A content strategy for your small business can be an incredibly powerful marketing tool for you. It not only helps you reach your customers, deliver value, and establish your know-like-and-trust factor, it also brings some much needed focus and organization to your marketing process.
At its core, a content strategy is planning what content you will create, why it’s important to your business, who you want it to reach, and where you will share it.
By creating a content strategy for your business, you are laying the groundwork for content creation that is structured and focused. It also brings consistency and organization to your marketing efforts.
And as small business owners often working with limited resources, that’s kind of the goal, right?
Developing a content strategy for your small business helps ensure that content isn’t created haphazardly, without a focus or purpose. And while it might seem like an undertaking, we promise it’s way easier than it looks and can be done in six simple steps!
Step 1: Identify your content channels
Content strategies kind of need content in order to work, so our first step is determining where this content will come from and what channels it will live on.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need to be everywhere. Start small, be intentional, and grow from there.
When it comes to choosing your channels, we recommend considering two things:
- Where your audience hangs out
- What makes the most sense for you and your business
The most important thing is finding the channels that are right for your audience. They are the people you’re trying to get in front of, right?
As the Little Mermaid said, “I want to be where the people are.” But more specifically, you want to be where your people are.
For example, if you’re a B2B company, you might create content on LinkedIn to help establish thought leadership and build relationships.
But if you’re a parenting coach selling directly to consumers, your content might be better shared on Instagram, your blog, or a podcast – places where you know your audience is actively hanging out and consuming content.
The second most important thing is to think about the type content that is right for your business. More specifically, the type of content you have the capacity and willingness to create.
If you don’t like being on camera, maybe skip YouTube for now. If you prefer to write, consider focusing on a blog instead.
Again, start small and be intentional. Try to take on too much or do things that you don’t have a heart for and you’ll easily get burnt out.
If you’re an amateur chef or someone who spends a lot of time in the kitchen, you know there’s more than one way to cut a bell pepper. Well, friend, there’s more than one way to create content for your business and do so successfully.
It doesn’t have to be all Instagram all the time. It doesn’t have to be trying to learn how to do the latest dance on TikTok. Find that overlap between what you like and where your audience is and lean into that.
Once you determine content types and channels, then you can begin to focus on content ideas that fit those content types and channels.
Step 2: Determine your content pillars
You’ve got your channels. Now maybe you’re wondering what you’re going to share on those channels.
And more specifically, what are you going to share that actually helps grow your business.
Good content does two primary things:
- Delivers value to your audience (things your audience is interested in or things they want to know)
- Builds a clear identity for your business
If at any point the content you’re creating isn’t doing both of the above, then you’re likely wasting your time creating it. The surest way to ensure that doesn’t happen is to create content with specific goals in mind.
Instead of just creating whatever comes to you when you go to post to Instagram on a given Tuesday, plan ahead and be strategic. I recommend identifying 4-6 content pillars for your brand. These are broad content buckets or topic areas that align well with your business and are also important to your audience.
Let’s look at some Examples…
Let’s say you’re a fitness trainer for new moms. Your content pillars might include fitness, health, nutrition, and motherhood.
Within each of those buckets, you can share a variety of topics or information that can be distributed across your content channels to help build a cohesive message about your business. For example, under nutrition you could share recipes, deep dives on different vitamins and minerals, tips for healthy eating, grocery lists, etc.
Every single one of those things checks both of our boxes – they deliver value to your audience and they build a clear identity for your audience.
If you’re an eCommerce shop selling candles, your pillars are going to look a little different because your type of business is different. Your focus isn’t going to be on showing your expertise as a trainer or educator, it’s going to be on showing your expertise as a candle maker and ambience creator.
Maybe your pillars are candle-making, self-care tips and quotes, interior design inspiration, and your business (which could incorporate new product launches, testimonials, special promotions, and your offers).
Now instead of staring at a blank page for twenty minutes and writing about the first relevant thought that comes to you, you can use your pillars to guide you.
gathering content ideas
You can keep a running list of ideas that fall under each bucket. Or one of my personal favorite ways to come up with new content ideas is the ABC method. For each bucket, I run through the ABCs and write down the first thing I think of for each letter.
So for the fitness content bucket above, it could look something like this:
- A – arm workouts
- B – baby workouts/workouts to do with baby
- C – cardio tips
- D – dead lifts
Go through the whole alphabet and you’ll have 26 different content ideas for that one bucket. Sweet, right?
