It seems that whenever there’s a hot topic in the marketing world, there are also plenty of misconceptions that come along with it.
This is certainly the case when it comes to content marketing.
Whether it’s coming up with content ideas, writing newsletter articles, creating and maintaining a blog, or just thinking of stuff to share on Facebook or Twitter—content marketing comes with certain challenges.
As a result, you may have established certain opinions or doubts about whether or not creating content is a worthwhile investment. Well, it is!
Content is currency on the Internet. It’s what people consume, share, and it’s what can get your small business found.
So before you throw in the towel and give up on the idea of content marketing completely, here are some ways to overcome these common challenges.
1. I can’t create great content, I’m a horrible writer!
“I can’t create content…” isn’t a sentiment any business owner needs to accept, especially if the reason has something to do with your proficiency as a writer.
In reality, great content is all about answering the questions of your audience. It’s why someone visits your website or checks out your content in the first place: to learn more about your business and see what you can do to help them.
So whether you’re writing about products, services, events and promotions, or just sharing your expertise about your industry—you already have those answers. Now all you need is a strategy for turning those answers into great content for your readers.
2. I don’t know what I’ll be doing a year from now, it’s impossible to plan my content!
The first step to changing the way you think about content is changing the way in which you plan to create it.
For most small businesses, content creation is a last minute process. It’s something they know they need to do each month, but may be reluctant to pay much attention to until they’re getting ready to “send.”
Don’t wait until the last minute to come up with content ideas. Instead, develop an editorial calendar that makes sense for your business.
For our Hints & Tips newsletter—which goes out once a month—we have an entire year’s worth of themes that we use to guide our content decisions. While changes can occur, having a clear plan in place makes it much easier to start brainstorming content early and adjust to any roadblocks we may run into.
Not sure what themes are right for your content? Take a look at the calendar, seasons and holidays are a great source of inspiration.
3. I have a business to run, I can’t spend time creating content!
Small business owners have never had more access to easy-to-use tools for content creation.
Take your smartphone for example. Your smartphone is essentially the modern day Swiss Army knife of content creation. Whether it’s snapping pictures, shooting videos, recording audio or taking notes—business owners have never had access to a more valuable resource for creating content.
And with the convenience of a mobile device, you can create engaging content without it disrupting your schedule or taking away from running your business.
On our blog, we’ve created entire posts and podcasts using nothing more than a smartphone, an idea for content, and a room full of people. And, if you’re someone who finds it easier to articulate content ideas rather than writing them down, recording your own voice with a mobile device can streamline your content creation efforts.
4. I’m only one person, I can’t come up with enough content ideas!
One of the biggest misconceptions about creating content for an email campaign is that you’re responsible for writing every single post you include.
While it’s important that you’re sharing your expertise, it’s also valuable to open your content up to outside resources.
We’ve outlined 20 of the best places you can turn to for great content ideas. These are places you’re probably visiting on a daily basis and just haven’t thought to tap into for inspiration.
5. I’m just a small business, I can’t compete with the big guys!
Believe it or not, you can create content as well (and in many cases better) than even your biggest competitors.
Don’t believe me? Join the email list of your biggest competitor and see how well their emails connect with you as a consumer.
Chances are you’ll receive plenty of content, but not much that connects with you personally.
That’s because big businesses can’t come close to providing the type of personalized content that customers actually want. On the contrary, you’re writing to a customer base you see on a daily basis, people whose questions you’ve answered, and whose orders you’ve likely processed yourself.
It’s something even your biggest competitors wish they could match. And because irrelevant content is one of the biggest factors why someone leaves your network, it’s you who actually has the advantage when it comes to creating content.
6. Content is only valuable to me if it gets people to buy!
Not all the stuff you create for your marketing is going to lead people to buy, and writing with a sales mentality is a sure-fire way to undermine your content marketing. The real value of content is that it gives your audience the opportunity to get to know, like, and trust you over time. And people do business with those they know, like, and trust. Content allows you to get 85% of the way there.
After all, people do not enjoy being sold to. What they do enjoy is receiving content that not only speaks to their interests, but enables them to overcome a challenge, achieve a goal, or learn something they may not have already known.
That doesn’t mean you can’t talk about yourself or your products. Just keep in mind; people are much more interested in what your products will do for them, than what selling them will do for you.
And if you’re stuck on sell, sell, sell: here’s a list of things people will enjoy more than being sold to.
7. I’m not tech-savvy, I can’t create content!
You don’t need to be tech-savvy to create great content. In fact, much of the work you’ll need to do when planning out your content can be done the old fashioned way—with a pen and paper.
Some small businesses have found it useful to create a content template, which they print and fill out each month when planning their email marketing. This allows you to take the influence of technology out of your content planning and put it into a setting you may feel more comfortable with.
And it can go a long way in making content creation a bigger part of your day-to-day schedule. So whether you’re waiting for an order or just have some time during the day, you can pull out the template and brainstorm content ideas without it interfering with your busy schedule.
9. Content just isn’t important to my industry!
While creating compelling content may be easier for some industries, the field in which you work shouldn’t keep you from using content marketing.
Take a business like Green Solutions Lawn Care & Pest Removal. This now-and-again service-provider may not have the most glamorous day-to-day responsibilities, but their content marketing has generated huge results when it comes to engaging their target audience.
By keeping customers up-to-date and well educated, they not only help customers become better at maintaining their lawns, but keep their business top-of-mind with their target audience—which is something all businesses, regardless of industry, can benefit from.
10. I don’t have the time to create all this content!
I know, I know … this is all well and good but you just don’t have time to create all the stuff you need to keep up with running a business, maintaining a blog, scheduling emails, and engaging on social media.
The beauty of content is that it’s flexible. If it’s something that informs and engages your audience on your website, it could serve the same purpose in an email or on Facebook.
And while you don’t want to just be sharing the same stuff each and every week, you can take steps to make your content work across all your marketing channels.
It’s something that works for us. Find us on social media or subscribe to Hints & Tips and it’s likely you’ll hear many of the same messages and read a lot of the same content. That’s because, like you, we speak to a lot of different audiences and someone who subscribes to our list won’t necessarily be checking our Facebook Page or reading our blog each day.
Use the channels of communication you have available to get your content in front of your target audience and don’t think you always need to start from scratch. Don’t be afraid to reuse, repurpose, or recycle content you’ve already created.
Facing your content roadblocks
While there may still be plenty of roadblocks along the way, you can create great content.
The trick is, not letting those roadblocks or your doubts stand in the way of creating stuff customers will love and want to tell their friends about.
Creating content is still the biggest hurdle small business owner’s face when marketing their business, but it doesn’t need to be one you tackle alone. Your customers, staff, colleagues, and partners are valuable sources of content inspiration. Opening yourself up to their help may mean less anxiety when it comes time to create.
And when you’re really stuck—and you find yourself yelling at your computer or pulling out your hair— don’t be too hard on yourself. You’ve already earned the trust of your customers. Trust that and the content will create itself.
What other challenges do you face when it comes to creating content? Tell us in the comments below.