By Michael Brenner published May 27, 2015

17 Content Marketing Tips for Any Size Budget

content-marketing-tips-coverProducing content when you have a big budget is easy. Producing the right content  for your audience on any budget is the tough part.

I realize small businesses have resource constraints and their own special set of challenges. But there are plenty of examples of small-business content marketing successes.

My first job as head of marketing for a small company included a large objective of driving awareness as well as leads for sales. And my budget was a whopping zero. Nothing. Nada.

So how do you drive marketing results without a budget? The answer for me was to publish customer stories. I also repurposed a lot of existing content. I interviewed folks around the company in sales and customer support.

That is what I call “growth hacker content marketing.”

Guerilla content marketing is content created with almost no budget, simply by repurposing things your organization already produces.

Favorite content marketing hacks

Here are my top content marketing hacks to help content marketers at any size business with any size budget.

  1. Turn your email outbox into blog posts. Look for emails where you are answering popular questions from customers or salespeople. Here’s my latest example on content marketing ROI.
  1. Turn all your PowerPoint presentations into SlideShare posts. Embed the SlideShare into a blog post summary.
  1. Turn your executives’ SlideShare posts and speaker notes into articles.
  1. Turn every video your company has ever made into blog posts and embed the videos. Video Marketer Wistia does a great job of taking its own medicine with its video library. Check out this example of How to Shoot Video With Your iPhone.

wistia-video-example-image 1

  1. Turn your gated campaign assets into summary blog posts. When I started the SAP Business Innovation site, I had no content budget. So I wrote white-paper summaries from content sitting in a campaign library. Here’s one example.
  1. Answer the simplest questions about your topic.
  1. Create or cover a list of the top people to follow on your topic.
  1. Create a list of your favorite sources of content from others.
  1. Write about your competition or even include negative brand keywords. It’s a bold move, but if done consistently, you can rank for your competitor and negative keywords. Former SAP Editor Bob Evans used this tactic frequently.
  1. People love lists and facts and stats. Create a list of facts to support your business’ overarching theme.

At SAP, we supported the notion that “technology was driving the future of business.” So we created a SlideShare post on 99 Facts on The Future of Business. It has more than 300,000 page views on SlideShare. Then we wrote an article about it that was published by Forbes with click-to-tweet links and gained another 10,000-plus views. This has been the most successful piece of content SAP ever produced!

You can replicate this content marketing hack with your own favorite:

  • Quotes
  • Videos
  • Conferences
  • Books
  • Blogs
  • Articles on LinkedIn Pulse
  • SlideShare presentations
  • Websites
  1. Reference current events and big changes in your industry.
  1. Relate your favorite TV shows to your topic like I did with Game of Thrones, House of Cards, and Mad Men.

game of thrones-example-image 2

  1. Write about the tools you use to do your job better. Productivity hacks are some of the most popular articles on the social web.
  1. Have fun and share some of your favorite photos and GIFs.
  1. Create an e-book with the influencers in your space covering a top challenge or future predictions. Lee Odden’s TopRank Online Marketing, Curata, and CMI do a great job of this by creating a theme for each year’s Content Marketing World.

  1. Look for other companies that can afford infographics, then write about and embed their infographics and research reports.
  1. Customers, account people, and sales teams are great resources. Ask them to identify your customers’ biggest questions or FAQs. Then answer them in Q&A format.

What do you think? Easy right? Please let me know what you think or ask your questions in the comments below.

You don’t have to be an enterprise marketer with a large budget to benefit from Content Marketing World 2015. Save $600 when you register by May 31 (early-bird deadline) and use code CMI100.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is a globally-recognized keynote speaker on leadership, culture, and marketing. Co-author of the bestselling book The Content Formula, Michael's work has been featured by The Economist, The Guardian, and Entrepreneur Magazine. In 2017, Michael was named a Top Business Speaker by The Huffington Post and a top CMO Influencer by Forbes. Follow Michael on Twitter @BrennerMichael.

Other posts by Michael Brenner

Join Over 200,000 of your Peers!

Get daily articles and news delivered to your email inbox and get CMI’s exclusive e-book Get Inspired: 75 (More) Content Marketing Examples FREE!

  • Merlin Vimal

    Excellent blog Micheal Brenner. As a content writer of B2B portal it is very useful for me to carrry out content marketing.

