Maybe the term content marketing is brand new to you.
Or perhaps you have a vague idea of what it is, but consider it to be one of those buzzwords that’s part of the latest trend in online marketing. You may also know exactly what it is, yet you have no idea how your small business can take advantage of it.
The truth is – content marketing is not new and it’s not a trend that’s going to fade away either. If you think your company is too insignificant to benefit from a content marketing strategy, you’re dead wrong.
Content marketing was a good idea 100 years ago. It’s currently one of the best ways to reach new customers and clients. And it’s the future of marketing in both the online and offline world.
Don’t have a content marketing strategy? You’re missing out!
But it’s not too late. You’re just in time to get on board. All you need is a few good ideas to get going…
So What Is Content Marketing Anyway?
In a nutshell…content marketing is the process of creating and sharing useful and/or entertaining marketing material to gain the attention, respect and praise of people you want to reach. The end goal is bringing in new, loyal customers who have a connection with your company.
Content marketing can include everything from blog posts and newsletters, to webinars and videos, to case studies and even live events. It is anything you make that adds value to the lives of others while avoiding constant hard-sells, product pitches and in-your-face advertising.
For more explanations to help you understand content marketing – check out junta42.com’s Six Useful Content Marketing Definitions, which contains different thoughts from a variety of experts in the field.
Traditional Marketing vs. Content Marketing
Traditional marketing is typically an interruption.
It’s the TV commercial break that you put on mute.
It’s the radio spot that prompts you to switch stations.
It’s the magazine ad that your kid uses to make a collage for school, the junk mail you throw away without opening, the billboard along the highway you can’t read because you’re driving too fast.
Content marketing is different…
Content marketing is advertising people actually want. They are happy when they find it because it helps them. It answers their question. It confirms their beliefs. It makes them feel something.
Content marketing is helping the right people find what they’re looking for – which many times is exactly what you have to offer. Traditional marketing often means shoving something down the throats of people who just don’t care.
Two recent surveys show content marketing is a growing field. One study from the Content Marketing Institute indicates more than 25% of B2B marketing budgets will go towards content marketing in 2012. More research from the Custom Content Council found the average company dedicates at least 2 full-time employees, more than 5,000 working hours and over $150,000 in compensation towards content creation.
There still is, and probably always will be a place for typical advertising methods. But things are changing. At Copyjuice, we think they’re changing for the better. Better for consumers and better for your small business too.
3 Ways Content Marketing Will Benefit Your Small Business
1. Become an Authority
Today’s consumer researches products and services long before they enter a store, talk to a sales representative or click “add to cart.” People have questions. If you can provide them with the answers through content your company creates and distributes, they’ll be much more likely to do business with you.
As a small business owner, you should already be an expert in your industry. Through content marketing, you can become a respected authority.
Think about the questions, problems and fears your typical prospects might have. What content can you create that could transform them into real customers?
Home Depot has a huge video series featuring Do-it-Yourself projects. You can learn how to build a paver patio for free. But when you watch the video, you’re also seeing all the materials and tools you’ll need to get the job done.
The videos don’t directly tell the viewer to go buy that stuff at Home Depot. But those who watch will make a list of the things they need, and there’s a pretty good chance they’ll go to Home Depot to get it.
One site that does a great job with content marketing is VideoCopilot.net. They sell cool plugins for Adobe After Effects that let you create awesome-looking professional stuff. They also have a blog that talks about video post-production industry news.
But what’s really awesome about Video Copilot are the “Basic Training Tutorials” with founder Andrew Kramer. People who are brand new to After Effects can learn how to use the software. Then when they need a certain plugin or help creating a special effect – they know exactly where to turn.
This business essentially creates new customers by creating free content and establishing itself as trusted authority.
2. Make Social Media Efforts Worthwhile
Some of us jump on the latest social media bandwagon like a hyper-active hobo hopping on the next train. Others among us are skeptical and see it as a waste of time.
