I know — just the idea of coming up with content marketing ideas is enough to instill fear in many small business owners. But why? As SMBs, we’re pros at using content as a way to attract customers and build word of mouth. We’ve been doing it our whole entrepreneurial careers! But we seem to forget this when the “content marketing” term is brought into the discussion. However, the idea of leveraging content marketing as a lead generation strategy doesn’t have to intimidate you. There are virtually an endless supply of content marketing strategies at SMBs’ fingertips.
Here, I’ll start you off with 20.
Below is just a handful (OK, a few handfuls) of content marketing ideas your business can implement and profit from:
- Create a free course on a topic related to your business and invite people in your neighborhood to attend. For example, if you’re a caterer, maybe it’s how to host the perfect dinner party. If you’re an accountant, maybe it’s on what you need to know before filing your taxes this year. Promote the event using both local print and online resources.
- Send out a direct mailing thanking your customers for their patronage during the year and sharing what you hope to bring them in the coming year. This keeps you top of mind.
- Compile your 20 best/most trafficked/most commented on blog posts into an ebook and offer them as a free download.
- Participate in industry-specific Q&A sites and help solve others problems. Don’t promote your business, but do include a link to your website in your profile so people can find it on their own should they be interested.
- Dedicate 30 minutes a week to commenting on relevant blogs to build relationships, get your name out there and create authority.
- Creating a buying guide related to your industry. If you sell a product, focus on the different specs, installation, uses, etc. If you offer a service, focus on the best questions to ask when evaluating a vendor, the different types of services, etc.
- Start an industry-specific Twitter chat. Invite guests to co-host with you.
- Put together an informative blog series (maybe three posts long) to show expertise in a particular area. Later, bundle the posts together and turn them into an ebook.
- Create a video interview series where you chat with influential people in your industry or community and post the videos on your website.
- Start an email newsletter.
- Host a weekly Google+ hangout to talk about timely issues and topics.
- Be a guest on a podcast.
- Get other local business owners together and hold a workshop on a hot issue in your industry. Or, get together with other business owners in different industries and talk about how you’ve used the Internet/Facebook/Twitter to increase business.
- Write guest posts for other blogs in your industry.
- Review products/services/books you like.
- Write case studies for your website. Promote them.
- Create a tool to help your community. If you’re a tax preparer, maybe it’s a deduction finder or a planning worksheet. If you’re a social media consultant, maybe it’s a list of Twitter conversation starters for people not sure how to jump in.
- Write a white paper detailing a specific issue affecting your industry, what it means and your take on it. Get other experts to share their opinions as well. Include them in the whitepaper.
- Speak at your local Chamber of Commerce. Create a PowerPoint presentation to go along with it and then post it on your website.
- Start a video grab bag series where you answer common questions on YouTube and post the videos on your blog.
See how easy that was? Twenty powerful ways to use content marketing to build awareness for your business. You don’t even have to break a sweat.
Direct mail? Speaking at a Chamber of Commerce? Where did you dig up these ancient marketing tactics, a library? #kidding #greatideas
Thanks a lot, Lisa.
Great ideas included in your list.
Want to help me do some of them?
Happy New Year!
The Franchise King®
Lisa: Great list to pick from!
I say as Joel: I am at your service! 🙂 I will start a newsletter in 2012! 🙂
So far I have done #1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 13, 14, 15, 17 and 19.
Love your ideas! I picked three to start my year off. Can’t wait to come up with a tool to put the icing on our new website later this winter!
I have been posting on blogs & forums relating to our field. It will assist in getting your rating up on Google free. The better respected blogs/forums rate higher with Google. This is important if you are an internet based business.
I think publishing the material on your website is great also since its a long term investment. Th question is with so many options what to spend time and how to prioritize.
Hi Lisa, it was refreshing to stumble upon your post and see your discussion about content marketing. This is going to be our big push in 2012 to get our customers to offer content about their offerings and promote them in front of their target market. This could not have come at a better time. Also, I love the video interview suggestion as well. We have been doing video for a long time and while it’s surprisingly still in its infant stage in the hospitality industry, video offers a lot of opportunity to deliver a message in a cost effective way.
Great list, Lisa!
I’ve had a few of those ideas on the back burner for awhile – 2012 is the time I need to put them in action!
Thanks for the motivation!
A great list, Lisa. I would add that we should only do the ones that our customers will pay the most attention to, and are most likely to help them make a purchase. And “Light Scrutiny” products and services (short buying cycle) require much less of certain types of content than “Heavy” or “Intense” scrutiny products and services. I also think that buyers are completely overwhelmed with content, and are more selective than ever about what they read. Interviewing current customers helps to understand the questions they wanted answered while buying and the subjects they’d be most likely to pay attention to.
Always enjoy your articles.
Author of Roadmap to Revenue: How to Sell the Way Your Customers Want to Buy
I love the Buying Guide idea! I’m going to work on it right now 🙂 I’ve found that Quora is a great way to do #4.
Thanks so much for a great collection of ideas, Lisa. It’s too easy to get stuck in a content rut of always doing the same thing, I say. I especially like your suggestion of compiling blog posts into an e-book. Too often, we forget to think about how to extend the usefulness of great content we’ve created.
Lisa, these are such great suggestions. I’m going to share them with my community, with credit and thanks!
All the tips are very well put together. And if followed, then yes your website will generate sky rocketing traffic. Thank you for sharing these amazing concepts.
Really great ideas – thank you so much for taking the time to write this fantastic article! Can’t wait to start implementing many of them myself.
Good advice. I work with local chiropractors and have recommended many of these tips in the past. In particular, I really like your video grab bag idea. I hope to implement it in the near future!
Thanks for the great ideas here. The main point is to provide something useful to the customers, so that they will appreciate your effort and build your authority in your niche. The definition of “useful” is not something with mediocre quality, such as an 300 words blog post or an ordinary video. You should create something “epic” such as an e-book length of blog post 🙂