If there’s one thing I hope you’ll take away from this article, it’s that big bucks don’t always get you big results. A company may think that throwing lots of cash at a certain project or venture is a guaranteed way to get a better outcome than small businesses with much shallower pockets. Well, they’d be wrong, because the principles behind effective content are the same regardless of your budget: know your audience well and use that insight to provide them something relevant, timely and genuinely useful.
When it comes to content, a flashy, high-budget approach can be a quick way to a high-profile marketing fail if you haven’t nailed the basics.
This article discusses ways for small businesses to implement an effective content strategy and achieve high impact results, but on a shoestring budget.
Content marketing – does it have to be expensive?
When you say the words ‘content marketing’, often companies will instantly think you have to invest top dollar to develop a strategy that will work for their business. A content marketing survey report found that 65 per cent of companies consider content marketing to be too expensive, while only 34 per cent have a dedicated budget. However, there are lots of ways you can implement an effective content marketing strategy without plunging into bankruptcy.
Here are some budget-friendly ways to start, build and optimise a content marketing strategy:
1. Blog, blog and blog away
A strong company blog can set off any content marketing mission. It offers a free platform to start sharing content and one that you can develop periodically. Some things to remember:
Link your blog site to your main company domain. If you create a separate domain then you will not benefit from an SEO boost, which, of course, is one of the happy side-effects of a good content strategy
It’s also important that readers can find your blog easily from your company homepage. A button along the top navigation menu usually works well. If you’re looking to start a blog and need a low-cost way to build one, check out wordpress.com as it’s one of the easiest and most versatile content management systems
Of course, the main benefit of using your blog to kick-start your content marketing is that it costs next to nothing. A basic blog can be designed in a matter of seconds, or if you wanted more detailed design, you could hire someone at a relatively low cost to complete this task.
2. Sourcing the content
Your next step is to think about where to get your content from.
Busineses with larger budgets may turn to copywriting agencies or look for some freelancer support, however this can be an expensive option, so if you’re looking for ways to save some pennies for your SME, why not write the content yourself?
A general rule of thumb for good content marketing is to post once a week. This can be on any topic relevant to your business – or even irrelevant topics that showcase your company’s values – just make sure you include key SEO terms and it will resonate with your audience. This improves your Google ranking and ultimately helps people find your blog, which in turn leads more traffic to your website – yay!
Of course, posting once a week can take a bit of time so consider using other team members, or perhaps even guest bloggers. Not only will this take some of the responsibility off your plate, it’ll also naturally lend your blog to different styles and opinions that can keep your readers engaged.
3. Repurposing your content
Always share the link to the blog post across your company social media channels and ask your employees to do the same. You can also repurpose blog content in other ways; you could consider turning a post into a video, slideshow or podcast, for example. The hard part is bringing a good idea to life, once you have it down on paper, you can cut your content creation time significantly by repurposing the idea into other formats and exploring alternative ways to engage your audience with the content. And we’re not looking at costly alternatives – you could easily post a video on YouTube discussing the key arguments from your blog for free.
4. Think about your timing
If you are regularly posting to your blog and linking key SEO terms into your posts, you are essentially ‘content marketing’ – congrats!
However, to take your content marketing strategy to the next level, you need to put some thinking behind what you post and when. There are lots of resources on the internet that will help you with this at no cost at all, such as our very own guide on creating a content calendar.
It’s all well and good posting on your blog or social media page, or sending out email campaigns with lots of content for your readers, but what makes it even more valuable is if you think about the schedule for your content. For example, if you populate your content calendar with key dates that are relevant to your company, industry, customers, or even public holiday dates, you’ve got the perfect starting point for coming up with creative content ideas that are both interesting and contextual.
This also involves minimal costs, but with big impact as it can help your brand look current, organised and thoughtful. Timely content is also more likely to be shared by others across social media so it’s always worth keeping in mind.
And there you have it…
Hopefully these four steps have made you realise that content marketing isn’t just for big spenders, but instead, a content strategy that can be applied by small businesses too.
The key thing to remember is to post content that is relevant to your audience at relevant times and soon (in theory) you’ll be seeing your web traffic and click through rates increase.
Claire Wilson is content strategy director at Stratton Craig