Small business owners, answer these questions as honestly as you can:
- Did your company jump on the content marketing bandwagon in 2012?
- Did you create and curate informative and practical content for your target audiences?
- Did you find a way to disseminate your content, getting it in front of potential clients or customers?
If you answered “yes” to all of these, then it is likely to be a very happy holiday season for you and your employees. Profits are up, bonus checks are being written and the prospects for the future couldn’t be any brighter.
As a small business owner, you get it. You understand the power of well crafted stories. You know how content can be used to establish thought leadership, to enhance brand awareness and to supercharge your SEO efforts.
If, on the other hand, you are one of the many small business owners who answered “no,” to any of the above questions, I fear this may not be the jolliest of holiday seasons for your business.
Don’t despair! Just because you missed a golden opportunity in 2012, it doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of content marketing in 2013. Remember the saying:
“Better late than never?”
Well, it certainly applies to content marketing. What can content marketing do you for? Depending on the nature of your business, it can:
- Position your company as thought leaders (key for service providers).
- Keep your current customers/clients engaged with your brand on an ongoing basis.
- Provide information of real interest to your target audiences.
- Create mechanisms that convert the people engaged with your content into regular users/purchasers of your services or products.
- Put a human face on your company, creating emotional bonds that can lead to enhanced sales.
Whether you have never engaged in content marketing or want to expand upon your content marketing efforts, this is the perfect time to either start on or expand your content marketing efforts. This is the time to ask the following questions (and make sure you have the answers to each and every one of them):
What are your storylines?
The first step in any content marketing campaign is to figure out what stories your team is best suited to tell. Who is in the universe of potential clients and what interests them? Content marketing only works when the content you produce serves the needs of your target audience:
- Are key team members truly thought leaders? Do they have industry insights? Do they offer practical information of immediate utility to the reader/viewer?
- Can you offer advice to entrepreneurs? Do you have “war” stories to share?
- Do you have amazing case studies to share?
- Have you conducted your own research or commissioned research on industry trends?
- Do you offer unique products or services?
What is your commitment to content marketing?
How much time and effort are you willing to commit to your content marketing campaign? Some businesses limit their content marketing to a handful of white papers a year. Others become true publishers, turning out a steady stream of content, whether it’s in the form of blogs, videos, article or even tweets.
As you budget both financial and human resources, you need to decide his much of your marketing and advertising budgets will be dedicated to content marketing. A successful content marketing campaign involves a real commitment. Are you prepared to make it?
Who will be responsible for creating your content?
Poorly written content can damage your credibility and your business. If you don’t have a strong writer on staff, hire one now. If it’s not in your budget, think about paying a freelance copywriter. It’s not just about quality writing. Video has become a major aspect of content marketing. An amateurish video can make your company look like a second-class operation.
How will you be distributing your content?
Just because you’ve created great content, it doesn’t mean than anyone will see it. A major element of a content marketing program is a well-planned distribution plan:
- Do you have the internal or external public relations expertise to get your content in the hands of traditional and digital media?
- Do you know where to find the Web sites that would be interested in publishing your content?
- Do you have the SEO expertise to make sure your content shows up prominently in Google searches?
All of this may seem very daunting, but content marketing, when done properly, can make a major impact on your company’s bottom line.
If you don’t have the internal expertise to strategize and execute a content marketing campaign, find a reputable agency that not only understands content marketing, but can provide you with a list of success stores for which they are responsible.
Wishing you a happy and content-filled new year!
British Landscape  Photo via Shutterstock