When it comes to gaining visibility and attracting new clients for your business, traditional advertising, such as commercials, print ads, and sponsorships, has fallen out of favor, replaced by content marketing. But what makes content marketing so important to a small business, and can it really help you stand out from your competitors? Even more important, how do you get get started? Our marketing strategy firm in Minneapolis understands that this can be an overwhelming topic, so to help you get started, we’re outlining how to create a content marketing strategy for your small business.
What Is Content Marketing?
Content marketing doesn’t have a dictionary definition, but the Content Marketing Institute defines it as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and ultimately, to drive profitable customer action” (Content Marketing Institute, 2015). To parse this out, content marketing refers to sharing content that is relevant and interesting to your customer or client base in a variety of formats or mediums to your audience where they are looking for it.
While content marketing for businesses seems like a new concept that developed and grew with the arrival of the internet, it actually dates back to around 1891, when Backin baking powder included printed recipes on the back, which were then compiled into a curated cookbook in 1911. Meanwhile, in 1895, John Deere began printing The Furrow, a magazine with farming tips to improve their profits, and it’s still in print today with a circulation of around 1.5 million subscriptions (Kuenn, 2013). Proctor & Gamble began producing radio content in partnership with their brands, spawning “soap operas,” and cartoons in the 1980s, such as G.I. Joe were developed by Hasbro to sell toys.
Content marketing isn’t new, it has simply changed forms to adapt to how we consume media. Instead of printed cookbooks and cartoons, today’s content marketing includes:
- Blog posts
- Social media posts
- Service pages on your website
- Videos on your website
- White papers
- User reviews
Sharing pictures of new inventory, creating a video demonstration of a product, posting customer reviews, or writing a blog topic of other uses for a product are four ways to create content for one new item a retail store may carry.
Is Content Marketing for Small Businesses Necessary?
The short answer to this question is yes, a strong content marketing strategy can help your business reach its goals and increase revenue. As we mentioned above, old methods of advertising and pushing a sale turn away today’s consumers who are seeking brands they connect and identify with or who share their values. With so much competition available, it’s easy for them to find an alternative.
Content marketing gives you the ability to put your message out into the digital or print space and reach your target audience. Think of it as push versus pull, ie: with traditional marketing and ads, you’re pushing a customer toward buying something versus using content marketing to pull them into a perceived inner circle. Pushing a sale tends to push consumers away, while pulling them is more like your content acting as a magnet attracting them because you’re seen as an authority and you reflect the consumers values.
By sharing relevant information and engaging content, the consumer can begin seeing your business as a brand they know and trust, and they are then more likely to visit your website, fill out a contact form, or make a purchase. Even nonprofits are relying on content marketing over traditional fundraisers. Studies show that colleges using content marketing for social media have significantly increased engagement with their followers and get “more interaction from users who do not usually interact with [the college’s] social network profiles,” (Garcia, et. al. 2021)
Let’s look more specifically at three key benefits to content marketing.
Search Engine Optimization
How often do you use Google to find information, whether it’s finding out what time a restaurant closes or what is causing your car to make a clanking sound? Most likely, you’re choosing to click on the page that ranks among the top listing. The pages that rank the highest for the keywords you use are those that Google determines to be the highest quality and most relevant pages.
By putting out quality content that is relevant to your organization, you can increase your visibility on search engines, driving more traffic to your website from the people seeking exactly what you offer.
Public Relations and Loyalty
As we mentioned above, today’s consumer is looking at brands they connect with emotionally. By putting out content that aligns with your target audience’s values, your audience will feel like they know who you are and what you’re about, and in turn, they will be more likely to give you their business compared to another company they don’t know or don’t connect with.
Creating a Content Marketing Strategy for Your Business
Now that you know what a content marketing strategy is and why it’s important, let’s look at the framework for creating a content marketing strategy for your business.
Establish Goals or Purpose
What do you want to come from your content strategy
- Subscribe to an email newsletter
- Call and schedule a consultation
- Boost your search engine ranking
- Increase traffic to your website
- Increase sales
Choose one or a few goals and begin tracking performance indicators to show how you are moving toward them to ensure your content strategy is succeeding.
Identify Your Audience
If you’re trying to reach everyone, everywhere, you’re going to struggle to reach anyone. It’s easy to get lost in the digital space. Instead, conduct some market research to determine who your target audience is, where and how do they seek information, and what social media platforms they use. This will help you create your target demographics and reach them where they are.
Determine Streams of Content
Once you know where your audience is, you can create streams of content to attract them to your goals. For example, if you have an accounting firm, your target audience is most likely asking tax questions on Google, watching instructional videos on YouTube. Meanwhile, they may look at accountants on LinkedIn, but not Instagram, so create content for these sites where your audience is. In this case, video tutorials, blogs, and email newsletters may be more likely to help you reach your goals.
Choosing Quality over Quantity
While posting regularly is important, you don’t want to create content just for the sake of creating content. Everything you put out should have a purpose and provide some time of value to your audience. Think about the questions your clients ask you most often and create an FAQ page on your website, write a blog debunking myths, or send out an email with important information related to your industry, such as quarterly tax filing dates, to use the accountant example.
Create a Content Calendar
Publishing quality content regularly establishes credibility both with your audience and with search engines. If you write a blog, determine how often to publish – once a week or once a month? Should you send out a monthly newsletter?
Once you determine your publishing schedule, create a content calendar where you can brainstorm ideas, map out what kind of content you’ll be posting over a given month and to what streams, and any data you collect. This will save you time and even keep you on task when other projects threaten to take up too much of your time.
Schedule a Marketing Strategy Session With Woodland Strategies Today
Content marketing is just one aspect of a successful marketing strategy. At Woodland Strategies, we can not only assist with this, we can support you in business development, consumer relationships and strategy, and so much more. To learn more about how we can help you reach your goals, schedule a consultation with our team today by filling out our contact form below.