Today, every small business owner and entrepreneur can create and publish website content and distribute it across the internet. In fact, there is no shortage of consultants, marketers, and freelancers willing to assist you with your blogging and content marketing needs. Moreover, there are production writers who can work within any budget. However, content marketing is not some formulaic process in which you check the box off for 1 blog entry a month, 3 Facebook posts a week, and 5 tweets per day. Effective content marketing will have a clear strategy. Moreover, the strategy must align with your organization’s declared mission, philosophy, goals, and values. If this has not been done, your content marketing will likely fail.

While it seems like everyone is doing content marketing, very few are actually confident about it. Ask any small business owner or entrepreneur and they will likely tell you that they do not consider their content marketing as very effective. This creates the question, “If content marketing is the amazing and astonishing marketing method as is often stated, shouldn’t more businesses have greater success?” Repeatedly, the failure of a content marketing strategy comes down to not really having a strategy at all.

There is an obvious disconnect between what small businesses and entrepreneurs are doing and what actually works. If you don’t have a content marketing strategy that is aligned with your goals and your organization’s declared ideals, there is no wondering why if it isn’t working for you. If your company does not have a formal statement identifying your core principles, now is the time to create one. These are the underlying purpose and values that will inform all your decision-making now and into the future. Furthermore, the effectiveness of your content marketing will rely on how well it reflects your core values and goals. With this in mind, there are several questions that small business owners and entrepreneurs need to be able to understand and answer.

1. What Is Content Marketing?

Many small business owners and entrepreneurs have heard the term “content marketing”, but don’t really understand what it means. The Content Marketing Institute provides a definition that states, “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” Of course, this definition likely covers what many entrepreneurs are doing. Where businesses often fall short is with the strategy. The purpose of content marketing is to produce valuable and useful information that builds your reputation and creates a relationship with your audience.

2. Who Are You Creating the Content For?

Your content is not for you. It is for your target audience. Within business, there is a concept called the vital few. While the percentage is slightly different for each company and industry, this idea is often described as the 20 percent of your customers who are responsible for 80 percent of your sales or revenue. This prime group is collectively known as your ideal customers. When you understand these customers’ wants, needs, goals, and values, you can create the content that will attract prospects that more closely resemble these customers. Trying to broadly target “all homeowners”, “all families with children” or “all pet owners” is just too broad.

3. Why Should People Pay Attention to You?

Effective content marketing requires crafting content that your target, prospects, and customers want to read and engage with. So, whether you are writing a blog, creating a video, or posting to social media, the question you should always ask is, “Why should your customers care?” Content marketing is not about creating more content. It is about generating the greatest amount of behavior. The only way this happens is if you produce unique, valuable, and useful content. Your content must serve the needs of your customers.

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