If you’re a B2B company looking to make any kind of impact online, then you need to be offering high quality content. It’s vital - especially if you’re aiming to gain traction and attract leads to your website.
But generating great content comes at a price – so what can you do if your budget is limited?
Here, we’re going to give you some top tips for getting by when you don’t have a large pot of money to play with. These ideas will help you create good quality content that not only drives web traffic but hits your key target audiences, helping you convert more leads into paying customers.
Step 1 - Strategy
The first step is to have a plan. Content marketing can quickly become pricey if you’re working without a strategy in place. It’s never going to be as effective if you just jump from one thing to another, deciding what to cover off the top of your head. And if you don’t have a big budget, then it’s more important than ever that you make plans. You’ll need ensure you’re putting your time and money to the best use. Decide beforehand what you are going to do, when and why. Then do it! Look back regularly to assess what’s been done and see what you can learn from it. Then improve what you’re doing and repeat the process.
Content marketing is about creating content that’s tailored for a specific audience - and that’s where your buyer personas come in. You need to know exactly who you want to talk to and what they’re most likely to respond to. If you’re short on budget then concentrate on getting one persona clearly defined and work with that. Your content will naturally attract other people too, but focusing on the persona will help you focus your content.
To gain a better understanding of the target audiences you most want to reach, conduct some interviews. Aim to find out potential customers’ pinch points and current pressures, so they feel you truly get them.
Map out a sales funnel with your buyer persona in mind. You need to have at least one piece of content for each step in the buyer journey (awareness, consideration and decision making). You can make some educated guesses if you need – for example, if they download a certain case study, then you may reasonably be able to assume that they are no longer in the awareness stage, but are deeper into their research and consideration stage. They may even be in decision making mode.
Sometimes, what can work really well for small budget content marketing is to focus on having one truly amazing piece of content that attracts many of your buyer personas.
This could be an eBook that really speaks to your target audiences and will have genuine value for them. It needs to be attractive enough that is encourages them to hand over their email address in exchange for downloading it.
Spend money on the eBook, as it will be money well spent. Have a copywriter and editor work on it and a designer make it visually appealing. It needs to be professional and high quality in every way.
Use this download as your main lead magnet that will help get leads pouring into the top of your sales funnel. Then use your other content to nurture them along and better qualify the leads, to filter out the really good ones.
Step 2 - Content creation
Producing great content costs money. It takes strong writing, creativity and a thorough understanding of what is going to appeal to your target audience.
Writing isn’t everybody’s cup of tea and even if you like it, you’re still likely to need the services of an editor. At the very least, make sure you have a skilled person on hand to support you and go over your blog posts and other materials before they are shared.
In today’s world, where we all face information overload, it’s really important to provide content that will stand out. But that’s hard and will only be possible if you’re sharing really good content.
Potential customers want to consume high quality content that makes their life easier, entertains them and educates them. And the better your content is, the more they’ll want, so the more you’ll need to be sharing.
Decide what the purpose of your content is going to be (always refer back to your strategy), and then make sure it’s really good. Plus - don’t forget about images! The internet is a very visual place. From your blog posts to social media updates, using images is now essential.
How do you go about getting good images?
Checking you have the rights to whatever photo or image you use is key. Simply taking something off the internet can land you in hot water and is, in 99,99% of cases, not legal. Especially if you’re a business and use that image for commercial purposes.
Buying images can be costly and even if you engage a photographer to take photos of your business for you, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are allowed to use them as you please. This will depend on the agreement you make with the photographer. (Here’s an example of an Austrian photographer suing a hotel for unlicensed multiple use of his photos).
One option is to sign up with a stock imagery company, such as Shutterstock or iStockphoto. In most cases, you will be able to use the images you buy for your blog and other content. But make sure you always read the fine print.
A problem you may hit going down this route for your images, is that it’s not that cheap to do. Stock photography can also be spotted a mile off, which can make you appear less authentic.
If you have some budget then engage a photographer for a day, or half day shoot. Get as many of your own stock photos as you can, including headshots of the senior team, group photos, photos of people at work, etc. Agree in advance that you have full rights to all images and start compiling your own library of photographs that you can use as you wish.
Today’s camera phone are now very high quality, so you could always take a ‘point and shoot’ approach. As long as you have some quality control over the end result.
Being authentic these days is important, as everyone on the internet knows that those perfect professional shots are exactly that – a perfect image, not an authentic image. It can be a good idea to keep high end photos for your website and use your own unprofessional ones on social media, to keep it ticking along.
Remember, even the most mundane things can turn into a story and help you portray a strong public image. Here’s an example. This photo of a pile of old firehoses was shared by a theatre (using an image filter to give it a slight lift). It turned into an interesting story on social media that day, while at the same time giving their audience the message that they are on top of maintenance and security.
The same is true for video content. Quick interviews are easy to produce and can help you tell your stories. Facebook live is also a great tool to get in touch with your audience.
Sometimes B2Bs don’t think that Facebook is a tool they should be using, but that’s far from true. Say you decide to host a special in-person event for potential and existing clients and you have a great keynote speaker booked. That would be perfect to video or broadcast via Facebook live. Advertise it upfront and then use it to reach an audience that isn’t going to be at your event, but who might be interested in coming to the next one.
The art of storytelling
Content is all about telling a story - the story of how your company solves the problems an audience may have, in any aspect of their work or home life. If this is an area you struggle with but you can’t outsource it because you’re lacking in budget, then look at what others are doing. Take inspiration from them. Do the things you can do really well and concentrate on achieving quality rather than quantity.
Step 3 - Promotion
After you’ve created your content, the next step is getting it out there. That can be a bottomless pit as far as budgets are concerned, so you need to focus.
With an advertising budget, it is fairly easy to target specific segments of the population (your buyer personas) and to get your content in front of them. Social ads, ppc and native advertising can all help you do that.
If you have little to no budget, then you need to get clever.
One area to work on is your online networks. When you don’t have advertising budget available, you need to get the word out via those who already have an established online network.
Try and build up a network of key online influencers, who can help you achieve a larger reach than you might otherwise do so. This is particularly important if you’re a start-up or SME.
To encourage them to spread your content, you need to provide them with a good reason. That means giving them content that they are interested in and that will be of interest to their networks.
Put it all together
So, while creating a working content marketing plan on a tight budget can be a challenge, it’s certainly possible. And with some strong content in place that’s attracting lots of the right type of traffic to your website and tools such as Lead Forensics that can help you grab every lead, you’ll soon be making an impact.
The key is to have at least one great lead magnet, to watch who visits your website and contact those that make the most sense to.
You’ll quickly have your lead generation machine up and running, without needing to throw bags of money at it. Then as your revenue grows, you can grow your content marketing activity alongside, ultimately generating more leads and closing more deals.