Tag Archives: Small Business Content Marketing

How to build a big business out of a small business with content marketing

Grow your business with content marketing

Grow your business with content marketing

Here is a nice article in the Forbes magazine that explains how as small business, especially as a start-up, you can use content marketing to grow a big business.

Even if you don’t believe in the various studies available on the Internet that prove that advertising no longer remains as effective as it used to be (it was never effective, there was no other alternative), use your personal experience.

How much attention do you pay to advertisements on the net, or even on TV? Given a chance, don’t you fast forward advertisements especially when you are watching your favorite program? Don’t you switch to the premium version of your mobile app so that you can get rid of the advertisements? I do.

On the Internet people devise various ways to avoid coming across ads. Millions of people have installed browser add-ons that let them block ads.

To be fair, advertising is a big business. Google has made billions selling ads through its search engine. Facebook is selling ads. Twitter is trying to sell ads. LinkedIn is constantly encouraging you to advertise on their platform. Ads are being sold on Instagram.

So, if advertising is so great, why you are being constantly told that you should embrace content marketing instead of conventional marketing and advertising?

The big difference is, advertising is about selling, content marketing is about building relationships.

Through advertising, people may come across your promotional message, buy from you or not, and then move on.

With content marketing, you are constantly in touch with your prospective customers and clients through providing them valuable content.

Advertising isn’t cheap, especially when you have many competitors who are doing well and are ready to spend more than you can.

Even if you want to promote your business using Google AdWords, you will need to bid on individual clicks based on how much your competitors are bidding.

Your business name and your brand are in front of your prospective customers and clients only till you advertise.

In advertising, “out of sight out of mind” prevails in its truest sense simply because there are scores of other businesses that are constantly vying for the attention of your customers and clients.

Content marketing on the other hand, leaves an imprint in the minds of your prospects. This is because instead of telling them to buy from you, you are giving them useful information that helps them work better, or sleep better, or entertain themselves better, or do something else better. You are enriching their lives.

When you enrich their lives, they remember you.

The author of the above Forbes article rightly says that content marketing is not about explicitly selling products or services, but getting everyone interested in what is being offered.

People these days want to make their own decisions, and this is why in-your-face marketing doesn’t work.

Building a big business out of a small business with content marketing

The biggest upside of content marketing is that it easily scales according to the size of your business. If you are a small business, you can use content marketing at a lower scale and as the size of your business increases, you can also raise the scale of your content marketing.

In simple terms, the purpose of your content marketing should be:

  • Reaching out to people who may need the product or service you can offer
  • Keeping them aware that you offer that particular product or service
  • Keeping them interested in your product or service
  • Constantly telling them the benefits of using your product or service
  • Educating them so that it becomes very easy for them to use your product or service
  • Constantly keeping them engaged even when they have purchased your product or service for further word-of-mouth marketing and customer loyalty

This can be achieved even by publishing a simple blog and sharing your knowledge through it.

Here are a few reasons why content marketing can work wonders with your small business and then help it grow into big business

  • Starting a blog is very easy
  • You can either start your blog on your own or you can pay someone a small amount to set it up for you
  • Once your blog is set up, if you are already hosting your domain, there is no extra cost for running your blog
  • Getting quality content for your blog is easy
  • You can either create content for your blog on your own or you can hire someone, like a content writer, to do the job
  • You can start building a mailing list
  • Almost all the email marketing services on the web allow you to set up your initial campaigns for free
  • Whenever you publish content on your blog, you can broadcast it to your mailing list
  • Use social networking platforms like LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter to further promote your content
  • You can also repurpose your existing content and create slides, images and small animations and then again promote the repurposed content

Suppose, you are spending $100 every day on advertising. A decent content writing service can deliver you two good quality articles or blog posts in the same amount. Even if you want a lengthier blog post or article, it can be easily prepared for $100-150.

Even if you publish two blog posts every business day by the end of the month you are going to have 40 odd blog posts covering your major keywords and search terms.

