If you’ve ever wondered why content marketing matters, what it is, and how to create a Saskatoon content marketing strategy from scratch – this post is for you.
Hey, I’m Amy Rederburg, an award-winning creative writer currently based out of Saskatoon. First, I want to give you a little background as to why I’m writing about this now.
Why Content Marketing Matters in Saskatoon
I moved back to my hometown of Saskatoon last summer after living in Alberta for the past eight years. Before moving back I did my research on the Saskatoon market and got really excited about its potential. It’s the youngest city in Canada with an average age of 34.8, the average household income in 2016 was over $100,000 (SquareOne), and folks are using Facebook 90% of the time – that’s a whopping 19% more than the rest of Canada (Insightrix).
When I arrived in Saskatoon I hit the ground running at networking events where many people asked me the standard question, “What do you do?” For the first few months I used my go-to Albertan response, “I create affordable multi-media content for small businesses, scaling startups, and mid-size enterprise to engage their customers.” To which I got many blank stares… Awkward. For. Everyone.
After several months using this phrase I realized that Saskatoon’s awareness of content marketing is very different from Calgary’s. Folks understand that social media is important, but the majority of business owners don’t understand that they need to create their own content in order to convert their fans into customers. And that’s why I’m writing this blog… for Saskatoon small business owners like you.
In my experience getting blank stares from new connections when I talk about my business means realizing that sometimes it takes a bit of public awareness in order to fit into a new market.
For you, it could mean learning how to sell to your primary audience (for the purpose of this blog we’re talking dual income millennial households in Saskatoon) by meeting them where they are at (Facebook).
If your connections aren’t translating into profit then read on to see how you can approach your Saskatoon content marketing strategy to get ahead of the curve.
What is Content Marketing?
A quick Google Search will bring up millions of content marketing definitions. To make it easy for you, here are the top five results:
- “a type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online material (such as videos, blogs, and social media posts) that does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services.” – Google
- “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” – Content Marketing Institute
- “a …technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” – Forbes
- “the process of creating high-quality, valuable content to attract, inform, and engage an audience, while also promoting your brand.” – Marketo
- “creating and sharing valuable free content to attract and convert prospects into customers, and customers into repeat buyers.” – Copyblogger
I define content marketing as:
My career as a multi-award winning radio copywriter taught me that most folks need to be reminded of a business on a consistent basis in order to generate awareness. Content that’s conversational and relateable grabs attention in a sea of noise. When the time comes to purchase your product or service, the effective use of storytelling in marketing will result in your name being the first that comes to mind.
How Do You Create a Saskatoon Content Marketing Strategy?
The pressure is on small business owners to create the best strategy without a dedicated team and/or expert on staff to produce relevant, valuable, audience-driven content that attracts new customers. So… how the heck are you going to do it? By sitting down to create a goal-driven strategy that encourages creating high-value content on a regular basis – and delivering it to your customers. The value you offer your audience is free, but the work it takes to distribute it isn’t.
In order to keep things brief I’m going to discuss creating a very specific content marketing strategy aimed at increasing awareness of a community.
Example: Client A wants to reach Saskatoon’s entrepreneurs and grow a social, productive, and energetic business community.
Goal of Content Marketing Strategy:
Increase awareness and persuade professionals, students, thinkers, influencers, and creators to become members.
Key Areas of Content Production:
- Powerful pages – Effective and personalized website content that gives people a reason to purchase a membership.
- Annual blog – Team collaboration of annual editorial calendar featuring current member activities and bios, news & events, and fun/interesting stories on members.
- Social media – Top of mind awareness for membership and events.
- Optional value-adds –Results-packed promotional tools that keep members and fans engaged (i.e. contests and newsletters).
Revisit your content marketing goal and break it into smaller chunks. In this case we’ll focus on welcoming new members, actively helping them make new connections, and building community online and off.
Optimized Web Copy
A websites’ content should leave users feeling like they know more about your organization than they did before visiting. What is the single most important action you want your visitor to take? Target your audience with effective copy that tells them exactly what you want them to do.
Focus on your home, about, contact, members & events, and adding a FAQ. All writing should be highly-targeted persuasive copy written in your brand’s unique voice. There should be no pussy-footing around the topic. This is the rare occasion in content writing where the emphasis is to sell memberships.
Help your users to find everything about you very easily by: breaking up large chunks of text, highlighting the headlines, and writing at a 6th grade level or less. Ensure all information is accurate and that there are no broken links.
Gather your team, or brainstorm with a close business associate about the topics that are relevant to your brand. During these idea-focused collaboration sessions no idea is a bad idea – keep thinking until you have 12 months’ worth of blog prompts. Best practice is to have four posts per month to boost your ranking in Google.
Place what the audience wants above all else throughout the process. Who will be reading? Where will you promote it? What title hooks them in? What images resonate with their lifestyle?
Think about creating timeless articles that will still be relevant after a few months or years. Do keyword research on all of your blog prompts to pump them full of SEO power. Schedule them to go live at the perfect time and always schedule your best-performing blogs on your social media platforms regularly.
Social Media – a.k.a. the number one time investment of your strategy.
Where do your customers hang out? If you’re in Saskatoon you can be 90% sure they’re checking Facebook. Your business should have at least two social platforms that you post to regularly. Every platform has a different audience, so you should really focus on who you are talking to when choosing which platform to use most. (E.g. Google+ is useful for setting up location SEO, but don’t worry about making that your number one sharing platform.)
Social media tools and best practices are constantly changing, so take experimentation into account when setting your annual goals. (If you’re in Saskatoon, check out Social Media Breakfast on April 7 to stay on top of the latest strategies with a group of like-minded people.)
Plan to have monthly strategy sessions that capture the results your efforts have made online through analytics reports. If something isn’t working the way you want it to, try something new.
Remember: engagement management is time consuming, but one of the most valuable parts of your strategy. So reply to everyone, check mentions, interact with MVPs and influencers, follow back followers, and connect with new users.
Optional Content to Think About
These above-mentioned elements make up a very basic Saskatoon content marketing strategy. Up the ante to increase conversions (fans who become customers) by working on:
- stand-out paid social ads (videos are king and photos are queen),
- creating promotional contests that are actually engaging,
- and delivering a newsletter to reach the top of the pack.
…meaningful connections. People who had never met were talking about potential collaborations.
Make Time for Content Measurement
At the end of this strategy planning session remember to set metrics for how you will know your content is producing results. There are all sorts of metrics that will matter to you, but prioritize two or three so that you stay focused on the task at hand.
You’ll want to think about:
- how many people saw your content,
- how many of those people thought it was so good they had to share it with their friends,
- how many of them actually turned into potential customers,
- and how many loved the content so much that they purchased your product or service.
Google Analytics is a great tool for helping you track these metrics in order to see the return of all your hard strategy planning in action.
Take it from me
It’s much easier to talk to a potential customer who already knows who you are and what you do than building that story from scratch over a five minute handshake. That’s why content creation should be an essential part of your 2017 marketing strategy in Saskatoon.
How are you planning on implementing these content marketing methods into your marketing plan?
Do you have a specific question relating to your content development process? Contact me.