By now marketers agree that content marketing is the way to go to ‘break through’ to consumers who are mobile, multi-tasking and regularly tuning out more traditional forms of communication like advertising.
Big companies, of course, are going all out with elaborate content marketing programs, developing pages and pages of original content, ‘repurposing’ it across all variety of social media, and finding new and creative ways to engage consumers—and keep them coming back for more.
But many small business owners seem to have already dismissed using content marketing as a customer engagement strategy for their own businesses, believing that the time-and-cost commitments are just out of their reach.
Content Marketing Institute founder and guru Joe Pulizzi provides several definitions of content marketing on the institute’s website, which also offers a quick version:
Content Marketing is owning, as opposed to renting, media. It’s a marketing process to attract and retain customers by consistently creating and curating content in order to change or enhance a consumer behavior.
What does this mean? In short, it means that instead of directly promoting or selling your products or services, you provide information that makes your buyer more intelligent. Think about today’s consumers. They are constantly searching for and sharing information—information that will help them make purchase decisions, as well as information that interests and entertains them. The underlying strategy of content marketing is the belief that when businesses consistently provide quality, valuable information, consumers will be more likely to do business with them and be loyalty to them.
Pitstopmedia.com offers some great tips for small businesses wanting to put together a content marketing strategy. Among them:
Make realistic goals and timelines. This is a big one. Take your time, especially as you’re putting your program together. Don’t be tempted to substitute speed for quality!
Maintain high quality standards, whether you develop original content or draw on or ‘borrow’ existing content from other sources. Your customers will know the difference.
Use key words to maximize your visibility in online search results.
Organize your content. Once your content marketing is rolling, you may have everything from blog posts to tweets. Be sure to organize in a way you can easily access everything in your growing content library.
In the meantime, we also found some great insights for when you’re ready to dive in: Effective Content Marketing for Small Business: 9 Ways to Get Started. In addition to offering ideas for which different content formats may be effective for your business, Volusion.com communications specialist Matt Winn stresses that in any content marketing effort, ‘soft sell’ is important. He reminds us that it’s OK to make the pitch for a product or service in a blog post, for example, but that should never be the focal point. High-quality, valuable content that your customers are looking for should always take center stage.
While it’s true that small businesses can face content marketing challenges that larger companies do not, ConstantContact.com identifies 10 such potential challenges, along with effective solutions for overcoming them. These stumbling blocks may sound familiar, since you may already have experienced some of them. But don’t let things like thinking you’re a terrible writer, time constraints, your own technology challenges or unrealistic expectations keep you on the content marketing sidelines! There are always workarounds or strategies you can employ to overcome the hurdles. And a solid content marketing program will be worth the effort.
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