Once you identify your content pillars, use them to inspire content ideas for blog posts, social media posts, ebooks, infographics, videos, webinars, etc.
Step 3: Map out your content ecosystem
One of the benefits of a content strategy is that it helps you map out your content in a way that creates efficiencies in your marketing and helps you be more intentional.
Instead of narrowing in and creating for just one channel, you can look at everything holistically and plan things so you’re effectively creating multiple ripples with a single stone. You’re spending lots of time creating content – you want to make sure it gets seen and does what it’s supposed to do for you, right?
Creating a content strategy helps you plan out how you can repurpose content and cross-promote content, so you get a bigger bang for your content buck.
What do I mean by that?
Let’s say you have a podcast with new episodes that drop every week. You spend a lot of time writing out those episodes. Instead of spending even more time writing out social posts from scratch for the week, let your podcast episode inform your social content.
Use quotes or sound bytes from the episode to create graphics. Share corresponding photos or video clips. Give a glimpse behind the scenes.
Not only are you saving time by repurposing with content you already have, you’re also effortlessly promoting your new podcast episode on your social feeds. If you think about it in the reverse as well, you can encourage podcast listeners to follow you on social to get extra content and see behind the scenes.
See how that works?
Instead of each content channel standing alone, you’re weaving them together to create a content ecosystem that naturally promotes, sustains, and builds on itself.
Step 4: Develop a schedule for your content
The next step is planning out a replicable content creation and posting schedule that works for your business.
Map our your core pieces first – things like blog posts, YouTube videos, or downloadable ebooks that have a longer shelf-life. Then map out the content that will support it, like social posts and email campaigns.
If you only have the time or budget to create a few pieces of content per month, that’s fine! Think about what you can do with those limited resources – how can you maximize them to get the most out of your investment?
Once you’ve got a good idea of how much content you’ll be creating and where it fits into your marketing strategy, map out a weekly, monthly and quarterly content calendar.
This is especially helpful if you’re working with a small team or you’re planning to do all of the writing yourself. A content calendar gives you an outline of what topics to cover and when. It also lets other team members know exactly when specific pieces are set to be published, so they can plug their own ideas into the schedule if they want to collaborate.
It’s essential to schedule in time to create everything, too. If you try to write blog posts or create graphics when you’re distracted by other tasks or life responsibilities, it will be tough to get the quantity and quality of content that you’re looking for.
Keep reading: Getting Started with Small Business Marketing? You Need These Tricks!
Step 5: Create your content and get it scheduled
Once you’ve mapped out your content ecosystem and developed a solid schedule, it’s time to get everything created.
Again start with your core or evergreen pieces and get those written first. If they’re the pieces that stick around the longest and everything will link back to them, then it stands to reason that those should be the elements you spend the most time on.
Next, write out the social posts and email campaigns that will share and link to that evergreen content. Review your blog post or podcast and pull out key quotes, pointers, or tips that you can turn into engaging tweets, reels, or stories. Create graphics that can be pinned to Pinterest, if that’s one of the channels you use. Always drive back to that core piece of content with a strong CTA and easily accessible link.
See how this helps create a plan for what you share elsewhere and takes away a lot of the guesswork?
Fill in any gaps in your calendar with other content that you want to share, referring back to your content pillars to find ideas.
Use scheduling tools like Planoly and Tailwind to post your content based on the schedule you’ve outlined in your content calendar. These tools enable you to schedule everything in advance, so you don’t have to drop everything day-of to post something.
Trust me when I say they’ll save you loads of time.
Step 6: Track and optimize your content
Once your content is posted and scheduled, it’s time to sit back and relax, right? Wrong! It’s called a content strategy for a reason!
After you post, monitor how things perform. Track how each piece of content is received and how it moves the needle with your audience. Then use that knowledge to make your content even better going forward.
If you notice some content topics performing better than others, make sure you give them more space in your content calendar in the future. Or, if you notice a lack of engagement on certain pieces, consider tweaking the imagery or headlines to see if that can make a difference.
You can also re-share old, high-performing content to give it a second wind and save yourself some time.
Creating a content marketing strategy can be overwhelming, but it’s well worth the effort in the long run. Not only does it help you stay organized and focused, but it also allows you to track your progress and make optimizations along the way.
By following these six simple steps, you’ll be on your way to creating a powerful content marketing strategy that works for your small business.
Need help developing your content strategy? Drop us a line! It’s kind of our specialty.