I have come across many service-based small business owners who run their own business and maybe got started a little by accident, or picked up their first client through a network and then went on to grow the business. They then get busy with client work and whilst they know that they should have a content plan or even a marketing plan, time rushes on and life is too busy.
This is the ideal time to create a basic content marketing plan
As the country gently starts easing out of lockdown and people get to grips with how life is now, even if you already had a plan it is a good time re-assess the basics of your marketing and objectives. You might want to understand how to create a content marketing plan and help free up some time further down the road when you are ready to scale your content efforts.
I won’t talk about your objectives in this post, as I think I have covered the benefits of content marketing in my last post, but be clear in your mind what you are creating content for; whether it be brand awareness or to generate leads into your business.
Figure out your USPs
What is it that makes your product or service unique? I love hearing people talk about their business; they are always so passionate about what they do. When starting the planning phase for content marketing, we always look at what the USPs are. It could be a product that no-one else offers, a particularly high level of service, or perhaps a level of expertise that has been gained over a period of time.
Start with Why
In the classic marketing days, this used to be called a vision or mission, but you often hear people talking about Simon Sinek who talks about finding your why – In his famous TED talk he uses the example about companies like Apple, which moved away from selling their technology such as computers or phones and started to sell a vision for their brand that customers or consumers would like to attach themselves to. For your own small business, have a think about why a client might buy from you, how will they feel after they have used your product or service and what will they now be able to do as a result?
Think of your ideal customer
Creating your ideal customer or customer “avatar” doesn’t need to be complex and can actually be quite fun. If you have a variety of customer types you can create a little gaggle of people, you want to be able to picture them so that when you are creating your content marketing plan you are thinking of them and the problem you solve for them. In addition to that, you can think about where they might like to hang out so that you place your content in a place that is easy for them to find.
A classic business planning exercise which can be just as appropriate to do either at a marketing or content level if you have been writing content already. Include your competitors in your analysis and map out Strengths (content that has performed well), Weaknesses (perhaps competitors put it better, or not much interaction with your content), Opportunities (topics or ideas, perhaps key events that are coming up) and Threats (maybe lack of time, other priorities, confidence/mindset)
On the topic of key events, there are loads of fab content planners out there that can be downloaded with key awareness dates and events and you will also have your own specific business ones. Try not to hop on every awareness day going but they can be useful to share ad-hoc posts that are more about you and your passions or interests.
Get yourself a big piece of paper and have a good old brainstorm. Ideally, you can create a pillar or topic area that you can group your content under (e.g About me) but to start with break your brainstorm into the below four categories. I have made an example below for someone who sells wellness products or services
Educate – Tips to help look after yourself without breaking the bank
Inspire – Activities that clients might aspire to take part in once they have invested time in themselves
Entertain – a look back at the more unusual wellness fads that have been around – remember the fish bars that gave pedicures?
Convince – An example of a client or past experience of your business that shows why you re the best at the product or service you provide
Measure and refine
As with all plans, this should be a document that you refer back to and can modify as you go along. It’s worth taking the time to measure impact and refine your output so that you always have the initial goal in mind.