Today, small business owners need to be skilled at a lot more than just the product or service they offer. Often they also have to be the bookkeeper, the admin assistant, and of course, the entire marketing department.
But there’s a lot more to marketing a business these days, than just slapping up a website and throwing a Facebook page together. To build a loyal, responsive customer base, you need a proper content marketing strategy in place first.
Content marketing is one of the most effective ways you can engage – and keep – your audience on a budget. So let’s look at some content marketing tips for small business you can implement consistently to attract more customers and build your online profile.
What is Content Marketing?
Put simply, Content Marketing is using information or resources (ie; content) you create and/or gather yourself, and then putting it in a form that is useful and beneficial to your target customer.
The purpose of the content may be to engage your audience and promote discussion about your services, or it could be to offer them useful or exclusive knowledge in exchange for their email address to build up your mailing list.
The most important part of a content marketing strategy is that you need to offer your customers content that is helpful – something that will address a need they have within their own life or business, and for that content to be of a high quality.
Using Content Marketing to Build your Mailing List
A person’s email address and contact details are a valuable and private possession for them – asking them for an email address to add to your mailing list (usually in exchange for something) is like asking someone for their front door key. It’s a trust issue. They have to trust you not to spam them or share their contact details with others.
Marketing solely on social media can be a bit hit and miss and it’s a very crowded marketplace out there, but an email address gives you a direct line onto your customers’ home computer or phone inbox.
So, how do I build enough trust to collect their email address or be given a reprieve from the spam filter?
Easy, show your customer that you’ll provide them with great quality information by solving a problem they have, filling a gap in their knowledge or providing information about a process, product or service they use. Soon they’ll see you as a valuable asset. The more useful and entertaining content you provide, the more interest and trust they’ll have in your other products and services.
7 PROVEN CONTENT MARKETING TIPS FOR SMALL BUSINESS
Step 1: Who is your ideal customer?
To create a strong Content Marketing Strategy for your business, the most important thing to consider first, is to question “Who is my customer?”
It may seem an obvious start, but you’d be surprised at how many businesses assume they know the demographics and interests of their target customer – but when the research rolls in, they find they’ve hit far from the mark!
As an example, does your business target young men as the ideal client? Older women? Pet owners? Childcare workers? Health professionals?
Take the guesswork out of the equation by asking your existing customer base about themselves – a simple five or ten question survey, run through an engine like SurveyMonkey (the first 100 responses are free), will allow you to really define your customer base.
Step 2: Identify what your customer needs
If you can’t ask your customer directly, what they want or need, begin by looking at your competitors. What do they offer and what do they lack?
For example – is it hard to find a step-by-step guide to setting up a specific type of software? Do your customers need ideas for new team-building activities? Would they love an entertaining eBook or case study perhaps? Or, maybe they’d highly value an exclusive piece of artwork they won’t find anywhere else You could provide information about outsourcing services or set up great resource sites.
In other words, what quality content can you offer your customer, that allows them to see you as a friend, and later, as an expert in your field? When you find those gaps, fill them!
Step 3: Keep a clean, simple style – quality always stands out
There’s no denying it – the internet, and especially social media, are saturated with content. Busy pages, overcrowded advertisements and messy images – they’re flying in on every platform, every day.
Every business wants a piece of your customers’ attention – and marketing done wrong, looks a lot like spam. Your customers are rightfully wary of it.
This isn’t all bad news, in fact it’s great! Use their discerning eye to your advantage.
Keep your content clean, simple and to the point. In a pond full of fish, be the swan.
Step 4: Choose your words wisely
As I mentioned earlier, most customers are savvy, discerning and wear a healthy coat of spam-repellent! The best way to combat their hesitation in committing, is to be authentic.
I can’t stress this one enough. Be yourself.
Think of it this way – have you ever seen a movie that had the potential to be great, but was let down by that one actor that couldn’t quite cut it? They tried too hard to be someone else, but despite their best efforts, we just see them. The real person.
Our ‘fake’ radars started beeping and they were no longer ‘believable’ as anything else. Now, unless you’re the small business equivalent of a golden globe winner, your customers will certainly recognise a false image if you project it. There’s really no need.
Be yourself – your own wonderful, creative, motivated, number-crunching, card-swapping, kid-wrangling or jet-setting self. Let them know who you are and what your business goals look like by showing them through your words, images, posts or articles. Provide interesting and useful content to your clients, and they’ll return the favour with their loyalty.
Providing quality content isn’t just a way of getting something back from your customers, it’s fundamentally about relationships. Building a great relationship between you, your customer and your brand is number one priority. Sales follow trust.
Step 5: Pretty as a Picture
Stand out from the crowd by incorporating high quality, stylish images into your content. With dozens of royalty-free sites available online and many low-cost subscriptions available, there’s really no excuse to be sharing dull content.
Check the term and conditions of use before you download – many royalty-free sites simply require an acknowledgement as the image source in your work, or you can search by topic or keyword and buy licences for stand-out images and videos from sites like iStockphoto, Shutterstock, Pond5 and Video Blocks.
Let your content tell the full story, pictures and all.
Step 6: Don’t just share your content, collaborate!
Now that you’ve defined your audience, figured out what they need and then created a strong, entertaining piece of content to fill that gap in their knowledge (with images!) you simply need to post it to your site and wait for the accolades to come rolling in. Right?! Wrong!
Your new content is now a valuable asset to your business. Share it as widely as you can! Having a great Content Marketing strategy is like having a treasure map, but once you find ‘X’, you still need to dig.
Here are some ideas to make your content work harder for you.
- Use your Content Marketing resources to offer a value-add to allied businesses, let them share your content to their customer base (increasing your own reach in the process!).
- Create a podcast/ worksheet/ FAQ sheet or share alongside it.
- Go searching for examples of your content in real life and interview those businesses to start a discussion about their experiences.
No matter the subject matter, there are countless, creative ways you can collaborate with other small businesses and creatives to achieve mutual success.
Step 7: Keep creating new content!
It may seem a challenge at first, but each new article will build upon those before it. Providing your customers with a steady stream of useful, interesting content will keep your business top-of-mind when the time pops up that they need services that you provide.
If you get stuck for ideas or need a break, bring in a fresh pair of eyes by doing a ‘blog-swap’ article with another product expert, business partner or creative. Search through forums, hashtags and online groups related to your content and engage in their discussions to share your work (with permission) and ask which parts of it you should delve into a little deeper.
Hold a think-tank of your own staff or friends to come up with new topics to write about and best of all – ask your customers directly what they’d like to know.
Make the most of the resources you already have at your disposal – the fact that you already know your own business inside out (plenty of interesting content there!), the direct opinions of your customers and, if you decide to use your content to build a mailing list for your business, ultimately use a direct line of communication between your desk and your customer via a newsletter or alert system.
- Content marketing is the ideal way to build your mailing list. The more useful and entertaining content you provide, the more interest and trust your clients will have in your other products and services.
- To create a strong Content Marketing Strategy for your business, the most important thing to know is, who is your ideal customer.
- Identify what your customer needs. What quality content can you offer that allows your customer to see you as a friend and expert in your field?
- Marketing done wrong, looks a lot like spam. Keep your content clean and in simple style – quality always stands out over quantity.
- Building a great relationship between you, your customer and your brand is number one priority.Be yourself and create content in your voice.
- Stand out from the crowd by incorporating high quality, stylish images into your content
- Share your content and collaborate with other small businesses for mutual success.
- Keep creating a steady stream of new content for your community
I hope you enjoyed these content marketing tips for small business. Tell us below, what are your best content marketing tips?