Why is Content Marketing so Important for Small Businesses?
Many small businesses are unaware they already have all the prerequisites for good content marketing but are underestimating the return a good content marketing plan can bring.
Why is content marketing so important for Small Businesses?
When we talk about content marketing, we are typically thinking of market heavyweights such as Coca Cola, Volkswagen or Red Bull, with their massive advertising budgets. The reality is, good content marketing strategies can be applied to companies of any size – from individual entrepreneurs right up to global market leaders. This is especially true in regards to how the target audience impacts certain aspects of content creation.
Small businesses have their own competitive advantages
While companies with billions are often competing on a global scale, most small- and medium-sized businesses are faced with a much more manageable market environment. Generally speaking, they won’t have to cover a broad range of markets because they mostly operate at regional or national levels and are thus able to survive with a considerably smaller customer base. Customer satisfaction and customer loyalty are the key features here, but in order to attract these customers and persuade them on the benefits of a particular product or service, they must first capture their attention and arouse their interest. This is not always easy given that consumers’ trust in classic TV– and other forms of traditional advertising – is now diminishing. Furthermore, many small businesses lack the capital resources required for complex campaigns, especially during those early years following the launch of a company. This is when content marketing comes into play as a cheap and extremely effective alternative.
Content marketing is about winning over your target audience
Most consumers are naturally inclined to trust small businesses. The ultimate trusted business is the “corner shop” where “real people” stand behind the counter and where you can talk about everything under the sun, but all too often, small business owners miss out on this type of customer. The truth is, it’s not just about expensive advertising campaigns or aggressive product advertising (which is rather annoying). It’s really about what customers actually want, and with all the features the internet can offer, it’s not difficult for these small businesses to provide exactly that. In addition to a company’s corporate website, there are blogs and social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, which are excellent tools for spreading useful content.
Bring added-value content to your target audience
Many people use the internet to gather information, find answers to urgent questions, and to increase their knowledge. Surveys have shown that more than 80 percent of all customers conduct some form of online research before making a purchase – especially where big-ticket items are concerned. Of course, many users also go online just to casually search for funny or interesting content to pass the time. So, in an ideal scenario, your content should be designed in such a way that it offers value to your potential customers and is entertaining at the same time. In order to gain a customer’s trust, your product must be linked to positive emotions, an aim which is rarely achieved with pushy advertising. Instead, entrepreneurs should seek to develop reputations as experts with informative and useful contributions that prove they care about the welfare of their customers.
Any successful content marketing strategy should always begin by precisely identifying your target audience in order to align your content as closely as possible to their interests. Clear task procedures should be adopted in order to save time and make successful outcomes easy to measure. Your content strategy can be organized in accordance with the following five phases:
- Analysis of existing content
- Definition of precise marketing objectives
- Content planning and the selection of appropriate distribution channels
- Creation, publication and, if necessary, presentation of the content
- Analysis of results, and appropriate editing and refinement of the strategy
What are the best measures and channels to use?
Many entrepreneurs are not even aware they already have all the prerequisites they need for good content marketing. You can use your company’s extensive knowledge of its products or industrial sector to create content for the online community. For example, many people are interested in finding blogs or videos on topics such as cooking recipes, gift ideas, or the correct way to handle and use specific tools. Relevant topics are very easy to find – even the correct answer to a question frequently asked by the average customer can be used to make a highly informative contribution.
In addition to maintaining a blog, much-frequented websites such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter can also be used to spread content. These pages have an additional advantage by allowing users to share ratings, comments and posts, which means this community offers a completely free and voluntary method of increasing a company’s reach. There will be many forums and interest groups covering a broad range of topics, within which entrepreneurs will be able to chat directly with users to find out what motivates and drives them. Such discussions often can generate some good ideas for new content.
It is important to keep the focus relevant to your own brand, but without directly promoting it. Anyone who wants to position themselves as an expert should closely monitor social media conversations in order to gather some specific and relevant advice. Troubleshooters and others who can provide solutions are always very popular and radiate an aura of competence, which means many customers will automatically assume they can also trust any products or services they may offer.
The most successful business owners understand they should treat their customers as friends or family. For example, handling complaints in public on the company’s Facebook page is a good way to gain social approval because anyone who deals with customer problems quickly and competently in this environment does so before the eyes of the entire online community.
Smaller amounts of high-quality content produced over a longer period of time are always more effective than high volumes of content published over a short period of time. Furthermore, small businesses should remain patient because an active community will grow organically, and it generally takes at least 3 to 6 months to achieve measurable results. In order to develop an ongoing relationship, it is important to publish new content on a regular basis, and bloggers especially should provide their followers with a new post every two to three days.
Sites like Facebook or Google+, as well as more recent platforms such as LinkedIn’s SlideShare, are an excellent way to publish regular content related to company activities. In addition to tutorials or practical everyday tips, statistics and infographics are also very popular. Eye-catching graphics and ‘top 10’ or ‘best-of’ lists will also attract lots of links and user likes. Basically, content that includes relevant images or videos will be shared and liked far more frequently than pure text content.
Twitter is a practical online news and social networking service that can be used to distribute company news, reports or links to interesting company content. Networks can be quickly established by sharing and evaluating other users’ content as well as company activities, though of course all content should be carefully selected so it offers some clear touch points that are relevant to your industry.
Content marketing that uses videos requires a little more effort as well as the use of good quality equipment for film and audio capture. However, even very simple pieces can be effective as long as the displayed content offers customers added value – sometimes even webcam footage may suffice. In addition to informative and/or humorous video blogs, the film medium can also be an excellent tool to visualize complex processes, which is why videos with everyday tips, building instructions, product tests, make-up tutorials and cooking recipes are among the most popular features on YouTube.
All these channels are a great help in guiding more visitors to your own Internet presence, and users can further be accommodated on the company site itself using forums, surveys and comment features. Once a solid core of satisfied customers has been created, competitions with prizes can be devised and then advertised on social media channels. Anyone who then wishes to participate in a competition or receive a newsletter about upcoming events can be asked to register – which is a useful way for a company to gain numerous fresh leads. This type of active community will thus spread news and similar content features all by itself.
Some examples of successful content marketing with a low budget
Content marketing can actually be very successful with just a very small budget – or even with no budget at all. Here are a few examples of small- or medium-sized companies that have made significant breakthroughs:
The small Chicago bakery Foiled Cupcakes managed to exceed its own business targets by more than 600 percent. Yet this company, which offers its sweet baked products exclusively online, experienced a chronic sales deficit in the first months of opening. It was only after founder Mari Luangrath began to chat with other users on Twitter and then focused intensively on the wishes of this target group that sales began to increase. From the outset, Foiled Cupcakes adopted the mantra “Our customers are our friends” and thus developed an active community that made the online bakery a national success through word-of-mouth recommendations.
With the help of YouTube, Lauren Luke, a lone entrepreneur, managed to outdo cosmetic giants like Estee Lauder in terms of content marketing. She started her career selling make-up on eBay, and published videos on YouTube that showed women how to get the best results on a limited budget. These were not just advertising videos but also make-up instructions and general tips on the subject of cosmetics. Within a short time, her videos generated thousands of views, and Lauren Luke became one of the most popular make-up experts on the website. Since then, Lauren’s products have almost been selling themselves without her having to invest even a single dollar in conventional advertising.
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