As we head into the new year, you might be wondering…
Do I really need to do this content marketing stuff online for my small business? Even though I do social media and don’t have an e-commerce business?
Well, we can send you some statistics, but the bottom-line answer is yes.
What other strategy do you know of to help your business stand out, build trust, and create a connection with your audience?
This is what content marketing is all about.
Isn’t social media the same as content marketing?
Kind of. Social media is the medium, not the message. It’s part of a bigger whole. Without the rest of it, you’re not taking full advantage of the benefits.
Think about how you shop for something new…
If you research before you buy, which 81% of us do, then where do you go first to research? Social media or Google? If it’s Google, you’re likely to end up on a business website, where you’ll see the message. You might visit their social sites after, but social media isn’t usually the first step.
So what is content marketing, really?
Content marketing is creating and distributing content that attracts new customers through different channels. This includes blogging, email, social media, videos, podcasts, e-books, infographics, etc.
You use content to build relationships with your prospects and customers, so they grow to know, like and trust you—more than your competitors.
Offer useful tips and advice related to your field. This way you can show your expertise and prove that your offering is the best solution for their needs.
The end goal is to get more eyes on your business and to drive more sales.
It’s Like Being the Head Cook at a Favorite Local Diner
We say a cook rather than a chef, because consistency is more important than creativity.
You want a menu that keeps loyal fans coming back, while tempting new guests in the door.
In this example:
- Content pieces = ingredients
- Delivery channels = recipes & techniques
So how do you accomplish this for your diner?
1. Know what your customers want
Who are your people? What problem are they trying to solve? What makes them click, share, and ultimately buy?
Get to know their concerns and the benefits they seek. Digging into these details might even help you adjust your offering to suit their needs better.
2. Be true to yourself
Be authentic. Don’t act like a Michelin-star rated chef, when you’re known for good comfort food.
People want real and relatable talk, not polished corporate speak. Share insider moments from your business, including the highs, the lows, and the messy middle.
It’s OK to let your personality shine through. You’ll make more of a connection.
3. Serve freely, sell subtly
Why be subtle? Just like no one wants to listen to an ongoing pitch from the sales guy at a networking event, no one will stick around to hear constant sales pitches online.
You want them to stick around.
Because one-time buyers are fine. But you really want friends/customers who keep buying. This implies a relationship, so treat them like friends.
Give them value, answers, and solutions with your content. This could be how-to guides, tips, industry insights or advice.
Be the trusted advisor. The one who informs without always pitching the hard sell.
4. Diversify your menu
Do you know their tastes for content?
Not everyone consumes content the same way. Some love to read, some want to watch, and others prefer to listen.
Mix it up with blog posts, photos, videos, podcasts, and infographics. Try different methods to test the response and to reach a broader audience.
5. Dish it up consistently
Consistency is your secret sauce. Whether it’s posting blogs, releasing videos, or delivering podcast episodes, stick to a schedule. We suggest weekly, if possible, monthly at the very minimum.
Consistency helps breed trust, and trust leads to loyalty. Be the business that shows up, rain or shine.
6. Repurpose like a pro
One ingredient can be used in many different recipes. If you spend the time creating content, why not use it in different ways?
Turn your blog post into a video or transform a video into a post. Repurposing is the way to get the most bang for your content buck.
7. Don’t ignore your new friends
On social media, it’s too easy to post and leave. But you want to engage with your new friends.
Respond to comments, answer DMs, and ask for their input. When you make your audience part of the conversation, they become invested in you and more open to doing business.
What about AI in content marketing?
Marketing experts see AI or Artificial Intelligence as having a supporting role in creating content, not a lead role, and we agree.
After all, being true to yourself and building relationships is harder to do when your writing is done by a computer.
In the end, just remember to be authentic and serve freely. Because audiences online are a lot savvier than they used to be. That’s why today’s content marketing sells with a light touch.
Want more marketing tips? See our guide to Online Marketing for Small Business Success.