Three principles to get started with content marketing for small businesses

content marketing for small businesses

I see it often on TV. Home improvement companies are advertising on local TV stations. I’m sure it is still effective because they keep doing it.

Also, I see car dealerships advertise on TV. Their advertisements seem more like overdramatized hype. There is one used car dealer who comes up with some of the corniest stuff I’ve ever seen. At least he’s memorable.

We all know that purchasing is changing rapidly, especially as millennials become a big part of the market. Millennials just don’t buy the same way. Check out this infographic for more info.

To illustrate this point, a few years, I listened as a former co-worker explained how she purchased a car. She went online to research what she wanted and then drove to a dealer near her hometown. She told the salesperson what she was looking for, but that’s not all.

She also told the salesperson that if they wouldn’t sell her the care (which she knew they had), she would just go to another dealer. For her, skip the “car buying process.” She made up her mind.

She got the car she wanted.

I routinely watch as people turn to Facebook friends for recommendations for what seems like every purchase they make.

Turning back to TV. People are cutting the cord. Now, instead of multiple cable companies to choose from, we are choosing from Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus (brand new), and Sling.

So, who is really seeing those commercials on TV?

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Everything is much more digital these days. All businesses should have a digital marketing strategy.

One of these strategies should include content marketing. Today we are going to talk about some basic things your small business customers can do to utilize content marketing.

We are going to discuss three basic elements to help launch your small business content marketing.

Define your audience.

Getting started with a content marketing strategy always begins with knowing your audience. This doesn’t have to be tricky.

After all, your client knows their customers. They know who their best customers are. It’s like when I walk into the local coffee shop, the co-owners call me by name. However, it’s not just me. They call most of their customers by name.

Just like Starbucks, they will ask your name when you order (if they don’t know you) and call it out when your drink is made. If you are getting an espresso drink, they will write your name on the cup.

Photo by Adrianna Calvo from Pexels
Photo by Adrianna Calvo from Pexels

 

Another place I frequent, several of the employees call me Mr. Todd.

Instead of focusing on demographics, have them focus on the types of problems their customers solve.

So, if your customer installs windows, then one problem they may solve might be a persistent draft due to outdated windows.

If your client has a sales team, have them write down the 15-20 most frequently asked questions. From there, you have various types of content you can produce.

Define your audience in terms of the types of problems you solve. This will help you know the types of content to create.

Create extraordinary content.

The next thing you need to do is create extraordinary content. When I talk about extraordinary content, I mean content that is more than ordinary.

The truth is, there is a ton of content on the internet. You have to stand out from the noise. The good news, however, is that your client’s competitors probably aren’t producing content either.

Quality content doesn’t have to be a 6K word behemoth guide (although those are great), but content that is relevant, trustworthy, showcases your client’s authority and their expertise, and finally, that is readable.

Relevant content is an extension of knowing the right audience (see above).

Trustworthy, authority, and expertise are three things that Google is on record as saying is important.

Now, as Ian Booth points out in this article at Moz, the E-A-T update seems to be a way for Google to evaluate “Your Money or Your Life” websites.

That being said, it is now part of Google’s Search Quality Raters Guidelines. You can read more about E-A-T in their guide.

Google outlines what makes for a quality page and, in turn, quality content.

Photo by Tim Mossholder from Pexels
Not this kind of EAT | Photo by Tim Mossholder from Pexels

 

There is no reason to get caught up in the details here. The important thing is that your content answers questions potential customers will have, showcase your client’s expertise and authority.

Creating readable content is also important. Too many times, I will get on websites, and the content is overly technical and doesn’t address the benefits of their service.

I call this the “torque effect.” In other words, when an auto dealer talks about torque, I have no idea what that means.

When the commercial or dealer says you have enough power to haul a 26-foot boat, then that makes more identifiable. More readable.

Torque is a technical term that the average customer doesn’t understand. But if you can tell the customer what it means, it will make more sense.

Another way to help content be more readable is to show not tell. Storytelling enables you to create more readable content.

I would submit most small businesses would get a lot more traction with their content if they tell more stories about how they helped their customer with the customer as the center of the story.

Don’t forget to promote the content.

Business owners often forget that you have to promote the content. People will not just come to your website to see what’s new unless they are already fans.

Content marketers talk about three areas of traffic when it comes to promotion: Owned, Earned & Paid. These are, as Katy Katz puts it, the three types of digital properties.

She explains each one in this article at SEJ,

There are three types of digital properties:

Owned: Any property that you own and control (i.e., your website)
Paid: Any placements on property in which you pay to be in front of an audience (i.e., PPC or paid social)
Earned: Another’s property that offers you free placement in front of a new audience (i.e., someone else says something about you for “free”)”

She does a great job of how you can utilize each area to promote your content.

One thing I think people overlook when it comes to content promotion is your email newsletter. If you spend time getting people on your email list, then you can certainly send your list information when you drop a new piece of content.

Now, just sending them an email with a link to your latest blog post probably will not be enough to get action. You need to include a single-focused piece of your content that is more engaging to entice people to read the article.

Think of it as repurposing your content to share in your email as well as on social media channels.

In fact, repurposing content is an excellent strategy for promoting your content. Creating bite-sized chunks of content that can be shared in various forms allow you to promote to various channels.

Wrapping it up

I understand that I just provided you with a somewhat simplistic overview of content marketing for small businesses. Sometimes, however, it is better to look at something from 30K feet before we begin diving into the specifics. At least it is for me.

Nevertheless, the things you need to do is Define your audience, Create extraordinary content, and Don’t forget to promote that content.

There are a variety of ways to carry out each of these three principles. The need is greater now, more than ever, for small businesses to begin including content marketing as a part of their greater digital marketing strategy.

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