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Tips for creating great content on a tight budget

Search ‘how to create content that gets results’ (or something along those lines) and you’ll be presented with an unending stream of blogs and articles that, in essence, will tell you that ‘your content has to be emotive, information rich and industry relevant’.

This is all well and true but most of these blogs and articles neglect to tell you how to do this from a practical perspective, especially when you are a small-to-medium size business with a small-to-medium size marketing budget.

Does this mean that content marketing is a game that is reserved exclusively for big brands with big budgets? The answer is: no. Anyone can play, but the odds of winning are based on the way in which you make use of your budget, regardless of how limited it may be. In essence, if you don’t have an endless pocket from which to draw funds, you will need to be more strategic.

So let’s get practical. How do you go about creating great content on a tight budget? And what should you spend your money on?

Put money sside for SEO

SEO is important, because your content needs to be seen to be appreciated. Trying to do this in-house when you don’t have a team of dedicated experts will amount to little more than a waste of time. Understanding the intricacies of Google and keeping an eye out for new algorithm updates is pretty much a fulltime job, so rather hire a reputable SEO company to get your content optimised and distributed.

How do you create great content?

If you can find someone within your business that has a good grasp of the English language and a flair for writing, you can easily create great content in-house. Here are a few technicalities to keep in mind:

  • Short, punchy headlines are must or your content will be thumb-scrolled past faster than you can say ‘I should have thought of a better headline.’
  • If it is written content, make it short and to the point. Also add images, and think along the lines of content that is created by Buzzfeed: two to three sentences, image, two to three sentences and another image. Add captions to the images and let them help you tell the story.

Speaking of stories…

Story-driven content usually works best and attracts the desired attention, especially when the stories pique human interest. A good place to start is with your own company’s story, the achievements, the staff and, in essence, your journey from where you started to where you are today.

Remember that nobody wants to hear a company’s or brand’s story when it is told from an objective perspective. Select a narrator and highlight his or her personal struggles and beliefs that helped get your company to where it is today. If you have money for a video, great; if you don’t, a written interview can also portray the crux of the story in an appealing way.

Telling your company’s story is, of course, just one of the many stories to tell, and you will need loads more if you want to create and hold the attention of a digital audience.

So where do you find more stories?

If you do community service projects, you could highlight the life stories of the people that you helped, make them the hero, or try to find emotionally charged stories amongst your employees and convince them to share them.

Also, it is important to engage with your followers through social media, and instead of asking them to send you pictures and videos of them interacting with your services or product offering, get them to tell you about what they love about their friends or family. Create content from the pictures and videos that they send to you and send them a little something to say thank you. The benefit of this: not only will your audience assist you in creating content, but people are also more likely to share content in which they feature.

Don’t force a connection between their stories and your offerings.  Just use this and the above-mentioned content to show that your brand or company’s main focus is people, which is always a good thing.

Industry relevant content

Apart from human interest stories, there is also a demand for industry relevant content. The people who are interested in this type of content are your competitors, of course. The benefits behind creating industry relevant content is twofold:  you can establish yourself both as a news channel for your industry and as an industry leader.

To create this type of content, you have to keep abreast with the latest developments in your industry, on both a local and global scale.

If you are attending an industry relevant event, report on it. Let your peers know what is happening via social media and write an opinion piece after the event is done. Embed short video snippets that show some of the highlights. Be honest about what was good and what was lacking. Make suggestions on what could have been done better, and establish yourself as a sensible, balanced voice in the industry.

Report on international trends as well, and comment on what you believe should be adopted by the local industry and how it would best benefit the relationships between agencies and their clients.

Other great content sources

So, what else can you do apart from creating content around human interest stories and industry relevant news? Well, you’ve covered all of the hard stuff, so it’s time to take a more light-hearted approach to storytelling. Think along the lines of creating memes for your social channels or curating a funny video or article for a bit of Friday fun or to beat the Monday blues. These things get serious traction, cost nothing to create and could inspire people to start following you and so be introduced to all your other content.

If you can be industry relevant, great, if you can’t, don’t sweat it. Focus on the trials and tribulations of general work life or some other (not too serious) aspect of life that we all struggle with or enjoy.   Just make sure that you are not being offensive in any way and be careful about the kind of humour you use – don’t go for dark or childish humour, but rather try to keep it witty.

Product or service related content

Content that talks about your product or service offering is difficult to find an audience for, because, to a greater or lesser degree, it will always come across as a sales pitch. This, of course, means that it’ll be of little interest to people other than those who have a direct interest in what you’re selling. Of course it is a good idea to have this type of content as it might give someone the final push towards buying, but there is a way to get people interested in this type of content even if they are not necessarily interested in knowing more about your product or service offering. The trick lies in how you present it.

If you want to talk about your products or service offerings, consider interactive content (most notably interactive videos), because it is by far the most intriguing content format in the digital sphere at the moment. It is powerful enough to keep people intrigued for a considerable while, no matter what the content is about. You could give people the power to decide on what the product or service should be demonstrated on or allow them to take a product apart and reveal its inner workings with a few clicks. The possibilities are endless, and it is not as expensive as it sounds.

At the end of the day…

…the best chance that you have at creating a digital audience for your company is to target a variety of different people.  Potential customers are just one type, so don’t forget about industry peers and the casual scrollers who are just looking for a bit of Monday cheer or Friday fun. Think about it this way: if your content gets serious traction (no matter who likes or shares it) it might get around to and impress the right people, the people who end up buying.

Feature image: Stiller Beobachter via Flickr

Author | Marco Golz

Marco Golz
Marco Golz started off his career as a content writer. Since joining National Positions, he has worked his way up the ranks to become one of the company’s lead strategists and was appointed Content Manager in 2015. When Marco is not conceptualising strategies or managing the content team, he... More

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