Content Marketing Playbook for SMBs - Cuppa Press

In talks with Novnish Ramesh

August 04.2020  3 minutes


In this edition of Paperflite's talk-show series titled 'Cuppa Press', we decided to take the bull (read Content Marketing) by its horns. 

“Content Marketing has seen a boom and the biggest brands in the world want a slice of this”, says Novnish Ramesh, and rightly so. 

According to HubSpot, 70% of marketers are actively investing in content marketing today.


Having worked as a Content Marketer across various industries such as Pharmaceutical and Gaming, Novnish has seen companies succeed and fail over the course of the last decade in light on content marketing.


So we sat down to address the following topics in this episode of Cuppa Press:

  • Why do most Small and Medium-sized Businesses fail in Content Marketing?
  • Content Strategy and Marketing
  • Earliest form of Content Marketing


And a lot more! Check out the audio and video versions of the same below. 


Also consider reading - The Biggest Online Content Marketing Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)








Key Takeaways


Bruce Lee and Content Marketing


There’s a famous quote by Bruce Lee that I live by. 


Bruce Lee_water_Quote_Amazon_paperflite

It talks about how water can be formless, shapeless, and adapts to different containers. You know, if you pour water into a cup, it fills the cup. And if you pour water into anywhere else, it fills it. 


So in parallel to that, as a marketer, you have to be flexible. And especially in content marketing, you have to adapt your words, the strategies, according to your audience and the sector of the industry. 

Content Marketing as a Powerful Tool


People don't buy goods and services. They buy benefits, they buy experiences, they buy relations, stories, and magic. And my job has always been to get these stories across by using different content marketing strategies to create this magic. 


Right now, content marketing has seen a boom and many of the world's biggest brands want a piece of this slice because if they neglect it, it's way riskier.


And this is simply because content marketing is a powerful tool but you have to use it correctly. 


Why many SMBs fail with Content Marketing


I've seen that many small startups or small businesses, they cannot actually get that content marketing. The reason for this failure can be because of the following:


1. Publish and forget 


A lot of companies fail with content marketing because they think that once they create this content and publish it, their job is done. And then people are just going to start rolling in and convert. This is wrong. 


Unless you're incredibly lucky or you're the most famous company in the world you have to put in the effort, otherwise, it's not going to work.


Companies need to really focus on this promotion strategy, which is important because you need to be able to get across your solutions to your customers in the correct or proper medium.




Focus on who it's for you are creating content and how you're going to push it, and then come back and focus on what you're going to talk about because this way you get this framework or structure, you know, into your content. 


2. SEO > Problem Solving


Secondly, I've noticed that these companies focus so much on SEO, keywords, and algorithms that they completely forgot about the human aspect. To give you a story, it’s a funny one. Actually, I was at a conference recently and I heard a story from a seasoned SEO professional about how he ranked an entire website, just using Lorem Ipsum text.


I mean, he ranked the complete website with fake words. So for me, this is completely wrong and pointless, and honestly many businesses make this mistake of trying to solely write for search engines and to get on top of the Google rankings. But in the end, they completely forget about the humans that read it.




My advice for these content marketers or, or businesses is to focus on writing that aims to solve a problem or to add value. And to just have a comprehensive look at your content strategy, you know, because if you write with value automatically, you're gonna rank higher because you're creating things that, that is needed by this audience, you know?


content marketing for smbs_paperflite_cuppa press_novnish ramesh


3. Tying Content Marketing with only paid advertising


These small businesses think that content marketing requires such a huge budget, but this is wrong again. The fact is that they immediately think about paid advertising. Yeah. It's a form of content marketing, but it's not the only form. You can even do content marketing on a shoestring budget and I've done it. 



Every business has customers. So they're the heart of your business and the key to your low budget problems.  I've spoken with a lot of C level executives and business leaders, and they never have the time to spend with customers.

They're always busy with so many things. And I also say this to many of my colleagues - spend at least one hour with a customer and trust me, you can get content worth a week. Let me elaborate that because. When you talk to a customer, he speaks about his pain points and what his expectations are.


He gives you ideas to improve your product or service, he tells you what the competition is doing and what his future needs are. You see how much info you get from customers? And if you use these, you can transform these into testimonials videos, blog articles, webinars, quotes, and a lot more.


And what did you invest? A simple phone call. It's not only customers. On the other side, you also have your sales team. Speak to them. They can tell you actually how to do your content marketing strategy because every day they're there speaking to clients.


4. Selling, Selling, and MORE Selling


As a content marketer, it is quite depressing to see that businesses keep selling and this is quite wrong. I mean you're swamping people with ads and pitches instead of giving relevant information and sorry to tell you the truth, but nobody cares about your branding. You know, everyone is up to their neck and head with advertising and marketing.


To give you an example, people see around 3000 to 20,000 ads per day, and today's consumers. They immediately block out online marketing and sales content. I mean, I'm not saying branding is wrong. If a brand only talks about themselves and corporate stuff, then that is wrong. 




The point of your content marketing again is to build an audience that consumers share and that consumers trust. So instead of selling, try, maybe creating educational content, teach people, provide your products and services in an educational manner.


