If you’re a small business owner, content marketing needs to be a part of your daily business strategy.
Still scratching your head and wondering what content marketing is exactly?
Joe Pulizzi defines the concept in his book, Epic Content Marketing, as “the process of developing and sharing relevant, valuable, and engaging content to a target audience with the goal of acquiring new customers or increasing business from existing customers.”
Pulizzi further explains, “Content Marketing is about delivering the content your audience is seeking in all the places they are searching for it. It is the effective combination of created, curated and syndicated content.”
Content marketing is a major game changer for small businesses.
You don’t have to spend a ton of money to powerfully communicate with your customers. In a lot of ways, content marketing levels the playing field between large companies with big marketing budgets and small businesses who are doing the work themselves.
The biggest winners will be the companies who put the needs of their customers first and produce value-rich, focused, and compelling content.
The truth is, your customers are bombarded with content all day long. And yet, they still have unanswered questions and problems they are trying to solve.
Use these content marketing tips to position your small business as a valued and respected resource.
1. Communicate - don’t sell:
Remember, with content marketing you are communicating with your customers without selling. The goal is to provide value and solutions that positively influence their lives.
2. Know your audience:
If you don’t understand the details of your audience - what they do, how they consume information, and what problems they have, you won’t be able to communicate with them in a productive way.
3. Pinpoint WHERE to communicate:
If your customers aren’t on Facebook, that’s not the place to post the bulk of your content. You want to be present where your customers are hanging out. Adapt your content to whatever medium your customers need ( print, online, audio, etc.).
4. Don’t create ALL the content on ALL the platforms:
Sometimes, doing “all the things” is a bad idea. If you over commit and spread yourself too thin, you will soon find out that you’re not creating any content. Pick a few types of content to publish on a few different platforms, and do them well. In time, if you feel like you need to expand your reach, do it intentionally.
5. Remember, quality over quantity:
When you’re creating a content creation plan, be honest with yourself. If you are a solo entrepreneur, remember that you are literally the only person who is going to be writing, editing, and publishing the content. If you're a small business owner, make sure you have a clear and realistic picture of who will be involved in the writing and editing process.
Don’t commit to publishing content every day if it is more realistic to publish a post once a week. The last thing you want to do is post subpar content. Better to publish less often with more in-depth, value-rich posts.
6. Create polished and compelling headlines:
Your headlines, no matter the type of content you produce should not be an afterthought. Spend some serious time brainstorming and testing your headlines.
According to Copyblogger, on average, 8 out of 10 people will read your headline, and only 2 out of 10 will read the rest of your content. You better have enticing headlines to give your readers a reason to read the rest of the content you worked so hard to create! Don’t throw your blog post in the trash by being careless with your headline.
7. Don’t self-promote:
The whole point of content marketing is to take your focus off yourself and put it back on your customer. Don’t try to sneak self-promotion into your content. Doing this will only come across as sneaky and non-altruistic.
This doesn’t mean you’re not supposed to have a powerful call to action (direction for what you want your reader to do), but don’t pat yourself on the back in your content. Provide real value and your customers will do that for you.
8. Speak your customer's language:
It’s easy to write in the lingo we understand and use on a daily basis. But remember, you’re not writing for yourself. You are writing for your customers. It is unlikely that they will know your industry’s technical jargon or acronyms.
If you need to use specific terms, make sure you define them. You never want your audience to feel like they are too stupid to understand what you’re saying. On the other hand, be careful to not talk down to your audience. They aren’t stupid and shouldn’t feel like it when they read/watch your content. The need to speak your customer’s language is another reason why you need to know your audience!
9. Use a consistent tone and style:
Have you noticed your favorite bloggers are the ones who have an identifiable personality and style? They all write in a particular tone and it’s easy to identify a piece of content as theirs.
Think about what you want your content tone and style to be. Do you want to be professional yet approachable? Or do you want to be sarcastic and funny? Be sure that if you have a team of content creators that you all uphold this style. Each person can write in their own way, but the brand tone/style should still be apparent. The tone you use should typically align with your profession.
Want to know more? Read this post: How to Create a Business Voice People Will Connect With.
10. Keep your content focused:
No one likes rambling. Especially when they are looking for specific answers. Make sure your content focuses on one topic and that you don’t go off on too many tangents.
11. Be as clear and concise as possible:
Sometimes it’s easy to get long-winded (at least it is for me!). It’s also easy to get into the bad habit of using complicated examples. We may understand the examples we use, but we need to make sure it is as clear and easy to understand for our customers. When you edit your content be sure to cut out any extra fluff. Be mindful to not be repetitive.
12. Add something to the conversation:
No matter the type of content you’re producing, or how often you’re publishing, make sure you’re adding to the conversation. There is a ton of content out there, and the last thing any of us want to do is add to the pile of irrelevant content that exists online.
