In this article, I’ll teach you how to set up a content marketing strategy for a startup with zero budget. As you keep up with new content, you can start to create a budget for content marketing. I’ll explain how to save time when creating a strategy, as well. You want to know what problems most customers struggle with, and you also want to understand the specific types of questions your readers have. Using our healthy food example, these questions would be good: How hungry are you at dinner time? Our goal here is to get an idea of what kind of frustrations our readers have. Most of the articles I write on marketing are how-to articles. Create an editorial calendar Now you have an understanding of the content you’ve published already and where your focus is now. On the calendar, click on the day you’d like that article to get published. Click Create.
Are you frustrated with content marketing?
You know you want to create content, but maybe you lack the budget you think you need to develop a strong campaign.
Don’t worry. I’ll tell you the exact strategy I use to produce awesome content on a regular basis.
The biggest pitfall I see with most would-be content marketers is they don’t have a strategy.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, 88% of B2B companies were using content marketing.
But in that same report, 68% of those companies said they lacked a documented content marketing strategy.
That means that a vast majority of businesses are venturing into content marketing without a clear idea of where they’re going.
The good news is that most marketers know that they need to learn more.
Recent research showed that 64% of marketers say they need to learn more about how to create a scalable content strategy.
I do a lot of content marketing, and I attribute much of my success to a well-designed strategy.
In this article, I’ll teach you how to set up a content marketing strategy for a startup with zero budget.
The great thing about content marketing is that it isn’t expensive. You don’t have to buy ads or costly equipment.
Almost everything can be done for free.
How to save on your content marketing strategy
A typical startup is strapped for cash. But more than that, it’s limited in terms of other resources as well.
Chances are, you don’t have a large team to dedicate to your content marketing, and you don’t have a lot of time to get started.
Here are the best methods I’ve found to save money on a content marketing strategy. These will be the framework I’ll use for the rest of the article.
1. Save money on tools
If you don’t have a budget, you need to use free tools for planning.
The best tool I know for writing and sharing documents is Google Docs.
I’ll teach you how to set up your strategy mostly using Google software. The programs are easy to use for all stages of content marketing. Plus, you can share them with other members of your team.
The second way we’re going to save money is by using free web tools and plugins. Some of these require setting up an account, but you don’t have to pay to use them.
This includes publishing the content you produce. Chances are, you don’t have much control over this.
If you do, I recommend installing WordPress. It’s free and works very well for blog content of all types.
As you keep up with new content, you can start to create a budget for content marketing. For now, however, we can do everything we need to do with free tools.
2. Save time
I work with a lot of startups, and I’ve created a few of my own.
Even more than money, startups lack time. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day for all the production, marketing, and growth hacking that today’s entrepreneurs need to accomplish.
I’ll explain how to save time when creating a strategy, as well. I’ve found four tips to be really helpful. I’ll use them throughout this article.
- Bulk creation. When we’re creating new pieces, it makes the most sense to do this all at once. For example, we’ll generate new content ideas all at once.
- Update immediately. Whenever we need to make an update, we’ll do it as soon as possible. For example, once we finish an article, we’ll mark it as complete.
- Plan ahead. Nothing steals time like a last-minute project. I’ll teach you how to plan all your projects ahead to eliminate stress.
- Focus on the big stuff. There are lots of ways to take your content marketing strategy to the next level, but we’re going to start small and focus on tasks with the biggest ROI.
And one last note: Be in it for the long haul.
You won’t see incredible results from content marketing quickly. It’ll probably take around two years to get consistent results from Google.
But if you commit to it for a while, you’ll experience great things. The best time to start is right now.
Understand your audience
Understanding your audience is the #1 secret to creating better content for your customers.
Each piece of content you produce should speak directly to your readers. You want to understand their frustrations, pains, and desires.
The most obvious and usually the best way to get their feedback is just to ask them!
You should do this for quality and quantity. Both are important. You want to know what problems most customers struggle with, and you also want to understand the specific types of questions your readers have.
I’ll use an example of a site that focuses on healthy eating.
To get started, go to Google Forms. Click the large plus button to create a new form.
Name your new form something simple, like “Audience Interest Survey.”
In the default question box, type “What is your biggest struggle with _____?”
Use whatever your main topic is. In this example, I used “eating healthy.”
We want this to be a short-answer question. If Google doesn’t change it automatically, click on the popup menu on the right.
Choose “short answer” from the options listed.
Now let’s add one more question. Click on the + icon on the right.
For this question, type “What would make you feel successful with _______?”
With my healthy eating example, I used “your diet” in the blank. You should use whatever topic your content will be about.
Make sure this question is also a short-text answer.
We’re going to add one final question: “Would you be willing to help us with a quick chat about your answers? If so, please enter your email address.”
This is how we’ll contact respondents to get more detailed answers.
Now that you’re finished, click the Send button at the top.
On the menu that it opens, click the link icon.
This is the URL you can send to people, but it’s a little long. Click on Shorten URL.
There you go! Now click on Copy. It will save the link to your clipboard.
Send this link to any current customers, email subscribers, or readers you have. Here’s a simple email template to use.
We’re looking to create more content on our site that helps readers. Would you mind telling us what you’d like to see?
It’ll only take a minute or two: LINK
Thanks so much!
Once you send the survey out, you can track responses from the form. Just click on Responses at the top.
The answers you get are gold for creating new content. You can see what your readers are having a tough time with.
You can see what their goals look like.
And you should have the email addresses for a few people you can contact again.
Shortly after someone replies to the form, send them a simple email. This is a template you can follow.
Thanks so much for filling out our survey! You said you’d be willing to help us with a quick chat about your answers.
Could you do a Google Hangout for 10 minutes on Thursday at 6 p.m? If not, does a call on Friday at 10 a.m. work better?
Be sure to give two options for the hangout time. This makes it easier for correspondents to say “yes.”
If they agree, go to Google Hangouts at the scheduled time. Choose either Video or Phone Call.
On the next page, enter their email address and invite them.
During the call, ask them about the struggles and goals they listed. Get them to be specific.
Using our healthy food example, these questions would be good:
- How hungry are you at dinner time? A little hungry or starving?
- What kind of healthy food do you not like?
- What’s an example of a delicious food you wish…