Anyone who has ever dipped a toe into the world of content marketing can give you three key takeaways:
- It’s difficult
- It’s competitive
- It’s expensive
So how can you, a small business owner, possibly wade into the shark-infested waters of content marketing on a limited budget?
It’s not impossible. But it’s also not going to be easy.
While massive enterprise-level businesses have a ton of budget to throw around, you’re going to have to wage your content marketing war from the ground level, and that’s perfectly fine.
There is a lot that you can do by just understanding your audience, taking stock of your existing content, writing quality copy, and reallocating optimized content into other formats.
Read on to find out how you can scale your marketing efforts on a budget.
Understand Your Audience
The first thing you’re going to have to understand is who precisely you’re marketing to.
This is information you’re going to need for more than just your content marketing efforts. The demographic study is a major aspect of running a successful business, and establishing buyer profiles will help you across the board.
But what is a buyer profile?
A buyer profile is a complete look at your ideal customer. A lot of factors go into a buyer profile, including:
- Marital Status
The list goes on and on, and it’s common to have multiple buyer personas, especially if you serve a broad demographic.
Now, why is this so important?
Because when you’re writing content, you’re not writing it for yourself. You’re writing directly to your ideal customer. You’re trying to reach the people who are most likely to open their wallets, make a purchase, make future purchases, and recommend you to all of their friends.
The first step in writing content specifically to those people is identifying who they are.
A lot of that is going to have to do with your product or service. If you’re selling headphones, you’re probably marketing to a very diverse crowd with an emphasis on younger customers. If you’re offering discounts on medical alert devices, you’re going to be producing content for much older folks, like this example shows.
Everything from the language that you use to the images you include all the way to the platforms on which you roll out your content must be geared toward that audience.
When you understand your audience, you’re also able to understand their pain points. What pain point is this customer trying to alleviate and how can your product or service help them accomplish this? You are going to have to directly address that in your content.
Do a Full Content Audit
Before you can get to where you’re going you first have to understand where you are. That old adage rings especially true when it comes to content marketing.
What kind of content do you currently have?
That’s a question that has to be answered in full before any content marketing occurs. By understanding not just what content you have but how users are interacting with it, you’ll be able to craft better content based on results.
By taking an audit of your existing content, you’re able to determine which items on your website are still useful and what can be removed. You’re also able to find opportunities to update your existing content wherever applicable. We will touch on that more later.
Start a spreadsheet where you can keep track of every bit of content on your site. This includes informational content, product listings, and every blog post you have.
Next to each item, make sure to note if this is content you’re going to keep as is, update with new information, or remove from the site entirely.
You can hire an outside firm to perform the content audit for you, but if you’re working on a budget this is an easy albeit time-consuming project to undertake yourself.
Make Use of User Generated Content
There’s a lot to love about user-generated content.
First off, it’s free, which fits in perfectly with our push toward budget-friendly content marketing initiatives.
Second, it encourages users to interact with your brand. By requesting user-generated content, you’re providing a creative outlet for your audience and building a bridge between them and the company.
A great way to gather user-generated content is to hold a contest. You could ask users to post photos to social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram that show off them using your products in their daily lives. They could then write a little something about how the product helps them and end with a hashtag you’ve chosen to keep track of entries.
Each post would then be entered into a random draw to win a prize. This could be something as simple as a free product, but if you’re really looking to save money, you could always offer a discount percentage. It costs you nothing and might encourage more sales in the process.
Finally, one of the biggest checks in the pro column for user-generated content is that it inspires trust among the rest of your audience. People instinctively distrust company messaging. We know that when a business markets directly to us, they’re accentuating all of their positives while hiding their negatives.
However, when our peers recommend a product, we’re able to trust what they’re saying more. In fact, we’re able to put ourselves in their shoes.
Take weight loss programs, for instance.
A company can tout the effectiveness of their program all day long and it might not move you. But seeing a photo shared by someone who lost 100 lbs on a program is going to make you sit up and take notice.
Through user-generated content you’re getting:
- Free content (Yay!)
- An opportunity to engage with your audience
- Established trust with potential customers
It’s a win, win, win.
Post Quality Content Consistently
If you don’t have a ton of money to push your content out to the masses, the least you’re able to do is stick to a consistent content creation cycle.
Those who do find your blog, podcast, or video series will come to expect new content every week at the same time. If you’re consistent enough, your content can become a regular part of your customer’s week.
Once that’s done, the customer will hopefully share that content with their friends, and your audience will grow through word of mouth.
Of course, the content you produce has to be of high quality. That means good, dynamic writing that is copy edited to perfection and crafted with your target audience in mind.
You’re also going to want to make sure you’re using affordable tools that can help you produce the best content possible.
Use grammar and spell checker. Grammarly has a limited free option on top of it’s an affordable premium offering.
Google Docs is a free word processor that you can use to collaborate with colleagues on content in real-time. However, an issue with Google Docs is that if you’re copying your content into WordPress, it’s going to create some structural issues. Using a tool like Wordable will allow you to transfer your work from Google Docs to WordPress without incident.
Google also has a free keyword planner tool which will allow you to find high-quality relevant keywords to include in your content.
Recycle Old Content
Never underestimate the value of old content. Even an article you wrote ages ago could be new again with just a few simple tweaks.
Recycling old content is quick, cheap, and easy. It’s also incredibly effective.
Let’s say you sell sporting goods. You have a blog that talks about a lot of the items that you sell, comparing them to what all-star players in the major leagues use.
You wrote an article years ago comparing your baseball bats and gloves to the ones used by Derek Jeter and A-Rod. However, in 2020 they’re long since retired. That’s not a problem whatsoever.
Just go back into your article and replace Jeter and A-Rod with some of the biggest baseball names of today like Mike Trout and Aaron Judge.
With a slight tweak you have a whole new article, refreshed for a modern audience, and ready to be pushed out to the masses once again.
Of course, that’s not the only way to create new content out of something old.
You could take a written blog article and turn it into a video. Video content is huge, with YouTube being one of the biggest sites in the world right now. Set some footage to it, throw in some visuals, and provide voiceover work. You now have an all-new piece of content.
Speaking of visuals, you can take a statistic-heavy blog article and turn it into an infographic. You could also create a podcast around your business. It’s affordable, easy, and fun. Use some of your old blog articles as topics.
Take some of your written content and create an optimized content library out of it, springing off from one page much like this example from SleepJunkie.
What is old can very easily be new again with a little updated information and a format change.
When you’re trying to make your content rank, you’re going to have to build links. These are both links on your page, connecting various different articles together, and off-page backlinks, which link to your site from other sources.
If you spend money on nothing else for your content marketing, invest in link building. It’s incredibly important for SEO and backlinks are not easy to generate. We recommend working with a link building agency like users to push your links out to other pages, creating a web of backlinks that will make your content more visible over time.
Content marketing is essential for success in the modern business world, but it doesn’t have to break the bank.
Understand your audience, take stock of your existing content, make use of user-generated content, post quality content on a regular schedule, recycle old content, and generate links. Then you’ll be able to succeed as a content marketer without draining your profits.