As a small business, your biggest challenge is often getting people in the door. You probably have a limited budget for advertising, and feel like your Facebook page often leaves a lot to be desired in terms of reaching new customers. But there is another, free method you probably haven’t tried yet.
It’s called content marketing, and there’s a great LinkedIn post by Jason Miller which defines it perfectly. In essence, content marketing means creating content on your target audience’s preferred media channels addressing your target audience’s most burning questions. If you’re a cookware company, it could be recipes on your website or behind-the-scenes videos with Michelin Star Chefs. If you’re an automotive supply company, it could be interactive 3D renderings of the hottest new cars or a Facebook post providing tips on checking your oil. Whatever it means to your company, content marketing should be useful and actionable.
The power of content marketing
Consumers are more curious and more skeptical than ever before. They research purchases in ways that were unheard of 10 years ago. They also seek out information about disparate, seemingly unrelated topics at alarming rates. All of this can be good for your company, especially as a small business.
This information-seeking trend means no matter how large or how small, your company has the opportunity to position itself as a leader. It means you don’t need a multi-billion dollar advertising budget to get people in the door. It means you can rediscover your roots, the reason you started your business, and you can share it — and sharing it, today, can help you gain customers.
Sharing is caring
Today, everyone has a voice. It used to be that large media companies and publishers controlled access to information; but now, information is freely available to anyone with an Internet connection. Any person, anywhere in the world, can write a blog or create a website or start a YouTube video series. This reduces barriers to getting your content out where people can see it.
The downside of everyone speaking at once is that it creates a lot of noise. Slowly but surely, consumers are starting to recognize the need for experts in a given field. If your brand can provide access to thought leaders, it can create a loyal customer base that trusts your products by virtue of your expertise.
Best of all, people are starting to appreciate local knowledge. Don’t be afraid to share your insight. It might benefit someone right down the street who sees your shop on their way to work, or someone who lives halfway around the world but faces the same challenges. Either way, you’ve gained a potential customer.
Getting it for free
The best part about content marketing is that it doesn’t require a hefty budget. Even if your business is small, you probably already have the experts you need to build interesting content for your target audience. A marketing copywriter can help you get the words on paper, but it’s not required.
Getting started with content marketing is easy. Use these 6 tips to start becoming a thought leader in your community:
- Find your topics: Spend the next two weeks writing down all the questions you get from customers. On day 14, narrow the list down to the five most popular questions. Now you have your first five content topics!
- Start a blog: This is the easiest way to begin content marketing for your business, but make sure to set aside time each week to update it. A small weekly time investment in content marketing could yield big rewards if you consistently add new material.
- Bring in guests: Partner with a complementary business owner and write a blog post for each others’ websites. For example, a feed supply store could partner with a veterinarian, having the feed store owner write about the most popular supplements for animals in the local area while the vet writes about common seasonal health issues.
- Host a workshop: People love to learn new skills. Consider hosting a hands-on class or educational seminar that allows people to interact with your products. For example, a home electronics store could offer a demonstration on how to re-position stereo speakers for the best acoustics.
- Be helpful: A small business is part of the fabric of the local community. Find ways to be involved. For example, a local pharmacy could offer to run the first aid station at an upcoming festival. Make sure to hang plenty of signage with your name and address!
- Speak up: Don’t forget the power of local organizations for raising awareness of your business. At a recent American Marketing Association event, I was lucky enough to win a copy of a new book by marketing agency consultant Karl Sakas, “The In-Demand Agency: How to Use Public Speaking to Become an Agency of Choice.” His premise, and I believe a correct one, is that speaking as a thought expert on a helpful topic will almost always drive new business (especially if you’re not trying). Get out in the community and share your knowledge; it can only help grow your customer base!
Will you use any of these tips? Please share your comments below; I would love to know if this article was helpful to you in any way!