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.
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.
15. Use your own experts. Everyone is an expert at something, including your company partners, management, and employees. Find out your employees’ expertise and take advantage of their skills and knowledge.
For example, someone with a smooth voice and public speaking skills could be the voice (and sometimes face) of your videos, podcasts, and webinars, while a closet filmmaker could help record and edit videos and a graphics whiz could create stellar slideshows and infographics.
16. Write and ask for guest posts. Writing guest posts for other blogs in your industry is an effective way to spread awareness of your brand to bigger audiences and can generate a lot of traffic to your website the day the post is published (and you can delegate this responsibility to employees). Accepting guest posts from other bloggers helps you focus on other content marketing initiatives without neglecting your business blog, so everyone wins.
17. Involve everyone in your business. Getting everyone involved with your content marketing strategy illustrates your company culture and eases the burden of content creation and promotion.
For example, you could ask employees to:
- regularly contribute to the business blog
- promote company content on their personal social media accounts
- participate in research
- help create videos, infographics, and other types of content
18. Join HARO and Reporter Connection. Resources like HARO (Help A Reporter Out) and Prowly give you free publicity and content if you can help a journalist with a story. Once you prove your expertise on a timely subject, the reporter may interview you and your staff to flesh out a story.
19. Leverage your network. The people you’re connected to can help you create better content. Some ways you can use your network include:
- ask questions on LinkedIn Answers and use the best responses as quotes in your content or to help you generate more content ideas
- email or private message experts you know for interviews
- use twitter conversations in your content or to spark ideas for content
If you’re going to quote someone, make sure you ask their permission first and send them a link to the content containing their words.
Promote Your Content
20. Comment on related blogs and forums. A few minutes a day spent building relationships via comments and forums goes a long way. As the people you talk to and those reading your comments begin to trust you, they’ll visit your site and any links to useful content you might offer, eventually becoming fans, leads, brand ambassadors, and customers.
A word of caution: your blog comments and forum posts must be relevant, helpful, and valuable. This technique works best when you focus on helping people. Traffic and leads will come naturally.
21. Respond to comments on your content. Unlike traditional advertising that interrupts prospects, content marketing is a dialogue. Start conversations and build relationships (and goodwill) by always responding to your prospects and leads, whether comments appear on your blog, Facebook page, as retweets, or anywhere else. A few minutes a day will do the trick.
22. Make sharing a habit. Share everything you create as well as excellent content from other sources. Sharing your own content gets the word out, while sharing others’ resources is good form and can genuinely help your customers.
23. Make it easy for your audience to share your content. Lots of readers sharing is how things go viral! Some of the most popular social sharing plugins and code snippets include:
24. Drip useful content into relevant LinkedIn groups. You can join 50 groups on LinkedIn and unlimited subgroups, and some of those groups have tens of thousands of members. Make a plan to regularly share your content in relevant groups and stick to it. Just make sure your content is extremely useful to group members and don’t spam the discussion area.
25. Link to helpful content in your Q&A answers. Many Q&A platforms allow you to link to external resources that support your answer or help the asker. This technique works really well if you use questions as inspiration for content (see tip 19).
26. Share visual content on media-specific channels. The recent rise of visual social media proves the importance of creating and using great photos, graphics, presentations, and videos. Even when they’re connected with blog posts and other types of content, visual content should be shared in as many places as possible, including:
27. Mix creative and tried-and-true promotion tactics. What has worked well for you or your competitors before? Repeat that. Then supplement your email blasts and press releases with more outside-the-box ideas, such as sneak peeks of upcoming content or contests and giveaways.
Maximize Your Content
28. Reuse content for your blog. Recycling content you’ve already created saves a lot of time and stress. Some ideas to try include:
- embed a YouTube video or SlideShare presentation in a blog post
- collect related LinkedIn and Quora answers and publish them as a post (then use tip 25)
- combine newsletter or email articles into one post
- optimize sales literature for search engines and publish as a post
29. Repackage & repurpose old content. Your blog isn’t the only way you can recycle content. You could also:
- combine several related blog posts into an ebook
- turn data from research or case studies into an infographic
- record a webinar and offer it as a subscriber-only video
30. Publish traditional content online. You already create a lot of content offline, such as white papers, brochures, catalogs, spec sheets, and other sales and marketing literature. Publishing them online can increase visibility and helps your customers.
For example, you could offer brochures and catalogs as free downloads on your website and publish white papers and other materials on directories like CIO Whitepapers Review.
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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