Content marketing seems to be the buzz word “du jour” these days, and most of the guides, how-to advise, and case studies you find online work great for big brands, but no at all for small practices. Since most of our clients fit in the small-to-medium-sized category, (we’re right there too), and that’s what we’ve been working with, I’ll be discussing a simple way to make content marketing work for your small business or practice.

Purpose

The main reason to spend time and effort in creating and promoting content is to drive qualified traffic to your website and position yourself as the expert in your field, with is the first step in the path to someone becoming a lead. Since very few are doing this, it will not be hard for you to stand out from your competitors and be the one with more visibility.

Strategy

In order for your content marketing efforts to be effective you need to craft an action plan, that I’ve simplified as follows:

1. Know your clients
I always come back to this point because it is foundational. The more you know about your ideal customer the better you’ll be able to communicate the value you can provide him or her, and the more he or she will be interested in what you have to say. You may have several segments and you want to have a detailed profile for each.

2. Set up a blog site
If you don’t have a blog set up yet, it is preferably to add it as a section on the same platform of your website so you can publish all your content there, and promote it by sharing it to your social networks. The more you practice this, the more traffic you’ll generate. If your site doesn’t allow for a blog to be added on to the same platform, there are ways to integrate an external one in a way that will still bring you the traffic, it might not be ideal but it will work.

3. Know your keywords.
Basically you’ll want to know what your ideal customer is typing on a browser when they are looking for solutions you provide. I’ve found that many times the words you think they should be typing are just not it, and they may use different expressions that might be less technical. You want to use the words they use so they can relate, so your content magically appears when they are looking for information.

The Action Plan

Once you are clear about your clients wants and needs, and have a properly set up blog section to easily add and distribute content, the next step is to get to work.

1. Create a Marketing Profile Sheet for each of your top products or services
This is a simple word document or better yet, a note in Evernote. Make sure you have one file for each product or service, don’t combine them. Each Marketing Profile Sheet will include the name of the product or service at the top, and a simple list of answers to the following:

• Product description
• The target audience segment
• The problems they have that your product/service solves
• Questions they have about your product/service
• Objections they might have
• What can go wrong: if choosing the wrong provider, not seeking a solution, etc
• Misconceptions

The above list is a start and you should add your own points.
If you have a long list of products or service categories pick the top 3 to start. Once you have “profiled” each of those 3, add new ones, one at a time. Don’t over think it, the point here is to get started and get going.

2. Make a list of topics
Each of the answers to the points above will become a topic for you to write about and share your expert opinion. At this point, under each point write as many topics as you can think of, one way to do this is by writing “temporary” titles yo can develop later. Basically you will be addressing questions people have, objections, etc. Chances are you have been asked questions, and if you want to expand on this a bit more you can find questions on places like Quora or Yahoo Answers. The point is to tie in the issues people have with your products and services to your expertise.
3. Start writing
This is your area of expertise so you have the answers. Keep it simple and focus on just one idea. Each post can be as long or short as you want, it doesn’t really matter. Yes, I know you’ve heard you have to write long posts, and there is truth to that, but believe me, you will still get traffic to your site with shorter posts if it’s implemented properly.

You can also write a blog post about your point of view about an interesting article you found, and include the link. When you share it on the social networks, people will be going to your website, and that’s the point.

The point is, people are looking for information before making a decision, and providing useful content will keep you in front of them, and eventually choose you.

5. Promote your content
Create snippets of each post with it’s link to post on social networks. You can also do the same with the other content on your site, like your services page, etc. The point is to create as many mini-posts as you want from the entire content on your website, which you’ve worked so hard to create. We use a spreadsheet and Trello to organize this step, you can include the date you posted it, the network etc. The spreadsheet will help you upload the posts on to Hootsuite all at once, if you use it, making the work a lot less time consuming. We have a resource list you can download with more information about these tools.

6. Measure results
Pay attention to how people are reacting to your content. Social networks, especially Facebook, provide excellent analytics information about how many people saw your posts, and also how many likes and shares, which shows engagement, but most importantly, how many clicks to the links that took them to your site. You’ll also want to look at your site analytics and check the traffic that came from each social network and its bounce rate, which indicates how interested people are on the topic.

7. Tweak and repeat
As you see what posts generate highest engagement you can determine the topics your audience is most interested in and make adjustments, doing more of what’s working and discard what doesn’t work. Not be too quick in discarding a topic though, if it’s relevant to your practice you’ll want to test different approaches before discarding it all together.

8. Repurpose
As you add content to your website on an ongoing basis you develop a valuable library over time, that will provide you with relevant and well crafted material to continue to promote your business. Since the information doesn’t really expire, a blog post can be re-purposed in many social mini-posts weeks, and months after you first published it,  as a series of short videos with quick tips, a podcast, or you can have a designer create an infographic, all from the same post.

And there you have it! This is how you put an effective content marketing plan in place that’s especially tailored to your needs, and that builds your credibility and positioning over time. If you have any questions or need help getting started we are here to help! Just head over to our contact form and send your questions in.

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