You know content marketing is important. You just don’t quite get what “it” is or how to get it right.

Don’t worry. It’s a common issue for owners of small businesses. We’ve got your back!

Here’s everything you need to know to become a content marketing pro FAST.

Content marketing: Definition

Content marketing is a strategic form of marketing. It involves creating and distributing valuable, relevant content consistently to attract and acquire prospective customers. The ultimate objective of content marketing is to get people to take action and earn a profit from it.

Content marketing: The basics

The goal of content marketing is to get the attention of people in your target market by sharing information that’s valuable and useful to them. Content marketing aims to get those people to trust and rely on the material you share, recognize the unique value your business can provide to them, and get them to do business with you now and over the long term.

Content marketing: Its value

Different businesses use content marketing to achieve a wide range of goals, including:

  • Increasing brand awareness. Content helps people “find” your brand, understand what your business does, and keeps it front and center in their lives.
  • Generating leads. Use content to get people to identify themselves when they’re ready to do business with you.
  • Encouraging loyalty. Stay present in the lives of your clients and customers so they continue to do business with you.
  • Promoting referrals. Encourage occasional readers and devoted customers alike to share your content to make more people aware of your business. It’s a free way to expand your social networks and attract new customers or clients.
  • Increasing sales and profitability. Leverage content to get more people to do added business with you. Content marketing is generally more efficient than other marketing methods.
  • Building a subscriber base. Take your relationship with regular readers, viewers, and listeners to the next level by getting them to pay for the content you deliver regularly. It’s a winning combination: Earning income from your content while marketing to prospective customers.

Your content marketing program doesn’t have to be limited to only one of these goals. The best and most efficient ones accomplish many of these things simultaneously.

How to be successful at content marketing

Three attributes are necessary to make a content marketing program successful:

  1. Valuable: Content marketing must serve real-world needs. It should deliver information prospective customers or clients are searching for online or open to connecting with on social media. Your content must improve their everyday lives, either at home or work. It must move them from their current situation to a better place.
  2. Relevant: Content must focus on the concerns and information needs of the people in your target audience. It shouldn’t just present your company’s perspectives or try to further its business interests. Self-interest turns people off. Instead, connect with what consumers care about.
  3. Consistent: Earning a quick win with a single incredible piece of content is great. However, the only way you’ll get the people you’re targeting to stay connected with you — and remain in their consideration set — is to provide something of value to them regularly. You must create, publish, and deliver actionable, meaningful material on a set schedule.

How does content marketing fit into a broader marketing plan?

Content marketing isn’t a substitute for other promotional efforts. Instead, content works best when used with other types of marketing to help you achieve your business goals.

Content marketing can be combined with:

  • Branded materials: Your content must work with your other marketing and sales assets. They must feel like they’re all a part of the same family.
  • Account-based marketing: Tailor your content to address the needs of different people and businesses in a range of market segments.
  • Social media. Including links in your social media posts to great content will improve engagement with them.
  • Demand generation: Content can help consumers see a need for what you offer that they don’t know they have.
  • Influencer marketing: People today purchase goods and services recommended by experts they respect or people they idolize. Content marketing is an excellent way to associate your brand with influencers and provide visibility to your relationships with them.
  • Digital advertising. Consumers who are aware of your brand through your content will be more likely to respond to your ads because they already know and trust your business.
  • Product and service marketing. Content marketing should create demand for — and link into — products and services offered by businesses.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Authoritative content is at the center of SEO. Without great blog posts and other content, you won’t be able to rank high on Google.
  • Public relations. Original research and thought leadership content are proven ways to get noticed — and picked up — by high-quality media outlets.

Figure out the value content marketing could provide to your business

The value of content marketing is different for every organization. Answer these questions so you can come up with a content marketing value proposition that works for your business.

  • Why do you need content marketing?
  • How will content help achieve your company’s marketing goals?
  • What budget do you need, and how will you spend it?
  • What infrastructure do you require, including people, equipment, agency support, and more?
  • What does success look like?
  • What are your projected results?
  • What kinds of content will you develop and share, and what impact will it have on business results?
  • Who are you developing content for, and why?

Don’t limit your thinking to these questions. Consider anything that will make your content program more effective.

How do I build a content marketing program?

Start by creating a plan for how you’ll develop, distribute, and monitor content.

While there’s no single “right way” to build a content marketing plan, the most successful ones include these elements:

  • Purpose and goals. Your plan’s foundation should be a clear understanding of why you’re doing content marketing and how it will pay off for your company.
  • Audience. You must identify and clearly define your target audience before you can create content that will resonate with them.
  • Branding. If any elements of your brand (messaging, tone, style, imagery) are unclear or ill-defined, it’s time to fix them. You can’t effectively represent your brand through content marketing if you aren’t certain about what it is.
  • Processes and procedures. Good content doesn’t just happen. You need to know how and when it will be developed, reviewed, approved, and monitored.
  • Metrics and reporting. You must come up with projected results. It’s the only way you’ll be able to track progress toward your goals. Consistently monitor performance against those projected results to ensure your content marketing is working as intended. It also helps you figure out how to improve things if they’re not performing as expected.

What’s next? Take some time to dig deeper into each of the components of content marketing covered in this article. It will help you move beyond the basics of content marketing and become a pro. Also, feel free to contact Lisa Canning to get answers to your questions about content marketing.