Marketing technology continues to evolve at an impressive rate, allowing small businesses to reach their current and prospective customers in creative new ways. Building relationships and inspiring positive interactions becomes even more important with the constant focus on social media networks, blogging, and general content development, whether in the form of e-mail marketing, newsletters, or something else entirely.
Strong content development is vital in creating the messages you want to share with your readers for several reasons. First, in order to gain that important element of interaction, you must grab the attention of your visitors and contacts. If your posts are boring, irrelevant, or blatant sales pitches, you’ll be lucky to have a microscopic conversion rate. Second, really good content often goes viral. If you want to attract a wider audience, get your brand in front of lots of new contacts, and potentially increase your sales and revenue, thought-provoking, effective content is a great way to do it.
Try these five ongoing content development tips for small businesses’ daily online marketing activities.
Find out What Matters to your Audience
Before you rattle off your latest special events and promotions, make sure you work to make a connection with your audience. Give them a reason to come back. Find out why they’re fans in the first place, or take some time to understand what else is important to them. You can usually learn a lot about your customers over time, but sometimes you may have to guess.
- If you are located near a major city with a strong sports following, and the home team is having a great game, perhaps a status update touting the victory could inspire some ‘likes.’
- If you have a chance to support a local or national charity drive or event, jump onboard. Encourage others to do the same. Rally for a cause together.
- If many of your contacts appear to be parents, include content that is relevant to raising a family. Include links to kid-friendly recipes, lists of top places to vacation with your family, or fun activities to try with your kids… you get the idea.
- If your brand centers on pets, the possibilities are virtually endless as far as content development opportunities in your social media, blogging, and other activities. Try posting cute photos of pets, dog or cat themed jokes, and of course, tips and tricks for healthy and happy pets.
THEN pepper in your marketing messages – after you’ve established a rapport. Your followers will keep coming back if you find ways to make them feel good when they’re reading or reviewing your content.
Follow the Seasons and Trends
A calendar of holidays and special events can be great for getting your content development in gear. An editorial calendar for a magazine or website offers a great model for organizing your content development plan month by month. Even if you just use a simple spreadsheet or Word document, jot down some ideas for seasonal topics and trends as well as holidays and special annual events that tie into your small business and its philosophy.
With the start of October we are reminded of everything pink – and breast cancer awareness is a timely and noteworthy topic to promote in the fall. The holiday shopping season provides endless possibilities for seasonal posts with tips, recipes, and other wonderful and helpful content for your readers. Don’t forget to mention your white sale, holiday blowout, or special promotions and upcoming events in line with these holidays and seasonal themes.
Attract, Discover, and Act upon Feedback
It’s much easier to develop customer loyalty when your clients know you truly value their opinions. Provide an open forum for feedback on current product and service offerings and don’t be afraid to ask your contacts what else they would like to see offered. You can manage this easily with polls or directly asking the questions, such as, We’re updating our menu once again. What new dishes would you like to see featured? With something this basic, you might still be surprised at all you can learn. Maybe your establishment could benefit by adding some new appetizers or maybe your guests feel there is a lack of children’s options. Perhaps it’s time for some new vegetarian offerings. You’ll never know if you don’t ask.
Some companies have even developed brand new products based on feedback and suggestions from customers on their social media accounts. The T-shirt manufacturer Threadless.com is one example of a company that takes advantage of fan feedback in creating new product offerings. On a somewhat related note, you can also seek out and respond to feedback about your products and services as published on review sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, and others
Try Targeted Marketing Messages
Once you’ve established a relationship with your readers and appealed to their interests, you can begin to pepper in your targeted marketing messages. It helps to build these out in a list as well, even if you use the same editorial calendar for the rest of your content development. Looking at your content development strategy as one big picture allows you to capture all the necessary ingredients for success. Continue to share newsworthy tips and valuable information with your readers as you loop in your own sales and marketing content.
Remember to add these important topics to your content development strategy:
- New product and service offerings
- Sales, deals, and promotions
- Contests and giveaways
- Upcoming events open to the general public
- Company and staff news
- Change in hours of operation or closings / re-openings
- Awards and recognition received
- Charitable donations and community involvement
- New website enhancements
- Links to your blog posts
- Links to great reviews about your company, products, or services
Be sure to add your own important marketing messages to this list.
Don’t Forget about Photos and Videos
Remember that ‘content’ refers to much more than simply text, articles, and status updates. In many cases website visitors and social media users are more swiftly drawn to photos and images than they are to the plain text and links. Be sure to change up your content routine so you reach all corners of good content development. Include articles and links, but don’t be shy when it comes to posting photos, images, and even video content for your users to enjoy. You can even create your own miniature ads and post them as photos on your Facebook page when you have an exciting event or promotion on the way. You might also consider posting a few albums’ worth of customer photos (with their permission, of course) from said event, or including photos of your top products in use.
As mentioned earlier, your content should be relevant to your followers. You can certainly post photos and videos that you like and feel your fans would like, even when they don’t feature your own specific products. Keep things interesting! Even a single photo can add so much to a blog post or a website page – especially increasing the click-through on the “read more” link. If you send out your own small business newsletter, place an overwhelming emphasis on photos and images, tease with some text, and then link back to your blog or website as appropriate. Remember, content is king, but people will always love pictures.
These five content development tips for small businesses should put you on a great path to success with your online marketing presence. Note I said ‘put you on a great path.’ It’s up to you to keep moving on that path to success. The biggest key is that content development is an ongoing activity you must continue to massage time after time. Learn as you go and keep making it better. Make special time for your content development strategy each month at the very least, and you’re sure to see some great results from your time and efforts.
If you have any questions or additional tips, please share them in the comments below.
About the Author:
Kathryn M. D’Imperio is the owner of Dances with Words, a full-service creative writing and marketing firm with a special focus on content creation for small businesses, including blogging, social media content, press releases, newsletters, and feature articles of all kinds. She is also the owner and editor of the women’s interest website, Life Love Beauty, offering tips and the latest trends in beauty, weddings, travel, and more.