For more than two decades now, content marketing has single handedly become one of the most powerful tools used by businesses to attract new clients, make sales and grow their brand.
As a business poised to drive strategic growth in the 21st century, you want to know what content marketing is all about, find the secret strategies to navigate it successfully and position your brand as a content marketing power house.
These are some of the key takeaways you’ll glean from this guide, as we dig into content marketing, to find out why people find things on the web and how your business can get found using the power of content marketing.
What is Content Marketing for a Small Business?
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Interestingly, whether you’re a small business or medium business or even if you’re not interested in business, the definition of content marketing is still the same.
Also, this definition is regardless of whether you’re in Nigeria, India, South Africa or United States however strategies may be slightly different.
Content Marketing as Strategic Marketing
So generally, Content marketing is a strategic marketing system used in creating and distributing quality, useful or relevant and consistent content on the web (could be social media, your blog, website etc.) in order to attract a well-defined audience that will drive a specific outcome.
It is typically a long-term strategy aimed at building a strong relationship with a specific target audience by consistently creating and sharing with them relevant content aimed at solving their needs.
Over time, this allows the customers to know, like and trust the brand to be capable of providing real time solutions or products that can be paid for thus giving it n edge over the other brands.
The story of Content, a documentary by CMI tells a lot more about the history of this form of marketing and how it became a widespread marketing model in the 21st century.
Content Marketing from a Marketer’s Perspective
The number one goal of every content marketer is to create content that drives a specific outcome.
If you’re in the business of web design and digital marketing for example, your primary purpose of creating content in that niche is to create content that can attract clients interested in your kind of business.
As more people get to exposed to your content, they begin to perceive your brand as capable of providing these services. And over time when they need your services or products related to what you offer, it becomes easier for them to hire you to provide these services.
At the end of the day, content marketing ensures that your reader gets value from the free content you create while you get monetary value for the services you render to them.
Now, in a nutshell, that is a summary of what content marketing means to a content marketer.
The more people see, consume and gain value from your content, the more they are more likely to buy your services/product or recommend them.
Key Elements of Content Marketing
From our earlier definition, the three key characteristics of a successful content are; Quality, Usefulness, and Consistency. This three are key elements to look out for, while building a successful content marketing strategy.
Let’s talk about each of these elements in details:
Regardless of whether you’re engaging in content marketing in Nigeria or any part of the world, to evolve a successful marketing campaign, the quality of your content has to be really high.
This is one of the key things that will set you aside from other brands creating the same content as you do thus increasing your chances of getting more readers.
Usefulness and Relevance
It’s not merely important to create high quality content, it is crucial that your content is relevant and useful to your audience.
So if you’re writing a high quality blog post on electronics for example, while your audience is more interested in food and cooking related content, that content may not be useful to your audience.
Even when you provide high quality and useful content, if you don’t produce the content on a consistent basis, over time, your readers will lose interest and head over to the next blog.
So the first step to a successful content marketing campaign is to start by creating a high quality and useful content to a well specified audience on a consistent basis.
Types of Content
While there are many different kinds of content, based on the results they create, some are more popularly used than the others.
Here are some of the most popular content types you can use for your content marketing strategy: Audio, Blog Posts, Case Studies, E-Books, Email Marketing, Infographics, Podcasts, Whitepaper, Videos.
As a content creator, you don’t necessarily have to create content in all the different formats as that will be time consuming. Instead, work on identifying the few top content format that works for your audience and stick with it.
Difference Between Content Marketing and Other Marketing forms
There are over 159 different kinds of marketing but one thing that stands content marketing apart is not only the platform used, but the strategy.
For example, while most other forms of marketing focuses on selling a product or services to the customer, content marketing emphasizes on creating value to the prospect before sales.
With content marketing, instead of a business driving customers to its landing pages based on what they are selling, it first provides value to its customers before selling to them.
And why is this Important for a Small Business?
One thing about marketing is that customers don’t like to be sold to. They want to buy when they have a reason to, not because they are being advertised to.
So, instead of selling directly, as a small business, with content marketing; you inspire clients to buy from you after you’ve already created enough value for them based on the content you share.
This content saves as incentives, giving them reasons to choose you over others.
Benefits of Content Marketing
Content Marketing holds a lot of benefits for you and your small business. Especially for brands running their business on a budget.
For brands running a bigger business, the benefits of Content Marketing becomes even more noticeable as it helps you build a loyal and engaging audience for your brand.
The following are some other essential benefits of Content Marketing to small businesses…
Content Marketing Creates Value for your Audience
Content marketing is important because it creates outstanding value for your audience, your prospect and for your brand as a content marketer.
How does this work?
