbreakable rule that, if you have content on your site that’s publicly visible, it should be syndicated to social media.
Have videos? Put them on YouTube, the 2nd largest search engine in the world, which is owned by the largest, Google. Photos? Share them on sites like Flickr and Facebook. Press releases? Use PRWeb or PitchEngine. Written articles, whitepapers or PDFs? Put them on Slideshare and Scribd.
Whatever content currently exists on your site should also reside in other places where it can be more easily found by search engines and people alike. Be sure and include a link back to where it sits on your website, as well.
5. React to breaking industry news. Take advantage of industry-related news and events by reacting to them in a short blog post or social media update. This can give you a leg up on competitors who don’t and help make you a resource of record for those in the industry. It can also have bearing on search results.
6. Use a one-by-one process. There’s no need to jump on your horse and ride off in 16 different directions when it comes to content production. By that I mean, don’t think you have to have a blog, participate in a half-dozen social networks, create videos, etc. – at least not all at the same time. Start with one channel, get comfortable using it, then expand from there.
7. Play to your strengths. That idea comes from Internet marketer Lee Odden. He says, “As a small business owner or marketer, find out what you really enjoy as it relates to content creation and focus on that – whether it’s creating videos, writing articles or developing interactive experiences. Everyone is pressed for time, so find something you enjoy and you’ll be more likely to do it. Even when you don’t want to.”
8. Utilize third-party resources. Post writing projects on sites like crowdSpring, Elance or Freelancer, which can be done with minimal cost. For example, projects on Freelancer start at $30 and rarely go higher than $200.
9. Embrace content curation. A useful alternative, if you don’t have time to create original content, is to curate content created by others.
Very likely you’re already reading industry-related articles, blog posts, attending webinars and watching videos. Perhaps you’re even bookmarking some of those for later reference. Pick a select few and redistribute them via a blog post or email newsletter. Include a paragraph of two of your own to provide some personal perspective and context.
10. Form a content marketing habit. I’ve heard it takes 30 days to form a new habit, so here’s an assignment: For the next 30 days (weekends excluded), do one thing a day to create or repurpose content. Try to do something different each day. Here are some ideas to get you started.
- Monday – Turn a customer’s question you answered via email into a blog post, then tweet the link to your followers and/or post it to LinkedIn or Facebook (Okay, that’s two things.)
- Tuesday – Tweet out a link to an interesting article.
- Wednesday – Send an email with interview questions to a valuable customer asking why he or she does business with you and the benefits gleaned from the relationship, then turn that into a blog post or customer story (case study).
- Thursday – Upload a video to your YouTube channel; create a channel if you don’t already have one.
- Friday – Follow a few of your customers who are on Twitter (or connect with them on LinkedIn if you prefer) and share a relevant article.
Hopefully, this post has spurred your thinking about how to incorporate content creation into your marketing mix. The final post in this series looks at how content marketing contributes to leads and sales conversion.