Being competitive means being visible online, and for this you need content.
Businesses of all sizes now understand the importance of content for effective marketing.
Customers have spoken and they want content – whether it’s to be informed, educated or entertained.
But for smaller businesses, there are real challenges in capitalising on online opportunities and playing the content game.
While small businesses owners understand the importance and value of content in growing their business, making it work is a different matter.
We look at five of the content marketing truths facing small business owners wanting to get the most from their content efforts.
Five small business content marketing truths
1. Have a plan
There’s little point in taking on content if it’s not clear what you want to achieve.
And with so many different content channels and types, and limited time, budget and manpower, it’s important to decide what type of content you are going to produce and where it’s going to go.
Putting together a content strategy is extremely useful.
It helps to focus what it is you need to do and with what resources. It also means you have a clear idea of your audiences and how you are going to reach out and engage with them through your content.
Is there anything worse than a blank page?
Content ideation is one of the biggest frustrations for small businesses. You may have the appetite, enthusiasm (and maybe time) to create content, but what is it going to be about?
While bigger companies may have access to sophisticated tools offering data and insight into what people are searching for, smaller businesses may find themselves at a loss as to what to focus their (limited) resources on.
Thankfully, there are a number of ways you can avoid the panic of the blank page.
There are many free-to-use tools to help you with keyword research and understanding search traffic. Google search results also offer some ideas, with the ‘people also searched for’ queries.
Think about what problems your customers and clients are facing. Pre-empt their questions and give the answers in the form of valuable content. Ask them what their issues are.
Also look at what your competitors are writing about. Don’t of course copy, but use it as a way to find gaps in your content and do a better job with it than the competition!
Put it all together to create a content calendar.
Add to it content for key events and dates. Think about what will be important to your customers at certain times. This way, you can make sure the content need during particular seasons or regular events are covered, such as going back to school, Christmas and Valentine’s Day.
3. Read the room
Content does not exist in a vacuum.
The content people consume is heavily influenced by what’s happening around them.
Social media offers the ideal platform to listen to what your audiences are saying, thinking and doing. Go beyond customers – also look at competitors and other sources for the latest trends in your market.
Your content should be attuned to all of this and feed into it.
4. Know who you are
One of the best ways to stand out from the crowd and your competitors is by being yourself as a business.
Think about your company’s story and how you want the business to be perceived by your audiences. Are you friendly and chatty? Adventurous and playful? Inspiring and cutting-edge? Serious and authoritative?
Whatever your identity, convey it through your content to reflect your business’ unique characteristics and style.
5. Feed the fire
The reality is that you probably won’t see impact from content from day one.
Sure, there may be some low-hanging fruit opportunities, but generally, anyone promising you quick and big wins is likely to be using questionable techniques that may turn out to be more damaging for your business in the long term.
Stay authentic in wanting to help your audiences and being present where they are online, and you’ll be making the best foundations for future success.
Content is a long term game which should have long term goals. It’s an investment to grow your business, in terms of visibility and leads. The more content you build up, the greater your online real estate portfolio.
And finally… time to get creating!
The web is a big place, and yes it’s challenging to stand out. But without content, you’re simply not visible to your audiences. Businesses that fail to embrace their status as publishers risk falling behind their competitors.
Find out more here about how to approach content marketing in 2020.