It’s now time to put into practice everything you’ve planned until now.
A. CREATE THE CORE MARKETING MESSAGE
- BMW: The Ultimate Driving Machine
- Crazy EGG: You can boost your website’s profit within 30 days
- Southwest Airlines: We make it fun to fly
- Volkswagen: Das Auto
- Duct Tape Marketing : Practical Marketing Solutions
- Coca Cola: Taste the feeling
As you can already see in the above examples, the core message may be a short phrase or a full statement that would be later identified with your brand and / or small business. Why is it important and why do I love it?
- You are creating something different. In other words, you differentiate your business from the competition. People get tired of getting the same messages when they are searching for a specific service, product or company. By delivering a core marketing message, you can really make a difference and give you customers something to remember you for. You will probably spend many hours and even days trying to get the right message so that it will stand out from the crowd. Do not think about this as a waste of time however, this message will probably define everything you do from now on.
- You can use this core message in all your marketing strategies and messages. I have selected the core message examples from above to give you a hint about how important this statement is in marketing and also in defining your brand. I am sure you have already heard at least two or three of those popular messages and that you are aware that those big companies are using their slogans in every piece of advertising they are showing to their customers. Although content marketing differs from the traditional marketing those companies are engaged in, it is always better to have a good core message to start with even though you’ll be publishing content and not ads.
- It may also be important to your customers, as they will easier link your brand to the core message. Moreover, they will be able to identify your business through this message and this will help you grow awareness easier and with better results.
- Analyze your competition. Find out what is their core message, what type of content do they share, what are their main topics, the frequency of posting and of course, how far ahead from you are they. Also, if you are able to, try to identify which topics your competitors do not cover and start building your content from that point on. You will achieve better results if you write about new topics or if you can offer new perspectives on the topics already covered by the competitors. This is also an important step of your campaign and therefore, you must treat it with the utmost attention. Your success might depend on how thorough you are.
- It will be easier to remember what your competition is doing if you are writing everything down in an Excel sheet or a table document
Write down several core messages. If you already have a community of followers, you can even organize contests among them, asking them to provide you their own ideas. Some will be good, some will be average, and some will be bad. This is not important: what matters is to engage them in contributing with relevant content for you. If you are fortunate and therefore able to select one of your followers’ messages, you will also have a lot to gain, by growing trust between your company and the customers.HOW TO DO IT:
If not, just try a brainstorming and write several core marketing messages and carefully analyze each of them before choosing your final pick.
B. DEFINE THE THING THAT WILL HELP YOU STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD
While the core marketing message will define your brand or business making it easier to identify among your customers, at this point you will also have to find out the thing that will help you achieve your goals.
In other words, you’ll have to find you cash cow which can be a number of different things such as:
- Your personality and the way you write.
- Your personal approach and unique view on specific topics.
- Your knowledge, the depth of your information and the value of posted data.
- The things you can add to the overall knowledge on the selected topic.
C. SELECT YOUR NICHE AND TARGET AUDIENCE
At this point, the next important step is not to deliver your message but instead, to choose to whom shall it be delivered in the first place. It will not be an easy task but nevertheless, it is of capital importance for everything you do from now on.
Sure, you can say that you want to sell to everybody but this will not do you any good. Try to look at the big companies. Even they are targeting their products to a selected group of people. You have to do the same thing in order to achieve your goals. If you don’t know your audience, or who is your audience, you will end up creating content that none of your potential customers will be interested in. This might prove to be one of your biggest mistakes and eventually, it might ruin your marketing campaign.
TIP: While you probably cannot do it before starting your first campaign, once you have a constant traffic to your website, you can target your messages even better, by conducting a few surveys. Create a form with just a few simple questions and send them through a personalized e-mail. Ask them about gender, age, interests, hobbies, jobs and so on, trying to find out exactly the things that will help you adapt even more to their needs.
Another important piece of knowledge you need to find out about your potential customers and / or readers or followers, is how often they needs updates and of course, the length of the articles they want to read.
Some people will run away from 1000 words articles while some prefer to read thoroughly documented posts of maybe 2000 words long. If you are the beginning and you are not able to conduct a survey, you can study the competition and their most popular posts.
Finally, I will list exactly the things you need at this point:
- Select the niche. You cannot target everyone because you will reach to exactly nobody. Instead, you need to find the niche your small business fits in and target the people who are interested in that specific domain.
- I will underline it again: do not aim to please and attract everybody. Find instead the selected group of people that is most likely to adhere to your values and value your content / brand / business / services.
- Refine the niche so that you will be able to be more specific when you write about the subjects that matter for you and your customers and followers.
For example, you can try addressing your message to all people who wear glasses. This is a niche but you can also narrow it down to, let’s say, people who wear sunglasses. And, if you want to be even more specific, you can write for people who wear sunglasses with UV protection.
This final example is a micro niche and if you managed to narrow it down to this point, you will have a lot to gain as you will be aiming to a selected group of individuals who might be interested exactly in what you have to offer.
