9 Steps to Create a Small Business Content Marketing Strategy

By Hillary Lacouture | VP of Marketing, BECO

Published January 19, 2023

First, some basic definitions. What is content marketing? It’s a powerful practice that helps businesses reach potential customers and build relationships with current customers within their existing customer base.

How? By attracting and engaging your target audience and building brand loyalty at every stage of the sales funnel through social media posts, blog posts and other pieces of content, improving Search Engine Optimization (SEO) results, and boosting conversion rates. A conversion rate is when a recipient of a marketing message performs a desired action. Like opening an email. Like clicking on the call-to-action link inside that email. Like driving traffic to a landing page where a target customer fills out a registration form to read your content. And the ultimate conversion? Buying your product or service!

The bottom line: Interesting, purpose-driven content developed and distributed through a well-defined content marketing strategy according to a content calendar can expose you to a larger audience and outperform traditional advertising.

So…where to start? Or better yet, where to NOT start. Don’t go all willy-nilly, or fall prey to a shotgun approach. In other words, focusing on content creation is not the right place to begin. If you are compelled to jump right into producing a TikTok video at your sales meeting next week, stop yourself. If you haven’t created a well-researched and thorough content marketing strategy, you could be wasting your time and money. Keep reading because anything worth doing is worth doing right.

STEP 1: Establish Specific Content Marketing Goals

Why you are creating content? To generate more sales leads? To increase traffic to your website? To establish the authority of your brand? Your answers to questions such as these will enable you to set some targets, and if possible, quantify them so you will have a reasonable measure of whether they have succeeded.

Now that you have established goals, go through Steps 1 through 9. Admittedly, this is a lot of content, so you might make a cheat sheet for your content creation environment. Maybe put the words below on a white board, or take a photo of the list to use as a screensaver. OK, we know it’s probably too long for a tattoo!

    • Clearly-defined audience
    • Valuable
    • Relevant
    • Consistent
    • Attract and retain
    • Drive profitable action
STEP 2: Define an Audience of Potential Customers

Identify an audience made up of prospects who would be your ideal customers. When you know who they are, you can develop the right content and put it in the right place – social media channels, your website, a blog, etc.

Start this process by creating a buyer persona. Think of this as a cheat sheet outlining key characteristics of your target customer. If you have more than one type of customer, create a persona for each. Include demographics such as age, gender, location and income. Consider lifestyle characteristics including what your target audience's pastimes are, what they are concerned about, and what motivates them.

Be sure to include the buyer’s pain points, the type of content they tend to consume (e.g., video, webinars, articles, white papers, blogs), and where they find their content (magazines, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google searches, YouTube). Other questions for consideration: What are your ideal customers’ likes and dislikes? And what types of content will appeal to your target audience?

Step 3: Research Your Competitors

Think about which of your competitors will also be vying to attract your target audience's attention. Broaden your definition of competitors. Potential customers are likely to engage with content from sources such as news, reference and entertainment sites that cover the same topics as your posts. When you research your direct competitors and their content marketing efforts, note what type of content they are producing and what appears to have been the most successful.

Step 4: Do Comprehensive Topic and Search Term Research

Take time to find out what your audience/core customers are searching for online. What keywords are current customers and prospective customers searching for on Google and other search engines. The performance metrics of existing content will help you construct a picture of the types of content that will succeed in drawing your target audience in.

Begin by investigating the search volume for keywords and search terms that you believe are relevant. With any luck, you’ll get some surprising results. Use those results to give you new ideas for content. Be creative and really strive to strike a responsive chord.

Step 5: Review Your Existing Content

What kinds of content do you already have out there? Which social media posts about what topics have generated the most interest? Which pages of your website currently receive the most traffic? Also, what keywords have visitors used to find your site? Let these learnings serve as a guide to add variety  to your content calendar as you choose topics and create new posts.

Step 6: Select Your Content Channels and Content Types

Armed with good research about who you want to reach and who else is competing for their attention, it's time to decide which platforms and types of content will appeal most to your target audience.

