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4 Ways Small Businesses Can Master Content Marketing

Small businesses need effective content to scale their brand and connect with audiences. Here are 4 practical content marketing tips to help small businesses become more successful with content creation.

Content marketing on a limited budget can be a significant challenge, especially for small businesses. They often don’t have the time or the money for large promotions, and often feel like they lack the know-how to produce effective content. But its far from impossible.

Small businesses that build their brands, market themselves, and develop a following with great success seem to have a few commonalities. Wittingly or not, these businesses follow a handful of content marketing best practices. Here are four you should consider to improve your content.

1. Define Your Brand

4 Ways Small Businesses Can Master Content Marketing — Define Your Brand

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A defined, thought-out brand is at the centre of any successful marketing strategy. This is true regardless of the company size, and you should define your brand before starting to produce content. Some things to consider include:

  • Why the business was started
  • What are its values and mission
  • How is it different from competitors
  • What is the brand identity, including visual guidelines
  • Who are the business’ buyer personas

Your brand is what defines your business, and branding is the foundation of your marketing and content efforts.

Your marketing team needs to know about the brand before creating content for marketing campaigns. You need to clarify who your customers are, who your competitors are, and why you’re doing what you’re doing. These guidelines help your team create consistent messaging, differentiate your brand from competitors, and connect with target customers with effective content.

You can accomplish most of this by visually defining your brand and differentiating it from your competition. Select brand fonts and colors that are different from the competition. Consider how you’ll display your logo on different marketing materials and ensure that your style is differentiated from what others are doing. Once you’ve defined your creative variables, be sure to apply them consistently to all your marketing channels.

2. Set a Marketing Budget

4 Ways Small Businesses Can Master Content Marketing — Set a Marketing Budget

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A big mistake small businesses often make when they first approach marketing is failing to stick to a clear budget.

The struggle is real if you run out of money before the year is over or before a campaign is concluded. In some cases, marketers budget for the groundwork of a campaign but neglect ongoing expenses. This can mean the campaign never goes live or ends before it achieves any meaningful results. What’s worse is if you do track early success, but then business dries up alongside the budget. Everything suddenly comes to a halt.

Another concern is the inability to make a proper plan or to make informed decisions about spending money on marketing. This often leads to companies selecting the cheapest option, or choosing what sounds the most convincing rather than making informed decisions that drive real return on investment.

3. Set Marketing Goals

4 Ways Small Businesses Can Master Content Marketing — Set Marketing Goals

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Businesses need goals, and marketing is no exception. Give the marketing team a primary directive. In a small business, that usually means a scalable but achievable strategy to boost revenue.

From there, break down some incremental goals that will help you reach that goal. Focus on strategies that will help your business hit those incremental milestones. Ensure that you track associated key performance indicators such as engagements, click-throughs, or sign-ups to measure impact.

Follow the time-tested SMART approach to goal setting characterized by being:

  • Specific: $100K in revenue and not “more money”
  • Measurable: Something you can track
  • Attainable: Realistically doable within your resources
  • Relevant: Makes sense for your brand and audience
  • Time-based: In a set amount of time

By not setting SMART goals, you limit your ability to scale a strategy that will deliver sustainable results. You risk  wasting resources by chasing unattainable or irrelevant goals.

4. Visualize Your Content Marketing

4 Ways Small Businesses Can Master Content Marketing — Create Memorable Images

Image via ESB Basic.

If you want to be sure folks pay attention to your content, make it visual. People prefer social posts with images over just text. A visual more than doubles engagement on Facebook posts.

The popularity of videos has made them practically ubiquitous with content marketing. 81% of businesses use video as a marketing tool because four times as many customers prefer to watch a video about a product than to read about it.

Many small businesses shy away from spending time on quality visual content. They think they lack the experience or that it will be too expensive. However, there are ways you can make effective visual content on a budget and with limited skills:

  • Stock Creative. Stock images, footage, vectors, illustrations and templates can save you time and help make your content marketing more polished.
  • Find Help. Pay for a little bit of help when you lack the skills or time. You can find freelancers for graphic design, video editing, and writing through sites like Upwork.
  • Smartphones. Modern smartphone cameras take great photos and videos and allow you to easily create DIY content of your products or store or services.
  • Gear Up. Affordable tech like clip-on lighting for phones, basic microphones, tripods, phone stabilizers, and paid image and video editing apps can make your DIY content look professional.
  • Free Tools. Tools like Shutterstock Editor, freemium or trial versions of popular editing tools, and even pre-installed apps like Quick Time, iMovie, and Photo Preview all have tons of features and functions that you probably haven’t used before.

Getting Started

Marketing on a limited budget is possible. If you plan, remain thoughtful, goal-focused, and ROI-driven, you’ll make the most out of every dollar you spend.

Execute a content-guided marketing strategy that is rich with visual content. Ensure you have a brand blueprint, develop your visual guidelines, and document your audience personas. Every detail is important, from the colors in your visuals to which channels you use to promote your brand. The guidelines you outline will standardize each creative nuance so you can create more effective content with fewer resources.

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