The selling will automatically follow it'll be in the background, you know, but the trust comes first. 


5. ROI here, ROI there, ROI everywhere


Businesses focus too much on the magical word ‘ROI’. Just a couple of days ago I spoke with a marketing executive and he told me they're not seeing any ROI from their content marketing activities.


So I asked him,"How long did you wait from the moment that the content was used and published?". He told me, "Well, Novnish, it's been more than a week". 


The problem here is that most businesses expect to see results the very next day, they don't have this patience to wait. Content marketing is a long term investment. You can be creating content, but you may not be sure if this content is going to click or not. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't, there's no pattern to it. So you cannot compare with your past content.


You cannot compare anything else that you've done in the past. Each content has a different objective and what you have to do is to keep creating content consistently.




Some content is going to fail. That's in the game. But if you don't keep trying, then you're never going to get to that huge bang of a campaign.




Fear of Publishing Content


Fear of putting out bad content, thinking that when they publish something, that's going to create a bad image.


When you have this fear, you're thinking, okay, I'm going to offend a client, a friend, a client, or someone in the industry, whatever I put out. I mean, you know what, you're not Proctor and Gamble. You're not Redbull. You're a small organization. People out there don't know who you really are.


So whatever you put out cannot possibly damage your brand or your identity. Most people fall into this comfort zone of producing exactly what their competition produces, but that's boring. You really have to push and try different things, make a tone for yourself. And who knows, that mistake that you think you’re going to make, that might be your breakthrough.


Content Marketing is Not a Stand-Alone Function


From what I’ve observed, here’s what a typical multinational company does - they hire a marketing person with a marketing degree and completely trust that person because of this degree.


And so this person creates a strategy. It may be right, it may be wrong (but most of the time, it's wrong). 


So this guy or girl creates accounts on every single social media channel. He starts posting posts, tweets, all of that. And he sets up paid ads with no real consistency. He decides to push out blog articles to get some SEO working.


And in the end, what happens? You spend a lot of money but get no ROI. What's the problem here? The problem here is that content marketing is not something that works alone. You have to work with different departments. You have to work with customers, you have to work with sales. You have to work with your internal employees as well.


So, every multinational company does it this way because the competition does it; because every other multinational does it.


When you actually sit down across the table as a project group and understand your buyer's persona, the buyer's journey, then automatically things fall into place. Follow this process and it's going to make life simple for you and for the audience because you don't want to confuse them.


Content Strategy 


Content Strategy is actually the key to content marketing. It all starts with, as I recently mentioned, the buyer persona. This is when you actually analyze your audience, who they are, where they are, what they're doing, what are their requirements.


And then after that, once you get a clear picture, okay, I'm going to be selling to this person that needs this, you need to look at the buyer's journey. This journey ideally consists of three stages. You have the awareness stage, the consideration stage, and the decision stage.


Your client can be in any of these stages. Awareness is when the client recognizes that there's a problem. In consideration, he/she is searching actively for a solution. The decision stage is when they know what they need to solve this problem. 




If you push content that does not fit any of these stages, then you're going to fail.




And it's not that certain types of content work specifically for certain stages. So you really have to plan things out, you have to have an editorial, you have to plan from the beginning about what type of content you’re going to use, at what stage and for which type of consumer. That way you can avoid a lot of mistakes and, 80% of the time it's going to work. So that's why the strategy before you start doing anything is very important to a business. 


On Repurposing


Repurposing content should be the fundamental principle for content marketers out there because when you repurpose content, you save money. For example, you use a video or you use a blog article. This video or blog article can be cut down into different pieces or sections that could be repurposed as an Instagram post or as a LinkedIn post, or even as a quote or even as a checklist.


So just by producing one content, you can produce six or seven contents following up. So it reduces cost and it reduces your time. People just love seeing the same thing in a different way, because that way, whatever channel they go to, they are actually bombarded with your content. And this is very important to instill that presence in a consumer's mind.


The Earliest Form of Content Marketing


When people think about content marketing, they immediately talk about blog articles, videos, all of that, but if you ask me, comics are the first type of content marketing out there. Kids, especially, love reading comics because of the rich storytelling, the high-quality images, which really builds that strong relationship between the producer and the reader.


Another thing is that, um, then when you want to really become a great content marketer, all you have to do is focus around you, especially kids. You can learn so much by just observing kids for your content marketing. 


Content Marketers Vs Content Strategists


Content Marketing and Strategy are two pillars of content creation. They combine and work together because on one side you have these content marketers that really focus on content creation, while on the other side, you have the strategists who know exactly what type of content is good and fits, where and when to push, and how to push. 


So if you mix these two people together, you have a blast of a content. In order to become a content strategist, you need to have done content marketing, because a content strategy is not the foundation. It's the next level of content marketing.


People can be excellent marketers, but they cannot be excellent strategists. You need that mind, that vision, that long term goal in your head and not just creating, just like this. 


Parting Words


Have a blast, create, try, do whatever you like, just follow your passion. You can follow your head, but emotion comes from the heart, not from the brain. 


Previously on Cuppa Press

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