Content marketing has opened a whole new world for small business owners who now have a platform to show off their expertise and potentially reach a wider audience than they ever did before. Activities such as blogging can be one of the most fruitful marketing efforts that small businesses can undertake if they do it correctly. Unfortunately, many use blogging as an opportunity to talk about their business. Want to succeed at content marketing?  Stop talking about yourself.

The basics:  what is content marketing?

content marketingAccording to Content Marketing Institute, “Content marketing 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.” Take a moment to reread that definition and then ask yourself, “Does talking about my company provide valuable and relevant information?”. Another definition of content marketing describes it as “a type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online material (such as videos, blogs, and social media posts) that does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services.” That bolded statement is the key to effective content marketing. Let’s explore further.

Why is content marketing effective?

As mentioned at the beginning of the article, content marketing is a great way for small business owners to share their expertise with others. It can be more effective in many cases than paid ads. Think about how many ad blockers there are nowadays, which can decrease your chances of your ad being seen. Not to say ads aren’t effective, but what we are saying is that content marketing can be more impactful. Here’s an interesting fact: Content marketing leaders experience 7.8 times more site traffic than non-leaders. Did you also know that the median time readers spend on an article is 37 seconds?  Marketers who produce high-quality, relevant content enjoy audiences who spend significant time on their sites. Content marketing is effective because many people don’t see it as advertising, but a resource for useful, helpful information.

Be useful and helpful

This is where we circle back to the statement, “Stop talking about yourself.”  In today’s world of marketing, consumers have so many options for filtering out marketing messages, making it difficult to get your message through. However, content marketing can break through those barriers if you do it correctly. Simply put, your content marketing should be useful and helpful. You need to be providing information that people are looking for. You need to be answering the questions that people are asking. Interesting content is one of the top 3 reasons people follow brands on social media. Find out who your audience is and what they’re interested in. Find out what questions they’re asking. Research what problems or challenges they experience, and write about solutions to those problem. Your content needs to be useful and helpful. It needs to be interesting to the reader if you’re going to get them engaged with your brand. It’s answering the question the reader is thinking, which is what’s in it for me?  Why should they read your blog post or look at your infographic?

What’s in it for me?

Many small business owners may be thinking, “Well, what’s in it for ME? How will I get my brand known if I don’t talk about myself?”  Here’s the key:  you want to spend about 85% of your content marketing efforts providing useful, informative, educational content. Then take that other 15% and thread in information about your company. It’s not that you don’t want people to know who you are, what you do, and what your company can offer; just don’t make that the centerpiece of your article. Readers do want to learn about brands, but only after you’ve gained their trust and their interest. That’s only going to happen if you can show them that the information you’re providing will benefit them.

To succeed at content marketing for your small business, you need to stop talking about yourself, and instead talk about what matters to the customer. Earn their trust, and you’ll earn their business.

Patty Hughes
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