5 Ways Small Businesses Can Succeed with Content Marketing

By Heike Young

Content marketing exists to give customers the information they need. That means content marketing benefits companies of any size. If you have customers or want more of them — and I’m betting your small business fits in that category — content marketing can help with that.

Here’s the Content Marketing Institute’s definition of content marketing:

Content marketing is the strategic marketing approach of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience — with the objective of driving profitable customer action.

Content marketing is perfect for small businesses because it’s low cost. For example, you can publish blog posts for free or release an e-book for your customers by saving a PPT as a PDF. Content marketing can also increase your fledgling brand awareness and grow your community.

Here are five ways that small businesses can start using content marketing today.

#1: Don’t do anything without a strategy. Without a documented strategy, you’re creating content without goals or purpose. As Joe Pulizzi, founder of Content Marketing Institute, says in the latest episode of the Marketing Cloudcast, “If you’re not writing down your strategy, it doesn’t exist.” Sixty-eight percent of B2B content marketers don’t have a documented content strategy.

Start by writing down what you want from content marketing (for example, happier customers or more sales), how you’ll achieve that (perhaps a regular cadence of blog posts, whitepapers, or how-to videos), and how you’ll measure success. Surely you’ve got a strategy and business plan for your growing company, so apply the same principles to your content.

#2: Run a pilot campaign. After you document your content strategy, your head will spin with all the types of content you could create, whether that’s fun gifs or Vines. But before you rush to create 15 different types of content, figure out what works for your audience.

Run a small pilot where you test one core asset type (like a whitepaper or webinar) and support with blog posts, social media, and so on. Bonus: running small pilots instead of 15 simultaneous campaigns saves you, the small business owner, time.

#3: Answer every conceivable customer question. I’ve heard Jay Baer say that if you think your website’s FAQ section is deep enough, it’s not — and I think that’s absolutely true. Especially for a small business where your company isn’t yet a household name, you’ll want to clearly and fully answer all the common customer questions, and then some.

Do a whiteboard brainstorm of all the potential questions that someone might have when they first hear of your company, when they’re considering a purchase, once they’ve converted, and if they require troubleshooting. Answer these in a forum, on an FAQ page, in blog posts, and beyond.

#4: Incorporate visual content. Across all demographics and audiences, customers have more options than ever for how to spend their digital time. That means your content has to be immediately engaging and eye-catching. One way to do that is by adding some visual content to your strategy. Above all, content should be helpful — there’s no reason to create visuals just for the sake of it. That said, if you can educate or entertain visually instead of solely textually, you’ll have more distribution options and attract different customers and prospects.

SlideShare is one fantastic way to get visual on a budget. Simply share helpful info via PowerPoint presentations and include illustrative images. Video (whether activated through YouTube, Instagram, Vine, Vimeo, or another channel appropriate for your audience) is also an option, and it’s not just for supersized marketing budgets, either. As long as your videos are clear and informative, they’ll help your audience.

#5: Stay responsive and agile. As a small business, your goals and strategies may change frequently — after all, you’re still growing. Use that to your advantage. Whereas a large corporation might need to plan content production weeks and months in advance, you can be more agile.

Use your content to respond to current trends and questions. Listen to what’s top of mind for your customers and let your content strategy be a living, breathing document. And remember that content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time for people to start relying on your digital properties for information, so commit to a regular cadence of content and stick to it.

Your content strategy can only improve if you focus on the right metrics. In our free e-book How to Measure Your Content Marketing, understand the data you need for expert measurement of the content you create. Download your copy today!

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