Check out this Scenario…
You want to find out what Content marketing is all about so you search for the term, “How to navigate Content Marketing successfully” on your web browser…
Google brings out the link for this post and some other posts in the search results page and then you click and read it.
After reading the post, you see links to other related posts and you read them because you find them interesting as well.
During the process, you noticed there are a lot of posts about content marketing on this blog and most of the articles make sense to you. So, the next time you need anything on that topic, you visit this blog.
Over time, you subscribe to our email newsletter because you want notification about new blog posts.
Throughout this period, you keep reading my content and because the posts continuously solves your problem, you begin to see me as a my brand as a very credible brand.
After a while, you or your friend needs stuff that’s related to the services we offer, say WordPress Website Design or Content Writing for instance.
Your friend tells you about it and immediately most likely we’ll be one of the first people that comes to your mind. And you link us up for business.
Now, this scenario wouldn’t happen if I didn’t create a relationship with you and get my brand to your face by providing value for you in the first place.
So, one thing content marketing does for a small business is to change the whole marketing focus from the marketer to the buyer.
Instead of going after your prospect directly, you attract them to your brand with your content, create value for them, and then make a sell in return.
Content Marketing Gets You a Well Streamlined Audience
Have you ever sent cold emails only to get a very few replies in return? Content marketing can fix this by getting you a more receptive audience who are already exposed to your brand.
Unlike cold emails, the content you create sends you a specific kind of audience actively looking for keywords or solutions related to the problem you’re solving with either your content or product, which is also relevant to them.
And when you’re ready to promote your offers, it gets easier to sell to this kind of audience because they are already interested in the content you provide on your blog which is also related to the services or product you offer.
Content Marketing Positions your Brand as Thought Leader
The more people get access to your high quality content, the more their perception of your capacity to solve industry related problem increases.
The fact you’re creating incredibly useful content consistently makes your audience begin to see you as a more credible thought leader in the subject matter and a go to expert that can fix their needs, as far as that subject matter is concerned.
Based on this, they can more easily buy from you, refer you to their friends or prefer your opinion on issues surrounding the industry.
Content Marketing Builds Trust
One of the key characteristics of the internet is that there are millions Marketers out there and sometimes it might get really difficult to know who to listen to or trust.
Being that one of the important elements that drives marketing and sales is the KLT (Know, Like and Trust) factor.
For a person to buy from you, they have to know you, like and trust your brand to deliver the value they want.
So how do you improve KLT with your Content?
As a content creator, when you share high quality, useful and relevant content to a specific audience on a consistent basis, you’re indirectly increasing your KLT factor.
It’s very simple. The more a potential client sees your content, the more they know you.
The more the content you share proves useful in solving their problems, the more they like, trust and keep coming back to you.
How to Create Content that Drives Sales
Selling is one of the biggest goals of content marketing. Unfortunately, a large chunk of content will end up generating zero profit, in terms of sales.
To cut through the chase and get your content to generate more sales, the following are some of the key strategies you can take…
Create Diverse Content Formats
Most often, you’ll have audiences with diverse preferences. For example, there are cases where some of your users will your content in video format while others will prefer written text or audios.
If you’re more familiar with written content, instead of creating only one type of content, creating other content forms like Video Content, Podcasts, Infographics, Whitepapers etc. can help you keep those other users that prefer other content format coming to your platform..
That said, one of the most important content marketing forms you should try to keep in the mix video content.
Because video content is becoming very popular for businesses. In fact, 76 percent of Marketers say video has helped them increase sales.
Again, creating or converting your existing content into other forms also helps you in reaching out to a new audience when you share on those platforms.
Be Strategic With Social Media Marketing
Don’t just share on social media, be platform specific. Build your social media marketing with a focus on social media platforms that have your target audience.
When you identify these platforms, target sub groups, forums and niche specific groups and hash tags, on social media platforms.
With tools like Google trends and social media hashtags, you’ll have access to information that is trending in your industry which people are already engaging with.
You want to create social media content related to these trending information and share them with your audience.
This strategy can work for most social media platforms, including Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and other platforms.
Outside creating content on topics you already know your audience are interested in, keying into these trending topics can help you drive a new set of readers.
Answer Industry Related Questions
Listening to popular questions people are asking in your industry can give you a clue on the form of content that would be most appreciated by people in that industry.
Also, platforms like Quora where people ask industry related questions can be used as an inspiration for content that will be relevant to your audience.
Focus on Creating SEO Optimized Content
With the overwhelming need to create more content in less time, you may be tempted to create content that has no SEO relevance just so you can provide a continuous flow of content for your audience.
Most times this is not a great strategy for your business. Especially where you’re a beginner.
