There are so many ways to marketing your small business that for many, it becomes an overwhelming task.  In addition, new tools, tactics and ideologies seem to surface every day.  How can small business owners determine what’s the best approach, especially if they’re limited on time?  Content marketing can be the solution; read up to learn more.

What is content marketing?

In one respect, content marketing has been around forever.  You create content, then put it out there for your audience to consume.  However, it’s the concept behind content marketing that is changing the way all businesses market. Content marketing is based on the idea that you are no longer pushing out sales pitches and marketing campaigns you want people to hear.  Instead, you’re providing useful information that people are looking for.  You’re providing answers to the questions people are asking. You’re being helpful instead of selling. Joe Pulizzi of Content Marketing World describes it as this: “Content marketing is the marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience, with the objective of driving profitable customer action”.  Seems simple enough, but should small businesses implement content marketing and more importantly, how?

Why content marketing is so powerful for small businesses

Many people say the internet has been the great equalizer when it comes to allowing small businesses to compete with larger companies. Online, it’s difficult to determine who’s the big play and who’s the little company. Content marketing increases that benefit tenfold.  Content marketing gets your small business out there and in front of people who may not otherwise find you. It allows you to build a reputation as a subject matter expert, a resource for industry-specific information. Your company can become the go-to company for your area of expertise IF you’re providing information your target audience needs. It allows you to be more socially engaged because you now have content you can share on your social channels that people actually want. Interesting content is one of the top 3 reason people follow brands on social media.  If you’re providing useful, helpful, relevant content for your target audience, you WILL be interesting!

How can small businesses execute content marketing effectively?

For small businesses, especially start-ups, there’s only so many hours in a day, and content marketing is a commitment of time and resources. Nonetheless, it’s critical that content marketing is a part of your small business marketing strategy. Content marketing can drive more traffic to your site, more leads, and ultimately more customers, but it takes time. Candidly, content marketing is hard. However, start simple, create a process, and your small business can effectively embrace and execute content marketing.

So how can small businesses do content marketing?  First, you need to know your audience. What information are they looking for? What questions are they asking? Where IS your audience (what social channels, what websites)? How do they consume information (Video? Blogs? Infographics?).  Take some time to understand this so you know what information to write about, in what format, and where to distribute it.

Once you’ve done that, it’s OK to start small!  Slow and steady wins the race and it’s better to be consistent and provide quality content so you can build your audience. One of the best ways to get started is by creating and maintaining an onsite blog for your small business. Do this ONLY if you can commit to blogging consistent, quality content that is useful to your audience.  Plan ahead regarding the topics you’ll write about and the keywords you’ll use based on your research. Provide an image.  Use bullets and section headers to make your content easy to scan. Use an engaging title. Be helpful in the information you provide.

Don’t forget to share your content with other websites

When you first start your onsite blog, you might feel like no one’s reading your blog and candidly, you’re probably right.  You need to drive people to the content and let them know you’re providing some great information.  This is where social media comes in! Share a tidbit of your blog post on your social channels, then link back to your website.  Engage in online conversations about your blog topic and share a link to your blog post. There are many ways to share your content with other websites and get people to see your blog. Get creative and remember, you’re providing information people WANT to see!

There’s more than just blogging for content marketing

There are dozens of content tactics that fall under content marketing.  Below are a few ideas:

  • Case studies
  • Videos
  • White papers
  • Checklists
  • Interviews
  • Free guides
  • Curation articles
  • Images
  • Top 10 lists

The above are just a few ideas. Keep in mind that people consume information in different ways, so it’s a good idea to try and incorporate more than one type of content piece in your content marketing efforts.

Remember, start small, plan, be consistent, and provide useful, relevant, helpful content for your target audience.

Patty Hughes
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