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Content marketing 101: your guide to getting started

February 3, 2015 | Online Strategy, Small Business Tips, Web content

Everyone’s talking about content marketing. Blogs are being written by the thousands, and brands everywhere are catching on to the idea that sharing is cool.

Yep, it’s just like your mum told you. Generosity is the way to people’s hearts.

But before I get carried away with analogies about sharing cut lunches in the school-yard, let’s clear up some basics first.

 

What is content marketing?

As you might have already guessed, content marketing is about giving stuff away for free. Why? Well, the idea is that by consistently sharing valuable tools and knowledge with your audience, you build up a loyal relationship that eventually converts into business.

 

Why does my business need content marketing?

Because it works. The stats are in, and content marketing consistently:

  • Increases traffic to your website
  • Boosts your SEO
  • Increases your conversion rates
  • Makes your customers like you more
  • Offers great return on investment (ROI).

 

And here are some reassuring stats to prove it.

 

Content Marketing Statistics

 

  • Blogs increase traffic to company websites by 97%
  • Content marketing doubles your website’s average conversion rate (increases from 6% to 12%)
  • Content marketing generates 54% more leads than traditional marketing
  • Plus, it costs 64% less than traditional marketing
  • 61% of consumers say they feel better about a company that delivers custom content and are more likely to buy from that company.

 

What counts as content?

Content is basically any kind of media or information that you can host on your website. The main thing is that it provides some kind of value to your customer.

So this could include:

  • Blog posts
  • Videos
  • Case studies
  • Whitepapers
  • Podcasts
  • E-books
  • E-newsletters
  • Information sheets
  • Infographics and more.

  

Getting started with content marketing

So how do you start from scratch with content marketing? First things first, you need to think about your audience – that’s what this is all about, right?

 

Step 1: Work out what your audience wants and needs

If you’re running a business, defining your target audience is one of the first things you’ll want to do. Once you know who you’re talking to, the next step is to think about what they need. You might want to ask yourself:

  • What’s their most pressing problem, issue or desire?
  • What content could you provide that helps them with this?

Let’s look at an example.

Gidget Media offers copywriting services to a couple of different target markets. One of these is SMEs with heart. So, these are small to medium businesses (mostly around the Melbourne area) that provide quality products or services. I know, from personal experience working with these businesses, a couple of things:

  • The people who work in these businesses are passionate about what they do
  • They’re often so busy working on the day-to-day operations of their business and looking after their clients that they don’t have a lot of time for lead generation. But lead generation still matters to them.
  • They’re confident about their knowledge of their products/services
  • They’re often not very confident about their own writing skills.

 

So a couple of pain-points for these guys are:

  • Time (or lack of)
  • Skills and confidence in marketing their business.

Knowing this helps me understand what kind of content might be appealing (and helpful) to this particular segment of my audience. Which leads me straight to my next step, defining my editorial mission.

 

Step 2: Define your editorial mission

A strong editorial mission is the key to a good content marketing strategy. Every piece you create should fulfil your editorial mission. This ensures you don’t wander off track and that you continue to provide relevant content for your audience. There’s a pretty great podcast about this topic on Small Business Big Marketing (starting at about 14:00), but in a nutshell, here’s how to create yours.

  1. Be clear about who you’re talking to (yes, we’ve already looked at this, but now we’re STATING it)
  2. What are you delivering (eg. content marketing tips and tricks
  3. What do they get out of it (eg. get more time, get more leads)

The next step is to put this all together into one succinct sentence. This one sentence is your editorial mission.

Let’s go back to our example.

Once I put all of my three points together, I can come up with one sentence to summarise what my content marketing should ALWAYS come back to:

Providing content marketing tips and tricks to help SMEs generate leads efficiently and with confidence.

 

Step 3: Make a calendar

Now that we know what we’re doing and why we’re doing it, it’s time to make up an editorial calendar. Brainstorm a bunch of content ideas, and decide how frequently you can commit to a regular output.

Consistency is key here, so if you can only commit to one blog post per month, go with that! You’re much better off doing this on a regular basis than pumping out 5 posts in a week and never doing it again.

You can even target different segments in your editorial calendar. One week you might want to focus on SMEs, and the next week you might want to focus on new mums. It’s all about knowing your audience, knowing their needs, and FOCUSING on being truly, genuinely helpful and relevant.

 

So that’s it. A final word of advice – keep it simple, keep it focussed, and keep it real. Share what you know, and the rest will follow. It really is that easy.

 

 

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