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December 1, 2020

Content Marketing Basics: 3 Things You Should Know

If you’re trying to grow your small business, content is a must for your marketing plan. When you create helpful and reliable content, you’ll build relationships with customers, let them qualify themselves, and even boost your SEO (search engine rankings). 

In this post, we 1) share content marketing basics, 2) explain why content is essential for growing your business, and 3) offer tips on how to get started.

1. What is content marketing?

Content marketing involves creating and distributing strategic, relevant, helpful media to build relationships with your customers and establish credibility. There are a few things to keep in mind when you’re working on your website, social media, email campaigns, how-to videos, and other content: 

Serve before you sell.

Any content you create has to provide value for your customers and make their lives easier, not just push a product or service. People turn to blogs, checklists, and videos for guidance or tips, not a sales pitch. To let your customer reach a buying decision on their own, empathize with their needs and point them toward a solution — and toward other helpful content you’ve created.

Act as a guide.

Think about guiding your customers along a buying journey. Some prospects are just starting to research how to solve a problem; others might be ready to buy from you; still others may be somewhere in between. By establishing your business as a helpful and credible source, customers will begin to trust you and move toward a buying decision as they learn more about your products or services.

Be consistent.

When creating content, you’ll want to reach your audience as much as you can. Building and distributing resources consistently will help you do just that. One way to make sure you write and publish content regularly is to set up an editorial calendar. Having all your content (and when you plan to write and publish it) in one place will help you schedule monthly blogs, write daily social media posts, brainstorm quarterly email topics, and more.

2. Why does content marketing matter?

Content marketing educates your customers, helps them solve problems, and even encourages some of them to do business with you when they’re ready. Creating valuable, relevant, consistent content will also allow you to:

Build relationships with customers.

Every small business is trying to grow and stand out as an expert in their field. Content marketing is an excellent way to position yourself as a thought leader that readers and viewers can rely on for helpful, credible resources. Once your prospects start to see you as a trustworthy guide who empathizes and addresses their problems, they’ll want to have a relationship with your brand. And they’ll be more likely to turn to your business for help when they face a problem they can’t solve on their own.

Let prospects qualify themselves.

Trying to talk people into using your services is exhausting — and it’s typically ineffective. People don’t want to feel like they’re being sold to, or like you’re trying to qualify them as customers before they’re ready to buy. Instead of leading with a sales pitch, create helpful content that lets prospects interact with your brand on their own time. When you’re helping people solve problems and putting their needs first, your best customers will qualify themselves and consider doing business with you.

Boost your SEO rankings.

Search engine optimization (SEO) helps search engines like Google rank your website and content so more prospects can easily find your business. When you build quality content and incorporate relevant keywords (terms that your customers may type into the search bar when trying to solve a problem), your blogs, downloads, and videos will rank higher in Google and other search engines. Then, prospects will be more likely to find your content and click on it to address their problem or question.

3. How do I get started with content marketing?

When you consider the many types of content you can create — blogs, downloads, emails, and more — you may be unsure where to begin. But by following these three steps, you’ll be well on your way to writing helpful and relevant content for your customers:

Define your target audience.

Before writing any content, start with identifying your best customers. These are the people most likely to do business with you to solve a problem they’re facing. Here are the seven steps you’ll walk through to define your target audience:

  • Learn who your best customers are.
  • Determine what they want to accomplish.
  • Identify a problem (or problems) that they face
  • Understand the emotions this problem makes them feel.
  • Position your product/service as a solution to their problem.
  • Outline the steps your customers must follow to get the solution.
  • Show how their life will be better once they take those steps.

Brainstorm resources that would help them.

One of the hardest parts about writing quality content is coming up with topics your audience will actually want to read about. Instead of just staring at a blank whiteboard or computer document (we’ve all been there!), try these content brainstorming tips from Search Engine Journal:

  • Consider the problems they face and the questions they ask.
  • Review and collect other content pieces you’ve loved.
  • Research what’s working in your industry (and others).
  • See what customers are already talking about on social media.
  • Keep a document with all of your content ideas.

Plan your content marketing strategy.

Once you have a list of topics, you can start setting up your content marketing plan. Make sure it includes these four elements to guide your prospects toward a buying decision:

  • Awareness content (like blogs, videos, and quizzes)
  • Consideration content (like a lead-generating PDF)
  • Sales emails (to accompany your consideration piece)
  • A call-to-action page (to ask your prospect to buy)

Now that you know the content marketing basics, and why content is so important for small businesses, you’re ready to start creating helpful resources that:

  • Attract your best customers.
  • Better qualify your leads.
  • Guide prospects toward a buying decision.
  • Create loyal brand supporters.

If you’re looking for content marketing assistance, an agency can help you plan, write, and create these customer-centered resources.

Learn the EXACT marketing strategy we use to help small businesses grow: The Flywheel Marketing Method.

Our proven marketing protocol helps companies make more money, free up time, and plan an effective strategy.

Treefrog Marketing is an agency in Lafayette, Indiana focused on small business. We specialize in strategic marketing and advertising, graphic design, web design, social media, SEO, and more. For more information, please visit our website and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Leverage Kelly’s marketing experience, insights, and leadership to grow your business.

As the founder and chief marketing strategist at Treefrog Marketing, a co-host of the Priority Pursuit Podcast, a StoryBrand Certified Guide, and fractional chief marketing officer, Kelly Rice has spent more than two decades helping small businesses take their companies to the next level by providing trustworthy leadership and building effective marketing strategies and systems.

She has dedicated her career to helping small businesses succeed because she knows, firsthand, how hard they work to make their communities a better place. 

Still, many people undervalue the strength and ingenuity of small businesses, but not Kelly. She believes they deserve to have a marketing partner and strategy that works as hard as they do.

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