Advertising methods are experiencing a rapid shift, especially in regards to online marketing. In today's marketing world, customers expect businesses to actively, personally engage them as well as provide content that is of interest to them. Herein lies the heart of content marketing: informing and communicating with customers rather than overtly "selling" to them (Tweet This!)
While some SMBs have dedicated content marketing departments, many others (namely start-ups) do not. As a small business owner, you'll need to know the ins and outs of good content marketing strategy in order to best succeed. Here are some ways your small business can use content marketing to the best advantage.
1. Create community.
Focus on creating an environment where your customers feel welcome and know what to expect. Interact with your customers and let them know you're listening by answering their questions and keeping up with what they're interested in seeing. Use of social media is a key element here -- whether you focus more on using a text-heavy blog format or the photo-saturated Pinterest will depend on your type of business, but take the time to determine the best formats for sharing your content, and then use these platforms to your best advantage.
2. Publish useful content
Don't just focus on self-promotion; customers will quickly become bored with what they see as insincerity on your part. Put forth content that will keep your readers interested and coming back for more. Consistently offer succinct pieces of information, answer common questions, link to helpful articles, and publish useful tips. Offer deals and promotions that allow your customers to try out new things (and motivate them to share about your company with others). Readers will appreciate this blend of varied and useful content.
3. Update frequently.
Of course, you'll need to be careful not to overwhelm your customers with too much content, but it's necessary to post often enough that you stay on their radar. Combine the right mix of content with the right number of posts, and you'll have happy customers. A good rule of thumb is spending around 30 minutes a day managing content.
4. Keep up with the trends.
Not only should you aim to share content that's fresh and up-to-date, you should make sure the medium through which you share is current, too. Short videos and photo-heavy posts are currently trending, for instance, so try to keep up with what's current and make use of these and other "cutting-edge" trends to increase your audience and customer interest.
5. Learn from successful SMBs
Take some time to study successful small businesses and how they're using content marketing to its best advantage. Online-subscription beauty supply company Birchbox is one prime example. Birchbox puts forth a carefully-calculated mix that brings together all the elements of successful content marketing. There's no question this has paid off for the niche company; in 2013, they boasted 400k subscribers (twice the number from 2012).
By taking the time to create community, publish content that's interesting and useful, provide consistent updates, make sure the content and methods are current, and learn from the success of other SMBs, you'll be setting up your business's online marketing plan for success. Advertising methods have shifted to a more customer-focused strategy, and the most successful startups are those who embrace theses content marketing tips and use it to its full potential.