D. VERIFY IF YOUR SELECTED MARKET AND/OR NICHE IS VIABLE
Pay attention to how you select you niche.
You can narrow it down to the point there will be virtually almost nobody to be targeted by your campaign or, in the best case scenario, a small group of people.
At this point, check the following:
- There are enough people interested in the niche you have selected.
- These people are searching for the same type of information you are going to provide.
- The selected group can afford your products and / or services, if you are going to sell them with the help of the content marketing campaign.
The easiest way to check if you have selected a viable niche and to check keywords for each article you post online is through the “Google Adwords” key research tool.
E. LOCATE AND TRACK YOUR IDEAL CUSTOMERS
There are several tools available online that can help you research your market and analyze the customers’ behavior.
Forrester: According to their own description, “Forrester is one of the most influential research and advisory firms in the world”.
They „work with business and technology leaders to develop customer-obsessed strategies that drive growth. Forrester’s unique insights are grounded in annual surveys of more than 675,000 consumers and business leaders worldwide, rigorous and objective methodologies, and the shared wisdom of our most innovative clients. Through proprietary research, data, custom consulting, exclusive executive peer groups, and events, the Forrester experience is about a singular and powerful purpose: to challenge the thinking of our clients to help them lead change in their organizations”.
Kissmetrics: Another important tool for tracking your customers is Kissmetrics.
It can help you increase conversions, drive engagement, and grow retention.
F. START DRAFTING YOUR FIRST ARTICLES
As I have said before, an important step in creating a successful content marketing campaign is to plan ahead, everything that you will going to do, at least for the first few weeks of work. In other words, you should draft a few articles and prepare some extra headline, based on your previous research.
There are three questions you need to answer at this point:
- What is your target audience? (Based on what we’ve discussed in the previous paragraphs, I am sure you have already answered this question. If not, now is the perfect time to do it).
- What kind of content will you deliver to your audience? What value will you be able to ad to your customers and / or followers?
- Are you able to capture their attention?
TIP: When you are creating content, you should be able to give something relevant to the customer, explain to them the benefits of reading and / or following you and also, deliver a clear and easy to understand message.
Once, you have answered these basic questions, it’s time to move on to the next step, which is to determine how you will be able to fit the content into the marketing plan:
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization). At this point, good SEO for your website means relevant content and well written articles, with good headlines and keywords.
- SMM (Social Media Marketing). Almost everybody has a social media account these days. You cannot think a marketing strategy without also preparing your content to be published, shared and linked on social media websites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or Pinterest. Analyze your future content, your targets and your possible customers and create social media pages for your small business, accordingly.
At this point you are ready to draft your first posts. Remember however that you will need more than one title in order to start scheduling your campaign. My advice is, to draft at least a dozen of articles before posting the first one and then, according to your scheduling target, to draft a new one every time you post. Thus, you will never be out of topics to write about and, in case you are not available for a short period of time, you can keep the website going.
Extra things to keep in mind:
- You Core message can also be the description of the website and also, the title of your first post. You can use this message further, in your future posts, as a keyword.
- You can alternatively come up with groups of words and phrases that can summarize your core message and be as well included in your posts as headlines or as keywords.
- Create a list with your best ideas for posts, valuable topics and headlines. Start with the headlines.
- If possible, try talking with some of your customers to test your ideas. If not, talk with friends or family.
- Return to the list of possible core messages. You have already chosen the main one but you don’t have to dismiss all the others. Instead, you can turn them into headlines.
- Use these core messages and keywords to create the main categories of your blog and / or website.
- Blog posts. This is the easiest way to address your customers and deliver your message. You can post article from 100 words to 2000 or even 3000 words, depending on the topics you choose and of course, what your readers want. Some people will read only short posts while others will seek out thoroughly documented information. You see now why it was important to find more about your customers? If you want to learn more about how a blog post should look like in order to be SEO friendly and attract more visitors, you can study this article posted on Yoast.com about how to draft a SEO friendly and awesome blog post.
- Webinars. You can use your blog to deliver video content through webinars. Webinars are live video presentations that are delivered in real time to the registered users. However, they can be recorded and uploaded on your blog in order to make them available for future readers whenever they want to access them. When uploaded, the videos can also be accompanied by texts and slide presentations which make them even more attractive.
- Magazine articles. They are similar to the blog posts and can deliver the same type of content. However, the articles will be published in printed versions of magazines and sometimes, even on their official web pages. Unlike the blog posts, these articles will not be free but they are easier to deliver to the right customers if you choose the appropriate magazine for your business.
- Videos. There are several channels where you can deliver videos to your customers. The most popular is of course, YouTube. However, you can also post videos on your blog and share them on your social media accounts.
- Audio podcasts. Most people are mobile these days. Moreover, they travel a lot.
