Unlike a fancy logo or beautifully curated Instagram grid layout, a small business content strategy isn’t just nice to have; it is the foundation for all messaging for your brand.
Putting content out into the world is not really doing anything for you if it’s not building a connection between you and your audience. The most common reason business owners run dry of content ideas is because they’re not clear on the type of content that their audience would value — or they’re not clear on how to distribute their message in a way that encourages engagement from their ideal audience.
The key to creating effective communication is clarity — and it starts with the business owner. A confused customer buys nothing. If you’re not crystal clear on the message your content is communicating, neither is your audience.
The good news is that you can create a small business content strategy that increases engagement and sales.
Here’s how to create a small business content strategy in 7 steps.
Content strategy is the planning, development, and management of all the messaging your brand puts into the world. For a small business with an online presence, this looks like creating and sharing free content such as blogs, webinars, e-books, videos, social media posts, or email newsletters.
Trust attracts. Content marketing earns trust by providing valuable information that solves problems and educates. Above all, it is all about building relationships and establishing yourself as a go-to expert in your field.
Effective content marketing provides value without asking for anything in return to gain the trust of your audience. Once your audience knows that they can trust you, they are more likely to come back to you for solutions and advice.
Content marketing makes your brand relatable, which can seem like an intangible factor, but there is plenty of research to back it up. According to Hubspot, 70% of people prefer to learn about brands from content rather than traditional ads.
Overmore, creating content consistently is worth your time. Companies that put their primary focus on content marketing generate more than 5x more conversions than those that just focus on ranking in search engines.
Through content marketing, you can generate more website traffic, attract more potential customers, and eventually lead to sustainable profits from loyal clients.
Solopreneurs and big brands alike can benefit from setting goals and creating a customized content strategy to help achieve them. Some of these goals may be very similar across companies. For instance, all types of businesses want to get found on search engines, establish their voice and presence online, and increase their business.
There are some key differences between a small business content strategy and the ones big business uses. For example, a small business content marketing strategy should be more focused on your typical ideal client and their everyday life while larger brands typically cast a much wider net with their content, appealing to the masses.
Prevailing wisdom says that your content should be about your audience. That’s not bad advice, but people buy from people, not businesses. This is especially true for solopreneurs and owners who are the face of their brand.
There are ways to show your personality while still serving up value day after day.
Start with mastering your voice. Your brand voice should be reflected in every aspect of your social media content right down to the emojis you use — That’s how you show your audience who you are and what you value.
Secondly, teach from experience.
Who said educational content has to be dry?!
If you really want a point to stick, then tell a story. Draw from your experience to illustrate the educational message. One of my favorite ways to do this is by flipping the script on a testimonial, turning it into a narrative that gives quick wins on how you solved a client’s problem in real life.
Use humor that you and your audience can laugh about. Being funny or witty can help your brand stand out when done right. The key is to make sure it’s your sense of humor — not funny for the sake of funny.
This can be done by using memes, of course, but another effective way is by sharing a funny story to illustrate a point. For example, “What my farmer’s market mishap taught me about ____.”
Finally, don’t shy away from your unpopular opinion.
Don’t take this the wrong way —I’m not saying that should take a hard stance for the sake of having an unpopular opinion post.
You really need to believe in your content. But being able to voice your opinion with authority gives your audience a fresh perspective while highlighting your brand’s unique approach.
Budget and bandwidth also factor into how content strategies are implemented.
Some platforms require more of a time commitment than others. Get clear on how much time you have to spend, or how/if you can delegate.
For example, if you know that your audience is on Tik Tok, but you hate creating videos or don’t have someone to be the face of your brand, you have to skip it or outsource.
Consistency is key with social media messaging so be sure it’s a platform where you can regularly show up and service your audience.
We’ll review how to pick the right social media platforms for your small business in a minute.
First, you need to start by identifying and clarifying your core message. It should communicate the values of your business while differentiating it from others.
