Content marketing works for brands. It’s powerful, it’s effective, and it’s a heck of a lot more fun to do than a sales pitch. It’s no wonder that the practice appeals to so many companies.
But so many businesses struggle with the demands that come with producing content. They know it has to be “amazing,” not copycat content. They know it has to hit their target market in just the right spot. And they know it has to be powerful enough to make people remember them. But how can companies do amazing content marketing on strict or limited budgets?
Here are three ways your company can create effective content pieces and programs that cost almost nothing.
Use Your Customers
Before I became a content strategist, I spent four years at a home decor company as a digital marketing manager. At that time, content marketing was still in its infancy, so we had no idea how ahead of its time our blog actually was.
One of the best things we ever did was invite customers to send in photos and stories about how they’d used our products. We encouraged them to show us before and after shots, or DIY projects they’d accomplished with our help. In exchange for a contribution, we offered a small gift certificate, as well as credit and a link to their blog or website.
Contributions trickled in slowly at first, but after a few months, we were receiving new submissions every week. Not only did those posts make our products look good to new visitors, they also became a steady, reliable source of content that sometimes spread far and wide across the web.
The takeaway: Ask your customers how they used your products or services, and work their responses into blog posts. The more detailed and interesting, the better.
Talk About Yourself
When it comes to content marketing, it’s not uncommon to see the advice “don’t talk about yourself.” Savvy consumers can smell a hard sell from a mile away. So instead of shoving your brand in their face, you should ease them in slowly, right?
Not necessarily. Some of the most amazing content marketing I’ve seen comes from brands talking about nothing but themselves. But the key is to share something genuinely interesting or different about your company.
Here are a couple of my favorite examples:
- Oreo introduced a simple “snack hack” video series to show how Oreos could be incorporated into food and drinks.
- 37signals went behind the scenes of its site redesign, showing a few “what if” options and mockups.
- Crayola produced a video about how crayons are made at a Pennsylvania factory.
The takeaway: Your content can be about you. Have an innovative manufacturing process? Maybe an amazing office building? Holding a cool event? Share a few photos or videos.
By now, you’ve probably heard the story of Marcus Sheridan, who started a content marketing campaign for his company, River Pools, purely by answering customer questions on their blog.
Marcus was on to something. Customers are looking for the answers to their problems, concerns, and needs. Take a look at your Google Analytics data. Is anyone arriving on your site by asking a question about your industry, products, or services?
You can create dedicated landing pages or blog posts to directly answer these questions, and position yourself as an expert on these topics. The right content at the right time can lead to an amazing sales opportunity, just as it did for Marcus.
The takeaway: What questions are your website visitors asking? Answer them, and you stand a chance at becoming a valuable resource — or a sales partner.
These are just three ways that you can put a content marketing program into action without spending much, if any, money. Even if you’ve already invested in additional content strategy methods or programs, give these simple ideas a shot. They may be more effective than you expect!