Content marketing can seem like a daunting task for new businesses. You’re all set up online and you’ve done the techy bits – but the creative bits? They’re a bit harder! We’ve devised a few simple tips to help you think about and plan the kind of content you want to write and share.

Firstly, let’s have a look at what content marketing means. Content can be anything you share as part of your business, whether that be your website, your social media sites, your blog or a video channel on YouTube. Content marketing works best when it gives your customer an added bonus and helps them solve a problem – in many cases, selling your products should be a bit of an afterthought.

Take, for example, espares.co.uk, a website selling spares for all sorts of household electricals. Their YouTube channel is a shining example of great content marketing. For free, they offer videos showing you how to change parts on washing machines and more, as well as how to fix problems. Of course they want you to buy the piece from them, but they are going out on a limb by showing you what to do before you’ve even bought it!

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So what makes great content and how do we go about creating it?

1. Think about how you can help and inform your audience. What questions do your customers have before they purchase your product? What solution are they looking for? What problems do they face when they have your product? Answer these questions before they ask them through easy blogs, How-To guides and videos and you’ll give them no reason but to buy your services!

2. Think outside the box. Try and work out what your customers need before and after they use or buy your product. If you’re selling website design, blog about the changes in customer behaviour that lead them to search online for companies and show them how a top notch website will boost their revenue. If you’re selling spices, add recipes for your favourite comfort meals or tips to barbecue the best steaks in town. You can be funny, useful or informative – pick two.

3. Create a plan to keep yourself on track. Brainstorm a range of ideas and set yourself a target of how often to create new content. It doesn’t have to be once a week, though if you can manage it, that’s a good place to start and your customers can come to expect a weekly update. It is best to be regular as your website, blog or social media will look sparse if you haven’t updated recently.

4. Share across social media and keep up good use of all channels. Put your content on your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Reddit, wherever and whatever will drive customers and potential customers to read it. You can use those channels to get a conversation going too. Tweets have a short lifespan, so update it a few times a day, and use it to share other people’s content that your followers would appreciate. Facebook and other channels should only be updated once or twice a day at the most.

5. Be genuine, personable and honest. People can see through something superficial and are even more likely to be sceptical of the hard-sell online than in real life. Give honest tips and advice, ‘fess up if something goes wrong, and make sure your customers feel like there is a real person behind the screen.

So there you have it – our top thoughts on how to start your content marketing strategy. For more tips, try the Content Marketing Institute; Copyblogger; or Scribe. Good luck!

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