What is content marketing and why does your small business need it?

In this post I explain exactly what content marketing is and why you absolutely need to be doing it for your small business.

As someone who's been working in content marketing for what feels like forever (real-time: over 7 years) I sometimes forget that other people don't really understand what it is.

I've been in a few meetings recently where I've gone into my spiel about how content marketing can help the customers' business. I've noticed them go glassy-eyed after a few minutes because *news flash* not everyone lives in my world and sometimes you've got to break things down.

So that's what I'm doing. Here's a quick guide to content marketing including six compelling reasons why your small business needs it.

So what is content marketing?

According to Marketo content marketing is defined as:

 
Content marketing is the process of creating high-quality, valuable content to attract, inform, and engage an audience, while also promoting the brand itself.
— Marketo
 

The average buyer is now guiding themselves through 60-90% of the buying cycle. Essentially that means they're researching your products online before they even speak to a person from your company. 

You probably do it too. Say you want to buy a new sofa but you're not sure which one you fancy.

You might start by Google searching a couple of different furniture stores or the type of sofa you think you want. That will probably lead you to a few websites that sell similar sofas. One has multiple images of the sofas including close-ups of all the available colours, 360 videos and lots of fantastic customer reviews. The other doesn't have any information aside from a picture of each soft and the price. Which one are you more likely to buy? The first one, right?

That's content marketing.

Why does it matter?

It pretty much boils down to this: if your business isn't creating useful and informative online content that encourages people to buy your products, they will probably buy from someone who does. For me that's the main reason why content marketing matters.

There are others though:

  • More content on your site means that people have more reasons to stay with you for longer. Google also rewards sites with regular, fresh content so it helps your search engine ranking.
  • You'll look like a pro on social because you'll have regular useful content to share with your followers which they can interact with.
  • Creating effective content marketing will take customers further through the buying process and make it easier to encourage them to convert through cleverly placed calls to action.
  • Google ranks your content marketing outputs and if you share it on social people engage with it regularly, all this leads to increased website traffic.
  • With content marketing you can very specifically target your ideal client to increase visibility amongst your target audience.
  • Content marketing is the single best way to build your brand as a thought leader in your industry.

What content should you be producing?

So now you know why content marketing matters, but what should you be creating?

According to this article by Inc the top 5 most popular forms of B2B content marketing are:

  1. Social media content
  2. Case studies
  3. Blogs
  4. eNewsletters
  5. In person events

These are probably a good place to start for most businesses, regardless of if you sell to businesses or consumers.

Here's a bit more information about each:

Social media content

This is anything that a company posts on a social media channel be that images, links, videos, competitions and more on channels like Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Vine etc.

Case studies

Case studies built on real facts and statistics take users on a journey, usually one that ends with your product as the answer to all their problems. They are especially effective for B2B businesses.

Blogs

I've talked before about the benefits of business blogging but in a nutshell, creating informative, useful blog posts helps drive traffic to your website and build trust in your brand.

eNewsletters

Sending regular newsletter communication keeps you on the radar. Be careful not to saturate it entirely with news about your business though, make sure you keep the customer in mind and include some content that is targeted to the challenges they're facing.

In-person events

It might seem strange that this is in here because it's an offline activity but hosting an event for customers or prospects does provide a whole load of content for your online space. Live Tweet the event, share videos and pictures and create blog posts about the learnings.

Should your small business be doing content marketing?

Yes, yes yes!

However as a small business owner you wouldn't be alone in worrying that you don't have the resource or the talent to complete content marketing effectively.

It is possible though. I would suggest focusing on one or two areas initially (say blog posts and case studies) and put all your effort into those. If you don't have the time to spend on these kind of activities yourself then you can outsource to people like me or ask someone in your team to focus some of their time in this area.

In this age people are only going to be relying on internet research more so we could see that figure of 60-90% rise. With this in mind, you would do well to start building a solid library of content now. It will help you to convert customers and become trusted as a true source of information in your industry

Do you utilise content marketing for your business? What's working successfully for you?