Content marketing is the only marketing left- Seth Godin.
Small businesses around the world are hopping on the internet trying to market their products and services to online customers. It’s a whole new way of engaging with people who might never have heard about your business.
Small business internet marketing is a topic that I would like to explore in this post. You’ll find ways to market your small business using content marketing.
If you haven’t heard of content marketing, it’s only of the most cost effective ways of driving loads of customers to your business website via search engines and social media using tools like blogging, e-books, and so on. It just doesn’t stop at getting people to your website.
Content marketing is also about engaging the visitors on your website and turning them into customers. As a small business, you probably don’t have the marketing budget to match the “big guys”. But using the power of content marketing, you can definitely achieve better results than draining all your money on paid advertisements.
I already assume that you have a website set up for your business with its own unique domain name representing your business name. If not, contact me and I will help you set one up.
How to Use Content Marketing for Your Small Business Internet Marketing Efforts?
When you are trying to market your small business, there are two things you can do.
- Try to sell to everyone who you can get to visit your website and end up with few customers or
- Try to build a relationship with your website visitors, engage them via useful content on your website and later sell to them and end up with loads of customers
Now, which path do you want to choose?
Any sane person would definitely choose the second one. But not many people actually implement it. Why?
Creating content to engage your prospective customers, providing value and helping them before paying you a dime comes off as crazy for many business owners.
After all, isn’t business all about making profits and providing awesome after sales service?
It used to be. Not anymore.
You see, people are bombarded with choices. So much so that they can’t even count the number of choices they can make regarding making a purchase.
Take the case of Apple.
There are dozens of phones in the market. Android is now becoming a craze. There are new companies coming up with dozens of new phones each month. You have thousands of choices and endless offers when it comes to buying a phone.
Yet people who use Apple, and choose not to buy anything else.
Even as most popular companies are struggling with thousands of phone models to attract a wider audience, apple just have one phone they actively promote.
You could buy old models, but still, how many old models are there for you to buy? Just a handful.
Apple did not choose to compete on price or variety. They just provided something they thought was amazing and built a brand following.
It’s working for them. At least that’s what they profits seems to tell.
Now, who wouldn’t want to build a business as great as Apple’s?
Your business should be all about providing great value. It must build a connection with your audience. They must not dumb you for your competitor even though they might have a compelling offer.
That’s where you could use content marketing.
Create amazing content. Provide valuable, actionable advice to people looking for help.
“But Adarsh, how do I provide service and give away free content to people who haven’t yet paid me for my time?”
I hear you. It’s one of the most asked questions by people who are a bit skeptical of content marketing.
Again, I would like to use the Apple example.
Have you tried walking into any of the apple store? If so, then I believe it might be hard for you to walk out without actually making a purchase.
Why is that so?
Firstly, they have an amazing selection of awesome piece of hardware for you to try out. You can try all you want and no one’s going to ask you to step out since you have been in there for long.
The staff is more than happy to assist you with any question you have and they are always pleasant. You are not paying anything to them to use the Apple devices. They simply allow you to use it for as long as you want.
Once you get enchanted by the apple products, it’s almost a no brainer that you will want to buy it. Still, you can walk out of the store without making any purchase and return the next day to try apple products again.
Now, do you think apple would be able to sell more or sell less based on this approach? I assume you just thought more! If not, it’s time you hung your head in shame and go stand in the corner.
How to Use Content Marketing to your Advantage?
You see, you don’t need to set up high quality apple stores to provide a great experience and build a loyal following.
Your greatest asset, and yet the most highly underused part, is your business website.
Here are some dead simply ways to take advantage of content marketing.
- Start a blog. Write in-depth and useful articles that your target audience would likely find useful
- Create a free e-book that will serve as a guide for people who have a problem and which could be solved using the strategies mentioned in your e-book
- Produce videos that help your readers solve problems
- Hold webinars. You can discuss a popular issue in your niche and give advice on how to overcome problems
- Start using email marketing. Build up your list of newsletter subscribers and send them high quality information over time
- Can you create a whitepaper or sponsor one for your niche? Great, do it.
- Can you come up with an awesome free tool that your audience might be interested in? It’s certainly going to be a win-win situation if you can!
- Strapped for time? How about trying content curation to help your audience?
- Shy to appear in video or lack the skills for it? How about trying podcasting? All you need is a voice recorder, a voice editing software and listing it in popular podcast directories
- Last but not the least; build a relationship with your audience by interacting with them on social media
If you noticed one common trend on all the 10 ways listed above, it’s about solving a problem your user has.
Now, you may ask me “But isn’t that what a business is supposed to do? How can I give away my business for free?”
Again, it’s not about giving away your business.
Here are some examples
- If you run a bakery, you could very well give away recipes (Not the super-secret household recipes though) that people can try out. If they like it, they’ll come back for more; possibly as customers. You also stand a chance of getting word of mouth referrals
- Have a tool that solves a problem? Come up with a free tool with limited functionalities and give it away. Also write up articles relating to the common problems people in your industry face. You could then use the articles to drive traffic to your tool sales page and get them to buy from you
- Do you provide services? Then go ahead and provide articles, videos, and tools that will help your audience. You needn’t worry about losing business just because you are putting out the information out there. People who buy services usually don’t have the time to do it themselves. Otherwise they would simply do a search online, find out information and then do it themselves
The list can go on and on and on. The idea is not to give away your business; it’s about making it a resource hub for people when they have a problem related to the topic.
As you can see, providing valuable content (in the form of articles, e-books, whitepapers, videos, tools, etc.) is not going to hurt your business in anyway.
In fact, it’s going to bring you more business.
I have been online providing small business marketing services for over 7 years now. Yet, I do not believe that my business has been affected just because I gave away high quality information for free. It’s only helped me get more business.
So, how are you planning on doing your small business internet marketing? Are you still skeptical about providing high quality content to get more customers?