By Joe Pulizzi, Content Marketing Institute
Yes, that’s right… it’s already major planning season for 2013. I’ve been thinking about next year a lot lately, especially as I’ve been traveling from show to show doing keynotes and mini workshops.
At almost every event, content marketing sessions are standing-room only. Small business marketing professionals are hungry for any way that they can continue their content marketing journey and attract and retain customers with compelling content. To help, I’ve dissected my last few presentations and put together six critical strategies that I believe all small businesses need to consider as they head into next year.
1. Develop your content marketing mission statement
I’ve surveyed about 1,000 people over the past month, asking each if they have developed an editorial mission, or content marketing mission statement, for their content strategies. Easily less than 5 percent had something like this prepared.
This is a major problem. How can small businesses execute a content strategy if we don’t have a clear vision for why we are developing the content in the first place?
Every person that touches the content marketing program should know, by heart, what the mission of the content strategy is. Remember, it’s not about you…it’s about solving the problems of your customers.
2. A new mindset: Become the leading informational provider for your niche
Small businesses aren’t taking their content seriously enough. Sure, we are creating content in dozens of channels for multiple marketing objectives. But is your organization’s mindset focused on being the leading provider of information for your customers? If not, why isn’t that your priority?
Look, your customers and prospects can get their information from anywhere to make buying decisions. Why shouldn’t that information come from you? Shouldn’t that at least be the goal? Time to get serious.
3. Utility is key
I absolutely love the Charmin Clean Bathroom App. If you are desperate to find a clean bathroom nearby, and this app provides the answers for you, what do you think the odds are that you would buy Charmin the next time you go to the store?
What if you used Kraft’s iFood app to help you make your next home-cooked meal?
Small businesses find regular answers to their operational challenges at AMEX’s Open Forum.
You don’t have to be a big brand like these to create helpful content for your customers. Take a hard look at your content and see if what you are producing is actually useful for your customers. Is it making their lives better or jobs easier in some way?
4. Define and answer your customers’ questions
This is so easy to do, yet most of us don’t do it. Do you have a system in place to compile the questions your customers are asking and post your answers to those questions on the web? The content opportunities that spring up from customer service and sales alone can support your content marketing strategy.
5. Employee involvement in content marketing
Take a look at these two projects:
- Indium’s From One Engineer to Another blog
- OpenView Venture Partners OpenView Labs project
These are two great small business examples of successful content initiatives that have helped to grow business, were developed from the ground up with a limited budget, and were driven almost entirely by employee content.
The key…get a good editor to help your employees look like rock stars. If you do, they will be more apt to share that content with their networks, which is exactly what you need.
Andrew Davis’ new book Brandscaping discusses how content partnerships can work. Essentially, a brandscape is a collection of brands that work together to produce great content. I’m starting to believe that this is critical to the evolution of content marketing, as more brands struggle to manage the content marketing process.
It’s true that many small businesses struggle with finding the funding for content marketing projects. Why not work with non-competitive partners to develop amazing and compelling content for a similar customer?
Joe Pulizzi is a leading author, speaker and strategist for content marketing. Joe is first and foremost a content marketing evangelist, and founded the Content Marketing Institute, which includes client-vendor matching site Junta42 as well as the premier international content marketing event Content Marketing World and Chief Content Officer magazine.
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