Small businesses have a lot of challenges to overcome as they grow. The recent COVID-19 pandemic made it even more difficult for business owners, and small businesses that hadn’t invested in digital marketing quickly noticed how essential it is.

Content marketing is one of the most effective ways to market your brand and products in today’s digitally driven world. It creates visibility for your business, attracts potential customers, and drives sales. Content marketing for small businesses is not just about creating blog posts or videos, either; it’s about creating those assets with a purpose so that you can drive measurable results from them. Keep reading for essential tips that will help you get started with content marketing as a small business owner.

What Is Content Marketing for Small Businesses?

Content marketing is the process of ideating and producing written, visual, or audio content for the purposes of attracting, educating, and converting an audience. The purpose of content marketing is to persuade prospects to visit your website or profiles, consume your content, and later buy your products or hire you for services.

There are dozens of content types you can create for your business, like blog posts, eBooks, videos, webinars, infographics, podcasts, email newsletters, and social media posts. If you’re not sure where to start, read about the ways to create great SEO blog content and our 5 tips to energize your content marketing. Soon you’ll have plenty of ideas to start with.

There’s no right or wrong way to do content marketing for small businesses per se; only what your ideal customers are most likely to consume. If your target audience loves podcasts, make plans for episode ideas. If your target market likes shorter how-to content, put together an editorial calendar for videos that you can post on YouTube and Facebook. 

Why Should Every Small Business Invest in Content Marketing?

You might be wondering if your type of small business needs to spend time and money investing in content marketing. The answer is yes! As much as 81% of consumers research products online before buying and spend almost three months collecting information before a large purchase.

If you don’t have a growing presence online, you’re simply overlooked. Content marketing is the bridge between people who need a product or service and your business.

The good news is that content marketing is one of the most affordable marketing strategies to implement. And in the case of search engine optimized content, you’re building assets that can keep delivering traffic and leads over the long term.

Proper content marketing leads to an increase in traffic to your website, leads, and sales. Great content also helps you build your brand and establish yourself as an industry leader. 

Define Your Strategy and Goals

Before diving into content creation, you need to outline your content strategy and goals. Doing this first allows you to create content with confidence, knowing it makes an impact on your bottom line. 

Content marketing for small businesses hinges on three core factors:

  • Your target audience. This is the biggest factor to get right. All of the content you create needs to have your ideal reader/consumer in mind and solve a clear problem for them. Otherwise, they’ll keep looking online and end up on a competitor’s website. Chart out your ideal buyer and the reasons they should choose you over other businesses.

  • Your business goals. What are your key performance indicators (KPIs)? Do exposure and video views matter more than sales or leads? Do you want a certain number of new email subscribers or customers per month? Figure out what your priority is and then consider content marketing channels that support your KPI.

  • The first one or two content mediums you’ll commit to. One big mistake business owners make is trying to do all kinds of content marketing at once. Not only is this time-consuming, but you’re also more likely to put out low-quality content. Plus, it also takes time to build momentum in a given medium, whether it’s a social media following or an email newsletter audience. Pick one or two mediums to commit to for at least six months. Whether that’s long-form blog posts, videos, case studies, or something completely different, focus on one at a time. Give yourself and your business enough time to see if they’re producing results.

Your content marketing strategy is often different from other businesses’ strategies and that’s perfectly fine. The important thing is that you set measurable goals so you can track your progress. Set up a spreadsheet that everyone responsible for content marketing efforts at your company can contribute to as they finish tasks. This gives you a real-time view of how efficient your content marketing efforts are.

Create Useful, Informative Content

The secret sauce of content marketing for small businesses is making content that’s perennially useful to your target audience. You can write content about your product, service, or industry, but most of your time and energy should go into content that talks about how to solve a problem or how to improve a process. The average internet user goes online to find answers to everyday problems, and if your site’s content is discoverable, they’ll want more of what you have to offer. 

You can also create inspirational content by talking about your company’s mission and values or featuring customer testimonials and user-generated content (UGC). Customer testimonials are among the highest-converting types of content because prospects love when people they’ve never met speak highly of your business. Third-party opinions are trustworthy because there’s little incentive for strangers to lie to one another.

Over time, start making different types of content, including social media reels, webinars, audio snippets, and short videos. Always make sure that the content you create is original, solution-driven, and relatable to your audience. Excellent content solves a problem, educates your customers, and prompts them to take action with your business. Great content also improves your SEO results in the long term. 

Select the Right Platform for Your Audience

Every business needs a website and email list, but that doesn’t mean you need to be on every other platform under the sun. Smart small business owners start with one to three key platforms and bring their presence to other platforms as business goals dictate. 

Select one content marketing platform that works best with the type of content you are publishing. For example, if you’re creating a blog post about how to safely reboot a laptop, publish it on your own blog first and promote it on other platforms later. If you’re creating a video about your product, it’s smarter to publish it on YouTube first. 43% of the global online population uses YouTube, meaning it’s a built-in traffic source you can’t afford to overlook. (Backlinko)

If you’re creating a webinar, you’d want to publish it on a platform like GoToMeeting, Zoom, or EverWebinar. Every piece of content you put out should be available in a context that’s familiar to the audience that regularly consumes that type of content. Research best publishing practices for the content you’re creating if you’re unfamiliar. 

As you dive deeper into content marketing, maintain a consistent publishing schedule so your customers know when they can expect to receive new content from you. If you don’t have the time to create new content, you can always repurpose your old content. Learn how to repurpose your content for maximum results if it’s your first time.

Determine Which 2-3 Content Mediums Will Be Your Primary Channels

Focus not on doing all kinds of content perfectly but on creating content consistently. Often, the easiest type of content to create is blog posts. It doesn’t require more than a few hours to write, edit, optimize, and publish a blog post. 

You don’t want to create so much content that you’re spreading yourself too thin and not giving any of your content enough attention. You’ll want to pick your content channels, e.g. blog, social media, and email, and then create high-quality content for those channels. Make sure any written content follows Google’s website content guidelines.

Once you’ve selected your primary content types, you’ll want to create a content calendar that outlines what content you’ll create and when you’ll publish it. You don’t want to create content haphazardly. You want to make sure you’re publishing content consistently so you can stay consistent in your outreach efforts.

The Bottom Line

As a small business owner, you deal with competing priorities every day, but content marketing is one strategy that should be made a priority if it’s not already based on the ROI it can generate for you.

Here’s a review of the key points we covered about content marketing for small businesses: 

  • Content marketing is the process of creating digital content that educates or informs your target audience for the purpose of converting them into a customer. It’s a modern-day marketing practice that increasing amounts of businesses use to measurable success. 

  • Every small business should use content marketing because most consumers use internet-based information to drive their purchasing habits and decisions. By beating your competitors to the punch, your target audience will see you as the authority, therefore generating more leads and sales.

  • Efficient content marketing efforts rely first on a clear strategy. Identify your top KPIs, primary content channels, and who you’re serving with your content. 

  • Create content that’s truly valuable for your audience. There’s already plenty of noise and fluff on the internet; don’t contribute to it. Take all the time you need to produce content you’re proud of and that will attract ideal consumers. 

  • Publish your content on a platform that’s relevant. Research where you should publish your blog post, webinar, social media post, or video before it’s live. 

  • Choose two or three content channels to begin with and stick with them. Don’t spread yourself too thin by trying to master every characteristic of content marketing overnight. Do two or three types of content really well, and measure your results bi-annually to see where you can improve. 

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