Search online for any information on small business marketing and it is hard to avoid the topic of content marketing. But what is small business content marketing, is all the hype justified and does it deliver ROI on the time and effort involved? This post attempts to answer those questions.
What Is Content Marketing
The purpose of content marketing is to deliver the information prospects need to make a purchasing decision. It is about customer education, business reputation and staying front of mind.
So what is content? In simple terms, it is information that is both relevant and of value to the potential customer. It is information that engages the prospect without being pushy in any way. Content can take many forms including:
- Case studies and reviews.
- How to guides, posts and videos.
- Comparison information.
- Responses to frequently asked questions.
- Industry or market comment.
- Seminars or webinars.
- Business news, for example, a charity event.
The important point to remember is the content must be helpful and engaging and build trust and credibility.
The Benefits of Content Marketing
The way customers and prospects react to promotional messages have changed in recent years. Potential customers that once waited for information to be pushed their way now seek out the information they need.
Prospects believe word of mouth and the reviews of their peers more than anything a potential supplier may deliver. Some low value or commodity products may be purchased online without too much thought. With more complex products consumers seek out information and educate themselves before making a decision.
Is All The Hype About Content Marketing Justified?
Much of the small business content marketing advice published on the internet is, in fact, bad advice. Content marketing may be useful as part of an overall marketing mix but it is not a silver bullet. Content marketing may work well for some small businesses but certainly not all.
Simply publishing content without a purpose is a waste of time and effort. What is the objective of each piece of content and how does it fit into an overall plan? Ultimately the time and effort involved in small business content marketing need to generate a return. There needs to be a plan and objectives and measurement of progress against that plan.
Some Examples Of Small Business Content Marketing
There is little doubt content marketing can be resource intensive but that does not need to be the case. A simple campaign based on a few content marketing tactics can deliver results for small business. Some examples from our own experience:
A shop retailing specialized high quality items generates business via social media. They publish photography of items new to the store, they prepare guides and examples of how their products can be used. They promote offers and promotions all via only two social media channels (Facebook and Pinterest). This is the only promotional activity undertaken and sales continue to grow month on month.
A specialist car paint shop uses a combination of customer testimonials, helpful guides and YouTube videos. Cars they have painted often win awards at various specialist car shows. They use this as an opportunity to create YouTube videos both to discuss the car, its specification and their involvement.
Since implementing content marketing business continues to increase. The main promotional activity in the past was PPC advertising (at a cost of over GBP(£) 800 a month) which has now been cancelled.
A specialist distributor publishes regular blog posts discussing industry trends and qualification standards. They have produced a useful guide for customers that they give away in return for an Email address. They also deliver E-newsletters (built around their blog posts) on a monthly basis.
They solicit customer questions and answer these via their blog and produce YouTube videos as how to guides. In the past the business spent over GBP(£)20,000 per annum on traditional advertising but this has been reduced significantly.
As the old push style marketing (advertising, direct mail, telemarketing) becomes less effective many small businesses are trying to identify new ways to attract customers. Content marketing is, in many cases, a major part of that new small business online marketing process.
Content marketing requires a solid, well thought out strategy and plan, resources and (crucially) time to make an impact. However, it can deliver a consistent stream of high quality sales leads in the medium term.
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