    But one doubt from my side can you say about the impact of negative brand keywords?

    Bizbilla B2B portal

    • Michael Brenner

      Thanks so much Merlin,

      One of the core principles of content marketing is to write for your audience not for the brand. So brand keywords (positive or negative) are more a question for the SEO agency of record for the brand / corporate website. I am not an expert on SEO but would say that if you create content your audience wants, that should attract an audience based on value and that should create a positive engagement for the brand that could at some point counteract negative sentiment of any kind.

      • Merlin Vimal

        Thank u Michael for your humble response.

  • Philipp Schinzler

    Great article. This was very useful. Thanks 🙂

    • Michael Brenner

      Thanks Phillipp. I am so glad you liked it.

  • Jeffin Thomas

    Great article. It certainly gives us tips on introducing content marketing at a low budget. I would love to know what you would suggest as a strategy to a new digital agency who has launched a website and is looking to build traffic, sales or leads.

    • Michael Brenner

      Thanks Jeffin. That’s the million dollar question! Check out my post from last week on how to build a content marketing strategy. There is also a slideshare on it at Hopefully you can find those resources helpful.

      In that content, I propose the secret to building traffic if just creating the content your audience wants at a high enough level of quality to meet their needs and with as much frequency as you can. That’s why this article follows from that one. You can’t just buy the content. That doesn’t scale. You need your whole agency looking for these kind of tips to create more and better content for your audience.

      Best of luck!

      • Jeffin Thomas

        Thanks a lot Michael. It was really helpful.

  • Robert Gibb

    Hey @brennermichael:disqus. I took away some action items from this piece for future content. That’s pretty damn valuable, so thanks a lot. Many of your tips reminded me of “cascading content”:

    • Michael Brenner

      Thanks Robert, and yes that’s a great concept. Thanks for sharing!

  • Jawad Akhtar

    Excellent post, Michael! Thank you!
    I often have to brainstorm ideas and topics that editors of top SAP websites ask me to propose for future articles/columns that I end up writing for them!
    Your article has truly given a fresh perspective on where to look for all the ‘gems’ and ‘assets’ strewn all around us, and that we never realize they actually exist!
    You have won a loyal fan here today! 🙂

    • Michael Brenner

      Thanks so much Jawad. Happy to help!

  • DirtCheapStartup

    So when you run a site all about dirt cheap startup stuff, articles like this really come in handy for my people 🙂

    I did want to ask, when you frame all of this content into posts, videos etc, how do you balance not having enough content (when embedding just a slideshare) and too much (when doing a Q&A)?

    Is there a good rule of thumb you go by?

    • Michael Brenner

      Hey there, great to hear this was helpful.

      I don’t think you can ever have too much as long as the quality is there. Doing long form Q&As is working really well for companies like Buffer. For short form, I think it’s important to set a minimum. I would say 300 words is the lowest you should go with any “article” so that each slideshare embed gets 300+ words description. You can bang out 300 words in no time.

      As for the balance, I think it’s important to test the mix for your audience. Think about a starting point balance, and then test to see what resonates.

  • Tap Analytic

    The Idea Of Creating Ebook with the Influencers is Brilliant. And using Info-graphics actually makes a huge difference in the readability and understanding of the article or content. FAQ turned into Q&A series is also a good content strategy.

  • Bek Ergashev

    Very helpful post, Michael. Especially for our upcoming Q3 content brainstorming session. From conversations with clients, we’ve found managing digital content creation to be the biggest challenge of 2015 for creative teams, as we outlined in our blog - I plan on sharing these tips with our followers to help them overcome this challenge. Thanks!

  • Carl Potts

    Now this is useful content, at times I worry that content marketing is prohibative for smaller businesses

  • Joshua Farley

    This is good! Even though I do marketing, there are still projects that I do for personal ambition where it makes sense to use cheaper options. I still recommend setting up an inbound marketing campaign and use automated marketing if possible.

    Develop a process flow for all cold prospects, even those that visit your website. This will allow you to warm the prospect up by offering a few specific details and letting them start discovering your brand and offering. Once you see that they are going to your website and downloading your information or other key indicators that the buyer is ready, then you can trigger sales to follow up with the prospect. By this point, they will be more receptive to you.

    Joshua Farley
    Blue Phoenix Creative