Don’t be deceived by fast-and-dirty internet con artists—quality content marketing will cost you a pretty penny. In fact, the Content Marketing Institute’s 2015 Report revealed that the most effective B2B and B2C marketers designate 37% and 29% respectively of their total marketing budgets to content marketing.
Despite this, over 41% of both B2B and 46% of B2C businesses cite insufficient budgets as a key challenge they face.
If those figures made you clamp your wallet shut and bury your head in the sand—hold on a moment. There’s still hope. Content marketing isn’t going to come free, but that doesn’t mean you can’t manage your assets in a way that gets you as much mileage as possible.
The truth is that you might only need one great, big idea to get you through your business’s growing pangs. Eventually, of course, you want to be able to spend more on quality content, but for now you just need something to keep you relevant… something that will establish your credibility.
Here’s where you start…
- 1Invest in a big idea
- This is the most important, and most time consuming, step in this entire process. Before you do anything else, you need to come up with one huge, lead-winning, traffic-earning idea.This does not mean pulling a topic out of thin air.Your idea should stem from the client-base you’re already tapped into. Analyze how they interact with you, figure out the key questions or pain points that your audience struggles with, and then extrapolate a subject that, if answered, would solve your customers’ problems. This is your topic.
Not sure where to begin? Try some of these tools:
- Reddit – How did we survive in the days before Reddit? Not only does it map conversations for you clustered around particular keywords, but it also ranks their popularity for you.
- Quora – A Q&A platform lets you look at the popular questions that the internet is asking. Find a topic in your niche that is commonly asked or severely under-addressed, and give your audience the answer they’re looking for.
- Topsy – Few conversations move as quickly as Twitter. Fortunately, we have Topsy to skim across the surface of Twitter’s content and pluck out the most important information—what’s trending, what’s being shared, what’s popular. Try to find a topic nestled in this material.
- Ubersuggest – Ever wonder what people are asking Google? Ubersuggest pulls information from Google’s “suggest” function and lets you see what questions people carry about your particular niche or a certain set of keywords.
Of course, you can’t do better than asking your customers directly what issues they’d like addressed. If you have a PR department, they can probably offer you some solid insights on the common pain points that your customers frequently raise.
Once you have an idea germinating, you need to lay out a strategy. Remember that you’re not writing for a party of one—it’s not enough to dwell on topics that you care about, you need to meet your audience where their interests lie.
Use the above tools to sketch out personas of your clientele, and figure out how your asset will address each of their concerns.
Now, do your homework. Make sure that you’re well versed in your topic well before you even begin writing. Stay organized with tools like Pocket or Trello—especially if you have a large team that requires delegation and coordination.
Gather your resources in one place, so that you can easily flip through them when necessary… and know who to give a shout out to when it comes time for publication!
- 2Spring for a cornerstone asset
- At long last, we get to the nuts and bolts: the writing.The first thing you need to consider is who will actually do the talking? Do you sit down and pen this asset yourself, or do you hire a professional copywriter to produce content for you?
Either way, this project is an investment; you will either be sinking time or money into this asset. If you’re not confident in your writing chops, then it usually pays to hire a professional known for high calibre work. And remember, pinching pennies at this stage will come back to bite you—in this industry, you get what you pay for!
If you do outsource your content, make yourself the subject expert. You’ve done the homework, so compile detailed briefs for your writer on what your asset should look like, who your audience is, and what pain points you want addressed. Be active in the editing process, to ensure that your cornerstone asset hits all the necessary points, and stays consistent with your tone and mission statement.
When it comes to what kind of content you should make, you want to begin with the largest format. We call these pieces “cornerstone assets,” because they’re the longest and most comprehensive pieces of content you can compile based on your research. The most common examples of this are long form eBooks or white papers.
Note that if you’re not a writer, but you don’t want to hire outside help, you can get creative with your cornerstone asset: produce a long video, presentation, or seminar instead of an eBook. Turn this content into a resource you can repurpose later on.
