Content is King. It was true back in the 90’s and it has never been more important for growing a business online today. Internet users are wary of overt advertisements. Everywhere they browse, they encounter annoying pop-up ads and banner advertising. It gets harder and harder to reach your audience through advertising. That is why content marketing for small business is so important.
Content marketing is a sophisticated strategy where you create valuable, useful content that is relevant to your customers’ interests. One benefit of this approach is that it can attract new customers to your website since you may create the very content they use Google to find.
What Is Content Marketing?
The Content Marketing Institute describes content marketing as a strategic approach to marketing content creation. The strategy involves:
- Defining your audience
- Creating useful and relevant content that attracts your audience
- Planning the best ways to distribute this content through social media, mailing lists, or your website
As mentioned, effective content marketing is strategic. The first step involves identifying your ideal customer or ideal customers. Yes, you can have more than one ideal customer. However, each piece of content most likely focuses on the needs of one of your ideal customers. This allows you to create super-targeted, relevant and useful content.
Once you identify your ideal customer, you research their needs. Research your ideal customers, look into the following information:
- What are their needs?
- What are their preferences?
- What are their pain points? What makes their life more difficult?
- What information can you provide that makes their life easier?
- What do they search for on Google, Bing, Pinterest, YouTube?
- Which social media platforms do they use? Which celebrities, experts, publications, or influencers do they pay attention to?
- What expertise can you offer that they will value?
Small business owners or managers usually excel at building relationships with clients and customers. Content marketing translates these skills to the web. Chances are you may know some of these answers. If not, part of your research may be to ask them, conduct a short survey to learn some of this information.
From there, you create a content marketing strategy and an editorial calendar. The content makes your client’s lives easier, and it also establishes your brand as the go-to source of information and motivation. Ultimately, they may buy your product or service when they are ready. With content marketing, you reach these future customers before they even identify their need for a product or service.
How Does Content Marketing Grow My Small Business?
According to Content Marketing expert and New York Times bestselling author Neil Patel, content marketing usually costs 62% less than traditional marketing. Not only that, when done well it is three times as effective.
To understand why, we should compare traditional marketing to “inbound marketing” (content marketing is a core element of inbound marketing). Traditional marketing interrupts the prospective customer. For example, a telemarketer calls and interrupts dinner to talk about the brand’s new deal. In contrast, content marketing aims to attract your audience to you with the content they seek. For example, a kitchenware store may publish recipes or cooking technique videos that attract local foodies to their website or Facebook page. They build an audience, and members of that audience will visit that store when they need new kitchenware. Content marketing works similarly in every industry.
Content marketing capitalizes on what successful small business owners already do on a face-to-face level. Not only does it attract visitors to your website, it helps you build lasting relationships with new and existing customers.
Content Marketing Builds Your Business in the Following Ways:
- You content builds brand awareness and reinforces your expertise.
- It enables you to collect inbound leads through social media
- When you include an opt-in and lead gathering, content marketing makes your email marketing campaigns more effective
- As mentioned, you nurture your leads and form lasting business relationships.
- Your targeted content attracts the right leads at the right time with the right message
- Your sales increase as you attract better-informed customers who are delighted by their purchase so they come to you with their future needs.
Content Marketing for Small Business Essentials
Think With Google outlines three major categories of content that each suit different stages of the “buyer’s journey.” These three content categories are often known by different names, but the concepts are fundamental and essential to content marketing. The three types of content include:
- Help Content (sometimes known as hygiene): Google describes “help” content as content that answers basic questions. You create evergreen or seasonal content that answers common questions your customers may have early in the process. Tutorials, recipes, tips, hacks, general educational information all fit into this category. Help content may attract new visitors who are not familiar with your brand or product.
- Hub Content: This content engages more intermediate audience members. It tends to be slightly more in-depth, ongoing content. One goal Google describes is to “give a fresh perspective” on topics that engage your audience and addresses their needs.
- Hero Content: When you splash out and go big, this is your hero content. It is the content that you are proud of and will want to share with the largest audience possible. Hero content is an effective part of content marketing, but most brands only have the resources to create 2-3 pieces of hero content per year.
Another way to think of the content types is a taste, a snack, and a meal. The mix of shorter, basic content and in-depth content offers variety and options to engage your audience at every stage in their buyer’s journey.
Creating a Content Marketing Strategy
The first step is to know who you want to reach and why you want to reach them. Content marketing for small business can be exciting when you take that first step. Once you know that, building a strategy is much easier.
Inbound marketing theory often relates to the buyer’s journey. Every customer has a lifecycle that moves from noticing a problem to purchasing a product. Sometimes that cycle may take minutes for an impulse purchase like a snack and other times it may take years for a big-ticket purchase like a new home.
Your content marketing strategy may provide help at every stage of your customer’s buying journey. However, to make the best use of this strategy, you need a way to reach them once you have their attention. Many content marketing programs pair with lead generation campaigns, so you build contacts as you provide information. Free guides, exclusive content, newsletter subscriptions, contests, or product discounts are all ways to encourage your future customers to join your lists.
Inbound experts refer to this as your sales funnel, a common goal in content marketing for small business is to attract people to your site and to encourage them to join your sales funnel. Over time, you nurture those relationships until the customer is ready to make a purchase.This approach doesn’t end with the first sale, it leads to repeat business and brand loyalty.
Traditional marketing is often a short-game approach. Content marketing is a short, medium, and long-game approach. Understanding this helps you create the content marketing strategy that works best for your brand.
Create a list of topics that will benefit your ideal customers. Next plan the content that addresses their needs, wants, or interests. The strategy doesn’t end with creating and publishing the content. It follows on as you promote your content, evaluate your results, and fine tune it.
Content marketing is a strategic activity that nurtures your customers from initial contact through repeat business. It is a solid investment in your brand.
Are you ready to take the next step? Download our free eBook on Content Marketing today or check out our digital marketing options for your small business!