Are you a small business owner who is struggling to market your business online, or perhaps you’ve seen some initial search engine optimization success but are looking to scale things up? Content marketing has exploded in popularity over the past few years, and when executed correctly can be a major driver of prospective new customers. In this post we’ll take a look at six action steps that your team can start on immediately in order to build and execute a lean content marketing strategy for your business.

Step 1: Creating Your Initial Content Plan

We could write an entire series about content planning, so we’ll keep this step short. As you’re likely just getting started, you’ll want to start small and focus on one avenue of content generation that is in line with your business. For instance, if you own an online jewelry or clothing shop frequented primarily by female buyers you may decide that a heavy focus on Pinterest or Instagram is worthwhile as your target customers use these social networks regularly. If you’re a real estate agent, you may want to invest more heavily in regular blog posts talking about your local communities, major amenities and other items of interest. Don’t go too ‘wide’ when making your initial plan; figure out how to best connect with your buyers and focus on building content for that platform.

Step 2: Getting Everyone ‘On the Bus’

Pushing your content marketing strategy forward will require effort, and for a small business without a dedicated marketing team that means getting every single employee involved. Writing a 500 to 1000 word daily blog post will take about an hour each day – does anyone want to commit to it? Do any of your team have marketing, writing or journalism experience? Have any of them run their own personal blogs or social media accounts in the past? Get a personal commitment from each of your team members that they will help in some way, even if it means sending out a tweet about your company’s recent blog post from time to time.

Step 3: Brainstorm an Unlimited Number of Topics

As you’ll see once things get rolling, the content marketing engine requires quite a bit of fuel. If your team decides that you’re going to aim to get one, or two, or five blog posts per week on the company blog then you’ll need to develop dozens of potential topics in order to build an editorial and production calendar. Call a quick thirty minute meeting each week where you have the team brainstorm ideas for blog topics that are relevant to your products and services. Have any customers emailed in asking questions this week? What about your competitors – what are they writing about? What is the mass media saying about your industry – can you comment on that? Have any industry organizations published recent studies or other materials that could be better explained? Are there any ‘how-to’ guides that you can create in a blog post series that would really help out those who read them?

While quality is job one, quantity is job two. For your content marketing strategy to be successful you’ll need to commit to producing content regularly, so ensure you have a rolling data bank of topics ready to go.

Step 4: Scaling Up your Initial Successes

Has your content marketing strategy started to gain some traction? Excellent! The next step is to assess which pieces are winners, which aren’t working out so well and what you can scale up in order to draw in more new business. This is also an excellent time to call in freelancers and others who can help you with your efforts – especially if you’ve been the one creating most of the content. There isn’t much else to be said in this step… find out what is working and do more of it while doing less of what isn’t delivering value.

Step 5: Take Advantage of Guest Blogging and Thought Leadership

Once your own blog and websites are firing on all cylinders you will start to build a following and be seen as a thought leader in your space. If you get the opportunity to write articles as a guest author or to contribute your thoughts in a piece for someone else’s website, be sure to take them up on it. If you want to take this a step further you can spend some time researching various blogs and websites that your target customers might be reading and reach out to them with a pitch for a guest article that you can contribute. Be sure to demonstrate your ‘social proof’ by explaining some of the popular posts on your blogs and how many visitors you will share the guest article with on social media. Guest blogging can be a fantastic way to reach out into new communities that have heard little about your brand or the services you offer.

Step 6: Spreading the Word

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that since the entire goal is to ensure that your content is actually read, you’ll need to commit some resources to spreading the word about it. Yes, search engines like Google will deliver organic visitor traffic to your blog posts, videos and other pieces of content – but don’t neglect other avenues. Ensure that all of your social media accounts are kept up-to-date; you should be leveraging Facebook and Twitter at the minimum, but be sure to include YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram if you have a more visual small business like a retail store or if you’re creating visual content. If you find certain pieces of content are converting well, test out some paid advertisements on Google AdWords, Facebook Ads or on LinkedIn to see if you can draw in some additional business that way. Don’t hesitate to ask your visitors to share your content by placing social sharing buttons on the page or by running contests to encourage shares. You put a ton of work in to producing your various content marketing pieces, so promote them as loudly as you can!

Building a full content marketing strategy in order to improve your websites’ visibility in the major search engines and attract new visitor traffic isn’t easy. Thankfully, the professional team here at Riverbed Marketing is here to assist with our strategic approach to content and inbound marketing for small businesses. Contact us today at 1.855.858.7500 and we’ll share how we can help.