About three to four years ago, social media marketing made the transition from being a “good to have” to a “must have” component of the average company’s marketing mix. Now, we can safely claim that content marketing has made that leap. In fact in a recent study, content marketing was voted the “most commercially important digital marketing tactic” for 2015.
Budget allocations for content marketing are growing exponentially. More and more tools and resources are now tailor-made with content marketing in mind. Each passing day brings with it yet another groundbreaking, viral content marketing campaign that you wish you’d thought of first. But all these developments are all moot if you simply cannot afford content marketing.
So can you just skip it and pray it doesn’t hurt? Unfortunately, as you probably already know, that’s not an option.
What you could do instead is find ways to create, publish and promote great content for nearly free. Content marketing does not always have to cost a bomb. Yes, there are ways to do it, and I’m going to share some of those ways here with you. So listen up.
Use Free Apps to Discover Great Content
If you can’t afford to create, curate. Content curation is a boon to marketers on a limited budget and ambitious plans. Nothing stops you from discovering awesome content that will excite, educate or entertain your users. Once you find content that you think works, share it with your audience (with proper attribution, of course).
Tools like Swayy or Scoop.it help you find content based on very specific topics that you express a preference for. These not only offer you content, they also offer dashboards and user analytics to boot. The best part? They’re free!
DIY Content Based On Your Experiences
You may not be about to write the next New York Times bestseller anytime soon, but that does not stop you from sharing your thoughts and experiences with your audiences in a simple yet lucid fashion.
Since you and your target audience presumably share at least one common area of interest – your product category – share your expertise in the area via simple blog posts, tips via social media or even articles in magazines and journals in your niche. When it comes to content, the more heartfelt it is, the higher the likelihood that your users will connect with it. If writing is not your thing, try your hand at alternate platforms like video content or creating infographics. Devote at least an hour every day to putting your thoughts together. With time, you’ll get better at expressing yourself in words and content creation won’t seem like such a punishment.
Think you need some help before you venture into creating content by yourself? Check out this great listing of 75 resources that help you get started on the “write” track.
Invite Users to Share Their Content
Research has repeatedly proven that users trust the word of other users, even if they’re strangers, over the marketing communication that a brand may put out there for public consumption. This explains why a large majority of users seek out product or service reviews before making a purchase. Sites like Yelp and UrbanSpoon owe their very existence to user recommendations.
Use this fact to your advantage by inviting users to share their self-generated content with you. This does not have to be reviews alone. You could host a contest among your target audience asking them to send in their best pieces of art or an article or even a video or photograph around a topic relevant to your brand. The entries you receive can be published on your blog or social media driving conversation and engagement, while costing you absolutely nothing by way of content creation costs.
Participate in Trade Events as a Speaker
While any publicity is good publicity, it does not hurt you to seek out opportunities for great publicity for your brand and yourself, respectively. A good way to become well-known as well as well-liked is by participating in flagship industry events and making your own mark at the event.
Industry events get written about in category specific publications on a near real-time basis. This means that by merely speaking at an industry event or by presenting a paper, you automatically get talked about. Articles, blog posts, or other forms of content created by industry journalists that reference your talk, will carry a link back to your site or the particular piece of advice you shared. So not only do you get mentioned in the right forums, you also stand a chance to earn some free links back to your site!
Build A Content Marketing War Chest
The content that you curate, create and collect from users, family and friends can be used in multiple ways across the platforms where your brand operates. However, you’ll soon realize that once you begin down this path of sourcing awesome content that resonates with your brand and its users, you’ll end up with a ton of ideas. Keeping track and finding specific pieces from this treasure trove can become difficult and messy.
This is why you must invest in a task management and scheduling tool like Grexit, which lets your teams collaborate on concepts and campaigns, share notes, assign and delegate content creation, and get notifications, all from the convenience of their Gmail inbox. Use it in conjunction with Google Drive, which makes it simple for you to classify your content with labels based on factors like source, topic, recency, and so on, and also create and manage content calendars.
Build a content publishing plan with clear timelines using the scheduling function that these tools typically have. No need to take the trouble of going it all by your lonesome self; collaborate with your coworkers and make the entire process of content marketing an in-house project, not one that you need to throw large sums of money at.
Some of the most widely read corporate content comes from people who are not writers or content creators by profession – Sir Richard Branson, Bill Marriott, the Google corporate blog, to mention a few. So stop worrying so much about how much content marketing is going to cost you. All it will really cost you is some time and persistence to put together good content and the will to see it all through.