In three months you are going to have 120 blog posts.

These 120 blog posts are going to get you traffic from search engines and other sources continuously as long as you maintain your momentum.

Whether you are getting 10 people from search engines, 100 people, 1000 people or 10,000 people, you are not paying extra.

Unlike advertising, the growth with content marketing is not linear.

Assuming you are spending $100 every day on advertising, you will go on spending $3000 every month for a long period, and as soon as you stop spending these $3000, your business comes to a halt.

In content marketing, once you have gained traction, you can reduce your content marketing budget. Once your brand is known through quality content, you can come down to one blog post every day instead of two. You can even publish 2-3 good quality blog posts every week instead of posting one post every day.

Remember that Marcus Sheridan example I referred to in my blog post 6 indisputable benefits of content marketing?

Before content marketing his fibreglass swimming pools company was spending $250,000 per year on conventional advertising and marketing. After two years of content marketing, the company was spending $40,000 per year on content marketing and it had become the biggest fiberglass swimming pool company in North America.

How do you create a space for your small business with content marketing?

Doing business with big brands has its own charm, but people prefer to do business with companies and agencies they can relate to, trust, and rely on.

Normally, if you’re a small business and you don’t have the budget to hire an expert content marketing team, you are pretty much clueless about where to start.

Even when you know that content marketing can pay big dividends, you don’t know exactly what to do.

Start exploring other blogs and websites in your niche. What are the publishing? How does their audience respond? What are the topics that they talk about?

Most important: is there a gap you can fill?

Can you write or publish content the others are not publishing? Is there a demand for such content? Are there some topics that would be useful to your audience, but they cannot be easily found on the web?

This, is where you can start.

Start covering topics that are not being covered by the others. This way you will quickly start drawing attention from people who really want content on these topics, but they are not getting.

You will also get higher rankings on search engines for phrases that are not easy to find.

You can create a space for your small business with content marketing by covering less-competitive topics and then, as your rankings improve and as people begin to recognize you as an authority, you can gauge up your topic competitiveness and aim for more competitive topics.

How to do content marketing on a shoestring budget

content-marketing-on-a-shoestring-budgetIn my blog post Can content marketing work for a very small business I have written that you can start carrying out your content marketing strategy within an hour. The beauty of content marketing is that you can do it on a shoestring budget and nobody even has to know it. Here I found an interesting blog post titled No money, no problem: 5 content marketing strategies for the shoestring budget that explains, with real-world proofs, how you can do content marketing on a shoestring budget.

Why it’s possible to do content marketing on a shoestring budget?

You can do content marketing on a shoestring budget because all the basic tools for doing content marketing are mostly available to you for free. Although the above-linked blog post gives you various reasons you can do content marketing with a very small budget, here are a few things you need to kickstart your content marketing within the next hour:

  1. Start a blog
  2. Create a Facebook business page
  3. Set up a Twitter account for your business
  4. Set up an Instagram account for your business
  5. Create a LinkedIn business page
  6. Set up Google analytics
  7. Incorporate the Google analytics code into your blog
  8. Compile a list of keywords and search terms your customers and clients may use to find you
  9. Find copyright-free images to use with your blog posts (you may like to read 21 free image sides to spruce up your visuals)
  10. Start publishing blog posts
  11. Write blog posts using your keywords and search terms
  12. Start sharing your blog post links on your social networking accounts and business page accounts
  13. Create small infographics using the blog posts you are already publishing and post them on your social networking accounts
  14. Create small videos with your mobile phone and start posting them on YouTube
  15. Create slides describing the benefits of your product or service and upload them on Slideshare
  16. Open account with MailChimp and start building a mailing list by putting the subscription form on your blog
  17. Start sending a small newsletter to people who subscribe to your mailing list

Although I have mentioned 17 things that you can do to do content marketing on a shoestring budget there are many more activities you can perform to do content marketing without spending a dime.

