The Lowdown on Content Marketing for Small Businesses
“Traditional marketing talks at people. Content marketing talks with them.” – @dougkessler
Can content marketing work for small businesses? We see the larger brands pumping out great content, more great content and even more great content. In fact we use these brands as an example of content marketing done right. But for businesses whose pockets aren’t so deep and who don’t have every possible resource on hand, can content marketing still work?
The short answer is, yes.
The long answer is, absolutely.
Small businesses with a content marketing strategy can get 126% more lead growth than small businesses without. And the best part? You don’t need a ton of money to get involved.
So What is Content Marketing?
The creation of valuable, relevant and useful content which can be distributed to a target audience.
Content marketing is about resonating with an audience. Entertaining an audience. Giving them what they are looking for. If they’ve got a question, your content provides an answer.
Content marketing isn’t interruptive. It doesn’t force its way into people’s lives whether they like it or not. And it definitely doesn’t involve pumping out post after post asking readers to buy a product.
“Content marketing is permission-based. It’s marketing that we freely invite into our lives, and sometimes even share with our friends” – Garret Moon, CoSchedule
If you’re a small business owner with an online presence, you’re already a content marketer! Whether it’s via social media, blogs, videos or podcasts, if you’re putting out free content then you’re on the right track.
But, free content doesn’t necessarily mean valuable content. Nor does it automatically mean engaging content.
Consider your own experience. When was the last time you opened Facebook looking for a hard sell? Never? So chances are that’s not what your customers are looking for either.
Just like you, your customers will spend time looking at memes, watching videos and reading engaging, well written content. With this in mind, we’ll now dive into how to make content marketing work for your small business.
Don’t hard sell your audience
Nothing turns people off more than a pushy salesperson. Research has found the number one reason people unfollow brands on social media is because they post too many promotional messages.
The expectation is that hard-selling content will do the job quicker, bring in immediate results and short term ROI.
The reality is, that’s not what people have come to see. Whatever the platform, your audience wants content that adds value to their life, is engaging or entertaining, or solves their specific problems.
The trick is to produce less self-serving content. Think about what your potential customers would want to know, or what they are interested in. Focus on adding value to their life at every possibility.
Let’s say you’re a landscaping business. One audience you’ll be targeting is those who want a garden makeover. People who are looking for a garden makeover will likely be googling garden makeover ideas. Now’s the chance to add value. Create a blog post on garden makeover ideas, or a fun video with garden DIY tips. You’re ultimately demonstrating your knowledge and care, which your potential customers will remember.
Know your audience
Your audience dictates your content. If you’re investing time and effort into producing content, you want people to read it. More specifically, you want people to engage with it.
As a small business, you might not have the time or resources to research every single detail about your customer. But you don’t have to. There are just a few need-to-knows which will prevent you from spending valuable time writing what you think is a kick-ass piece of content for it to only fall flat.
Empathise. Who is your customer? What age are they? What interests them and importantly, what keeps them up at night? Thinking like your customer will allow you to understand what type of content will be useful to them.
Engage emotionally. To build a community with your audience, you need emotion. You want them to feel something. This should be evoked through your content, but also by questioning your audience. Ask them about their own experiences. Encourage a healthy debate.
Know when to give your readers a little push. Content marketing is about building relationships with your audience. But at the end of the day you still need to make sales. We’ve already established not to hard sell your clients, so how else can you give them that extra push? Sprinkling ‘call-to-actions’ throughout your content serves as gentle reminders on what they are potentially missing out on. Language that adds urgency is always effective. Try words like “now” and “today” to push your audience into taking action.
Make your content easy to find
You can’t rely on great content alone to reach your audience. The internet is a crowded place, and content without marketing will just end up with all the other pieces of content out there waiting to be discovered.
SEO. At the very core of online marketing is keywords. Investing time into keyword research will have huge benefits for your business (alternatively you can hire SEO specialists like Shareable to do this for you).
Again, let’s pretend you’re a landscaping business, trying to attract customers who are looking for a garden makeover. If you want your content to end up in front of them you need to know what search terms they’re using. After researching you find out they’re searching for “garden makeover”, and there you have your first keyword! Next you need to incorporate this keyword into your content to ensure the search engines pick it up.
If you want your content to rank in the search engines, this process is a must. But don’t forget to focus firstly and foremostly on quality content for your reader.
Paid Advertising. Don’t be afraid of paid advertising! As a small business, there is a LOT to gain from running ads on Google or social media channels Facebook and Instagram.
After all, if you’ve created a new asset, you want it to end up in front of the right people, right?
Email Campaigns. It may not be new and it may not be sexy, but email is the currency of the web. Don’t underestimate the power of an email list. If you already have leads, set up an email campaign to promote your new content to already engaged followers!
So there you have it. Content marketing for small businesses is an absolute must. Not only are you going to massively increase your lead generation, but you’re also more likely to create a community. Of course you can skip the guesswork. Content marketing specialists like Shareable get to know you, and your brand. We believe in what you’re trying to achieve and by establishing what you are looking to achieve from content marketing, we’ll begin crafting relevant and engaging content optimised for all your channels. Check out the content marketing services we have to offer to see how we can begin to transform your small business.