For entrepreneurs and small business owners, content marketing can seem out of reach. Although proven to be an effective way to attract prospects, generate leads, and retain customers, content marketing appears to require more time and money than you have to invest in it.
Enter micro-content and the following content marketing tips for small businesses.
While all of these tips can work for all businesses, they are especially effective for small businesses with limited time and funds. Many of them help you create micro-content, or smaller bits of content that can compete on the same level as the content put out by bigger companies.
Incorporating even a few of these content marketing tips for small businesses into your strategy can drive big benefits. Try a few, perfect them, automate them, and try a few more for the best results.
1. Know thyself. Content marketing is all about educating your prospects and fans, nurturing leads, and retaining customers. Before you can do any of that, you have to know:
- your overall strategy
- the selling points of your product or service
- your key message or story
- who your product or service can help
The types and formats of content you create and where and how you promote your content will largely be determined by these factors.
2. Do your research. Knowing your audience is just as important as knowing yourself. You can find out what your target market wants and needs (for both content and product creation) through surveys, demographic research, forums, and Q&A platforms such as LinkedIn Answers and Quora.
When you’re ready to create content, research the best keywords to use. If you plan on writing guest posts for other blogs, definitely research that blog’s audience, what types of content they like, and even what headline styles work the best.
3. Convey emotion. When you can make your audience feel something, you can often get them to react the way you want them to. Readers and viewers are more likely to open their minds--and eventually, their wallets--to you if you can consistently entertain or move them. Plus, emotion makes your content “sticky”--so people consume the whole thing instead of a sentence or two--and more likely to be shared.
4. Tell stories. Like emotion, stories keep people hooked and encourage engagement. That’s because when you do it right, everyone wants to know, “What happened next?”
Some examples of storytelling in your content marketing include:
- your website’s About page (and Bio sections of social media profiles)
- client success stories and case studies
- press releases
- coverage of live events
5. Curate and comment on the best content. Curation allows you a reprieve from creating all original content all the time. By hunting down and sharing nuggets of gold from others and discussing your related opinions and experiences, you make yourself a reliable and trustworthy resource for your audience.
Curation works best when you work hard to find the very best information on the topic. Some tools to help you curate excellent content include Storify, Paper.li, Scoop.It, PearlTrees, and Curation Station.
6. Go mobile. Every year, more and more consumers access your content on their mobile devices. Is your website easy for your mobile visitors to read, navigate, and share?
7. Use video. Plain text is boring, while videos can be entertaining, informative, persuasive, and moving.
8. Create infographics and high-quality images. Visual content is more likely to go viral online when it is unique, engaging, and timely. Avoid poor stock photography at all costs. Images and photos you own, even though not professional, are always better (and if you own them, you can share them on social media more easily).
9. Be timely. You can get a lot of natural search engine traffic and more free publicity if you hop on a topic bandwagon when it’s all the rage. Talk about current news, trends, and events in your industry in your blog posts, tweets, social updates, press releases, and more.
10. Vary your content formats and topics. If you only create lists or tutorials, eventually your target audience will stop consuming your content, no matter how useful it is. Why? Because the same thing over and over is boring. Use different types of content on your blog (such as these 12 Business Blog Topic Ideas) and different content formats (including videos, infographics, ebooks, webinars and more) to change things up.
11. Plan your content in advance. Creating an editorial calendar eliminates the stress of creating fresh new content on a deadline and provides time for collaboration, research, and creation.
12. Don’t pitch in every post. Content marketing works because it’s not a hard-sell technique. Your audience comes to you for excellent content--not a sales pitch. Your content helps them come to know you, like you, and trust you. When they are ready for your product or service, they’ll come to you because they already know you deliver value.
13. Tell your audience what to do next. Calls to action (CTAs) at the end of every blog post, video, webinar, social update, and other types of content are critical to engaging your audience and generating leads. Some examples of good CTAs could be:
- “Did you like this post? Please comment and share it with your friends!”
- “To learn more, please visit our website at www.yourbusiness.com.”
- “Check out our newest video for more practical tips!”
- “Get your free copy today--just fill out the form below.”
14. Use analytics and data to make smarter decisions. Just like you researched before you created content, you need to analyze the data after you create and promote it. Analytics tools will help you discover which promotion methods work best and which content types and formats generate more traffic, engagement, and leads.
What content marketing tips for small businesses have worked for you?
We’d love to hear your thoughts, so please comment below!
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Stay tuned for Part 2 for more tips and tricks on involving people in your content marketing and promoting your content effectively.