If you want to establish a brand that creates an affinity, propels engagement and has a point of difference for your customers, then content marketing may be what you are looking for.

Content marketing is all about providing valuable information to your customers and potential customers so that they can familiarize themselves with the services and products you offer. It’s not always about selling, but educating your customers on what you have to offer and how you’re different from competitors.

Your content marketing strategy requires a multifaceted approach for your brand to reach your targeted audience. Here are some tips and tricks for effective content marketing that will assist you establish a reputable business while at the same time attracting potential customers.

Know your audience

You should be very clear on who your intended audience is. What are their needs? What problems do they face? What are the solutions and products you can offer in order to solve their problems? When putting up this list, think of the questions they may have and compile answers to such questions.

Re-purpose your content

You probably have plenty of relevant content ideas within your business. But don’t forget that your small business creates content every day it’s just that you probably don’t notice it. The memos you send around every day, emails to customers questions, the technical paper you wrote in the morning and the notes from the meeting you had at lunch time all have valuable information that may be re-purposed and shared.

Brainstorm with your team (and customers) a list of topics or themes you can write around, or look at what’s going on in the news that’s relevant to your business. Additionally, you can hire a writer to write an eBook or white paper for example. You can also distribute online press releases about any new products or services.  The same content you write may also be ideal to use in video or audio.

Use SEO

By employing the principles of SEO in your online content, you will be better found by both people and search engines. A small business can use the services of SEO experts to optimize their articles around the keywords and search phrases that are related to what they do. Additionally, you can come up with your own keywords and write content rich, original articles for yourself. Be careful though not to overuse keywords as Google does not take it kindly besides there’s more to SEO these days than just keywords.

Plan how often you intend to publish content

It’s important to plan out your calendar showing when you intend to publish content. For clients I use a spreadsheet with article subjects and themes on one side, the distribution channels and the distribution date for the article. This can be done a month earlier or even a year. However, just because you have a calendar does not mean you cannot change it. You can make changes anytime you like to fit in your schedule.

Content marketing takes time so it’s important to produce content that your readers will want to keep reading. It should neither be too long nor too short.  I usually aim for an average of just over 500 words.

Publish your content on different channels

After you have written your content, publish it in various channels. For example, you can publish it as a blog post, webinars, audio, video (See my video “why video marketing…”), keynotes, or on social networks sites and traditional media. This ensures that you are maximizing your exposure and are reaching more people on different levels. Some people don’t want to read so they would be better off watching a video or listening to an audio of the same content.

Social Media Distribution Tools

There are plenty of tools to help auto publish your content according to the dates you need. I often use Hoot Suite or Buffer, however I also feel that it’s important to find the right mix of ‘automatic’ article distribution and relating to something going on in the media right now.

Content marketing increases our online credibility, authenticity and personality and takes your marketing to another level. If you are small business struggling to keep its head high in this tough economy, in search of affordable ways to grow, or seeking to get better online exposure, quality content is vital.

Harlan Marriott is the founder of Marketing Desk