Social media can be an excellent way to reach and engage customers. But what are you reaching them with, and what are they talking about? If it’s not your content that’s being shared – they are probably not heading to your website, and they are probably not talking about your business.
Social media without a content marketing strategy is fruitless. It’s like a castrated horse put out to stud. He may be humping the mares, but nothing will come of it.
Too many companies think that simply creating a Facebook profile and a Twitter account, and then sticking some icons on their website under the headline “Follow Us! Be Our Friend!” is enough. It’s not.
You need to view different social media services as channels for distributing your original content. Then you’ll start seeing the benefits of marketing through social media.
3. Boost Your Search Engine Rankings
There are a lot of wrong ways you can try to get to the top of Google’s search results. If you want to do things right – content marketing is the way to go.
Google, as well as other search engines, absolutely love content that is fresh and unique. Search engines also take notice when real people are sharing your content as well as talking about your company and visiting your website.
Creating content does some very important things in terms of SEO. If you’ve read our article on Small Business SEO – Top 3 Things You Need to Know then you’ve learned the size of your site and links from other websites back to yours are two of the biggest factors for getting organic rankings.
Content marketing helps you accomplish both of those things. You’ll also be writing about keywords you want to rank for, and creating other types of content that can bring in customers who want what you have to offer.
3 Things Content Marketing Doesn’t Have to Be
1. It Doesn’t Have to be for “Big-Players” Only
Don’t leave content marketing to huge corporations and major brands like Coca-Cola and Home Depot.
Good content marketing doesn’t always require a big budget. You might assume that you can’t compete with the volume and production value of marketing material created by companies with lots of money to spend. That’s the wrong way to think about it.
The truth is – you can’t afford not to have a content marketing strategy.
We often quote Microsoft Founder Bill Gates who said in his almost-prophetic 1996 essay “Content is King” that “No company is too small to participate.”
Gates also knew that the internet was leveling the playing field by making it more affordable to create and distribute original material.
“One of the exciting things about the Internet is that anyone with a PC and a modem can publish whatever content they can create. In a sense, the Internet is the multimedia equivalent of the photocopier. It allows material to be duplicated at low cost, no matter the size of the audience.
The Internet also allows information to be distributed worldwide at basically zero marginal cost to the publisher. Opportunities are remarkable, and many companies are laying plans to create content for the Internet.”
What Bill Gates foresaw in 1996 is in full swing today.
2. It Doesn’t Have to be Digital
Content marketing doesn’t stop when you leave the Internet. We tend to think of the online world as somewhat separate from real life. But there’s no reason why real and virtual can’t connect. They actually do all the time.
We mentioned a few things like conferences, articles published in trade journals and other types of content people will find away from their computers and smartphones. What’s stopping people from going back online and spreading the word about the positive experience they had with you business? Nothing.
3. It Doesn’t Have to be Brand New
Remember – we said content marketing was a good idea 100 years ago. Content Marketing Institute founder, Joe Pulizzi, pointed out that John Deere may have been the first company to have a content strategy. It began publishing a magazine called The Furrow way, way back in 1895. Of course, today it’s online and includes videos, photo galleries and more.
Soap operas were original radio and television shows both sponsored and actually produced by Procter & Gamble and Lever. They created that programming for their target market – not the networks.
You may already have content marketing efforts of your own – it’ just you didn’t realize that’s what kids are calling it these days. Newsletters, workshops, your company blog – all that stuff is great. But could you be doing even more?
So Where Do You Start?
If you’re not sure about what kind of content marketing would work best for your business, let’s work it out together.
Leave us a comment below and we’ll talk about ideas for an effective content creation strategy that makes sense!
Kasey Steinbrinck is a co-founder of Copyjuice specializing in copywriting and creative content marketing. Need ideas for content you can create for your small business? Contact kasey(at)copyjuice.com. He’d be happy to shoot you some free consultation!