Customers are increasingly fussy about the types of marketing messages they receive. In a world where cookies confront us on every website, our online behaviour starts to paint a picture about the types of things we’re interested in or looking for.
This has led to very targeted marketing, where consumers are presented with exactly the types of adverts that they want to see. As a result, customers will no longer engage with the typical ‘cold’ email approach. They need to be attracted with useful, quality content.
If you work in a competitive marketplace, your business needs to stand out. This is where a good, structured content marketing plan comes in. When there’s no other way to set yourself apart from your competition, you have to provide more value. If you can position yourself as the authority and ‘thought leader’ in your area of expertise, that could just tip the scale in your favour.
By putting out the correct kinds of content, you’ll effectively reduce the cost of leads by bringing in warmer prospects who are ready to convert. You’ll also increase your brand awareness and position yourself as a company who can be trusted.
Here’s a summary of 10 content marketing ideas that are perfect for your small businesses:
One of the easiest places to start your content marketing efforts is with a blog. This low cost, easy-to-manage platform is ideal forum for reaching out to your audience. One of the biggest mistakes people make is focusing too much on selling their product; this isn’t what great content marketing is about.
You started your business for a reason, right? That’s because you’re an expert. Whatever your field or industry, you’ve worked hard to get where you are and you should never be afraid to share a little bit of knowledge.
Once you’re confident with writing blog content, it’s time to take the leap into industry editorial. Just as you would with any other marketing strategy, you need to think about your audience and what they’re reading. Which sectors do your customers work in? What are the regular challenges that they face? Which solutions do you provide that’ll help? Answering these questions will greatly inform your strategy as you push forward and try to gain wider exposure.
There’s one important little trick to remember…It’s not about you. Try to avoid focusing on talking about yourself and how great your business is; that should be a given. Any articles you write should take a pain point in the industry, present a solution that’s available to them and then have a short, ‘Oh hey, that’s what we happen to do’ summary at the end. Let your knowledge do the talking for you and the enquiries will follow.
3. White Papers
Now you’ve got blog posts and article content in the bag, it’s time for you to go content creation level ‘expert’. White papers are in-depth guides to any particular aspect in a business. These are opportunities to really dig into the detail of a particular topic and provide guidance and information to potential customers. By allowing people to download your whitepaper for free, you build a positive reputation for yourself, this is also a great way to collect contact details such as email addresses. Simply use a form to capture an individual’s contact details (not too lengthy – you don’t want to put them off!) before they can download it. It’s a win win. See our example here.
4. Case Studies
The best way to gain credibility is by putting together case studies of work and projects you’ve already carried out. Positioning case studies should be simple, much like putting together an article. Give a little bit of context around the problem that a customer was facing, then outline the solution you provided and how this has benefitted them as a result.
Case studies can be housed on your blog page, in their own section of your website and in traditional printed collateral such as brochures and leaflets and will help prospective customers make their decision.
Testimonials serve exactly the same purpose as case studies in that they help to build your credibility. The benefit of a testimonial however is that they come directly from your customer, helping to build trust in the eyes of your consumers.
Look to review sites like Trustpilot and encourage your customers to leave feedback if they’re happy with your service. The result will be that you’ll put your customer at ease from the off, helping them to push along with making that all important sales decision.
Webinars are excellent delivery platforms to follow-up to other content. You can showcase a particular product or service you want to highlight or promote. Just like whitepapers, they’re also a great way to capture leads. Before allowing someone to join or download a webinar, include a small, compulsory online form where they can input details such as name, job title and email address. This way, you can reach out to them following the webinar, increasing engagement and likelihood they may convert to a customer one day.
Videos are being used more and more by advertisers as a way to engage with audiences, particularly on social media. The benefit of using video content is that it can be cheap to produce and easy to upload and share. If done right, they’ll help to build your brand awareness, reputation and credibility.
8. Social media
If you’ve been avoiding it up until now, you need to reconsider your priorities when it comes to social media. There were over 2 billion active social media users online in 2016 and that’s a market you can’t afford to miss.
Most social networks are free to use, though there are business upgrades available if you like to track statistics in detail. The key thing about social media though, is that its instant. Any of the content we’ve mentioned above can be posted, promoted and recommended through social media as soon as it’s ready.
It’s also another place where people can make enquiries, post reviews and testimonials and learn about any upcoming webinars you might be doing. Think of it as your pedestal, get up there and shout about your business.
Think user friendly, short, snappy content that’s informative and appealing to look at. Infographics are one of the newer forms of content that can make a big impact. An infographic (for those who don’t know) is predominantly a diagram, but includes a small amount of text explanation on whichever particular subject has been illustrated. A great example here from ‘Monster.com’.
Over time, you’ll begin to build a database of contacts comprising both existing and prospective customers. In order to boost the traffic to those new blog posts and articles you’ve worked so hard to produce, be sure to send out email newsletters to your database to give them a nudge in the right direction.
If that content is valuable enough, you’ll start to build a following. Once you build a following, you’ll start to generate new enquiries. Once you generate new enquiries, you’ll increase your database of contacts and so, the cycle continues.