By now, you should know your audience and what makes your products or services unique. You should have a good idea of the media platforms your audience is using and the content format that best conveys your message. For some companies, videos posted on Facebook and Instagram are best, while others will share white papers via email campaigns. Others leverage frequent blog posts to keep their audience engaged. In reality, a good content strategy includes a variety of formats posted on different platforms to be able to reach your whole audience. Most of the time, a strategic combination of many different media options will generate the best results.

Step 7: Analyze Your Content Marketing Resources

This is where the rubber meets the road. By now you are excited about the ideas you’ve generated and are eager to put yourself out there. But before you do, get real. What can you realistically achieve with the resources you have?

Do you have the right resources to produce your content in-house, or does it make more sense to outsource content creation? In addition to writing and producing content, you will also need to choose supervise/manage your content marketing campaigns and grow your content marketing strategy from year to year. It’s also crucial to respond to the comments and questions that your content generates. You can’t afford to drop the ball after you’ve garnered interest from someone who could become a viable, long-term customer and thought-leader. Content marketing can be time-consuming, so you need to be realistic about how much time you personally can devote to your campaign.

Step 8: Commit to a Content Production Schedule

You’ve done a lot of good work! Now you need to bring all your ideas together in a content publishing schedule. The schedule should contain a calendar of publication dates and the team member assigned to create each piece of content. A publishing calendar will help you publish engaging content in a consistent manner, which is crucial to content marketing. It’s important to offer the audience you’ve succeeded in building new, timely content to keep them engaged.

As they begin to create a schedule, some companies align their content with their sales funnel as described in Step 9.

Step 9: Create Content That Aligns with Your Sales Funnel

The best way to set yourself apart from the competition is to create content that establishes your brand story and demonstrates your expertise. Sharing your experience, knowledge and unique perspective represents value to your audience and enables you to begin to build trust. This trust turns prospects into customers.

Many companies go a step further and create pieces for each step of their buyer’s journey. They seek to build relationships with their audience, but also align their efforts with their sales funnel. Following this process will connect your audience to the right content at the right time.

Awareness. Start with content to introduce your brand and establish your expertise, then share or promote it in places where your target prospects spend time. Some content should be easy to access. Some should require entering contact information on a sign-up form giving you the info you need to continue communication. Make it worth their while by providing higher value content not available elsewhere or make it more comprehensive – examples include in-depth guides, webinars and series of instructional videos.

Consideration. As prospects consider and evaluate your company, build trust by sharing content such as e-books and e-newsletters that go beyond awareness. This type of content will keep your audience connected to your company.

Decision. At this point in the sales funnel, it’s time for you to help the prospect make a purchase. Consider content such as a case study, trial offer, demo or product literature. Now that the prospect trusts your expertise, give them a way to connect to one of your sales reps.

Customer. Someone who has already purchased from you should be on your radar as well. Provide them with content that supports them as your customer and makes them want to buy again and refer you to others.

As USChamber.com says, “You don’t have to create 100 pieces of content at once. Plan a couple of pieces for each stage, which you will link to from various media platforms. Document your plan and then get started. Be willing to assess results and learn. Pay attention to response rates, track activity at each stage, and get feedback from your sales team.”

Whether it makes sense for you to align with your sales funnel or not, as you create content, keep the quality of your content high. Make producing the best work possible a priority. Don’t rush to create content just because you have a deadline looming on your content publishing calendar. Whether you are creating a website, crafting a blog or making a video, there’s a lot to think about as you write it.

Congratulations! You’ve done it. Well, almost. You’ve evolved from making scattered attempts at connecting with actual customers and prospective customers on social media and your website to implementing an effective content marketing strategy that truly reflects who your business is. Now promote it! Share your posts on your social media accounts. Share links to new blog articles. And as you monitor the success of your campaigns, look at what has worked and what hasn’t. What have your competitors started doing that you haven’t? The bottom line… Start here, and keep going!


A study by Semrush.com showed that 95% of online and offline businesses with 11-250 employees reported success from their content marketing efforts in 2021, and 60% of them have a fairly developed or advanced content strategy. Every business needs a content marketing strategy to be competitive in today's market.

Scroll to Top