Yash Chawlani

How To Plan An Effective Content Strategy for Small Businesses

Yash Chawlani

Formulating and following a plan is indispensable for the business world. One among these plans is a plan about marketing your brand and your products.

For a long time, introducing your brand or a new product to the masses meant advertisements in various forms. Video adverts on Televisions, pamphlets distributed through neighbourhoods, newspaper adverts or publicity via events and radio station programmes.

These channels of marketing were effective, however, they were not accessible to most small businesses due to the cost barrier. Things changed with the age of the Internet.

Digital marketing was pivotal for the development of small to medium businesses. The Digital age leveled the playing field. The only thing determining your success was how relevant, creative and likeable your adverts were.

Soon we had pop up ads, click baits and other annoyances pestering the internet world wide. Thankfully along came adblockers to bring back balance to our world but adblockers were indiscriminate by nature. They didn’t care if your advert was a genuine one or spam, they blocked everything outright.

This change in status quo brought about the resurgence of Content Marketing. This method of marketing has proven to be beneficial to small businesses. The Quality and Creativity of your content is what decides your standing on the internet, making competition with big firms fair.

So what is Content Strategy?

Content strategy is the process of achieving business goals with relevant, valuable and quality content being the primary means of the marketing activities instead of all traditional forms of marketing means.

“Content strategy is the discipline responsible for satisfying business requirements through content creation and distribution.”

brainlabsdigital.com

The Content Marketing Institute defines Content Marketing as:

“Content Marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

Though an unconventional approach, Content Marketing is highly effective overall and especially in the fields where traditional marketing is losing its effectiveness day by day.

A recent Big Hit example of Content Marketing has to be the “Share a Coke” social media campaign by CocaCola. Launched in 2014, the campaign involved replacing the iconic brand name with 250 most popular names in America.

 

The campaign was a runaway success and generated a lot of buzz for CocaCola on the internet. People were posting photos with bottles that had their names on the label all over the internet. The #ShareaCoke was trending on various social media sites for the duration of the campaign. This campaign is an example of how an innovative social media strategy ought to be.
Content Marketing is less about Digital Marketing Strategy in the traditional sense and more about building a long term beneficial relationship with your current and potential consumer base.
What a good Content Marketing Strategy achieves is that it makes your target audience more receptive to your future marketing. It creates a sense of belonging within your audience towards your brand. This makes the audience look forward to your upcoming products or services announcements.

There are three key benefits, for enterprises big and small, to make use of Content Marketing:

  1. Boosting your sales figures – At the end of the day sales figures are what matters the most and content marketing helps generate more sales than traditional types of marketing.

  2. Cost Savings – Compared to traditional forms of marketing, Content Marketing saves a lot of resources and is way more effective in the long term.

  3. Promotes Consumer Loyalty – A loyal consumer base is one of the most valuable assets any business can have. Not only do they market your brand on their level, they promote and generate sales for you by recommending your products to close ones.

Other objectives a good Content Marketing Strategy will accomplish are –

  1. Establishing Brand Identity – Differentiating yourself from the sea of other brands out there is important for any business. Content Marketing will enable you to closely associate your brand with what you offer in the market.
  2. Example: Apple may be selling Smartphones and other electronics but they’re mostly associated with a clean, minimalist and seamless user experience.

  3. Building trust with present and potential customers – When you’re putting out quality content that helps your consumers and audience solve issues they’re facing, it promotes a feeling of trust in them towards your brand.
  4. Example: iFixit sells components and tools required to repair and refurbish a large variety of products but it’s their “How to fix ” online guides that established them as a trusted name in the electronics repair industry.

  5. Becoming Industry Thought Leader – A good Content Marketing STrategy promotes a lot of research while creating content which grants expertise pertaining to the industry to a business. This insight into the future of an industry enables a business to play the role of an industry thought leader and steer the industry.
  6. Example: SpaceX first came to prominence as a firm that believed it could make reusable space launch vehicles. They gained a reputation as industry disruptors long before their first reusable prototype took flight. Now they’re the biggest player in the private space launch industry leading the way with reusable rockets.

  7. Maximising your ROI – Resources requirements of a Content Marketing Strategy are way low in comparison to other forms of marketing. On the other hand the effectiveness and sales outcomes arising out of it are enormous. A single well researched article may cost you $200 but when effectively distributed can generate large amounts of sales and goodwill for you.
No matter the size of your business, if your Marketing Strategy lacks Content Marketing, you’re losing out on quite significant benefits that a good Content Marketing Strategy brings along with it.

Steps involved in formulating a Content Strategy

i) Setting Objectives – Every plan needs to accomplish a certain set of pre decided objectives. These may vary according to the end goal a firm may seek from its marketing effort. It is necessary however, that these objectives be attainable, relevant, measurable and time restrained.
Making sure your set objectives have the above mentioned qualities ensures the effectiveness of your Content Marketing Strategy. Setting objectives allow small businesses to ensure they do not deviate from the intended path and keep a track of the progress they’ve made over time.

Infographic Courtesy – perdoo.com

ii) Identifying your Key Performance Indicators – The Marketing activities undertaken by small businesses are sure to cause some change in the business activity, it is therefore necessary to be able to track these changes that result out of a certain marketing activity or marketing campaign.

