Recently I surveyed 50 small business owners and asked them what the biggest challenge was when it came to creating their content marketing.

The survey revealed that the biggest challenge that 60% of small business owners face is finding the time to create a consistent flow of content. They simply don’t feel like they have the time or the resources to keep up.

Well, we can’t add extra hours into the day, but we can save the amount of time it’s taking you to create this content by sharing the very system that we use to manage the content marketing, for our business as well as our clients. This system ensures that we work with epic efficiency while achieve maximum results.

Step 1: Develop your target personas

There is no such thing as knowing too much about your customers. Before creating any content marketing solution, it’s important to have a good understanding of your customer is. Specifically, you want to understand their perspective, their point of view and how they might decide when it comes to making a purchase of something that you sell. To do that, get super curious about their demographics (age, gender, household income, geographic location, family status etc.)

Learn as much as you can about their behaviours and habits (in the context of what you sell), their values, their beliefs, their needs and their pain points.

Also, know where they consume content. Which social media channels do they use? Do they subscribe to certain emails or blogs?

If you don’t know the above information, then the best thing you can do is to conduct some customer research to find the answers.

The better you know your customers, the more successful you will be at creating content that engages them.

Step 2:  Set your marketing goals and measurements

To ensure that your content marketing helps your business to achieve its ambition, start by defining or reviewing your overarching business goals. What is the business priority over the next 12 months? Are you looking to increase revenue or profit? Are you looking to increase market share?

Once we understand what the business is trying to achieve, we can then set our overarching marketing goals. Do you need to attract new customers by increasing awareness? Do you need to drive more traffic to your website? Are you trying to increase online sales? Would you like to increase repeat sales?  Make these SMART goals so that you can then assign accurate measurement metrics to monitor each month, quarter and year.

One you know where to reach your target audience and have set your marketing goals, you will be able to ascertain which digital marketing channels you need to focus on to achieve these goals.

Step 3: Define your content pillars

Your content pillars define the content topics that you wish to share to demonstrate your goodness and ultimately influence people to buy from you.

However, more importantly, your content pillars will also address your customers needs.

I.e. what would your customers like to hear from you? What would they find helpful, humorous or entertaining?

One of my biggest tips to create content marketing success is to have a big bank of content topics and ideas at the ready. That way, every time you rock up to work on your content marketing, you are not having to think about what to write about. Because sometimes the ideas flow, and sometimes there is just a huge block! And no-one likes to waste time rustling around as you desperately try to decide what to post about that week.

So, to get prepared, hold a big brainstorming session with your team to flesh out all of the things you can post, blog, or email about. To add to this pool, you can conduct some research on your key platforms to see what topics or hashtags might be trending.

Capture your ideas using a mind mapping software such as SimpleMind or with a whole bunch of post it notes and then sort the ideas to match your content pillars to ensure that your content ideas stay focused and on brand.

Step 4: Confirm your content drumbeat (frequency)

OK, this bit is crucial. It is here that you want to strike the balance between how much content you need to produce to achieve your marketing objectives versus how much content is realistic for you to create and publish each month.

My advice? Start conservatively. If you are just starting out with your email marketing, maybe a monthly schedule is more realistic than a weekly.

And yes, while all of the social marketing literature will advise you to post on Instagram daily, if this is unrealistic, perhaps think about creating a super quality piece of content, post it at a peak time to maximise the organic reach and boost it so that it reaches more peoples newsfeed that way.

Step 5: Batch your content production

Instead of trying to create and publish your content on the fly, I highly recommend setting aside a certain amount of time per week / month / quarter to organise what you will need.

If you need lots of imagery or video, plan this in advance and get it all at once. This can save time and money, particularly if you are hiring an external photographer or graphic designer.

It’s far more efficient to book them in for a day’s work and get the next 90 days of your content sorted at once.

Another great idea is to lock in your external suppliers in advance. We all know how time flies in business, by locking in your photographer for example for half a day each quarter on a certain day and time, it’s in the diary and ready to go.

Step 6: Time block and schedule

Next step is to block enough time out in your schedule to plan, implement and measure your content marketing. You may choose to implement a ‘Marketing Monday’ where you set aside three (or so) hours on a Monday morning to do your marketing. I always find Mondays are a good day to tackle your marketing as I know I come in feeling fresh and reenergised from the weekend and like to get it done before the rest of the week gets in the way.

You can then use scheduling tools to schedule out your content publishing for the week or month ahead.

Step 7: Measure and optimise

The difference between content marketing success and failure comes down to your commitment to measure your results.

In step two, you assigned the SMART marketing goals that would guide your content marketing activity. So now all you need to do is to review your forecasted goals to your actual results and see how you are tracking.

As well as reviewing your progress for that month, you can also compare results to previous months’ results, and once you have collected this data for long enough, you’ll be able to compare the same month from the previous year.

These results can inform whether you need to optimise your content marketing activity. They can also provide awesome motivation to keep up the commitment to your content marketing when you start to see all the awesome results that you are getting when you show up and do the work.

So, there you have our seven-step content marketing system. Implementing this tried and true system has ensured that both our clients and our own marketing efforts have driven real results. It provides for the ultimate in efficiency and effectivity leading to enhanced productivity and a healthier bottom line.



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