Content marketing 101 for small businesses

11 steps to create your blueprint

by The AT&T Business Editorial Team

Have you designed a content marketing plan for your brand? Or do you need to refresh an existing one? In this article, we’ll cover the 11 key steps to creating your content-marketing blueprint. 

As a small business , you want to connect with customers across multiple touchpoints across every stage in the buying process. You want to give your audience content that they value, whether it’s a helpful how-to video, a sleek infographic, or a timely blog post. At the heart of content marketing is storytelling that engages customers.

A key point to remember as you develop your plan is that effective content marketing efforts help communicate what you do, not what you sell. When your brand story engages your audience, you gain their attention and create positive interactions with your brand. In the process, you become top-of-mind with your audience the next time they seek a solution for a problem related to your area of expertise.

Now, on to the blueprint.

Follow these 11 steps to create your personal blueprint

  1. Create your value prop. Start with your brand value proposition. What makes your business different or interesting? Your brand story depends on an understanding of why people will buy from you.
  2. Refine your value prop. Listen to conversations about your brand in social media. It’s better than a Focus group. Check the comments on your blog, Twitter feed, and Facebook page. Send periodic customer satisfaction surveys and ask why they purchase from you. Identify what keeps them coming back. Use this information to discover how to set the direction and focus of your small business brand. What is your brand’s North Star? 
  3. Craft your story. Once you understand why your customers choose your business over your competition, you are ready to establish a story to tell.
  4. Map the publication points. What channels and platforms will you be publishing your content to?
  5. Map the content. Outline which pieces of content you want to align with which points along the buyer’s journey, from Awareness to Consideration to Decision.    
  6. Create a content publication calendar. Plot your schedule for publishing your existing content. Pencil in future content 6-12 months in advance.    
  7. Build the content. A well-orchestrated brand story will help create the conversations with your audience. Based on the story you crafted in Step 3 and the content map created in Step 5, build your content—articles, social posts, videos, blogs, and more.
  8. Begin to publish. Publish content to all touch points according to your calendar. 
  9. Pay attention to quality assurance: Make sure your story plays consistently well in each channel, and that your brand voice stands out.
  10. Syndicate your blog content with relevant content providers. This will take some time, but it won’t cost you any money. Syndication means re-posting your blog to other “super blogs” that can extend your message’s reach and bring new customers to your business. Learn more about content distribution.
  11. Use Triberr: This is the social content distribution platform that connects communities of bloggers who will read and share content distributed by members of their “tribes.” By stating why people WILL buy from you seems more applicable. Are these the links you want or do we need to update? I just added “the” before conversations. 

The beauty of social media is that readers who like your blog posts or tweets will share this content with their network, adding exponentially to your message’s reach.

As a small business working to leverage social media, focus on communicating what you do, not what you sell. Social media forces you to think differently. This isn’t about pitching products and product details. It’s about telling your story through content so that it guides your audience toward your brand.