When I first started my career in marketing, I had never even heard the term “content marketing.” If we developed any form of “content,” it was push-based marketing collateral that focused on getting the word out about products and events via data sheets, emails and press releases.
Today, however, content marketing for small business is king. Seth Godin, a world-famous author and marketer, even goes as far to say that “content marketing is the only marketing left.” He’s not alone in that assessment either, as 78% of CMOs see the future of marketing in custom content.
To understand why content marketing has been elevated to the forefront of the entire marketing landscape, it’s helpful to understand what it is.
Content marketing, as defined by the Content Marketing Institute, is “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Content such as blogs, videos, infographics, white papers and e-books not only demonstrate your authority on a topic, but they also help drive engagement and build trust with customers and prospects. In fact, 82% of consumers feel more favorable about a company after interacting with custom content. Content marketing also works with search engine optimization (SEO) to drive success online, according to Forbes.
Content marketing for small business also supports the sales and marketing funnel by helping you reach customers at any stage — from discovery (blogs, webinars and e-newsletters), through consideration (case studies, demo videos and whitepapers), conversion (reviews and testimonials), and retention (how-tos, email outreach and customer service content).
Finding the time and resources to produce quality content is often a major challenge for small businesses. But you don’t have to be a writing whiz; anyone can produce content.
If you have a smartphone, you can easily record a podcast or shoot a how-to video and share it through your online channels and via email.
No single person needs to take on the content creation burden, either. Spread the load across your team. Perhaps someone from customer service could create content to help support your product-experience efforts. Senior team members might provide more strategic insight into market shifts and trends, while other staffers can offer tips and tricks that address key customer pain points.
It’s okay to repurpose content, too. If something worked in a video format, why not convert it into a blog? If you have a series of blogs, could you stitch them together to create an e-book? Whenever you’re lost for ideas, brainstorm with customers, staff and colleagues. Another way around the time crunch is to invite guest writers or experts to contribute content. They may be a partner, vendor or even a happy customer.
Freelance writers are also a great resource and can assess your needs, suggest topics and develop content so you don’t have to. Word of mouth is often the best way to find trusted contributors, but you can also try sites such as Upwork, Textbroker and WriterAccess.
Erratic and inconsistent content marketing efforts — a blog here, a random infographic there — won’t reap any rewards. To succeed, your content marketing needs to be driven by strategy.
Consider your goals. Are you trying to generate leads, improve loyalty, impact SEO, position your business as a thought leader or nurture prospects and customers through the sales funnel? Your content marketing strategy should support these goals.
As you would with a business plan, identify your target audience, their pain points, where they consume information and how the competition is engaging them. Next, consider the type of content you need to develop for each stage of the funnel, how you’ll make it unique, who will be tasked with producing it and how you’ll measure success.
According to Small Business Trends, one of the top challenges for businesses is producing content that connects with the target audience. Still, there are several tools out there that can identify content your customers enjoy, source topics for it and help craft it.
If you’re looking for content ideas that are relevant, tools such as BuzzSumo let you analyze what’s performing best for any topic or competitor, while Google Ads Keyword Planner helps identify keywords that perform well.
Want to create infographics? Check out Canva, Visme or Piktochart.
If you need a second pair of eyes to read your work, Grammarly and readable.io can help proofread.
Finally, to assess how your content is performing, Google Analytics lets you create a content marketing dashboard so your team can see how articles do.
Taking these steps will not only help you engage your customers better, but they may drive others to your offerings. And when it comes to small businesses, this is absolutely crucial. While content marketing may be a relatively new term in the space, it boasts incredible potential to increase your bottom line — and it is here to stay.
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