Content Marketing for Small Business
There’s certainly no shortage of information online these days about content marketing. And for good reason – content marketing is a powerful and essential component in an online marketing strategy. Content marketing permeates every aspect of the customer journey. Content inspires, entertains, educates, and motivates prospects to take action. It literally steers the course the prospect takes through the funnel.
Many small businesses have a lack of understanding around content marketing. Big companies employ large teams and invest big money to create content, because the returns are worth it. But how do small businesses take advantage of content marketing with small teams and low budgets? Can it really be worth the return on investment? The answer is yes. Hopefully, with this post, I can accomplish three main objectives.
- Explain what content marketing is.
- Explain the benefits of content marketing.
- Show how you can implement it within the scope of your current resources and budget.
Strap in, be open-minded, bookmark and share this page. Don’t wait – do it now.
1. Content Marketing Explained
“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.”
That’s probably the best definition of content marketing I’ve come across. So let’s break it down and make sure we don’t miss the key points.
Content Marketing is Strategic.
That means it has a long-term goal, it has a purpose, it has a plan, and it’s supported by specific tactics, or the means, to achieve it.
The Content is Valuable.
Content marketing is all about providing value, lots of it, before the sale. Value can take many forms. It could be an insight, inspiration, motivation, or entertainment. To produce valuable content you need to understand your customer and his challenges and pain points thoroughly. Use your content to help him solve his problem.
The Content is Relevant.
The content you share with a prospect or a customer needs to be relevant to his problem and where he is in the customer journey. No one piece of content will be relevant to all of your prospects at a given time. Map your content to the sales funnel and ensure each piece of content is distributed to the people who need it.
The Content is Consistent.
Your content needs to be consistent with your brand, its look and feel, and its voice. And you need to deliver content on a consistent timeline to keep your brand front and center with your prospect.
It Speaks to a Clearly Defined Audience.
Generic won’t cut it with content. Content needs to be laser focused on a specific segment of your market.
Content Drives Positive Customer Action.
Every piece of content you create needs to be designed to drive a specific desired customer action. It could be brand awareness, thought leadership, brand affinity and preference, download, click, comment, share, like, etc.
2. Benefits of Content Marketing
You Own Your Audience’s Attention
With many other marketing activities, such as pay per click advertising, trade show attendance, and banner ads, you’re essentially renting someone else’s audience. With content marketing you’re developing thought leadership in-house through the development and distribution of your content. In other words, you’re building an organic audience.
Up to 93% of the buying journey starts with online search. Content builds brand awareness organically through search and social media.
Brand Preference and Affinity
People buy from those they know, like, and trust. By creating thought leadership through your content you build trust with your audience. Content that’s consistent with your brand and it’s values creates affinity with your audience.
Reach More Buyers at a Lower Cost
Although the return on investment takes longer with content, because you’re not renting your audience’s attention, but rather building it organically through content, you pay less to reach your market.
3. Implementing Content Marketing Within Your Current Resources and Budget.
Set Your Goals
Defining your content marketing goals up front is critical. With fewer resources available it becomes even more important to be goal oriented in your content creation and promotion strategy. Goals will help you choose the right content assets, define KPIs up front, and define success. Your goal setting should include short-term and long-term goals. Every piece of content you create needs to have a specific purpose. Defining qualitative and quantitative goals will keep you on track.
Here are some qualitative goals to work with:
- Brand recognition
- Thought leadership/Authority
- Social engagement
- Relationship building
And here are some quantitative goals:
- #Social shares
- Conversion rate
Use Your Team
Within your team are subject matter experts who have value to offer your market. Each of them can create content around their area of expertise. Adding content creation to their list of responsibilities will pay dividends not only in terms of the high-value content they create, but it will further anchor their skills in their area of expertise.
Quality Over Quantity
Strive to produce high-quality content that will stand the test of time. Driving traffic to a single piece of solid content will pay off much more than to many lesser quality pieces.
Outsourcing can be a cost-effective way to create content, but before you do, get educated on the topic. You can use freelance platforms such as Fiverr.com (Full disclosure: this is an affiliate link. If you purchase from this link, I’ll earn a commission and will be very appreciative 😊) or Upwork.com to hire freelancers. These platforms are designed to protect both the freelancer and the customer, so the small fees the platform charges make it worth the spend. Keep in mind it can take some trial and error to find the right writer for you.
Use Content Curation
Content curation is a great way to provide high-quality content without actually creating much of it yourself. Content curation is content written by others, which you organize and share with your audience.
Use Lean Content Creation
Lean content creation is essentially creating one large piece of content, perhaps a definitive guide, a book or course, then slicing it up into smaller content segments that you can then share with your audience. So, from a course, you might share a checklist, a lesson could become a blog post, etc.
Make Your Website the Hub of Your Content
Your content needs to live on your website. Optimizing your content and your website for search and conversions is important. Some ideas for organizing your content could include setting up a “Resources” section. You could place it on your homepage or blog, or ads placed throughout your site. Wherever you choose to place your content, make sure it’s easy to navigate. Use keywords and set up topics and categories to assign content appropriately and make it easier to find. Include images in your navigation to make it easier to scan and more visually interesting. Finally, remember to include lead generation forms to exchange the valuable content your sharing for contact information.
Promote Via Low-Cost/No-Cost Channels
Take advantage of low-cost/no-cost channels to promote your content. These include your social media pages, email auto-responder, and your blog. Remember, it can take time to build a following on social media. You’ll need to spend time engaging, providing value, and positioning your brand as an authority. Don’t spam! Join groups that represent your market and engage with posts to offer feedback, answer questions, offer solutions, and generally provide value to the discussion. In other words, don’t sell. The goal is to develop relationships, brand awareness, and thought leadership.
Use paid boost to extend your reach. Paid boosting offers a very highly targeted method of putting your content in front of the right audience and can quickly grow your social media following at a very small cost.
Use your content to grow your email list. Don’t simply give valuable content without asking for contact information in return. It’s a more than reasonable transaction. Then, continue to use content to move your email subscribers further down the funnel. This means segmenting your email list according to the various stages of the funnel and particular actions your subscribers have taken to indicate the type of content that will be relevant to them.
Using your blog to promote content is a great way to get your content in front of the right audience while expanding your position as a thought leader in your niche. Driving traffic to content on your blog via social media and other platforms increases traffic to your site, which in turn helps you rank higher in search. When using various platforms in combination make sure you have a clear purpose for doing so and don’t make it an inconvenience to your audience. Using a social media post to drive traffic to a blog post is a good use of this.
With all of your content, make sure you’re including strong calls to action. Tell your audience what you want them to do. That could be “download”, “click”, “share”, “like”, “sign up”. Don’t assume they’ll know what to do.
Content marketing needs to be a part of any integrated marketing strategy. For businesses on a budget and with few resources, it can be a challenge to implement. Hopefully, this guide can offer you a good start to taking advantage of this powerful marketing tool in your plan.
Founder and CEO, Southern Arizona Digital Marketing and DecideToBeFreeOnline
Scott Anders is a digital marketing trainer and consultant living in Southern Arizona. After more than 30 years in corporate life, including the US Army, he began pursuing his passions as an entrepreneur in 2016. He loves helping small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs take advantage of the incredible opportunities available in the digital economy to enjoy greater freedom and fulfillment.