16 more ideas to enable you to do content marketing on a shoestring budget

  1. Interview your customers and publish their feedback on your blog
  2. See testimonials and publish them
  3. Whenever your customers and clients ask you questions post the answer on your website along with the question
  4. Conduct a poll on your social networking websites or on your own website
  5. Describe various jargons of your profession in simple language
  6. Curate great content from other websites
  7. Participate in memes
  8. Use Google trends to find what’s trending and create content around that
  9. Offer a free e-book from your website (you can write an e-book in a week)
  10. Get involved in controversies (without hurting sentiments) by writing opposing opinion on your blog (these things go viral fast)
  11. Create small GIFs from YouTube videos and give your own twist to them
  12. Engage with people on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter
  13. Try to get linkbacks from popular websites
  14. Use press release websites
  15. If you are a small business depending on local customers, you can create content on local events
  16. Routinely analyze your competition and share your thoughts on your website.

Whatever people say, the one thing you need to understand is that on the Internet content is king. Everything on the Internet is content and you can make everything interesting and engaging. If you are ready to work hard on a persistent basis and you are fine with out-of-the-box thinking, you can easily do content marketing on a shoestring budget.

Can content marketing work for a very small business?

can-content-marketing-work-for-a-very-small-businessToday someone left the following question on my contact form: Can content marketing work for a very small business?

It might be unnerving to read about big companies like Coca-Cola, IBM and American Express putting all their energies into content marketing – this must make you wonder, if such big companies are using content marketing, does content marketing work for a very small business too?

My answer is, the smaller the business, the better content marketing is for you.

Content marketing can definitely work for a very small business because

  • The cost of content marketing can be easily scaled according to the size of your business.
  • Even if you are a very small business, you can start content marketing today, right this very moment.
  • As a small business, you can do content marketing yourself, if you have the time, and if you have some budget, you can even hire someone to do content marketing for you. You may like to read Hire a professional content writer for your business.
  • Most of the tools needed for content marketing are available for free or on trial basis. Read 14 tools you can use to optimize content marketing.
  • If you can write, much better for your very small business because then you can kick start your content marketing at this very moment.
  • For content marketing to work for a very small business all you need is a blog and the right social networking accounts. Read Why your business needs a blog (20 reasons).

There is all the more reason for a very small business to use content market instead of conventional advertising. These days people skip most of the ads. Just imagine, you are spending all that hard-earned money on ads people don’t even see. When was it the last time you voluntarily saw an ad unless it was irresistible? A very big reason why Netflix and Hulu are popular because people don’t want to see ads.

As a very small business you simply cannot afford to lose so much money on advertisements and the best option for you is content marketing where you can rest assured the investment that you make is going to get you more business. Read Why content marketing is important for your business.

Why content marketing works for very small businesses?

I think content marketing is ideal for very small businesses who don’t have very big budgets for advertising and marketing. If you use something like AdWords you pay for every click. So, if you have to pay, let’s suppose, $0.50 for every click for multiple keywords, for every hundred clicks you are paying $50 to Google. This will definitely get you instant traffic provided you know how to manage a PPC campaign.

PPC advertising is a marketing branch in itself and there are companies specifically helping businesses optimize their PPC campaigns. So, for a very small business, online advertising may work and may not work. If you want to be sure that it works, you will need to work with the search marketing company which means, aside from spending money on every click that you get, you will also have to pay the search marketing company.

Plus, there is always your competition. Since there is always going to be someone who is ready to spend more money than you, you will have to go on increasing your ad budget. This can lead to your very small business to ruin.

Content marketing on the other hand – assuming you do it the right way – always works no matter what small business you are running.

This is because no matter how much content there is on the Internet, your business is unique so your content is also going to be unique. There is always going to be some factor that will distinguish your content from your competitor’s content, and this gives you an edge, and this is why content marketing can work for a very small business.

If you are wondering what’s content marketing, you may like to read What is content marketing? Explained in detail.

