content marketingThere are lots of smaller businesses who are mastering the art of content marketing and using it to win fans and customers. They are proving that you don’t have to in the “big leagues” to reach a vast audience and build real relationships with customers. They are writing blogs, interacting with customers through social media, creating videos and even designing infographics. Most importantly, companies who are doing content marketing well understand it requires a commitment. They know it takes time, resources, organizational support and talent in order to get the job done right.

4 small businesses shining at content marketing right now:

oldworldnapainnThe Old World Napa Inn

The Old World Napa Inn is mastering the art of creating genuine helpful content on other websites, as well as its own, to assist travelers. Planners visiting Trip Advisor who are considering a journey to Napa Valley will find detailed answers in the Reader Forums to questions regarding best time of year to visit the area, complete with weather forecasts. The Innkeepers also provide “best kept secrets” so travelers get the inside scoop that may not come with a generic travel guide. This is valuable information that ensures readers that the Innkeepers are experts on insider Napa knowledge and will take the time to offer helpful guidance planning activities while they are there. Providing this content also helps establish the inn as a credible source within the travel industry.  They also have excellent content on their website and blog and offer lots of great authentic traveler reviews.

Riverside FoodsRiverside Foods

Businesses using email marketing right know that it works. A 2012 social media survey found 87% of social media marketers also use email marketing and that 93% plan to maintain or increase their use of email. Riverside Foods, a neighborhood grocery store in suburban Chicago, uses electronic newsletters as a contemporary means of communicating what’s happening at its store. The newsletter announces new products, weekly sales, and special savings to customers. But it’s also chock full of useful content like recipes utilizing ingredients in the store and product lists that are created with input from their customers. They say the goal is to provide customers with more relevant information – and be timelier in doing so.

birchbox blogBirchbox

Keeping up with a business blog is hard work. Frequency of posts and coming up with new material are often reported as the biggest challenges for business owners. But you don’t have the bear the burden on your own. More businesses are turning to guest bloggers to help create content. Birchbox, an online subscription service that enables customers to sample beauty products before buying them, updates its blog multiple times a day. They get help from top beauty and health executives sharing their product recommendations. Guest bloggers can also provide experience and a point of view in areas that your company may not specialize in yet. Consider inviting guest bloggers if you are looking to expand into different areas and need an expert opinion. For example, if you have a fashion blog, consider having a hair stylist blog about hair trends that complement your style.

corepower yogaCorePower

Social media is an ever-changing game, but companies continue to find unique ways to engage their communities.  Denver-based CorePower uses social networks as outlets to build relationships and awareness about yoga. Its #HelpfulYogi is an online conversation where users submit questions via Facebook and Twitter and are answered by yoga instructors. Engaging its audience is working. CorePower is now the nation’s largest yoga chain in a field that has been dominated by mom-and-pop companies. Its growth plan is rooted in branding and digital marketing, forgoing TV and print ads for word-of-mouth recommendations and a consistent customer experience across its many locations. Online videos provide customers the option to experience a yoga class anytime and anywhere… at least until there’s a CorePower on your corner.

How is your business using content to stand out from the competition?  If you want to be a content marketing success story like these companies, download our free guide on Content Marketing 101.