We have all stumbled upon a myriad of marketing and social media latest phases and without hesitation either jumped in and had a go, or stood back and watched what our competitors have achieved before investing valuable cash and resources to the latest, hottest marketing platform.

There has been one consistent marketing platform that has been more central to a marketing strategy in the past couple of years, than any other marketing activity bar social media.

Content Marketing

If you have been hearing this buzz word for some time, and haven't done anything about it, then you are in a minority. Unlike the phases of social media platforms and apps popping up into our strategies then quickly falling to the way-side, content marketing underpins all online marketing strategies, whether we like it or not.

"We have a client that is 100 per cent focused on using content to drive leads in the next 12 months and this trend is catching on with many other small businesses," said Julie Schoneveld, CEO, Marketing Eye.

"It's not difficult to out-perform your larger competitors through mileage out of content marketing  that is useful, targeted and information rich."

Content Marketing Strategy Must Underpin The Overall Marketing Plan Of A Small Business

Fire your marketing manager that has not made content marketing part of your overall marketing strategy. They are not worth their salaries or consulting fees if they do not understand the importance of content marketing underpinning online strategies and driving sales and leads to an organization.

Your content marketing strategy should:

1. Have your target audience in mind through every word written. To do this, the writer must understand your target audience and not just be a writer for writing sake. Think outside the square and past the normal demographics and profiling of your target audience. Think psychographics: what are their hopes, dreams, motivation and anxieties? What is going to make your client or prospect want to do business with you. What are your content 'touch points'?

2. Make your content useful. With a b2b business environment, clients and prospects want more than some fluff or a good joke. They want something they can relate to and learn from. Content that is useful to them and their business that has action items attached.

3. Work out how content marketing fits your sales cycle and don't just place content marketing at the front of the cycle. Make sure it is at the end too.

4. Develop an editorial calendar and know when and where you will use content marketing throughout the year. Take into account holidays, key events, small business week, trade shows etc.

5. No content marketing strategy is complete or effective without a keyword strategy in place. Do the analysis online on what keywords work for business and ensure that they are used through all content repeatedly.

Content has become more important to the marketing strategy than ever before. Keeping content at the forefront of your marketing strategy will give your company a big advantage because many small businesses still are not investing enough of their marketing spend in this area and there lies the opportunities. If your competitors are not doing it - make sure you are. Large corporations have taken content marketing on-board and are investing in having departments that just focus on content marketing. It is the way of the future and a great way for small businesses to market their products and services.

Think blogs, video, e-newsletters, articles, facebook, twitter, myspace, linkedin, slideshare, instagram, youtube, websites, white papers, microsites and more.

Now it's up to you!

Watch out for Part 2 on how it works in your small business tomorrow.
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Mellissah Smith

Mellissah Smith is a marketing expert with more than 20 years experience. Having founded and built two successful marketing companies internationally, she is well recognized as a industry thought leader and innovator. Mellissah started her career working with technology and professional services firms, primarily in marketing, public relations and investor relations, positioning a number of successful companies to list on the various Stock Exchanges around the world. She is a writer, technology developer and entrepreneur who shares her thoughts and experiences through blogs and written articles published in various media outlets. Brag sheet: #2 marketer to follow on Twitter (2003), Top 150 Marketers to Follow (2015), Top 10 innovative marketers (2014), 60K+ followers on Twitter with 97% authentic.

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