Content marketing – what’s it all about?
For the small business owner, there’s a lot of confusing talk these days about digital marketing and the importance of written content. For example, my dad runs a small business. He’s 71, has an iPhone and a laptop and that’s just about all he can cope with!
He does have a website, but like a lot of small business owners he has one because he knows he needs one and not because he plans on doing very much with it! It’s really just an online brochure for his business.
I thought it would be a good idea to explain a bit about content marketing and clarify the subject for people who are busy trying to make a living doing what they do best and don’t have a lot of time or inclination for the digital age.
What you write matters
Content marketing at its best is an art and a science. The written content that larger companies circulate online, through multiple channels and digital marketing technology, engages their readers, builds trust and confidence in their brands and most importantly, converts traffic to sales.
To attract customers to your website and do this too, you need to do the same thing but scale your efforts down to match their expectations and your capabilities.
The power of the blog
Once you’ve made sure that your website truly reflects you and your business and is the sales tool that it needs to be, then why not create a simple blog section which you add to regularly?
It doesn’t need to be every day, or even every week, but ‘regularly’ is the key word here. Make sure you’re relevant and reliable, stay in your customers’ consciousness and don’t drift off into the ether! Set their expectations that you’ll post regularly and then stick to it.
The content needs to be interesting. Remember you’re writing for humans and tap into their emotions if you can. You could share ideas, new techniques, industry news, an experience at a conference or trade show or something similar. If you can’t think of anything original, or writing isn’t your strong point, ask someone to help.
It’s essential to include good images with your content or, even better, video content. You can find a lot of great images for free on sites like Pixabay and Megapixl. People are so used to seeing strong images on the web and on social media that you need them to grab their increasingly limited attention spans and have more priority online.
You could also ‘borrow’ from other industry leaders. Follow the right people on social media and share their articles. If you’ve found one really inspiring then write a brief synopsis of it on your own blog, citing them as a reference and providing a link to their article. This is OK as long as you don’t try to pass their work off as your own. They will be happy with the exposure – it’s how content marketing works!
Share your blog through social media. Share, share, share and get others to like and share it too. What you’re doing is getting your message and your expertise out there. Traditional face-to-face selling isn’t the best way anymore. People want to buy from people who provide them with the information and expertise they need, when they need it. Be passionate and be there when they’re browsing.
Calls to action
So once you’ve created some good content, built some links and become a ‘thought leader’ in your area, is it all just about increased traffic to your website? Not really. You need to remember to convert that traffic through ‘calls to action’.
Make sure there are the right buttons on your blog for others to share what they read or contact you. Try to get people to sign up for an e-newsletter or, if they want something for free or a special offer, then ask for an e-mail address – that sort of thing.
You can do it!
With 2 billion websites in the world and 1 billion smartphones, every business is getting good at content marketing. Don’t be left behind – small businesses can do it too! Just do what’s manageable and do it well. It’s like old-fashioned face-to-face networking, but your voice, your personality, your expertise and your brand must come through your content.
It’s maybe not as much fun and there aren’t so many glasses of wine or canapés involved, but it’s effective, saves time and you’ll get better with practice. There are still plenty of opportunities for face-to-face networking and you’ll be more successful, safe in the knowledge that you’re keeping up in the digital age.
So it’s over to you – which of these techniques do you use already and what do you do with your blog? What digital and content marketing do you find works for you?