As much as possible, you want to drive a decent number of organic traffic to your blog. Any content that is not SEO optimized content will not be valuable in that regards.
To drive quality organic traffic from the search engine, one of your surefire strategy will be creating Search Engine Optimized Content for your website.
Doing this will demand that you research your relevant keywords, based on your goals, work on creating content that will include these keywords then fix your meta tags and other SEO essentials before publishing the post.
Keep in mind, SEO sometimes can be very extensive as you will still work on building back links and improving SEO of the page even after publication.
Collaborate With Other Thought Leaders
This is one of the most under rated strategies to drive sales with content marketing in Nigeria.
As a beginner, collaborating with established thought leaders can expose your brand to a new audience, improve your perception as a leading brand and get you more potential customers in return.
For a start you can create a round up post that features leading authorities in your niche and their opinion in a topical area, reach out to them via emails and politely ask them to share with their audience.
Done well, this can get most of them to share the opinion with their established audience while getting you in the spotlight.
You can also collaborate with other bloggers and content creators using guest posts, cross promotions etc.
This strategy will get your brand an exposure to your collaborator’s audience and vice versa while also getting you some new prospects in the process.
Focus On Your Readers
Above all, one of the most important marketing strategy you need when it comes to content marketing in Nigeria and Africa mostly is to make your audience, the centerpiece of your marketing effort.
Focusing on them allows you to get into their head, find their problems and what they are most likely looking for then work on solving it and nurturing them with your content, right into the buying stage.
The more you provide the right solution for your audience’s problems, the more your content gets appreciated while you in turn position your self as their preferred business partner.
How to Create Content Marketing Strategy
Creating a content marketing strategy involves the process of planning, publishing and sharing frequent content that inspires your audience towards taking a specific action.
The following are steps you can use to create a robust Content Marketing Strategy…
Set up Content Marketing Goals
Find out, what do you want to achieve for your small business with content marketing?
This is a very important question that will shape your content marketing strategy, when you answer it rightly.
As soon as this question is sorted, you want to work on building your content marketing strategy around these goals.
Create a Vision Map
Navigating content marketing in Nigeria successfully will also involve creating a vision for what you want to achieve with your marketing effort.
It will also include other factors like how you’ll go about creating content based on that vision, the platforms and methods you’ll use in sharing the content in order to achieve the specific out comes etc.
Read more about content marketing strategy here.
Measure Your Outcomes
As a content creator, one of the best ways to understand the effectiveness of your content strategy is to measure your outcome over a specified time.
So after a certain period of time, you want to measure your content marketing results, based on your goals.
Where you have been able to successfully achieve your goal, you find out areas that needs improvement as you work on repeating the strategy.
Where your content marketing effort has failed to yield results, you will want to audit the process and find out the cause of the failure.
After that you can work on fixing the mistakes and editing or trying a different strategy altogether.
Don’t be afraid to change your strategy if you have to. At certain times, to evolve a workable strategy, you will definitely have to try a few and then stick to what works, as you continue to adapt that to fit in with current realities at intervals.
Content Marketing VS. Social Media Marketing:
Comparing Content Marketing to Social Media Marketing can look both confusing and yet very similar.
Although the aim of both platforms is to get your content across to a wider audience, one major difference between the two is that while you can publish almost any length of content on your website, there’s a limit to what you can publish on most social media platforms.
The main reason for this is because social media audiences are expected to view shorter pieces of content, be it video or written content.
A blog on the other hand allows you the leverage to post longer content and your audiences also expect to view longer pieces of content on a blog, as compared to social media platforms.
So, the social media content marketer is left with sharing links from blog posts with just a few text content or just a few minute video some times.
Even though publishing strategic, useful and high quality content consistently on any platform whether your website or social media can be regarded as content marketing, you have to realize that long form content marketing thrives more on websites and blogs.
Social Media Marketing on the other hand focuses on using the social media to create a wider reach for your content, using story telling and other strategies to connect with your audience and create engagement that can drive specific outcomes.
Interestingly, both your website and Social Media Platforms can be used to drive your content marketing outcomes. But, the major twist is that you can’t use the exact same content marketing strategy for both your website and social media.
In conclusion, as a small business without a deep pocket to compete with big brands in the industry, content marketing provides you a chance to drive sales and increase your profit on a budget.
But, to make the most of content marketing in Nigeria, you must start on the right footing, using the tips and skills you’ve learned in this guide.
To create an even more successful outcome with your content marketing effort, sign up for our content marketing course here. And get all the tools, tips and strategies you need to create a marketing campaign that delivers outstanding outcomes.
Now, it’s over to you. What’s your biggest challenges when it comes to content marketing? Drop your comments below.