The advantage that a very small business has is that you can be very flexible. You can quickly create content needed by your target audience. You can be very specific.

Unlike big businesses, a very small business has a very narrow market, so you don’t have to put a lot of effort in carrying out your content marketing strategy. You need to generate content catering to only a small audience. You can also easily find out which social platform your target customers and clients prefer: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or LinkedIn (contemporary platforms, at the time of reading this, there might be many more).

Benefits of content marketing for a very small business

  • Content marketing improves your SEO: If you are a very small business that depends on search engine traffic then an improved SEO would help, right? You will get more traffic without paying for every click. The nature of content marketing is such that it automatically improves your SEO. Read Can content marketing improve your SEO?
  • Content marketing can help you build a reputation as an industry leader: Reputation in business always helps. When people know you and they respect you for your knowledge, they feel more eager to do business with you. And it has a cascading effect: you get more business with your reputation and since you get more business, your reputation increases and because your reputation increases, you get more business. This can easily be achieved with targeted content marketing. As a very small business since you have a deep knowledge of your customers and clients, you can create highly targeted content for them, sharing your wisdom and knowledge and answering their questions.
  • Content marketing reduces your marketing budget: With content marketing, you don’t have to spend on traditional marketing. You get so much visibility on the Internet that people come to your website rather than you interrupting them at odd moments. Once you create a search engine and social media presence for yourself you won’t have to pay for every click. On their own people will be coming to your website.
  • Content marketing helps you build a loyal customer base: When you continuously publish helpful content, people begin to like you and feel good about associating with you. They tend to share your content more among their friends and colleagues. They also tend to recommend your business because they trust you. Having a loyal customer base is far better than targeting people with advertisements.
  • Content marketing helps you engage people continuously: Interesting content encourages people to share your content and talk about it with each other. You never know which piece of content may go viral and millions of people come to know of it within a few hours. Yes, this has happened to many businesses.
  • Content marketing helps you build your own mailing list: A mailing list that you have built on the strength of your own content is one of the best business assets you can ever develop. These are the people who have subscribed to your mailing list on their own. They are open to getting messages from you on a regular basis. They like to hear from you. If you keep sending them helpful content they will always know that when they need that particular service or product, you are there to provide. It doesn’t matter to them that you are a very small business; provided you provide them with great content they’re always going to do business with you.

What sort of content marketing can a very small business do?

As a very small business you have multiple content marketing channels available to you that you can start using right now. Some of these channels I am describing below:

  • Start a blog: This is the best content marketing step a very small business can take immediately. If you already have a website all you have to do is go to WordPress.com, download the installation files and set up a blog in a separate directory (something like yourdomain.com/blog/). If you don’t want to do it yourself, every web host these days has this “one click” feature that allows you to install contemporary content management systems in a jiffy.
  • Create a list of keywords relevant to your very small business: You don’t need to start publishing blog posts the moment you set up a blog. Do some keyword research. You don’t have to target very small keywords because they will be very competitive. Instead, focus on longtail keywords. Here is a blog post you may like to read: 11 essential ingredients for creating great blog posts.
  • Create a list of questions and queries your target customers and clients may have about your business: People these days use questions and queries on search engines. If you have a flower shop people won’t simply search for “flower shop”. They will probably search for “is there an online flower shop in my area?” or “is there an online flower shop that can deliver fresh roses immediately?” List down all possible questions your target customers and clients may have before they decide to do business with you.
  • Start creating blog posts out of the questions and queries you have compiled: This is a very good way of creating relevant content as a very small business. By the time you have covered all the questions (the question is the title and the blog content is the answer) you will be having lots of blog posts on your blog and you will have covered lots of keywords relevant to your business.
  • Share your updates on your preferred social networking platforms: You can post your links on multiple platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. You can use a service like Hootsuite or Buffer App to post your content across multiple social networking platforms in one go. Even a very small business can afford to use these services.

Is content marketing a quick fix work for a very small business?