After reading your core message, your target audience should feel something. Most businesses focus on evoking feelings of standing up for what you believe in. But, the specific emotions you want to bring out will vary depending on your business goals.
Once you’ve formed your core branding message, you’ll use this message to create all marketing correspondence from thereon.
On Instagram, this means that you’re going to base your posts on this core message. Each post should focus on the differentiating factors that your company provides.
Get to the bottom line: what sets you apart?
At its core, a Unique Selling Proposition answers the question, Why should I choose your business over the competition? A unique selling proposition, more commonly referred to as a USP, is the one thing that makes your business better than the competition.
Here are 12 prompts to define your Unique Selling Proposition. Use the answers to create original post ideas.
You can’t have a strong social media branding strategy without understanding who makes up your target audience.
Consistency and engagement are the two most crucial elements for building a successful small business content strategy. Creating valuable content that connects with your audience no matter where they are in the buying process requires a clear roadmap that only a comprehensive content strategy can provide.
After all, why waste time creating content such as social media posts, webinars, e-books, and videos if it’s not engaging your ideal client?
Without this crucial information, you won’t be able to determine what motivates your followers. Thus, you won’t have any idea what to post. And, your posts won’t be effective.
Creating a customer persona that outlines your ideal client’s lifestyle, income, wants, needs, and aspirations will give you clarity every time you produce a new piece of content. A customer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer based on research.
Examine the data from the customers you already have to create a customer persona. Customer personas can be developed by analyzing your site’s quantitative data, e.g., Google Analytics, and qualitative data, e.g., feedback from the customers. This can help you discover the demographics and psychographics of your customers, along with what motivates them to engage.
This is a crucial step to take as it helps you start mapping out what content you will create. Through these customer personas, you will be able to figure out the types of content your customers are looking for and what is helpful for them, which will help you create the right kind of content.
If you’ve already created buyer personas for your business, you’re ahead of the game. If not, you have target audience research ahead of you before you start creating posts.
Don’t skip this step!
Remember this: Your ideal audience is the person you dream of serving. You want to speak directly to this specific type of person, knowing that you’ll attract exactly who you’re looking for and repel people who aren’t the right fit.
By aiming for your target audience, you’ll still resonate with additional people outside of that “ideal persona” but you won’t waste energy by spreading your message too thin.
Once you have IDed your ideal audience, it’s time to meet them where they’re at online through content.
Setting goals for your content marketing campaign is better known in the industry as establishing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). KPIs essentially answer the question, What do you want to achieve with your content?
KPIs must be measurable and time-specific. For example, gain 1,000 new website visitors in May by creating four keyword-optimized, niche-specific blog posts.
Common KPIs to consider in your content marketing strategy:
Measuring results after an established amount of time is an excellent way of finding out how well the content did and gives you extra information about which content interests your audience. This helps you realize your successes as well as how to improve in the future.
Different social media platforms serve different needs and interests so spreading yourself thin trying to post everywhere isn’t an effective use of your social media marketing efforts — especially if you’re a solopreneur or have a small but mighty team. There are hundreds of social media platforms after all!
Which social media platform is the best for marketing my small business? It’s a question I get asked all the time as a content strategist.
Consider this your permission slip: You don’t need to post on every social media platform to run a successful online business.
Here is a simple guide to determining which social media platforms are right for your business.
There are three things to consider when choosing the platform(s) that are best for your business. Once you’re able to gather some information and learn how each platform works, you’re better able to decide which platform will benefit your business the most.
Here are the three key considerations to take into account:
Different platforms appeal to different demographics with a variety of interests. Knowing your target audience will help you identify which platform will get your message in front of the right people.
Audiences have different expectations for different platforms. Align your business goals with the intent of the platform.
Get clear on how much time you have to spend, or how/if you can delegate. Some platforms require more of a time commitment than others. The users each act differently and expect different types of interactions. Though your messaging should always be consistent no matter which platform you’re on, how you present that message will vary.
In addition to social media, small business owners should consider blogging as a part of their content strategy.
The reasons why your business needs a blog are plentiful.
