It’s so easy to get caught up in content envy. Big companies worldwide are gaining attention, fans and customers for quality content efforts. Remember when Oreo tweeted a humorous custom image during the Super Bowl blackout in January, revealing they had a Photoshop-savvy employee armed and waiting? Being able to engage your customers with content that’s perfectly attuned to the times is how marketing should be done. It’s no secret that that Oreo has a major budgetary advantage over your average small business. That being said, relevant content is within reach for your small business strategy.
Several years ago, Marcus Sheridan was the struggling owner of a swimming pool business. Currently, his company is the largest of its kind in the world. He credits his meteoric success – and his current status as a sought-after keynote speaker and recognized thought leader – to a solid small business strategy which was based on content marketing. You can bet Sheridan didn’t have a marketing budget anywhere near what Oreo is working with. Case studies like these prove that blogging, eBooks and social media do work for a small business strategy.
We’ve curated brilliant insights which reveal how you can achieve success, even if your marketing budget is minimal:
1. Compile Customer Assets
There’s a factor which matters even more in content marketing than budget, or the educational background of your content creators. It’s whether you’re able to successfully translate your company’s customer focus to your content marketing. Your first step toward building a small business strategy should be compiling customer assets and insights. Is your company so incredibly fresh-off-the-press that you haven’t made a single sale yet? That’s okay. Do some serious thinking about the sort of people you’d like to sell to. Ellie Mirman of HubSpot recommends advertising for interviews if you’re short of customers.
The best sort of systems are the ones which are built to scale. Plan for your business to experience the same incredible growth that Marcus Sheridan did following his adoption of content marketing, and build buyer persona profiles from the ground up. Whether or not you’re planning on utilizing freelancers or an in-house content creator, you want branding standards which are primed for any experienced writer to create the right content for your small business strategy. At a minimum, address the following:
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- Demographic or Firmographic Insights
- Typical Pain Points
- Common Objections
- Priorities and Values
- Length of the Sales Cycle
- Tone and Language
- Frequently-Asked Customer Questions
While all the elements above are critical to creating relevant content that your prospects want to share, customer questions are the most important component of an effective small business strategy. A comprehensive list can fuel your content calendar for months, allowing you to capture the interest of the 89% of consumers who use search engines to make purchase decisions.
Finally, give yourself permission to smirk a little, because customer insights are one area where a small business can have a serious edge above larger companies. Think of the costly and time-consuming focus groups huge companies often utilize just to figure out what their customers think. It’s true that companies are beginning to catch on to the potential of social listening for customer insights. However, starting your small business strategy off with customer insights, as opposed to trying to reconcile your latest focus group with your branding standards, can give you a relevance that transcends budgetary restrictions.
2. Repackage Your Offers
Even if you’re drawing from existing content assets to create eBooks and whitepapers, they’re still ridiculously time consuming projects. There’s really just no way to escape the fact. However, finding ways to repackage these eBooks can further boost your mileage. HubSpot data has found that increasing your total number of landing pages is positively correlated with generating more leads. The most significant gains come when you increase total landing pages from 10 to 15.
There’s no rule that says you can’t reuse content that already belongs to you. By all means, create new covers, call-to-action buttons, and landing pages for eBooks you’ve already written, or plan to create slight variations of your next offer. It’s just good small business strategy.
3. Interview Customers Monthly
There’s no better way to generate lots of inspiration and material than customer interviews. While it’s ideal to interview your customers continually, make it a priority in your small business strategy to schedule a conference call or in-person meeting once monthly to ask some questions. Ideally, video tape and transcribe the videos, and repurpose the footage into the following forms of content:
- Customer Video Testimonials
- Written Quotations
- Case Studies
- Blog Articles
No one knows better than you how precious time is when you’re at the helm of a small business. While some B2B companies may find their clients are happy to be interviewed in exchange for exposure, offer to build your customer’s time commitment into a rewards program if they’re initially reticent.
4. Distribute Strategically
You can buy exposure, or work hard to generate a guest post for another blog in your niche. However, the best way to ensure your content gets all the exposure you deserve is to distribute strategically. It’s a little-discussed strategy that really works. If you mention a thought leader or brand in your content, be sure to let them know once the post is published. If you’re lucky, they’ll retweet or share your content.
While earning a spot on a digital influencer’s Twitter feed can mean serious business, aim to connect with other small business owners, too. Ask questions in LinkedIn groups, get permission to use other people’s words and head shots, and you’ll have a piece of content that’s instantly primed for sharing by each professional you feature.
5. Embrace Blog Metrics
It’s been said that today’s marketer is drowning in data. However, an abundance of metrics is far from the worst problem that could plague your small business strategy. Avoiding any in-depth analysis of your content marketing strategy is infinitely worse for your budget and results.
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You don’t need to analyze every single metric, but you should develop a key set of numbers to monitor daily, with few exceptions:
- Page Visits and Sources: When viewed alone or used as a single metric to gauge blog health, page visits alone can show a limited measure of success. Strive for growth in traffic over time; and use social media referrals and organic search to determine the strength of your content’s appeal and SEO optimization.
- Visit-to-Lead Conversion: While getting 10,000 hits on a piece of blog content can be amazing, it won’t do much for your bottom line if these visitors aren’t converting. The number of visitors who click through a call-to-action button to download your offer are a far better indicator of how well your small business strategy resonates among your buyer personas.
- Social Shares: Not only are social shares a gold mine for exposure to a broader audience, they’re a major component of SEO credit in the Panda 2.0 era.
- Inbound Links: These numbers can indicate how your content stacks up against the competition, and whether other bloggers consider your work worthy of citing.
There’s no disputing the fact that a big budget for content marketing can result in some enormous results. However, when Gary Vaynerchuk said that “content is king, but context is god,” he knew what he was talking about, as usual. Your company may not have the resources to produce 14 blogs articles and 2 eBooks a week, but placing customer insights at the center of your small business strategy can ensure your content resonates. Focusing your resources towards smart social distribution and assets which resonate among the right prospects is the most effective way to ensure ROI.
Have you integrated content marketing into your small business strategy? How do you make the most of a limited budget for content marketing?