Not at all. Just because lots of things on the Internet are free and easily available, it doesn’t mean content marketing is one of those things. It’s a legitimate form of marketing. Whether you are a very small business or a very big business content marketing requires effort. Being a very small business, may be the effort won’t be very big and hence you may be able to manage your content marketing on your own, but effort WILL be required.

If you don’t have time for that effort, you will need to hire someone who can take care of basic content marketing like creating and publishing fresh and relevant content and then distributing your content using your social networking platforms. Good content writers are easily available. You may like to read 20 benefits of hiring professional content writing services.

As your very small business transitions into a small business and then a medium-sized business and then a large business, your content marketing will also evolve. Just like you have to continuously promote your business using conventional advertising and marketing, you will need to employ content marketing to keep yourself in the race.

Simple content marketing for a small business

simple-content-marketing-for-small-businessContent marketing isn’t just for big businesses having deep pockets. In fact, small businesses are in a better position to leverage content marketing due to the flexibility and abundance of creativity small business owners enjoy compared to highly bureaucratic and red-tape-tangled big businesses.

Yes, it takes efforts. I’m not saying content marketing is a quick-reward tactic. It’s a mistake to call it a tactic, it’s a prolonged strategy with long lasting results. You have to build it brick by brick. You will even have to pay content writers and content creators if you cannot create content on your own. It’s just like any other business asset that requires investment and effort.

Need to know what’s content marketing? You may like to read What is content marketing? Explained in detail.

Why a small business should embrace content marketing?

Here are some reasons why content marketing benefits your small business:

  • Conventional advertising is expensive and unscientific
  • PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns can totally blow up your budget
  • Content marketing makes people trust you
  • Content marketing helps you build your own media platform
  • Content marketing increases your visibility on search engines as well as social networking websites
  • You don’t have to pay for every click
  • The visibility that you create with content marketing is long-lasting
  • Once you have created a presence for yourself through content marketing, you no longer have to depend on search engines
  • Frankly, there is no other way, whether you realize it now, or later

Simple content marketing for a small business

The entry barrier to content marketing is very low. It is not as formidable as it may initially seem. In fact, you can formulate a content marketing strategy right now and start implementing it within the next one hour (first complete reading this). Here are a few simple things you can do to start your own content marketing campaign for your small business:

  1. Define your purpose: Content marketing is very precise and it is advisable that you clearly define your purpose right in the beginning of launching your content marketing strategy.What do you intend to achieve with content marketing?

    Of course, every business wants to get more customers and clients and this goes without saying, but what should be your key performance indicators (KPIs)? Are you looking for brand visibility on social networking websites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook? Do you want more subscribers for your business newsletter? Do you want more customers (duh!)? Read 12 most important KPIs of content marketing.

  2. Do keyword research: Keyword research is not as simple as it may seem in the beginning. You have to think how your typical customer or client would think when he or she needs to find your business. Don’t assume what keywords and search terms they should be using. There are many good keywords tools available (you can begin with this Google keyword tool).Keyword research isn’t just for better search engine rankings, it also helps you keep yourself focused and create the most appropriate content using the most appropriate language that your prospective customers and clients use. Keyword research gives you a direction.
  3. Create content topics: These are the blog posts and webpages that you are going to write or create content for. Remember that you need to create your topics keeping in mind what sort of traffic you want to get to your website or blog.If I want to get more clients for my content writing and content marketing services I write content that shows how much I know as well as how interested I am in getting your business.

    If you provide a consulting service than you want to tell people how much you know and how you help your clients. If you sell a product you would like to describe what are the benefits of those products in every possible way.

