If your small business hasn’t dug into content marketing by now, you need to put that at the top of your to-do list in 2017. Even small businesses that have used content marketing in the past need to stay current with trends. Not every content marketing trend will work for a small business with a modest budget and limited resources. Learn about the right trends that your business can use and boost your content marketing efforts this year.

Develop a Strategy

Many businesses have blog posts and social media profiles. Keeping those web presences updated is a good start, but it’s no content marketing strategy. To develop a true content marketing strategy, you need to understand how content reaches your desired audience, both digitally and emotionally.

A content marketing strategy centers around finding an industry niche that you can target. You might take typical topics that other people in your business write about and spin them for a different audience. You’ll want to pull them in with valuable information, not with promises of products or services. Keywords, search engine optimization (SEO), and link-building are all important aspects of your content marketing strategy, so be sure you’re focusing on both the creative and the digital aspects.

Your content marketing strategy also defines what you want your content to accomplish. Are you aiming for a bigger email list, more website traffic, or a higher search engine ranking? Until you pinpoint your strategy, you won’t be able to use any content marketing trends effectively.

Work With Influencers

content marketing trends

Image via Flickr by LyndaSanchez

An influencer is someone with a strong blog, social media account, or other type of web presence who focuses on certain subjects and has a large following. Instead of putting all your marketing money into creating ads, reach out to some influencers about promoting your content on their sites. For example, if you sell outdoor gear, an influencer who travels or camps a lot would have a natural interest in testing and promoting your products.

Influencers are often up for recommending products or services that they’ve tried, as long as they like the product. You pay them to promote your product in a natural way. Even though most influencers include a disclaimer that they have a relationship with the business in question, their followers appreciate the honest review and advice.

Because using influencers is still a new marketing trend, finding good influencers who have access to the audience you’re looking for can be challenging. As a small business, you should communicate with local influencers first, since they know your community.

Create a Content Team

Your content marketing strategy won’t work if you don’t have good content. Small businesses may not have the funds to hire full-time content creators the way large businesses do. However, your small business still needs people who understand how to create and promote good content.

This goes beyond writing interesting blog posts or uploading engaging videos. So much content ends up on the web every minute, which means you need to ensure that yours finds its audience. You can draft current employees to learn about and accomplish certain content tasks, or you can hire a few freelancers who know how to research and craft content. Your budget and the current state of your business’s content creation will dictate what works. If you don’t have employees with the skills or the time to learn about content creation, you’ll have to look outside the office.

When hiring people outside your office to create and post content, make sure you know what you want from the material. According to a CopyPress survey of over 300 marketing industry professionals, understanding what clients expect is a significant challenge for many content creators. When you have a salient strategy and an understanding of the kind of content you want, you’re more likely to get what you need from a freelancer or an outside agency.

Blend With Salesblend with sales

Your small business might not have a dedicated sales team, but you still need to think about sales when creating content. Talk to the people in your office who do the most sales work. What kind of questions do customers usually ask? Figuring out how to communicate with customers as a salesperson will help you come up with content. For example, customers who are uncertain about an aspect of your business or part of your industry could inspire you to create how-to guides.

Then you can use some of this content to connect with potential customers. Once you figure out what kind of content is useful to your customers, the members of your team who deal with sales can use that content on their social media profiles. Posting a how-to guide might generate online leads, especially if you tweet the link and encourage followers to ask additional questions. Make an effort to integrate sales and content creation instead of separating these two parts of your business.

Master Your Purpose

The purpose of creating content is to market your small business, right? That doesn’t tell the whole story. Instead, the purpose relates to what the content does for the audience and why the audience should bother engaging with it. Why are you creating this content, other than to generate leads? What do you want your audience to gain from it?

Answer those questions to create content with purpose. Some ideas include giving your audience valuable information that they didn’t have before or evoking an emotional response from the audience, like joy or surprise. Purpose also translates into branding. A serious law firm probably won’t want to post content with the purpose of making people laugh, but broadcasting an image of a competent, knowledgeable firm that provides helpful information about complex but relevant laws would work quite well.

Content marketing is always changing. If the first strategy you try doesn’t work the way you wanted to, examine what failed to create a better strategy the next time. You can always create new content and alter the way you use your blog and social media until you find the formula that works.

Patty Hughes
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