Chief among them is that every business that wants a healthy digital presence needs a blog to increase its visibility— in return building brand awareness, establishing expertise within a niche, and reaching more potential clients through value-packed content that instills trust.
Simply stated, the more blog content you create, the more opportunities you’ll have to show up in search engines and drive organic traffic to your website. Blogs provide the perfect platform to strengthen your SEO strategy.
How do you get your audience to notice your content?
The solution: create content pillars that show off your expertise.
Content pillars are focused, tightly-drawn topics that your content will always cover. If you write about too many different things, it’s going to be hard for visitors to know what you’re about and what you do.
Content pillars — sometimes called content buckets — are the subtopics that support your core message through the lens of serving your target audience.
The content pillars that you identify for your business will depend on the kinds of topics you want to address. Naturally, these should fall in line with your niche, but they should also answer the question — What do you want to be known for in your industry?
That is a loaded question, but it is the one you’re answering every time you hit publish.
It’s easy to get stuck in a content creation hamster wheel of, “Is this the right thing to say?” or “Does this post reach my goals and speak to my brand’s values?” When you’re about to put something out into the world, you want to be a genuine expression of your real message.
Getting really clear on how your background and expertise align with who you’re serving is how you define your content pillars. Those pillars guide your content planning and help you get unstuck when you’re short on post ideas. It will also help you come up with additional topic ideas and perhaps a series of posts.
Let’s break down the basics:
At least three, but no more than five. Three is best for those just starting out. These should be topics you can easily speak with authority on when a client has a question. Read more about how to implement your content pillars with the 3E’s Marketing Method.
Content pillars should either solve a problem or answer a question that would benefit your target audience. One of my favorite questions to unlock this level of content creation clarity is What Could You Give a 30-Minute TED Talk Right Now?
Remember, your content pillars are the intersection of your expertise and what your audience desires. Here is a Venn diagram with additional question prompts to illustrate that intersection.
Content calendars make implementing these ideas manageable.
Firstly, a content calendar keeps you organized. Rather than compiling random sticky notes together, you’ll be able to track solid ideas to post. It will also help you see your overall content strategy and how you can make it better.
You may be able to break similar content up or create a series. Either way, you can stay confident that you’ll have your post together days in advance.
Second, a content calendar can help get your creative juices flowing. You won’t have to worry about running out of ideas.
When you see how one post did on your page, you’ll be able to create more around it. Even better, you can scour the comments for more ideas from your followers. They may be asking questions or asking for more information about a particular topic.
Third, your content calendar helps you stay consistent. Everyone reaches a dry spot with their creativity sometimes. It’s completely normal.
But, you need to make sure that you’re staying consistent and a content calendar can help you do just that. When you’re feeling inspired, you should go ahead and make as much content as you can.
Pro Tip: Keep a list of ideas in a content bank to help you avoid writer’s block.
Calendars should map out blog topics and social media posts at least two weeks in advance — this can be accomplished quickly and easily by content batching. This process will help you stay organized and on track, instead of scrambling for content.
You probably have a good idea of what content is a “greatest hit” for your business. Analytics is the gold standard for determining your top-performing posts, but if you’re not that techy about it, a good indicator is a high engagement. If your audience commented, clicked, saved, and shared it several times, it must have provided value.
Now, what are you going to do with that fantastic piece of content? I think you know the answer. You’re going to repurpose it, of course!
After creating your post, you need to see how you can use parts of it on other mediums and channels. For example, take inspiration from a blog post for a YouTube video. If someone wants to read about a specific topic, they’ll probably be interested in watching a video about it, too.
Repurposing will help you make the most of the content you already created.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that your small business content strategy needs to be relevant and valuable for your target audience.
The Rebrand Your Instagram Intensive is designed for the busy business owner who needs an Instagram refresh yesterday.
In the time it would take you to plan, research, design, and write one post, you could gain clarity on your long-term content strategy and say goodbye to wasted time you spend second-guessing if you hit publish.
Get started with a free branding consultation.