- Tutorials and guides. These types of content can be written, as blog posts, or distributed as videos or audio podcasts. If you want to be more specific and really attract customers and followers, tutorials and guides may be your best choice, as they deliver precisely the content your customers are looking for when they are in trouble.Decide the specific types of content you will be publish. You don’t have to settle for just one, you can select more, according to your goals: blog posts, magazine style articles, videos, audio podcasts, e-books, webinars, courses etc. Let’s define in just a few words each of these options:
- Infographics. They are effective on social media pages, especially on Pinterest. They require less work on your part, assuming you know how to work with images but they are able to deliver simple yet powerful messages. Infographics are easy to read, easy to share and of course, the reader needs only a small period of time to get through them. If you find out that your customers and / or potential customers prefer visual messages and that they have little time to spare, Infographics may be your best choice in delivering the right message to them
- PowerPoint presentations. You can include this type of content in your Webinars and also, on you posts, as slides. However, these can make also powerful downloadable items.
- E-books. It is harder to write them because, unlike individual posts, it will take more time to come with a good topic, expand it and write about it as thorough as you are able to. Usually, e-books are long readings, they take from 10 pages to even 100 and they also offer valuable content for your readers, as long as they are willing to read and have time to do it.
- Newsletters. They are another great source of valuable content, assuming your customers are signing up willingly for your updates. You can include in your newsletter any kind of information, including blog posts, offers, contests, links to e-books and other downloadable materials and of course, invitations to webinars, seminars and courses.
G. TEST YOUR WEBSITE
Everything is now in place and you are almost ready to start your marketing campaign. However, your success will also depend on several technical factors. Here are the most important things you should consider:
- The website domain name. The name you will choose for your website is probably as important as the content you will be publishing after you have set it up. Choose a SEO friendly domain name and at the same time, choose a name that is as close at it can be to your business name, your services or your core message.
- The web hosting provider. This is also important because not all providers are delivering the same services. For instance, if you will install a WordPress website, choose a webhosting that is specialized in this CMS or, a web host company that supports it one hundred percent. Also, your choice in web hosting should depend on the traffic you expect, the price of the service and of course, the company’s reputation.
- The content management system (CMS) you’ll be using. Normally, I would choose WordPress. It is the best CMS you can find and it is free. However, you can create your own or use another engine for your website. As long as it helps you deliver your message, it will be ok. Why would I choose WordPress?
- WordPress is free.
- WordPress has a huge fan base, fans that are contributing with plugins and themes.
- There are millions of themes to choose from and the plugins database is constantly growing.
- Updates are delivered instantly. Moreover, the CMS is updated on a constant basis and therefore, all glitches and security errors are resolved as soon as they are observed.
- WordPress is SEO friendly.
- Due to its big community of fans, everything you need to know is already available on the Internet. If you encounter a problem, you just have to use Google Search and find a dozen of answers instantly.
- The theme of the website. Select a theme that fits the type of content you want to deliver. If you are not sure what to choose, take a look at your competition.
- How SEO friendly is the theme and how friendly it is to the user? Verify that text is readable, that headers and sub headers are displayed correctly, that users have access primary to the content and not the menus and the sidebars.
- How quick the website loads? This is yet another important issue you should solve before actually launching the website or immediately after you have posted the first couple of articles. If your website loads slowly, people will close the browser before reading anything. Therefore, keep your theme clean, load only the necessary plugins and choose a website hosting that is capable to sustain your blog in every way. Also, you can use Google’s tool for mobile speed, in order to see how fast your website is on mobile devices.
- How can you integrate various features into the website? Let’s say you want a blog but you want to also have a web store at the same address. Or, on the other hand, you want to deliver different types of media. You will have to choose the CMS and the plugins accordingly. Moreover, pay attention to the theme you are going to select, especially in the case you want to deliver multiple types of content. Also, integrate your social media accounts with the website in order to link them and benefit from both.
TIP: If you want to integrate a shopping platform with the blog, choose WordPress and WooCommerce or Shopify. WooCommerce is a free plugin that can easily be integrated into a WordPress website while Shopify is a commercial platform that can be integrated on multiple social media accounts and the website as well.
They are both viable and you should choose, after a thorough consideration, the one that fits best your goals and needs. Do not be afraid to choose the free plugin, as it is officially supported by WordPress itself, it updates constantly and if your shop is basic, it will suffice.
H. START POSTING REGULARLY (DELIVER YOUR MESSAGE)
Once you have drafted a few articles or videos, you are ready to start posting on your website. Schedule the first week and then proceed in drafting the headlines and the content for the next one. Make sure you have enough subjects to write about and prepare for the days when you will have to deal with the writer’s block or you will be unable to post.
TIP 1: Try to post regularly on your social media accounts and if possible, deliver messages that are different from the content you publish on the website. Sure, you can link your posts on Facebook for example but do not limit your social media activity to linking your own posts. Instead of using all channels as one, use them independently and try setting goals for each one in particular. In time, you will get better results and more customers and / or followers.
TIP 2: Schedule also your posts on social media websites. Make drafts for a week in advance, like you already do it for your blog posts. Also, do not try to use all the social media websites, you don’t need them all. Find out where are your customers and potential customers and prepare your strategy accordingly.