We’re all hearing a lot of talk right now about content marketing. We’ve already told you why you shouldn’t fear it and even offered up some content marketing ideas to help get you started. However, you still may be asking yourself, what’s the point? What does content marketing mean and why is it so important to your business?
The goal of content marketing is to create informative content that is designed to, over time, convert customers and to keep previous customers loyal to your brand. It’s an attention marketing strategy where you use content to attract people to your brand and then keep them there. As you can imagine, there can be a pretty big time investment associated with content marketing. So…as a small business owner, why should you be doing it? What’s the payoff?
Below are five reasons content marketing matters to your business.
The biggest benefit content marketing has to offer to a small business is awareness. After all, a customer can’t make a purchase from your brand if they don’t know about you. And content is a great way to make that initial introduction. Whether it’s a blog you consistently update, an eBook you distribute, a webinar series you participate in, a newsletter you write, a tool you create, etc, by regularly creating content “stuffs” it gives you something to promote, to be found for, and to use as an awareness tool when courting a prospective or repeat customer. Each piece of content you write and publish is a trail you leave for the search engines and your users to find and associate you with.
When you create something of great value and then give it away to your customers simply because they deserve it you create trust. You help them to trust that you have their best interest in mind, you help them trust that you’re a valuable resource, and you help them to trust that your business is one that honors its customers. And that’s what content marketing is based on. Its hand delivering content to your customers today for free in an effort to build a relationship you can cash in on later. You trust they’ll be around when you need them, and they trust the same thing right back.
Of course, building awareness and trust are only your first obstacles in business. Once that initial hello has been uttered, you need to start the lead generation process to convert those eyes. That means using content marketing to do more than just build awareness about your company – but to provide authoritative and resourceful information about it. This is where you use content to share information about your products, your services, the industry that you’re a part of, your unique company story, what you’re passionate about, etc. This stage of the content marketing stage is all about setting your company up as an authority and showing customers, through your content, that you’re capable of handling their needs. It’s where you begin telling your story to pique that interest, while also demonstrating your unique abilities as a service provider.
Content marketing aids in the upsell process by helping customers to see the relationship between certain products and services. Let’s face it – many of us aren’t good at upselling customers. We know that even if it’s sometimes in a customer’s best interest to purchase services or goods in bundles, we’re not always the best at presenting it to them. Or at least not verbally. However, content marketing makes this a little easier. You can use the content on your Web site to show the relationships between two different products and how they’re used together, and how they help make a process easier. You can paint the picture for your customers and help them see a new reality. Don’t make your content another commercial for your products, but do highlight how seamlessly two products go together for better results. Or show data that lets your customers see that people who purchase X and Y together actually see a greater ROI. Content marketing allows you to tell a more compelling story.
Shorten Sales Cycle
If you’re doing content marketing right, you can be sure that LOTS of people are stumbling across it. Your current customers are reading it, past customers, competitors, people who find you via keyword searches, your vendors or partners, etc. But do you know who else is reading what you’re putting out? It’s arguably one of the most important groups of all.
We’re talking about those people in the “in between” stage. They have a problem/need and they’re still researching what company they want to seek out to help them fix it. They’re doing their research – reading your blog, checking you out on social media, reading articles you’ve written, etc. They want to know what your process looks like, what types of services you offer, and if you have experience with their exact need. Smart content marketers will understand these prospective customer types and then craft content around their needs, giving them something to find during the “homework” process that goes into selecting a vendor. It’s strategic content marketing at its best.
Those are just a few ways that a content marketing investment may make sense for your business. How are you using content marketing for your business or how would you LIKE to be using it?
I always try and educate small business owners, unfamiliar with internet marketing, that creating informative and educational content for their websites is the best way to attract visitors to their sites as well as establishing themselves as thought leaders. The idea of becoming a writer/content producer usually is counter intuitive of traditional small business owners, but articles like these help get the word out. Great job Lisa, love your “stuff”
I see many businesses that get the order mixed up. They’re trying to make the sale and then offer something free. Or they offer the content, but don’t ever ask for the sale. It’s not a hard concept, but if you’re not doing it right the results won’t be pretty.
Great job, Lisa.
I wonder how many searches there are for this topic, now.
A local guy, Joe-Polizzi–does a nice job with content marketing.
It’s so important for messaging.
The Franchise King®
Lisa, I like your style of communication. Just want to point out a missing word [“who”] in this sentence: “But do you know else is reading what..”
Hi Victor, thanks for catching that. Fixed it!
Hubspot, CMI (Joe Pulizzi) and you have done a terrific job of making the business case for content over the last year or so. The case has been made, the verdict rendered.
SMBs (like all other businesses) need content, if for no other reason, for SEO purposes. Let’s face it, if Google has nothing to index on your site, Google cannot send any traffic to your business.
With that settled, for SMBs, the real problem is that the “content” is stuck between the ears of the people running the business, i.e., the Subject-Matter Experts. These executive/SMEs are not publishers, writers, journalists or bloggers.
And that’s the challenge and the opportunity: extracting their awesome content and putting it into a variety of Google-searchable, content mediums like white papers, blogs, articles, presos, etc. without [going broking] staffing a dept of journalists.
At least that’s where I’m focusing my attention this year… providing resources and building tools for SMBs to mine their minds.
Thank you Lisa for this interesting post. Yes! Small & medium businesses can increase the number of clients as well as businesses across the globe with effective content marketing services. Today, marketing & branding are the two essential factors in popularizing a company. Why should your company lag behind your competitors? With content marketing, businessmen can spread their messages to a large number of people all over the world. Yes! Designing, developing, publishing, and marketing website content are necessary to create brand awareness among customers. Am I right Lisa? Please share your thoughts.