Now that we've got your attention, let me explain how content could be one of your most effective channels. I see that raised eyebrow, and so in this piece I'll explain how it can be done with the right mindset and approach.
First off, you need a steady stream of engaging, interesting and most importantly, shareable content. The most efficient and effective way of creating more content is to maximise the use of every content idea. This means, for example, that if you’ve got a great news story for a press release, you should repurpose this as new content for your blog, newsletter, social media, videos and any other marketing channel that you use.
This doesn’t mean simple duplication – content will have to be edited or rewritten to suit different channels and target audiences. However, studies show that a consistent message received via several different channels is better understood by the audience and is more trusted.
Mine your business and industry for interesting and engaging topics such as new products, technological developments and fashions.
First, be clear about how you want to come across as a business, because you’re creating your own content rather than entrusting it to a marketing professional. Think about the personality of your brand, the things you will and won’t cover and write them down. You can refer to these principles whenever you’re stuck. Your content needs to be authentic and relevant – it needs to sound like you, not a carbon copy of your competitors. Defining what you want to say helps to avoid this.
You also need to define who your customer is and the kinds of content that appeals to them. Your content is pointless if no one finds or engages with it. Next, select your content platforms based on what appeals to your audience. You don’t need a presence on every platform, so find out what your customers like.
Free blog platforms such as WordPress and Blogger can help you to set up either a blog or a transactional website in a few simple steps, allowing you to post regular updates about your business. Blogs are great if you have a bit more to say about subjects relating to your business
Marketing is telling the world you're a rock star. Content marketing is showing them that you are one.
With blogs it’s important to maintain the frequency of your posts so your customers know when to expect updates – irregularity can irritate and cause you to lose followers. You should also include interesting photography to make posts visually engaging. Stock photography sites like iStock, ThinkStock and Hubspot offer free image downloads, which you can also use to illustrate your posts. With a blog, you can track your analytics including visits, clicks and comments in your dashboard to monitor your progress.
Free photo blogs such as Instagram and Tumblr are a fun way of keeping in touch with your customers by sharing your important moments as they happen. It’s a great way to tell stories simply and visually – after all, a picture is worth a thousand words. It doesn’t matter if you can’t afford a professional photographer or copywriter, you can still create free content your customers will engage with and potentially share with their own followers.
Microblogging sites like Twitter are a quick way to interact with your customer base with snippets of information. Updates can also be used to promote your blog posts and drive traffic to your website by using short URLs. If you follow customers back they can direct message you, which can be a simple way to pick up leads for your business.
Free templates services like Canva can help you create designs for blogs, websites and printed marketing using stock images, illustrations, backgrounds, layouts and fonts, or your own assets, without the support of a graphic designer. Canva was created by ex-Google engineers and hires professional graphic designers and photographers to create a library of thousands of assets. With simple drag and drop tools all you need to create a stunning design these days is your iPad and your fingertips.