The way that we use the internet and interact with media and technology has changed dramatically over the last ten years and has arguably changed a great deal even over the last five.
Consumers no longer respond to run-of-the-mill advertising tactics and basic websites in the same ways they used to, and increasingly seek more authentic and engaging experiences from the companies that they choose to spend their money with.
To keep pace with these evolving trends in consumer behaviour, big brands and corporations have shifted the focus of their marketing strategies towards richer, more immersive experiences, using techniques like “content marketing” to boost their online presence, raise product awareness and ultimately boost their sales.
So where does that leave the small business owner looking to improve their online presence and gain a foothold in local markets? Can small companies and even sole traders benefit from the same marketing strategies as those big-brand players?
In this article, we’re going to explore the definition of “content marketing”, explain its benefits, and hopefully persuade you, the small business owner, to embrace content creation as an effective tool for making more sales.
And not just online, but out there in the real world too!
So What Exactly is Content Marketing?
Before we list some of the ways that content marketing can help your business to make more sales and improve your online presence, it’s probably helpful to explain what we’re talking about when we use the phrase “content marketing”.
Put simply, content marketing can be defined as:
“A marketing technique that involves creating and distributing various forms of media (content) that your target customers find appealing and engaging, in order to provoke a positive reaction”
Breaking that definition down a little further, content marketing can help small businesses:
Build trust with potential customers by demonstrating knowledge and authority.
Create a loyal “tribe” of followers and fans, by solving problems and answering industry specific questions.
Boost search engine rankings by distributing written content that Google perceives as relevant to your niche.
Does Content Marketing Work For Small Businesses?
In a word, yes!
No matter what industry you’re part of, or whether you sell products online or offer “real” services in the offline world, content marketing can help your business make more sales, boost your online presence and in general, make the phone ring more often!
Need more convincing? Let’s explore four specific ways that content marketing can help small business owners to thrive:
Content Marketing Can Help Small Businesses:
Create a Sense of Trust and Authority
Imagine you’re searching online for a local tradesperson. You’ve checked out a couple of websites:
Website A): Feels a little “thin”. Sure, there’s a contact number and an “about” page, but other than that, not much else is going on. It doesn’t look like the owner has updated the site in a while.
Website B): Has a ton of relevant content that goes into great depth about the problem you’re facing. There are lengthy “How To” style articles, case studies and more, and on top of that, you can easily find the person’s social media accounts, where they regularly answer questions and give helpful tips to DIY enthusiasts.
Which of the two business owners is more likely to get your hard-earned cash?
Good content marketing makes a local business look more “alive” online, creating a sense of personality, authenticity and trust.
Generate Fresh Leads and Increase Sales
Many small businesses object to content marketing on the basis that it takes a long time to create, and is slow to yield results.
That’s partially true, but think of it another way:
If you have a wealth of long-form, informative content on your website, you’ve effectively built a very robust, long-term marketing strategy that should not only stay relevant for a good amount of time, but will also act as something of a map, or in industry-speak, a “Funnel” that you can use to direct your audience down different pathways, with the aim of invoking a “Call to Action”, in the form of a phone call or email, that will hopefully generate a strong lead that’s ready to spend money.
A content marketing campaign effectively becomes the “engine” of your online business, with readers (traffic) acting as the fuel.
Improve SEO to Boost Google Rankings
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) definitely works. However, these days, it’s a lot more involved than simply filling your website full of keywords and hoping Google will notice.
Modern search engine algorithms are extremely sophisticated, and can easily differentiate useful, relevant websites from the competition. The more relevant, long-form content that your small business puts out, the easier it will rank in Google over the competition.
Enhance Social Media Presence and Digital Marketing Strategy
With good content on your website, it’s possible to create something of a feedback loop: When you share your writing and videos across social media, you’ll gain greater traction than simply commenting on other people’s posts, and you’ll eventually find that you’re receiving traffic without having directly shared anything at all, such is the power of your content going viral, even if that’s only at a micro, local level.
Content Marketing Can Help Small Businesses Succeed Online
Content marketing isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy. There are numerous ways to go about online marketing, depending upon your target audience and business type. However, if you can keep an audience loyal, and get them hooked on your content, you’ll gain instant authority and trust, increase your overall brand awareness and in the process, generate more leads and sales.
Surely that’s something that every small business owner dreams of achieving?