Question: What's one thing businesses new to content marketing need to do before getting started?
Question by: Ashley
Narrow Your Focus
"Don't try to be the expert at everything and reach all people. Keep a narrow focus and establish yourself as the go-to expert in your field and create your content with that at the forefront. You don't need to get published in every outlet in order to get results from content marketing, so focus on the important ones and let the rest go."
Find Reliable Writers
"Content marketing can be difficult to execute upon unless you have dedicated staff who are held accountable to a publishing schedule. The key to success with content marketing, besides quality, is always consistency and regularity. It makes sense for many startups to outsource blogging to outside contractors or by tapping into marketplaces like Scripted.com."
Stock Up on Topics
"The toughest part of building an awesome blog is having enough things to write about, so make sure that you have an extensive list of titles and angles that you and your team can author, so you'll never run dry of fresh ideas -- even if you're writing about the narrowest vertical possible."
Pick a Platform
"As a content marketer, your most important pieces will come from your blog, so make sure you have a blog that customers will identify with as an extension of your brand. Furthermore, you'll need to make sure you are employing an easy-to-use blogging platform that all of your writers will know how to use."
What's Your Point?
"Before you start writing away, ask yourself what you hope to achieve with your content marketing. Will you main goal be lead generation? If so, then you need to think about your target audience and how you plan on capturing leads with your content. If your objective is to be a thought leader in the space, you'll have to assess the content that's currently available and identify gaps you can fill."
Pick Your Purpose
"There are different types of content -- press releases, articles, sales pages, blog posts, content pages, email marketing, print copy, etc. You need to examine who your audience is, develop a call to action, develop a purpose for distribution and a tracking method to gauge success. This should be done before the first word is written!"
"Some people do things backwards and try to build a killer blog or free report before they become a true expert in their topic. I find it easier and more compelling if you go out and do noteworthy things first, then write about those experiences. Interview clients, run tests in your own company, help clients implement something. Build your own experiences to draw content from."
Build Your Audience
"Not only should you consider what you will share, but also you should consider who will consume it. Start thinking about how you will build your newsletter list or blog traffic, or how you'll post on other sites. Distribution is the key to unlocking the value of content marketing."
Set the Schedule
"If you're always riding the last-minute train every time you need to create content, you won't put the best stuff out there. Instead, create an editorial calendar -- come up with a list of topics or common questions that you want to answer and schedule out which topics need to be published when."
"Use tools such as the Adwords Keyword Tool to harvest lists of keywords that you are trying to rank for. There's no point in optimizing an article for keywords nobody is looking for. Also, make sure to mix in high competition words along with low competition, long-tail keywords for the best results."
Are You Trackable?
"You cannot improve something you cannot measure. With content marketing, you're going to have to try tons of things before you get it "right." Even when you do get it "right," you still have room to improve unless you convert ALL your visitors into leads and all your leads into customers. Set up a system for measuring effectiveness in advance or else you are just "spraying and praying.""
"Build relationships in your niche and/or complementing niches. Partner with bloggers, magazines and other content marketers to help secure the initial traction and traffic for your platform. Allow others to syndicate your content and offer to guest author a post on their online property as well. "
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.