One of the most common questions about content marketing is, “How long will it take to see results?” You embarked on this journey with the expectation of increasing your customer base, and therefore your profits. It’s no wonder you might feel a bit antsy about your results.

All marketing campaigns work over time – not right away – and content marketing is no different. Having said that, many leaders in the content marketing field say you should expect to begin seeing results after about six months.

So what can you do in the meantime, if you’re feeling anxious about your content marketing strategy? First, keep in mind that patience is key to this marathon you’re running. Then employ the following four tenets of marketing to wring the most of each day’s efforts.

content marketing for small businessesFocus more on your audience. That’s the whole point of content marketing, after all, but we can all lose our true focus when we’re distracted by numbers and results. Concentrate on the needs and desires of your audience, and make sure those priorities are evident in your content. Rather than looking for the payoff, ask yourself, How can I help my audience today? Anyone can make a one-time sale, but nurturing a relationship with loyal, lifelong customers is much more valuable over time.

Don’t reinvent the wheel. The marketing world is saturated with some of the most creative, innovative people in the business world. If there was a surefire, magical marketing strategy that would instantly earn you a monopoly on your market, it would have been invented by now. If you put that much pressure on yourself, it’s likely to stifle your creativity. Even worse, you might sell yourself on an expensive, time-consuming idea that completely flops. Stick with what we know works: Regularly produce helpful content geared toward the needs of your audience, distribute it via the right channels, and continue to hone your strategy by observing what does and does not work for each piece of content.

Shift your thinking. You don’t want to reinvent the wheel, but you also shouldn’t abandon creativity altogether! When you create content for your audience, your first questions always pertain to their needs, fears, questions, or desires. This helps you to craft blogs, videos, or free offers that will entice your audience to interact with you. But as you create this content, ask yourself one more important question: How is my content different from that of my competitors? Without abandoning the tried-and-true strategies that we know will work, you can create something just a little bit different to set yourself apart from the field.

Compete on a daily basis. When you think of beating your competitors, you might picture yourself outrunning them by a mile. In reality, marketing campaigns work more like a photo finish. You only have to beat your competitor by inches, in order to win the race. Therefore, focus on each small victory as it happens: Moving up by one Google ranking or reaching a weekly goal for social media followers can make a big difference over the long run.