Progress needs to be measured and there are plenty of metrics that can help small businesses track the effectiveness of their Content Marketing Strategy. Examples:

1. Marketing Performance Indicators:

  1. Brand Awareness
  2. Market Share
  3. Incremental Sales
  4. Conversion Rate
  5. Leads Generated

2) Website and Blogging Performance Indicators:

  1. Organic Traffic
  2. First Visits
  3. Returning VIsits
  4. Time on Page
  5. Bounce Rate

3) SEO Performance Indicators:

  1. Keyword Rankings
  2. SERP Visibility
  3. Search Traffic
  4. Domain Authority
  5. Page Authority

4) Social Media Marketing Performance Indicators:

  1. Likes
  2. Comments
  3. Shares
  4. Engagement Rate
  5. Follower Growth Rate

Infographic Courtesy – wpromote.com

There are plenty more metrics that can be decided upon as your Key Performance Indicators to track the effectiveness and progress of your Content Marketing Activities.

iii) Selection of Target Audience – Every product and service has a defined set of consumers. Your entire consumer base can be segmented using various demographic indicators to identify what set of people are consuming what products and services. The process further on becomes simpler as we now have an idea about which demographic set consumes which products and services.

Using this insight small businesses can strategise effectively to appear more appealing to these targeted sets of audiences. Audiences can be segmented further on, on the basis of content more relevant to them and thus can be exposed to that specific type of marketing content. This makes the marketing activity effective and efficient.

iv) Selection of Appropriate Channels for Content Distribution – Data collected and analysed during the earlier process also helps small businesses understand which channels of media distribution their consumers prefer. More resources can then be allotted for distribution of marketing content on channels that have highest concentration and preference of the businesses’ consumer base.

The type of content preferred by your consumers varies drastically based on the channel they belong to. Instagram crowds tend to prefer videos, reels and stories. Twitter crowds prefer infographics and images. Discord and Tumblr crowds prefer good discussion threads. Content requirements of each channel are different. Knowing where most of your consumers are helps small businesses generate and distribute channel specific content for better results.

An example of infographics usually prevalent on Twitter.

Infographic Courtesy – thinkcreative.uk.com

Infographic Courtesy – CoSchedule.com

v) Generating and Publishing Quality Content – At the core of any Content Marketing activity is the content itself. Everything relies on the quality of content that is being put out by the business. Just ensuring your content reaches the target audiences through appropriate channels is not enough if they’re going to be exposed to lackluster, rushed or weak content.

It’s not just the quality of language you’re putting out but the quality of ideas too that matter. No consumer is interested in reading generic content that has already been put out by other players in the industry. Consumers need fresh ideas that expand the current boundaries of a particular industry.

Well researched content based on ground breaking, forward thinking ideas can help your business assert authority over that particular business segment. If a business keeps exploring and writing about the future of their industry, they’re bound to generate buzz and may even end up as an industry thought leader steering the future of the Industry.

vi) Tracking Performance Parameters – Next comes the very important process of monitoring and tracking the performance of content that has been published. Depending upon the Key Performance Indicators that you’ve settled on in the earlier stages, the type of performance data may vary from numbers to impressions to rise in general goodwill or brand loyalty.

Tracking and monitoring all the Key Performance Indicators enables small businesses to understand where they’re doing well and which areas need reevaluations and revamps.

Analysis of this performance data also helps them determine if the set objectives of the Content Marketing Campaign are being accomplished or not. Depending upon the results observed the business may incorporate changes in their Content Marketing Strategy to better meet their objectives or whether to move onto the next Content Marketing Campaign.

Infographic Courtesy – Freshsparks.com

vii) Revamp and Resume – A lot of things can be learnt once all the performance data has been analysed. This analysed data helps highlight the areas that have done well and showcased results and those that need changes in order to accomplish their set tasks.

Changes then can be made either in distribution channels, type of content or enhancing the quality of content; all of which depends on the results that Key Performance Indicators have yielded.

Once everything has been considered and studied, small businesses can revamp their Content Marketing Strategy and resume with Marketing activities.

Conclusion

We’re halfway through 2021 and Marketing in the traditional sense has become ineffective, all thanks to ad blockers. A saviour reemerged in the form of Content Marketing to enable small businesses to make the most of the Digital age, to grow while competing on fair terms with large corporations.

As seen from the examples of Successful Content Marketing Campaigns, good content and a good strategy to utilise that content generate big results for a business.

Some businesses have succeeded by making their products and services more personalised for their consumers as seen with CocaCola’s #ShareaCoke social media strategy, while action cam giant GoPro opted with publishing user generated content on their various social media accounts to reach out and appreciate their existing consumers to promote brand loyalty.

In short, a Good Content Marketing Strategy can accomplish all the goals your business may desire. It all rests with you, how to, where to, when to or why to!

So how will you plan a Content Strategy for your business?

Author –  Yash Chawlani

Yash Chawlani is a Freelance Content Marketing Strategist who is known by his personal brand Merlin. He specializes in SEO and Social Media and helps B2B and SaaS companies out there with his top-notch content strategies. In his spare time, you can either find him in the gym or on the football field. Feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn.