As a marketer, having a small budget, or lack thereof, is probably something that you worry about on a regular basis.
“How can I maximize the effectiveness of the money I spend on marketing?”
“Are there marketing methods out there that are both effective and low-cost?”
These are two questions that, if you are still reading this, you probably think to yourself on a regular basis.
Fortunately, there are marketing strategies out there that can work with a small budget.
Content marketing is one such strategy.
It is also one of the most emphasized and commonly used marketing strategies by top marketers and businesses.
According to the LinkedIn Technology Marketing Community, over 70% of marketers have a content strategy in place.
The major problem for those marketers, as has been mentioned, is finding ways to develop their content strategy in a cost-effective manner.
Econsultancy put together a content marketing survey report saying that 65% of companies say that content marketing is too expensive.
Thus the purpose of this guide; to give you an outline for how you can build an effective content marketing strategy on a small budget.
Implementing the advice within this guide should help point you in the right direction towards successful, and possibly more importantly, affordable content marketing.
Step #1 – Focus on Quality Over Quantity
As a marketer, you are already well aware of the content overload that is happening throughout the modern web.
Content is being created at a pace that the world has never seen, and competing with all of the variety can be a real challenge.
This infographic from DOMO shows just how much content is being created on a daily basis:
With this information in mind, the only way to compete is by focusing on quality.
Posting a ton of content means very little, especially if the content is not shareable or useful to your target market.
By focusing on quality over quantity, the short and long term potential for your content marketing strategy is much higher.
As content marketing guru Neil Patel says:
“One major source of wasted money is failure to maximize the results from each piece of content. Marketers see successful bloggers posting 3-5 times a week and assume that they should too. However, if you don’t have the budget to publish 3-5 great pieces of content, it’s pointless.”
Building on what Patel is saying, focusing on creating amazing content at a slower pace will also be a more affordable option, even if you are hiring a skilled freelancer.
Talking about creating great content is all good and well, but how in the world do you actually go about doing it?
Well, your first option is to hire a world-class blogger.
But this will generally set you back somewhere between $100-$200 per post, sometimes more.
So, instead, you could take the more difficult route and more time consuming route of doing it yourself.
While it will undoubtedly take some time to get used to the process of creating great content on your own, there are tons of resources out there to help you become a solid content writer.
Kissmetrics contributor Zach Bulygo put together a useful article outlining the nine ingredients that make great content.
Those ingredients include:
- Create original content
- Focus on creating a strong headline
- Make your content actionable whenever possible
- Provide answers to readers
- Ensure accuracy with your reporting and sourcing of information
- Create engaging and thought provoking content
- Utilize images and video when possible
- Write short and pointed content
- Update your content regularly
You can get into much more detail about each necessary ingredient by checking out his article for yourself.
While there is no full proof plan for creating great content, the main point here is that you should focus only on creating amazing content not waste your time focusing on quantity over quality.
Step #2 – Repurpose Existing Content
While this step requires that you have already created top notch content to begin with, repurposing your content is by far one of the best and most cost-efficient ways to succeed in content marketing with a small budget.
To repurpose content basically means that you are turning existing content into another form of content.
This can be done in a variety of different ways.
Kevan Lee, a contributor at Buffer Social, put together a comprehensive guide outlining 12 of the more unique ways that you can repurpose your content.
Some of those methods include:
- Creating new posts or articles. An example of this would be turning a listicle or bullet point post into separate articles for each point.
- Create a presentation. This could be done by turning a blog post into a presentation through SlideShare or creating a PowerPoint using another method.
- Build an infographic. While building an infographic can be difficult and expensive, services like Piktochart and Visually make it easy for even non tech savvy users to create visually appealing infographics.
- Create a Pinterest instructographic. An instructographic is very similar to an infographic, although it is specifically designed to be posted to Pinterest. This is obviously a great option for content marketers that have or are looking to create a following on Pinterest.
- Republish old posts. If you have been creating content for an extended period of time, periodically republishing old content can be effective. You can even work to modify posts to provide more updated information.
- Create an ongoing email series. If you have an email list, creating an email series can be a great way to keep readers engaged. You can do this by defining a specific topic that you would like to get into and then outlining how you can create smaller posts to deliver a larger message over time.
- Create an eBook. While creating an eBook will certainly take time, doing so can be a great way to build your email list. Many times, you can use successful blog posts as a starting point for creating a more in-depth eBook.
- Create a video. Social Triggers founder Derek Halpern is a major advocate of turning blog posts into videos. Not only does this create more efficiency with content creation, but it can also help you reach a different set of viewers.
These are just some of the many ways that you can repurpose your original blog posts to improve the efficiency of the content creation process.
A lot of times, the best thing to do is to be as creative as possible with how you go about repurposing your posts.
Figure out what options are most successful, effective, and efficient for you, and then make those methods a part of your ongoing content marketing strategy.
Step #3 – Focus on the Areas of Content Promotion That Are Most Successful for You
With all of the tools, methods, and resources currently out there to help you, content marketing can get confusing and overwhelming quickly.
For that reason, it is important that you develop a plan that allows you to narrow your focus towards areas of content marketing that are most successful for you.
Attempting to be a jack-of-all-trades and master of none is generally not successful in any type of endeavor.
That is no different with content marketing.
As Neil Patel says:
“You don’t need to be everywhere at once.”
Instead, figuring out which methods of content promotion are most effective and efficient can help you get the best return on both your time and investment.
Neil Patel says that one of two channels are really all that most businesses need to get strong results.
This could mean focusing on building your own blog and content, and then using the one or two social media platforms that make the most sense for content promotion in your industry.
For example, if you are a B2B marketer, promoting your content through LinkedIn should probably be your top priority.
On the other hand, if you are B2C marketer with a target market of adult females, Pinterest is probably your best option.
James Scherer, a contributor at Wishpond, wrote a short guide that can be helpful with discovering which platform is right for your business.
Once you have become successful on a certain platform, and developed an efficient plan for content promotion through that platform, you should be able to seamlessly move on to others.
In the beginning where your budget is an issue, however, focusing on the one or two channels that will work for you should be your main priority.
Step #4 – Build an Email List
No matter what industry you are in, multiple studies have proven that building an email list is one of the best ways to build a consistent and loyal following for your business.
As Corey Dilley, marketing manager at Unbounce, states:
“Email marketing consistently generates 80-90% of out landing page traffic when we launch a new campaign, piece of content, or product feature. Email allows us to engage our audience in a creative, personalized way that blog posts or tweets can’t.”
The combination of email marketing and content marketing can be absolutely lethal.
In fact, according to the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing has an ROI of around 4,300%.
That is a number that anybody can get on board with.
The issue here is with effectively building and engaging with your email list.
Doing so involves following through with the three steps already outlined in this guide, while also focusing on the intricacies of building your list.
Derek Halpern wrote a highly useful post on how to build an email list.
In it, he describes the extreme importance of building an email list and even goes as far as saying:
“If you’re not building an email list, you’re an idiot.”
While that may be a little dramatic, the point he is trying to make is clear; building an email list should be one of your main priorities.
Even Neil Patel understands the importance of combining email and content marketing, stating:
“Not only does it have a high conversion rate, but as you build your list you can continually monetize it by pitching multiple products. Just look at ecommerce sites like Amazon, one way they get you to continually buy more products from them is by emailing you offers on a regular basis.”
At the end of the day, using your content to build an email list is by far the most cost-effective way to succeed in your marketing efforts.
Step #5 – Be Highly Targeted
As has been pointed out, it is very difficult to compete with the incredible amount of content being produced on a daily basis.
But a way that you can compete with the massive amounts of content being created is by being highly targeted.
Most content marketers make the mistake of being broad with their content and attempting to reach a large audience.
While this was a successful strategy five years ago, doing so today is usually nothing more than a huge waste of time.
Instead, developing a better understanding of your intended audience and creating targeted content is the new holy grail of content marketing.
Convince and Convert contributor Kevin Cain puts it this way:
“You have to have targeted content that reflects a deep understanding of who your audience is and where they are on their way down the path to purchase.”
Cain goes on to say that targeted content does four things:
- Raises awareness
- Promotes discovery
- Fosters comparisons
- Encourages a sale
Doing all four of these things allows you to resonate and become more effective when communicating with the specific audience that your content is intended for.
Becoming more targeted will also significantly help with your ability to rank in search engines while creating fewer headaches with promotion and potentially huge profits.
Not only that, but it also makes it a heck of a lot easier to develop a plan and ideas for what type of content you should be creating.
Step #6 – Develop a Content Marketing Plan
There is no doubt that creating a content marketing strategy and plan is important.
The Content Marketing Institute produced a 2015 report showing that marketers with a documented strategy are more effective than those without one.
Conventional wisdom would say that developing a plan should be the first thing that you do when implementing a content marketing strategy.
But, at the end of the day, developing a plan is also very difficult if you do not know what works best for your business.
That is why this guide advocates the development of a comprehensive plan as the last step when attempting to succeed in content marketing on a small budget.
Focusing instead on coming up with a broad, agile plan to start and then moving towards a comprehensive content marketing plan can be much more efficient and effective over the long run.
It will give you the opportunity to test some things out with both content creation and promotion, and then use the data from those tests to develop the most successful plan possible.
When you get to the point where you feel creating a plan is necessary, there are several resources out there to help you create one.
Hubspot contributor Justin McGill recently put together a great guide on how to build an unbeatable content marketing plan that you would be wise to check out.
The guide is even more useful because McGill initially lays out the basics of a strong plan, which include:
- Having a mission and goals in mind
- Develop an understanding of your target market
- Know what types of content you want to create
- Develop systems for managing your content
These basics can be used to create your initial plan, and then can be built and improved upon as you work to build your more comprehensive content marketing plan.
While it may be a bit unconventional to wait to develop a plan until down the road, giving yourself the opportunity to test things out and quickly grow your methods can help to expedite your content marketing success.
The Final Word
There is no doubt that content marketing has among the best ROI potentials that you will find.
Kraft Foods, for example, generates a return of investment through content marketing that is 4x higher than any other form of advertising that they do.
While you probably do not have the marketing budget that Kraft Foods does, following through with the steps within this guide will make it much more likely that you succeed with even a boot strap budget.
Overall, the most important part of succeeding in content marketing is creating amazing content.
If you are able to develop a way to do that on a regular basis, all of the other aspects of succeeding on a small budget become much easier.
Create amazing targeted content, master a few platforms for promotion, and improve your systems to create a comprehensive content marketing plans.
Doing those things will all but guarantee your success in the long run.