- 3Repurpose your content
- Here’s the best part: that cornerstone asset you shelled out for? That’s going to be your content for the next month… or more!Different audiences consume content in different ways, which means that while some of your audience might be happy to download your eBook or watch your TEDx talk, others will entirely miss the solutions you provide.
What’s more, if you address specific pain points throughout your cornerstone asset, some people may not have the patience to wade through the entire thing to find the answer that applies to them.
To appeal to your entire consumer-base, you need to repurpose your cornerstone asset by chopping it up into bite size morsels for easy consumption. You also need to consider what kind of content people want as they crest different stages of their buyer’s journey.
Consider repurposing your content into…
Early stage assets – When you need t o attract new customers, you can use your cornerstone asset to cast a wider net and hit demographics that might have shied away before you addressed their pain points.
These assets include:
- Blog posts – Segment your cornerstone asset into smaller ideas that introduce your topic, each the star of its own blog post.
- Interactive quizzes – Your research is bound to include a host of stats or raw data. Turn those figures into a quiz that draws your users into your topic.
- Slideshare presentations – Repurpose images used in your cornerstone asset into a snack-size slideshow with gripping stats.
- “Spot Visuals” – snapshots of visual representations of stats. Smaller than infographics, these images are easily tweetable and shareable across social media.
- FAQs – You already set out to address your audience’s pain points. Why not turn them into a short FAQ section on your website for the benefit of newcomers?
Middle stage assets – When your customers have identified their need, they’ll start doing market research for the best solution. You’ve done the homework—now’s the time to showcase it. Your content should establish you as an authority in your field, and work to earn your clients’ trust.
These assets include:
- Blog posts – More in depth material can be repurposed into blog posts that speak to clients still weighing their options.
- Video blogs – Once you’ve made blog posts, video blogs should come naturally. Take a blog post and lay it out on camera. You can combine visual elements with your presentation, and attach your face to the research.
- Podcasts – Simply take your topic and talk about it! Bring in guests, such as other prominent authorities on your topic, to discuss the issue. The collaboration might win you some of their audience as well.
- Targeted landing pages – Design a landing page that deals specifically with customers seeking the solution you’ve built your cornerstone asset around. Lay out your solution against your competitors, and break down why you’re an authority worth trusting.
- Infographics – Consider pinching your asset’s key points and figures and repurposing them into a digestible and shareable infographic.
- Case studies – Case studies are easy to parse out of your greater body of research if you included any examples from your own work.
Late stage assets – When your lead is on the cusp of making a purchasing decision, you need content that reinforces your competence and ability to eliminate any risk to your buyers. Produce content that assures them they’ve made the right decision.
These assets include:
- Webinars – Consider hosting a webinar to establish yourself as an authority on a topic. This might be the crucial assurance a customer needs before committing to a purchase, or it might be a way for a new audience to get to know you. A live streaming Q&A session might even help you further refine your research.
- Testimonials – If you accrued any user testimonials while compiling your cornerstone asset, you can plunk them as-is into your website. They go a long way towards establishing trust and building credibility.
- Demo videos – Similar to testimonials, demo videos showcase the ease of your solution. You’ve done the research already, so a demo video is as simple as turning on a camera and putting your knowledge to work.
- The last point is short, but crucial for good SEO—link your resources together! For example, when you chunk a blog post out of cornerstone asset, make sure that your audience can find associated posts and any infographics that tie back into that material.Ultimately, your resources should lead your audience right back to that cornerstone eBook or seminar talk.
Also leverage social media: tweet out stats from new blog posts, advertise the arrival of new quizzes or a FAQ section, and post about relevant speeches or webinars. Stay active in your niche, to make sure that your audience can always find you.
When your budget is tight, but you know that you desperately need some content marketing in the mix, the best favor you can do yourself is to invest in one major cornerstone asset.