Print, radio or tv advertising is a pretty straightforward strategy. You place your ad, you pay your money, and you wait for something to happen.
And if what you sell cuts across all demographics and every preference, maybe it's the way to go.
But very few businesses actually sell to anyone and everyone, and traditional advertising is expensive and doesn't target your specific audience very well, if at all. You need to do something different if you want to hone in on your niche.
Content marketing, a strategy that focuses on your audience, pulls in customers who are exactly the right buyers for what you sell. Produce articles, audio and video that meet the needs of your customers, and they become more engaged, and that makes them far more likely to buy from you.
There's now an online tool for everything
There are easy-to-use applications and services that you can use to do anything from sending a bi-weekly e-newsletter, to creating a slideshow, to measuring how many readers shared your blog post.
You can have a presence in a wide variety of social media where you can not just talk to your customers, but interact with them. For most businesses, it only makes sense to use this wide variety of communication opportunities for marketing.
But what does it cost?
Certainly, compared to traditional advertising, the budget is lower. Using a combination of free tools and subscription-based services, digital marketing is far more cost effective.
If you add online advertising to the mix, naturally, it becomes more expensive, but if it's done properly, it might be worth it.
Organic content marketing costs lie in the time, energy, and commitment it takes to get done in house, or the fees you pay to outsource some of the process.
How much time needs to be devoted? Think it through
- Decide what kind of content (blog, newsletter or video are common but it can be almost anything) to produce.
- Estimate how long each job will take. Divide tasks into setup, writing, production, and distribution. Estimate toward the longer side, because everything always takes longer than you think it will until you gain some experience.
- If you plan to use social media for distribution, do you already maintain a social media presence, or do you need to set up profiles? Who will be responsible for communicating via these accounts? One person, a select few, or everyone on staff?
- Is the most cost effective solution to have an existing employee learn the process and do the work, hire an experienced employee, or outsource? Chances are, if this is the first time you’ve used content marketing, you’re probably going to start small with one or two items, especially if you want to keep costs down, so it might not make sense to hire a permanent employee right away.
The other key ingredient: Commitment
How many times have you found yourself on a blog that has three posts from two years ago and hasn’t been updated since? That’s the perfect illustration of lack of commitment.
You don’t have put something up every day. You just have to know your resources and commit to a level of frequency, depending on the nature of your content. Maybe you’ll do a blog post twice a week and a newsletter every two weeks, or however often you can come up with fresh, relevant information.
This isn’t a “one and done.” You have to commit to the long term.
So here’s my advice:
- Start small and build on a sturdy foundation. Make sure your website works well and you have a plan in place.
- Keep your eyes open for ideas and write them down when you think of them.
- Use online tools to help with list building, e-mail marketing, newsletters, blogging, news release distribution, and content management. Some are free, some have low fees, and others cost more, depending on your need for features and volume of use.
- Don't expect all your results to happen right away; a layered approach is best anyway
- Get help with things that aren't your strong points: outsource planning, writing, editing or design so you don't waste a lot of time and effort on tactics that don't work.
Need more help? Contact me here.