We want to make sure we uphold the standard and promise of quality and if someone takes the time to read the content we produce that they are rewarded with insightful, thought-provoking content. Share a new perspective, a unique approach, or a new solution. Push yourself to think beyond the obvious.
13. Share your perspective:
While we warn you not to use your content creation platform as a soapbox, we do encourage you to have an opinion! If you are just regurgitating content and agreeing with everyone else out there, people will be bored and leave.
If you have an enticing argument with a unique opinion, people are more likely to listen up. If you provide an interesting enough perspective, you are likely to get more engagement and possibly even start a conversation (The goal!).
14. Make your content skimmable:
No matter what format you use to create your content, make it bite size. If you’re writing a blog post, use your headers/subheaders intentionally, use bulleted and numbered lists, etc. Use the same rules if you’re making an ebook or infographic. If you’re creating a video, keep them short and easy to follow.
15. Expand your content repertoire:
When I think about content marketing, I tend to think about blogs and intentional email campaigns. But your content marketing strategy can include podcasts, video blogs, infographics, e-books, social media posts, and so much more. Get creative and find new ways to communicate with your customers! (Just remember tip # 3).
16. Edit thoroughly and then edit again:
We can’t stress enough the importance of editing your content multiple times. You are creating content to be a gift to your potential and current customers. You want your content to delight, impress, and inspire them. Your content has the potential to create a loyal and happy audience. If you are relaxed in your editing and overlook your typos, you will hinder that effort. Your customers deserve better. Read thoroughly, read it aloud, and use tools like Grammarly or Hemingway Editor.
17. Be easy to find:
Think about the questions your customers are typing into their Google search bar. Be intentional with your keyword research. Make it as easy as possible for your potential clients to find the answers to their questions and to find you.
18. Share on multiple platforms:
Most of us have a platform we would never forget to post our content on (for us, it’s Facebook). But there are a lot of other platforms that you shouldn't overlook. Make sure you are on all of the platforms your customers are on and that you share your content when it is published and then again in the future.
If you don’t share your content on multiple platforms, it will not be read. The more places you share it, the more likely it will be that your customers will find it. We currently publish on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram.
19. Ask for the share:
This may sound a bit lame, but don’t be too proud to ask a few people to share your content. For example, we try to ask business connections or our local chamber of commerce to share our content if we think it is relevant to their audience. This helps them provide useful content and enables us to reach a broader audience.
20. Use eye-catching visuals:
Our friends at Cold Box Films are always telling us that the last thing you want to do is hide your powerfully written content behind lame pictures. Ideally, you will work with a company to create your own product or brand photos to use with all of your content. But if you can’t do that, at least be very intentional with the photos you choose.
The more dynamic and interesting your photos/graphics are, the more likely people will be to click on your content in the first place. Time and time again social media posts with beautifully appointed photos do better. Like headlines, your visuals shouldn’t be an afterthought.
21. Ask compelling questions:
None of us want to talk to ourselves. When we write content, our hope is that someone will comment or ask a question. But you know what the biggest hindrance to that is? When we don’t ask!
In every piece of content, make sure you ask a question that entices your reader to comment or ask a follow-up question. Be careful not to ask rhetorical questions! We struggled with this on Facebook until someone pointed it out! Our questions needed to be more specific and focused to get people to respond.
22. Repurpose your content:
No matter the type of content you are creating, there is always an opportunity to repurpose that content into a different format/style. If you create a long-form blog post, you can repurpose it into a helpful infographic, a mini social media series, or even a video. Take a look at your previously posted content and see how you could get a bit more mileage out of it.
Don’t worry about your customers seeing the content twice - it is unlikely that the same audience will see it, and if they do, it’s not a bad thing! None of your content should be a one-time-only production!
23. Tweak and repeat:
We’ve heard this a lot lately from the lovely ladies at Think Creative Collective. Pay attention to what is working and repeat it. Identify the things that aren’t going so well and fix them! A piece of content that didn’t knock the socks off your audience the first time isn’t totally useless. Review your content carefully and fix what was wrong with it. If you have a post that blew up and took the interwebs by storm, figure out why! Then do more of it! Trial and error are totally fine here!
Remember these tips as you embark on your content creation journey. Creating content is more important than ever, and it isn’t going anywhere. Yes, there may be more content out there - but most of it isn’t quality. We must intentionally create content that adds to the conversation.
Figure out what your customers need, where they’re hanging out, and provide some fantastic value! If you are consistent in producing reliable and useful information, your audience will soon come to view you as a resource.
Are you struggling to find the time to create the content your customers deserve? We can help! We provide 100% customizable content marketing solutions to fit your needs and budget.