New business owners or entrepreneurs who haven’t tried internet marketing can find themselves overwhelmed. There is a whole lot to learn and it’s hard to tell where to begin or which pieces of advice to trust. The first place to start is education. We believe that content marketing is one of the simplest forms of marketing for a new business. Let’s explore what it is and how you can get started even if you’re a raw beginner.
New businesses sometimes think building a website is like the movie Field of Dreams. If you build the site, visitors will come automatically and start handing you money. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. Some kind of marketing is necessary to get the attention of your audience and to get the attention of search engines because there are too many people posting websites and fighting for market share.
Content marketing is a way to do both that doesn’t require a whole lot of money, and could even be free if you can write, take photos, or make videos. Content marketing uses pieces of content, such as blog posts, social media posts, articles, videos, pictures, and other pieces of information to promote your business.
These pieces of content are aimed at getting the attention of the audience you want to attract. If you sell antique furniture, for instance, content examples would include:
- Informative articles about antique eras, furniture restoration, etc.
- Photos of beautiful pieces with descriptions of their provenance.
- Announcements about incoming inventory.
- Videos of your showroom or warehouse.
All of this is aimed at getting people to pay attention to your brand and leave with a positive impression. It takes an average of seven impressions before people will purchase from a business. This points to one of the challenges of content marketing. Content must be created on a regular basis to keep your brand fresh in the minds of your audience.
Content marketing can be contrasted with two other kinds of internet marketing. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising uses small text ads placed in favorable positions on top websites (e.g. Google) that you pay for when others click on them. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a set of techniques designed to push your website listing on search engines to higher positions on queries your target market uses. Higher positions raise the chances that your site will receive clicks in searches.
Content marketing is easy to start. The first step is finding where your audience likes to gather. Depending on your business niche, they may prefer to do read articles or hang out on a particular social media channel. The brand new business may want to focus on article postings on their website because that will have additional SEO benefits. Later, this can expand into social media. Be very careful about adding new marketing channels because providing content for each one takes extra time and expertise.
Next, you’ll need topics. Brainstorm and do research on what your audience is interested in learning about. What do they need to know? What are their pain points? How can you address them? What cool thing do you do that you think they’d like?
Then you need to make an editorial calendar. At a minimum, this should tell you when your content pieces need to go live, but it can also include when to start research, when to get feedback from other people in your business, who is responsible for creating a content piece, and other such matters. This will keep you on track. Shoot for, at the start, either two articles per month or three social media posts per week. It’s much easier to ramp up than to ramp back down.
Once you have topics and a schedule, then you need to create content pieces based on those topics. If you choose to do written pieces for your blog, make them at least 500 words for an SEO benefit. Social media posts follow the culture of that channel. Figuring out the “best” kind of content for a particular channel is a topic of hot debate, but it’s better to have some content than no content. Improvements can come later.
After you have your pieces, post them according to your calendar. If your chosen channel has a way for your audience to send you feedback, pay attention and respond to it. Keep creating pieces according to your schedule and do more research on the finer points of content marketing.
Finally, start keeping track of your metrics (a topic all on its own) so you can see how much your pieces are helping your marketing goals. You’ll need a few months of data to start seeing true trends, so start tracking as soon as you can.
Once you get into a rhythm, you’ll find that content marketing is a real boon. You can converse with your customers or watch their responses to your pieces and get a real understanding of what they want. This helps you create better products and services, and better pieces of content. A feedback loop is created where people start to trust what you have to say and are eager to do business with you. And thus, you get what all businesses want: a steady stream of revenue.