Many business owners realize they need to create great content for effective marketing and branding, yet so many struggle to consistently do so. This is particularly true for small business owners who must wear many hats. The day-to-day tasks required to operate the business bog them down. Then, when they close shop, there’s still accounting and administrative work; their kids need a ride to practice; and they need to feed their family, etc. By the time they get everything done in a normal day, they’re exhausted and their creative juices are sapped. Writing a blog post is the last thing they want to do at that point, and it falls by the wayside yet another day. Have no fear, because VIB Marketing is here to provide some easy steps for creating a content marketing strategy that will allow all of the small business owners out there to create content without the stress!
The first and most important step is to recognize that it requires discipline to consistently churn out quality content. It’s no different than the mantra of successful novelists – just get the words down on paper first, then edit until it’s good. If you keep waiting for inspiration to strike before writing, you’ll find that weeks and months have passed before you feel motivated to sit down and let the greatness flow from your fingers. It may never happen.
Step 1 – Make Time
The most difficult part of writing is the act of getting the words on paper. Once that’s done, editing is the easy part! Thus, our first recommendation to you is this: carve out a set time in your weekly or monthly schedule that is repeatedly dedicated to creating content. As you begin, you don’t have to make this a daily exercise, it can just be done once per month or every other week, for an hour or two.
Now this idea might sound impossible to some of you, but we have some tips and tricks for getting it done-even in spite of all the other tasks you need to complete. First, there is a ton of evidence that writing in the morning is significantly more effective than writing in the evening. Your brain is at its most creative in the first few hours of your day, and there tend to be less distractions before the rest of the world gets moving. If possible, schedule your writing time before the work day begins. We also recommend turning off your phone, disconnecting from the internet, and locking yourself in a private place. Your brain can only handle so much at one time, so the less distractions you have, the easier it will be to focus on writing. If you’re disciplined about this, you’ll be amazed how much content you can create without taking away from all the other tasks you need to complete.
Step 2 – Plan Ahead
The second step to creating a content marketing strategy is determining the topics you want to write about ahead of time. Even if you perfectly follow our aforementioned schedule, you want that time to be dedicated to actually writing, rather than wasting time trying to think about what to write. The more creative brain power you focus on determining a topic, the less you’ll have left over to actually write down the words. This is how so many people get stuck with “writer’s block”. You sit there ready to write, and your thoughts continue to wander, without getting anything down.
Even the busiest people have a few free minutes from time to time; while you’re in the shower, driving to work, eating lunch, etc. Use that time to come up with some general ideas about what you want to write about and jot them down. Our second recommendation to you is this: keep a running list of content ideas, either in a notebook or on your phone, so when you sit down for your writing time, you can refer to it and get started right away.
You may be saying to yourself, “that’s my problem: I don’t even know what I should be writing about!” It doesn’t have to be as difficult as it seems. Here are a few content ideas that are applicable to any business:
- Talk about your products/services – why they’re great, what’s special about them, why you chose the brands you did, etc.
- Showcase your expertise – what is it that you’re an expert about? Why do people buy your products/services vs. making/doing it themselves? There are many things you know better than others, so just talk about one of those topics and all the things you know about it that others don’t.
- Give an inside peek to your operations – what are some interesting things your team has done? What are some changes you’ve made recently, and why? What events are you participating in? These can help humanize your business to your potential customers
- Talk about your industry – what are some changes going on in your industry that will affect your business? Give a background on the history of your industry. What are some trends you see affecting your industry going forward?
- Interview customers or showcase partners – talk to them about why they chose to work with your company, what their experience is using your products and services, etc.
One final important note on content topics: it doesn’t all have to be words! Nowadays, it’s easy to take and upload photos and videos, and there are mountains of evidence suggesting people get more out of pictures and videos than they do out of reading words. This is particularly true for social media. You’ve heard the saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words”. So, save yourself some headache and capture some cool moments during your day-to-day activities, post the pics and just write a few words explaining it. Easy!
Step 3 – Get Help
Now that you’ve scheduled your time for content creation and come up with a running list of ideas for topics to write about, it’s time to set up the last and simplest step for your content creation strategy. This is the point where bringing another person into the fold is really helpful. It creates accountability for sticking with your plan and brings a fresh set of eyes to make sure the content is great. We recommend that you assign another person in your organization to be your content editor. This person’s job will be to read what you’ve put down on paper and edit it to make sure everything makes sense. It can be an employee or business partner in any position in your company, so long as that person has a decent grasp of grammar. It’s important to have proper grammar to demonstrate your professionalism and reinforce your expertise.
You can come up with any system you’d like for working with this person, but we’ll give you a sneak peek into how we do it as a suggestion. At VIB, we have a system where deadlines are set for the content creator (in your case, this would be your pre-scheduled content creation time.) Once the content is created, that person then sends their work to the content editor, who also has a deadline for finishing the edits. Ultimately, the final product is submitted to our content manager who posts it in the appropriate location. This creates accountability – the content editor is waiting on the content creator to get their work done so they can do theirs. It also takes some pressure off the content creator to be perfect, because they know the editor will catch any errors in their work. These deadlines are set consistently, so all parties are keeping each other accountable and making sure content is continuously being created.
That’s All It Takes to Get Great Content in 3 Steps
In summary, we’ve broken down three steps to create a consistent content strategy for your business:
- Carve out a set time in your schedule that is repeatedly dedicated to creating content. Whether it is daily, weekly, or monthly is up to you, just be realistic and disciplined!
- Keep a running list of content ideas. This way, you’ll never have writer’s block and can hop right into it when it’s time to write.
- Assign another person in your organization to be your content editor.
You don’t have to follow the exact same process we do at VIB, but you can easily implement this 3-step system in your own business. Or, if this doesn’t sound so great to you, an even easier process is to hire us at VIB Marketing to manage and implement your content creation strategy for you!