  4. Set up a domain account in Google Analytics and Google’s Webmasters Tools: These will help you monitor what sort of traffic your content is attracting. You will have to combine both of them to get a better insight.These tools will tell you what keywords people use to find your content. They will also tell you from where you get your traffic the most. Here is a good blog post on how to use Google Search Analytics to enhance your content marketing. If you find it difficult to understand, stay tuned, one of these days I will create a simplified version of how to use these tools to improve your content marketing efforts.
  5. Start publishing blog posts: Publishing blog posts is the easiest form of content marketing. Although, I repeatedly say that simply publishing blog posts on your blog isn’t exactly content marketing, it is your base. Without having quality content, there is nothing to market. So, everything starts with quality content that you publish under your domain name. Publish posts based on the topics you have created, based on the keywords you have researched.
  6. Use social channels to share your content: If you have a LinkedIn account (better for B2B businesses) start sharing the links of the blog posts you have started publishing. Use Twitter, use Facebook, use whatever social networking channel you prefer and where you would like to build your audience. This will bring visibility to your newly-created content.
  7. Monitor performance using Google Analytics and Google’s Webmasters Tools: You will need to be patient. These tools won’t get data initially. Google won’t even index your new content in the beginning if your domain is new. It may take a couple of months before you begin to see some data in Google Analytics and Google’s Webmasters Tools. Be persistent without worrying – every small business or big business goes through this process.
  8. Curate content from other sources: You don’t always have to create content from scratch. Awesome content is being created every minute on other websites and blogs. You can curate content from these sources from time to time and share it on your social networking timelines. You can also create smaller blog posts with your unique point of view with the help of curated content. Read Can you use content curation as a viable content marketing tool?
  9. Repurpose your popular content: If you observe that particular blog posts are getting more attention you can re-purpose their content. You can pick up the main points and create slides and then share the slides on a platform like Slideshare.com. If your blog post contains data, you can create an infographic and share it again on social networking platforms. If possible, you can create a small YouTube video, upload it on YouTube, and then share it again. There are many ways you can re-purpose your existing content. You may like to read How to repurpose old content.

These are a few simple ways a small business can use content marketing. As I mentioned in the beginning, just like any other business activity, it takes effort, consistency, a bit of creativity, and persistence. It’s not a shortcut. It’s an alternative, a way better alternative to conventional advertising and promotion. Revisit the above point: Why a small business should embrace content marketing.

How to play the game of content marketing as a small business with big business

Content marketing competition between big and small businesses

When it comes to content marketing bigger businesses with deep pockets obviously have an advantage over smaller businesses that cannot spend lots of money on creating high-quality content. Since most of my clients are one-person businesses and small businesses, I can totally relate to it. Most of them have budgetary constraints and they often have to adjust my rates accordingly (without stretching my own resources, of course).

This Huffington Post article quotes Forbes.com that 40% of brands use content marketing channels such as blogs these days. In 2013 the biggest beverage company Coca-Cola launched its content marketing strategy with a big fanfare and it became a case study for many big and small content marketing companies. The above-linked article throws some light on the ways you can score over big businesses. How can you compete with them and sometimes how can you even beat them?

You cannot beat big businesses with quantity. At the most you can publish 2-3 blog posts per day whereas a big company like Salesforce can publish 10-15 high-quality blog posts every day (they can even publish more if they want to). Then, it is not just about publishing blog posts and articles. You also need to market your content, and in fact this can be the biggest challenge faced by a small business. Bigger businesses have many channels at their disposal because they can spend their money on quality content as well as marketing channels. A small business can spend some money on getting quality content, but when it comes to marketing that content, not many options at lower rates are available. Nonetheless, some options ARE available.

Anyway, here are a few things you can do to remain in the game and sometimes even beat the bigger players:

  • Create authoritative content.
  • Focus on building your personal brand
  • Establish a one-one rapport with your audience that a bigger business cannot manage
  • Create engaging content
  • Be innovative and give your own personal quest to existing content from big business
  • Establish a vibrant presence on social media and social networking channels
  • Study your audience carefully and create content accordingly
  • Show more agility in tweaking your content according to audience-demand
  • Write like a person rather than a company representative
  • Respond to Twitter and Facebook queries as soon as possible
  • Promote others to enjoy reciprocity