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Content for SMBs – how to scale and adapt

October 5, 2017

Content marketing for SMBs (small and medium businesses) has its own particularities, in terms of planning, strategy, size and delivery methods.

Regardless whether the digital marketing team is on-premises or if the company hires the services of an independent marketer, an initial plan should be established and adapted depending on each business’s needs, target audience and overall goals. It is not efficient to employ bigger than necessary resources, and equally, wanting to obtain too much via content marketing may generate an unfocused campaign. Therefore, it is better to stay tuned to a few clear, sharply cut goals, while leaving room for further expansion.

What is the target audience?

Any SMB should know which its current customers are. Out of them some may be loyal ones, others undecided and other have a risk of re-orienting themselves. Reward the loyal customers by delivering informative, interesting material linked to their interactions with the company, help the middle group decide it is worth staying in a collaborative relationship and amaze the skeptics with some anticipative, well-informed materials.

Depending on the number of customers, for some of them the marketing team may receive tips on what are their top interests. If not, perhaps there is a segmentation method already established by the sales department that would help in tailoring specific content for specific groups. Other useful advice could regard the weekly, monthly or annual habits of these customers/peers (for B2B) – perhaps they enjoy reading newsletters, or they have their own website with a media presence section. A joint strategy could be useful and generate traffic for all partners.

In what the potential customers are concerned, the profiling is anticipatory. Social media research may reveal style, preference and digital habits that allow your content writers to set various landmarks for their work. Who are the influencers they look up to? What specific websites do they visit on a regular basis? Whose opinions do they trust in their line of activity? Entering their browsing field from an advantageous angle helps in getting noticed and further building a relationship. Set your individual goals, if any, or fragment the “potentials” pool in order to support the content specialists activity and to have spot-on features delivered.

For both your customer groups, pay attention not to waste the existing opportunities, that is try and offer unique value content and avoid wasting the initial interest with platitudes, re-made material and clichés.

Automation may serve the target audience profiling, as well as scheduling and following through the activities of your content marketing team members. Use metrics to measure the effect of various articles, to better understand and correlate their timing, their reach and to ultimately scale your material for the best customer engagement.

What do you want to transmit?

Any type of marketing generates branding and image elements, as well as builds reputation. Probably there is a pre-established company style that you would like to pervade the content marketing features, as well. If you have tested it and you decided it is suitable and efficient, pass it on to your content marketing team.

Do you wish to maintain a highly formal image or a youngish, less-formal one? Do you want to underline the tradition your company holds in its line of business, or the fact that innovation, creative solutions and dynamism are the bottom line of your way of doing business?

Each variant has its own content style correspondent, so let your team know what your company’s style is. Or, in other words, establish an editorial strategy that would serve your already-existing image or, if that is the case, align it with the new style you wish to adopt.

Know your team and its limits

An older article mentioned how only 54 percent of all brands used a dedicated content creator, while considering content marketing to be a great challenge for their business.

Although we might say this was a 2014 issue, it is however true that according to a more recent report, in 2016 only 30 percent of B2B marketers define their activity as being effective (with a drop of 8 percent compared to the previous year). Organizations say they use content marketing in a proportion of 88 out of 100, yet the content marketing maturity level is under 50 percent.

What is happening, and why? The above numbers consider all businesses, not just SMBs, and only mention B2B marketing, yet it is vital for SMBs to acknowledge the trending phenomenons, since failing in their content marketing may have an even greater impact for smaller companies.

Especially when using in-house teams, companies miss the importance of separating the key roles in a content marketing team. Strategizing, writing and coordinating the SEO indicatives, for example, are all separate tasks. This does not mean one person cannot perform all three of them, if absolutely necessary, but the efficiency levels drop considerably when choosing this solution. It all has to do with thinking in different boxes – one simply does not have the continuous capacity of performing the three roles at once. Involuntarily the focus will settle on just one of them, to the disadvantage of the others.

The editorial strategy needs an ensemble thinking:

the big, elegant lines that define your business in terms of marketing, all applied to content. It deals with general topics, scheduling, alternating, avoiding or sometimes adopting clichés, deciding to test a different approach and guiding the writers.

Content writers need to operate within a mixture of blurry and hard lines – while having the guidance of a coherent strategy, they should find ways of innovation in what the sub-topics, titles, and actual content are concerned. A mixture of creativity inside preset molding would best describe their activity.

SEO specialists set the dotted area that editorial strategists further navigate. What are the crucial points? What is hot and what is not, what should be avoided, how to put the materials into the digital spotlight, what is new in terms of algorithms and how to create both standard and not-standard materials that benefit from SEO. Perhaps your message needs longer articles, more technical than the average ones – a SEO specialist can come up with ways of disseminating and promoting them as well.

Does it all seem a bit too complicated for a small or average business? Perhaps, at first glance. Nevertheless, it is well worth it, especially that now ad-blockers are munching away the instant advertising methods and there are only a few counter-methods companies can employ so far, content marketing being one of them.