7 Small Businesses That Are Beating You At Content Marketing
I’ve been freelance writing in the marketing niche for years now, and one of my favorite things about my job is finding examples of great marketing in action. It’s one thing to tell people how to market, it’s another thing to show them how it’s done.
But it seems like most other marketing gurus and freelance writers stick to the big brands to show the rest of us how it’s done. Yes, Coca-Cola, Under Armour, Amazon, and Nike all have killer content marketing strategies. But how relevant are these examples to the regular small business owners who consume so much content in the marketing blogosphere?
Not very. Big brands are marketing to a global audience using massive budgets. Their strategies just don’t resonate for small business owners, because they’re unattainable.
So, I took the time to fish out 7 examples of small businesses that are trying and succeeding at content marketing, even if they don’t have the budget to use every possible channel. Their strategies can help inspire the rest of us small business owners (myself included) to jump into the content marketing game.
Dive Rite is a small business that sells scuba equipment to advanced divers. Like a lot of companies in their industry, they blog about the ins-and-outs of the sport, featuring how-to content, inspiring diver experiences and more. But they also drill down to more advanced topics to attract their target sub-audience of scuba divers.
Dive Rite doesn’t stop there — they add to their content marketing power by creating instructional videos, dive spot recordings, and conference check-ins to engage their audience:
They also paint a great picture of the Dive Rite life on their Instagram:
Dive Rite has no board-room creative team brainstorming their next big marketing strategy. They simply turn who they are as a business into content people enjoy.
If your small business has a positive company culture, that’s really all you need to start engaging your target audience on social media and your blog. Just look for opportunities to document and promote it.
PTC is a computer software and services company. Their products have a wide range of applications (think retail, aerospace, oil and gas, IOT, and more). As a result, they’re faced with a challenge creating content that speaks to their whole audience base.
But they make it look easy.
When you scratch the surface, PTC has a blog that covers a medley of topics related to their target industries:
But they also have a resource center, where users can find informative videos, reports and other content related to their industry:
Lastly, they host an online community where PTC customers can discuss their products and other industry trends:
PTC has essentially created their own online community with blogs, other resources, and user generated content at its core. It’s very impressive way of using content marketing to attract and keep their target audience engaged.
Look for opportunities to encourage your audience to engage on your small business like PTC did. There are plenty of tools out there that can help you easily add forums to your website for this purpose.
When most people think of “content marketing,” the first thing that comes to mind is blogging. A lot of marketers use their blog as the spoke of their content wheel, but it’s not always necessary for great content marketing.
While browsing Twitter, I came across Glow Dentistry, a London-based cosmetic dental practice. This small business is doing content marketing right, despite the fact that their blog is really, really out of date.
Glow takes to both Facebook and Twitter not to promote their services or even their own content, but to join industry conversations and share other dentistry insights from sources around the web:
You can tell they’re doing something right, since their profile is one of the first advanced Twitter search results for the keyword “dentistry.”
When you do get to their site, you’re faced with attractive video lead magnets related to their services:
They also have a resource center sharing helpful advice about maintaining oral health.
Blogging regularly is always a smart idea for content marketing, but it’s not the only way to attract your audience back to your site and encourage them to convert. Don’t give up just because you don’t have the resources or time to invest perfectly in your content marketing strategy. Choose a few channels to optimize so you can start seeing results, then expand your efforts as your business grows.
Plated is an innovative small business that addresses every at-home chef’s worst nightmare: missing ingredients. Plated creates gourmet-standard recipes and delivers all the ingredients you need to make them, right to your door:
Plated’s mouth-watering blog (appropriately named Morsel), not only shares tasty recipes for customers to try, but pushes the cooking envelope to interest foodies and lay-chefs all around.
As part of their content marketing strategy, Plated creates instructional videos on how to create each recipe, and promotes them on YouTube and Facebook. But they don’t just focus on how to use their ingredients, they also teach their audience basic skills they would learn in a professional cooking class, like how to roll pizza dough:
Their marketing strategy truly is a great blend of promotional tactics and informative/entertaining content all in one. Their service addresses a need, and so does their content.
Effective content marketing isn’t just about attracting customers with your blog posts, videos, case studies, etc. Look for ways to create content that engages and offers value to your current customers as well. This improves retention, simplifies the upsell, and drives your bottom line overall.
When Dollar Shave Club created their first video about the company, they didn’t realize it would get 9.5 million views and land them 12,000 new customers in just 2 days. That was a few years ago, and now videos make up the cornerstone of Dollar Shave Club’s content marketing strategy.
Head over to their YouTube channel, and you’ll see they make entertaining and informative videos for just about everything. It’s even how they answer their FAQs:
But the company isn’t one to neglect other forms of valuable content as well. They also regularly blog about topics related to grooming, style, and health:
Dollar Shave Club really struck a chord with their first viral video, so they rode that wave to create their own unique style of branded content for the long run. It’s still working!
There’s only so much you can glean about what kind of content your audience wants and enjoys from your buyer personas alone. If you want to continuously improve your strategy, pay close attention to how people react to your content. Use that information to inform and improve your strategy long-term.
Creating content for “boring industries” is one of the biggest marketing challenges out there. How do you blog about refrigerators in an entertaining, and informative way?
Yale Appliance makes it look like a breeze.
Yale Appliance boasts it’s the only major appliance store that demonstrates how to use products before and after you buy. That’s what most of their blog is about:
They also cover topics that will help you make a purchase decision and answer questions about common repair needs. Click over to their Resource Center and you can browse a variety of videos and other resources that cover everything you want to know about home appliance purchases, repair and upkeep.
Yale Appliance is another great example of a small business that can draw the line between pitching their products and creating content that brings extra value to their target audience.
Don’t let your competitors, third-party sites, or online forums dominate the discussion of your product’s features and capabilities. Create content that directly addresses the questions people ask before making a purchase decision, then weave it organically into your larger content marketing strategy.
Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward is a London real estate company. They were one of content marketing’s early adopters, launching a magazine back in 2009 called The Completely London. It was a hit, helping them build authority in their niche and overcome the housing market crash at the time.
The magazine hasn’t had a new issue in a while, but it looks like Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward have moved onto other content marketing tactics to give value to their audience and maintain their position as a top knowledge authority in London real estate.
In addition to their vibrant, regularly updated blog, they also offer a variety of guides and resources for buyers, sellers, tenants, landlords, and other members of their target audience:
But what I like the most about Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward’s content marketing are their mortgage estimator and stamp duty calculators:
A lot of marketers forget that tools are just another great form of content that offers value, encourages engagement, and generates leads. And no matter how small your business is, there are always affordable options to create your own unique tool, especially if you work with freelancers online.
Content marketing can seem like a daunting strategy for small businesses with limited marketing budgets. And sure, the big brands blog daily, post to social media constantly, and create more video content than some film production companies.
But the bottom line is that you don’t need to do all that to start creating valuable content that builds a relationship with your audience. A lot of the businesses mentioned in this post don’t have all their content marketing ducks in a row — But they picked a channel or two and started running with it.
The value of their efforts really does show. So why not get started with content marketing for your small business?