Search online for any information on small business marketing and it is hard to avoid the topic of content marketing, but what is it, is the hype justified and does a small business need content marketing? This post attempts to answer those questions.
The way customers and prospects react to promotional messages has changed dramatically over recent years. Potential customers that once waited for information to be pushed their way no longer have the same level of trust in traditional marketing techniques and now seek out the information they need.
Prospects now tend to believe word of mouth and the comments or reviews of their peers are much more trustworthy than anything a potential supplier may push their way. They seek out content online and tend to engage with the suppliers that deliver the information they need rather than those delivering pushy sales messages.
Although some low value products may be purchased online without too much thought, in the majority of cases consumers will seek out various sources of information and educate themselves thoroughly on the best choice before making a purchasing decision or engaging with a preferred supplier. They want to see what suppliers have delivered for others (reviews and case studies) and how it can help them.
What Is Content Marketing
Content marketing is all about delivering the information prospects require to make a purchasing decision. It is about staying front of mind until the potential customer is comfortable and ready to engage or buy.
So what is content? In simple terms it is information that is both relevant and of value to the potential customer. It is content that is presented in a way that engages the prospect and leads them down a desired path without being pushy in any way. Content can take many forms including:
- Case studies and reviews.
- How to guides.
- Industry or market comment.
- Exhibitions, seminars or webinars.
- Something about the company, for example a charity event.
The important point is it must be both helpful and engaging and build trust and credibility.
Is All The Hype About Content Marketing Justified?
There is a mass of statistical information online that illustrate why a small business may need content marketing. Although, it has to be said, a proportion is simply published by those with a vested interest there is sufficient available from well respected research organisations to show that content marketing does deliver results. One statistic from Gartner (a respected research organisation) perhaps says it all – Skillfully executed inbound marketing (of which content marketing is a major element) is 10x more effective at conversion than outbound (traditional) marketing.
There is a significant value then in content marketing for small business but is it overhyped? Well, yes it is to a point. A look at the Gartner Hype Cycle model (discussed further in this post from Dave Chaffey) shows that content marketing is, and will continue to be for some months to come, over hyped but that is to be expected and should not detract from its value to small business.
Does Content Marketing Work For Small Businesses
There is little doubt content marketing can be resource intensive but that does not need to be the case. A simple campaign based on just 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 and 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 on painting issues customers should consider and YouTube videos. Cars they have painted often win awards at various specialist car shows and they use this as an opportunity to create YouTube videos both to discuss the car and its specification (benefits the owner) and their involvement in the specialist paint job. Since implementing content marketing business continues to increase. The PPC advertising budget that cost over GBP(£) 800 / month has been cancelled.
A specialist distributor publishes regular blog posts that discuss industry trends and qualification standards. They have produced a useful guide for customers that they give away in return for an Email address and they deliver E-newsletters (build around their blog posts) on a monthly basis. They also solicit customer questions and answer these via their blog and produce YouTube videos as how to guides. The business used to spend in excess of GBP(£)20,000 per annum on traditional advertising but this has been reduced significantly and the business continues to grow.
So given the appropriate time and commitment experience shows content marketing can produce results.
As the old push style marketing (advertising, direct mail, telemarketing) becomes less and less effective many small businesses are trying to identify new ways to attract customers. Content marketing is, in many cases, that new small business online marketing process. Although content marketing requires resources and planning and it will not produce short term results it can deliver a consistent stream of high quality sales leads in the medium term.
Related posts you may like