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A beginner’s guide to content marketing

Businesses of all shapes and sizes can benefit from investing time and effort in content marketing.

Content is ultimately the cornerstone of marketing a business and building a reputable brand, as well as creating a strong online presence.

What is content marketing?

Content marketing encompasses all forms of content, but essentially it’s anything which communicates a message to your audience. We often think of content as written pieces such as news articles, newsletters and web copy, but it can be much broader than that – it can also include photography, graphic images, video and audio content such as podcasts.

Where to start

Most businesses are already undertaking some form of content marketing without even realising it. The starting point is to look at what content already exists, what has been most effective and where the gaps are. Then define your goals; think about whether you want to build brand awareness, generate leads or drive more traffic to your website. Once you’ve audited existing content and decided what you want to achieve, then it’s time to formulate a plan.

Creating a plan

When planning, the most important thing to consider is your audience. Brainstorming ideas can be difficult at first, but think about which topics will interest them and keep them engaged. Quality content should always be relevant to both your audience and your brand. It should be interesting, authentic, engaging and shareable. Content providing tips, advice and guidance can be particularly popular.

Define what you want to achieve and how this relates to your audience. In addition to coming up with ideas for content, it is vital to consider where it should appear. Utilise the different channels available to you, but remember that you will need different approaches for each platform. Long news articles might be appropriate for your website but may not work as well on some social media platforms.

If you are just embarking on content marketing, don’t be tempted to create profiles on all social media platforms at once. Instead, consider which are best suited to your business. For example, Instagram can work brilliantly for fashion brands, restaurants and anything travel related, whereas LinkedIn might be the most appropriate for a solicitor or an accountancy firm.

It’s all in the timing

Timing is crucial when it comes to content marketing. Find out when your audience is usually online (so therefore their most receptive), experiment with the timing of your posts and be aware of key events, seasons and current affairs. Plan ahead with your content but monitor in real time, ensuring you are flexible and ready to react should you need to. If there’s big news in your industry, this presents you with a fantastic opportunity to create timely and relevant content that can really get your business noticed – if you act quickly.

Occasionally, some world events mean that previously planned content is no longer appropriate. To give you an example, if you had planned to talk about ‘surviving the heatwave this summer’ but there’s been nothing but rain, you may need to rethink your plan.

What to expect

Content marketing is incredibly effective, but the results can take time. It’s about more than simply just creating content, but about curating, distributing, sharing and engaging with your audience and followers.

Overnight success stories are rare. A brilliantly crafted blog post might reach a large number of potential prospects, but it will take time if you don’t already have an established following. The good news is, as you build your audience and generate more content, your results will grow exponentially.

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