Every successful small business has to start somewhere. Turning an idea for a product or service into something more requires that you get your brand recognized — which, for many small business owners, is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome. Whether you’re just trying to get off the ground or are on the path to becoming a household name, brand awareness is central to making it happen. And content creation is one of the most cost-effective and scalable ways to do it.

It takes an average of five to seven impressions for someone to remember your brand, and the quality of those impressions matters just as much as the quantity. Among consumers, 70 percent say they would rather learn about a company through original content instead of an advertisement. Dollar per dollar, content marketing has been shown to generate three times as many leads as traditional marketing. It certainly doesn’t hurt either that content marketing costs companies 63 percent less than other forms of advertising.

Content is a great way to show off your voice and foster likeability and trustworthiness — all of which lead to more customers. Below, we’ll discuss how to create content that leads to brand awareness so you can get off the ground running with your content efforts.

The 4 Necessities of Successful Branded Content

Effective content doesn’t happen by accident. Here are four essentials that will help guide you to content that converts.

1. Create a Documented Content Strategy

Before you can begin to craft content, you need to know who you’re writing it for and what you’re hoping to achieve with it. Outlining your strategy is integral to this process and will help you stay on track and meet your business’s unique goals.

The first step of a content strategy is establishing your audience personas. Define who your customers are, what their wants and needs are, what their interests are, and what their pain points are. All of these will dictate your content topics.

Next, come up with specific brand awareness goals. The more detailed you can be, the better. While “more customers” is an obvious objective, it’s more useful to aim for things like a certain amount of monthly traffic on your site or a certain amount of content-generated leads. The more specific you are, the more insight you’ll have on whether your content strategy is working.

Finally, list out the types of content you want to focus on, and again, try to be specific. For the purposes of brand awareness, blog content, emails, and guest posts on other publications your audience reads will be integral, as will press mentions. By having a strategy that includes guest posting and having influencers mention your company in their content, you’ll get third-party credibility for your brand and put it in front of people who you normally might not reach.

2. Start a Branded Blog

Make sure you start consistently posting content on a company blog. This helps give site visitors important things to read when they come back to your site from your other brand awareness efforts. It also gives third-party publications a place to pull your expertise from and link back to.

Your blog will be your go-to place for not only sharing brand awareness content but for flexing your knowledge and credibility within your industry. From there, you can use it to fuel other channels like social media and email campaigns. As you grow, so will the wealth of content that you offer — meaning even more expertise, plus more opportunities for prospects to discover you.

3. Start a Company Newsletter

Central to your email marketing strategy should be a company newsletter, which will keep loyal site visitors engaged and help generate new leads. Use your newsletter to send out valuable content, product information, and promos. Segment your subscribers so that you’re sending the right content to the right people depending on where they are in the buyer’s journey.

Your email marketing is one of your most valuable assets. Your lists consist of people who have indicated they want to hear more from you. They’re engaged, and it’s your job to keep them engaged. By consistently reaching out to them via a monthly or weekly newsletter, you’re staying at the tops of their minds, keeping them constantly aware of your brand. Make sure you keep them fresh by constantly thinking of ways to bring new life to your newsletter emails.

4. Don’t Forget About SEO

Stellar content won’t do much for your brand awareness efforts if nobody can find it in the first place. SEO is integral to getting more eyes on your content and should be based on a strategy that includes keyword research, internal link-building, and acquiring backlinks.

Use keywords to link to your valuable content (like pillar posts and tactical blog posts) and get that valuable content linked in credible outside sites and publications. Doing so repeatedly in your blog and guest content will help you rank higher in search results over time. Seventy-five percent of searchers never scroll past the first page of results, so it pays to have a dedicated SEO strategy driven toward getting you to the top.

For many small businesses, content marketing is the most effective means of building brand awareness and generating more leads. That it’s super affordable to produce and share is just a bonus. Get started on your strategy, and measure the performance of your content so that you can see what’s working and what’s not. Every piece you create has the potential to bring new leads to your door, which is as good of an incentive as any to get going right away.