Marketing is one of the toughest parts of running a successful business. Tons of startups rise and fall every year, and much of the time, they don’t succeed because they didn’t have a solid marketing plan. In this article I’m going to discuss how a solid Content Marketing for SMEs strategy can swing things in your favour.
Marketing can be expensive at times. So, for small and medium sized businesses, it’s incredibly important to make sure you’re putting your ad spend in the right place.
Content marketing is a very safe bet these days for SMEs and as a result it has become one of the most important marketing channels for companies of all sizes, from microscopic startups to major international brands.
What is Content Marketing for SMEs?
In the past, a lot of marketing and advertising was what the industry would call “interruption-based.” You go to watch your favorite TV show, and partway through, it’s taken away from you, so someone else can be like, “Hey, buy our stuff!”
It’s annoying, isn’t it? Sure, some commercials are memorable or cute, but at the end of the day, no one likes being interrupted by ads.
Same with popup ads, and even display ads. They ultimately disrupt the content you actually want to see, with things you may or may not be interested in.
What if, instead of being the commercial that interrupts a popular TV show, you could be that TV show instead? What if your content could be the content people actually look for, and actually want to see?
Content marketing does exactly that. It’s a form of inbound marketing. People come to you, because you’re answering their questions and providing them with information and expertise that they’re actually actively looking for.
It’s a very powerful tool in your marketing arsenal, and a great way to build your brand, create your story, and reach the right people at the right time.
Why Content Marketing for SMEs?
So why focus on content marketing, rather than prioritising other marketing channels?
- Content marketing provides actual, consistent value to your audience. Content provides a valuable service to your target audience, giving them answers and information that they need and will genuinely appreciate. This makes your brand an ally of your customers and builds essential trust that you need to succeed in the marketplace.
- Content is shareable. For SMEs, especially in unglamorous or non-photogenic industries, it can be tough to find things to post on social media. When you’re consistently creating great content, you’ve always got something worth sharing on Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms. This is important, because your followers are likely to share your content with other people in their own social circles. People value word of mouth from their peers more than any marketing or advertising, so when their friend shares your content, they’ll pay attention to it.
- You can stretch content further by repurposing it for different media. When you have an excellent, informative, high-value blog post on your hands, you can also spin it out into several other pieces of valuable, sharable content. You can use the same information to create videos, infographics, and more, improving your reach on various platforms.
- It gets your name out there, building brand awareness. When your content comes up in Google searches and gets shared on social media, it gets your name out there. In crowded markets, this can give you a serious advantage over your competitors.
- It sets up your company as a go-to resource for information about your industry. You can be the Wikipedia of your niche, and that’s an incredibly powerful position to be in. If you have tons of interesting, informative content, people will come to you directly for the answers they’re looking for. They’ll also send friends your way. You can build an image as a reliable industry expert.
- It nurtures relationships. Content is a way to reach out to people and form a real relationship between them and yourself.
- It drives repeat business. When you’re always helpful to people, even if they’re not making a purchase right away, they’ll come back next time they need what you’re selling.
Content Marketing for SMEs: Creating a great Content Marketing Strategy
To get started with content marketing, you’ll need an overarching strategy with long-term goals and measurable KPIs you can use to measure your progress and success.
- A strong strategy is key for good results. To create content that achieves your performance goals, you need to first understand the needs and desires of your audience. What kind of content are they looking for? What questions do they need answered?
- Starting with a strategy eliminates wasteful spending. Content marketing can pay for itself many times over, but it isn’t cheap — and when it is cheap, you get what you pay for. A top-down strategy can help you determine ahead of time where you should or shouldn’t be diverting financial resources. Budgeting for marketing is always tricky, so it’s important not to waste money by mistake.
So how do you create this strategy? The biggest focus, on a holistic level, should be on building relationships with your brand.
At Shareable we call this brand storytelling and this needs to be an integral part of your content marketing strategy.
You need content your audience can genuinely connect with, content that makes them feel like you have their best interests at heart. You want your brand to be a trusted friend and teacher, not just another faceless corporation out for their money.
To build that kind of relationship with customers, you need to provide useful content to them on a consistent basis. You don’t need to put out new content every single day, but you do need a plan and a schedule. Being there for people consistently helps your brand create an aura of trust.
When you create content, you should focus on solving a problem. It’s just like a product or a service. There’s an unsolved problem in the market, and you’re providing a solution.
With content marketing, that problem often comes in the form of questions, and the search for needed information. Your goal is to answer your customers’ questions about your products and your industry, in essence solving their pain points.
Content Marketing for SMEs: 5 Essential Steps for a Powerful Content Strategy
Here’s a basic outline of the fundamental steps involved in creating and executing a solid content strategy that brings measurable results.
1:Define your objectives.
To reach your goals, you need goals in the first place. You need measurable parameters to judge what is or isn’t working, so you can measure effectiveness and refine your strategy over time.Your content is the means to an end, ultimately. So everything you do with that content needs to funnel toward the real end goal: sales, and by extension, profits.
Here are some questions you should be able to answer when designing your content marketing strategy.
- What is the purpose of this content?
- What specific actions are you going to take, and when?
- Is there a backup plan if something falls through or falls flat?
2. Know Your Audience.
To create content that succeeds in achieving its goals, you need to understand what your audience wants and needs — and also how they think.
You can divide them into segments, creating customer personae to which you can tailor individual pieces of content.
You also need to know what they really care about. What information are they actively looking for? What do they want or need in a product like yours? What problems can you solve for them?
To get this information, you can use tools like surveys, publicly available demographic data, and other resources. You shouldn’t just assume things. Instead, you need to approach it like a science experiment.
Use available information to form an informed hypothesis, then test it. Refine your strategy if you’re not getting the results you want initially.
3. Focus on small, attainable conversion goals.
With content marketing, you can see a lot of success if you focus on smaller, incremental goals, rather than just the ultimate end goalpost.
Start small, and see what you can do. Part of this is designing your content around the buyer’s journey, using the visual metaphor of a “conversion funnel:”
- Awareness. At the top level of the funnel, you want to make sure people are aware that your brand exists. This is a job for content like blog posts, curated listicles and expert roundups, and other primarily informational things.
- Evaluation. This is where you start getting people interested and generating leads. You can get a little more specific with the content, like using case studies and statistic reports instead of broader, more general blog posts.
- Purchase. This is where those leads turn into actual paying customers. At this stage, the content involved can include newsletters, demos and free trials, coupons, and other more sales-oriented items.
- Retain. Content also plays a role at the very bottom of the funnel: customer retention.
For SMEs, Content Marketing is the Future. With the Right Strategy, You Can Reach More Customers Than Ever Before.
Content marketing continues to grow in popularity, and in terms of Content Marketing for SMEs, it’s not slowing down any time soon. It’s essential for small and medium businesses to invest in content — and by extension, customer relationships and narrative branding — in order to succeed in today’s saturated, competitive, and fast-paced marketplace.
With a solid, well thought out strategy, some experimentation, and a scientific approach to your Content Marketing for SMEs, your company can reach more people than ever before through the power of content.