Marketing is all about building brand awareness, engaging with your target audience, and swaying customers' minds into selecting your products and services over your competitors. With your website as your only 24-hour salesman, a solid content strategy will be the backbone of all your marketing campaigns. The content you create and distribute should pique the interest of your target audience. Once you have captured their attention, you may have several opportunities to request more information about them.
Good digital marketers recognize that phone numbers and emails aren't the only way to keep in touch. Social media websites and browser notifications can be just as effective. It's not necessary to have a one on one conversation in marketing. What's important is that you can reach your customers (prospective and active) on their terms. With the right information, customer service, and motivation, they just might make a purchase.
You might be wondering by now, just how to make such a content strategy. It's not as difficult as you may think. A good content strategy simply seeks to identify who your customers are, what they want, how you can reach them, and the steps you can take to make progress. For small businesses, a robust content strategy is an overkill. A single-page document backed with a little research is often much more actionable.
Here are five steps you can follow to create a small business content strategy that will get your more customers, fast.
1. Identify Your Target Audience
I can't tell you how often we hear small business owners say "our customers are British Columbians" or "we cater to all Canadians". In planning your marketing, these kinds of statements just won't do. If you don't know where to begin, start by defining who your customers aren't or aren't likely to be. Most businesses don't consider children their target audience. This is an easy exclusion. But consider other things like:
- What is the typical age range of your customers?
- How educated are they? Did they finish a post-secondary degree?
- What kind of jobs will your customers have? Are they of a specific industry, seniority, or job function?
- What kind of income or budget do they need to even consider your products or services?
- As a group, do they have any interests or habits?
While these questions may seem obvious and you might think you know them, you need to write all these traits down. These answers are used in all aspects of marketing from writing content to setting up paid advertising campaign targeting.
Most businesses assume they know their audience without conducting any methodical research into the matter. This will inevitably lead to poor campaign performance and bad communication amongst team members. You don't need to perform advanced research to get started, just write down what you know or think to be true.
Once you start attracting website visitors, social media followers, and customers, the data you collect about them will add to your understanding of them. All you need to do is be set up to track the information, ask questions to valid it, and be prepared to listen.
2. Understand Your Customers Wants and Needs
Once you know who your audience is, you will need to identify what it is they want and need. You must understand how your customers consider your offer in relation to their day to day lives. Don't press upon your beliefs of what their demands should be, but what they are. Consider asking questions like:
- Do your customers consider your products and services to be part of their lifestyle? Do they identify themselves through them?
- Do your customers consider your products and services a necessity, nicety, or a resolution to a growing concern?
- What is at risk in your customers' eyes? Is their livelihood at stake? Are their careers on the line? Is their investment a concern?
- When making a purchase, what are the most important factors your customers consider (price, convenience, delivery, quality, customer service, etc.)?
- What kinds of things anger your customers?
- Are they likely to discuss their purchases with anyone? If so, who?
Answering these kinds of questions will help you understand the link between what you offer and your customers' demands.
It helps to find real-life examples of your ideal customer. It also helps to look at your competitors' websites, brochures, and sales processes to see what kind of assumptions they have. Think like a customer, search like a customer, and even try to test your own sales process. If you already have customers, consider sending them a survey to help you better understand what it is they consider important.
After you have worked out what they’re after, organize the information into concise bullets. These bullets provide a powerful reference point you can use to identify content marketing opportunities and create captivating headlines, advertisements, and sales propositions.
3. Publish Truly Meaningful Content
Content marketing is not about volume or speed; it's about quality and usefulness. Publishing inherently valuable content is essential if you want to broaden your brand’s footprint. It's not uncommon to see businesses fail to see any returns on social media. Social media is the digital version of word of mouth. It should go without saying that posting a feed of irrelevant content, media void of emotion, or vague promotional statements won't work. People simply don't care about that kind of material these days and will see right through it.
Your content needs to cater to your unique audience. Just like a school essay, it should either guide, inform, persuade, and/ or distract them on a topic that matters to them, and just as importantly, to you. With exception to sensitive topics, you should be excited to share it on your personal social media account or talk about it with your friends or colleagues. If you aren't, your customers certainly won't be.
Use the information you now know about your customers to identify topics you should cover and try to figure out the best format to use.
4. Personalize Your Content and Make It Interactive
The beauty of the internet is that there are endless creative ways you can share topics. You aren't limited to text, images, and videos. There are thousands of interactive platforms you can use to create presentations, visualizations, and engaging storytelling. Don't be afraid to go grassroots and share original content void of formal brand editing. There is a reason social media platforms like TikTok are taking off. You don't need a huge production team to market your brand effectively today. You just need a little humility and the drive to experiment.
Great and memorable experiences create virality. This is as true today as it ever was. Get creative with your content marketing. Don't just list prices of services on your website, create a digital calculator, or an interactive widget to help customers get quotes quickly. Consider using virtual reality software to pitch a concept or tell a story. Create sensational videos of your loyal customers getting a surprise gift.
Interactive content doesn't always have to be digital. Good marketing brings you closer to your customers - both new and existing. Experiment with different types of social networks, media formats, and advertising placements. Spending $30 to spoil an existing customer in hopes of driving publicity is often much more effective than spending $50 on a bland search ad.
Interactive content sparks word of mouth and often encourage positive feedback. If you are looking for an easy way to form connections with your audience and get them talking, interactive content definitely the way to go.
5. Listen to Your Data and Your Customers
The number one thing to remember about marketing is that its full of failed attempts. Even the biggest companies see their share of failed campaigns and advertising mistakes. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Just make sure you never lose sight of what your customers demand and how your services meet serve them. There’s a reason why companies undergo rebranding and product formula changes. Doing so helps them stay relevant and continue growing. Marketing is a process and it never ends.
In summary, creating a killer content strategy takes planning, but it is well worth the rewards. The secret to success is to keep things as simple as possible as you pursue endless growth. If you’d like to learn about how our experts can help, give us a call or connect with us online. Your first consultation is free and you are always welcome to ask questions.