Marketing is cited as one of the biggest challenges for most small businesses. Yet, despite this, they still need to market to market to grow. And without marketing, it is likely any business will stagnate and decline. For the small business, the marketing challenge results from a lack of time and lack of cash to invest.
Fortunately, content marketing effectively eliminates both challenges. Not only is it cost effective, it is also not time intensive. In addition, it is highly scalable once the content is created. And the end result for all small businesses is increased traffic to your on and offline locations as well as growth in sales.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is the process of identifying opportunities to deliver relevant, usable and valuable information to customers. It is then about using those opportunities to promote your organization.
And as it turns out, in a world over saturated with advertising, the quickest way to close the sale is to help your customers first, to prove trustworthy. Then, if they are in the market for what you sell and you have helped them by providing objective, valuable information, it is proven that they are highly likely to purchase from you. You simply need to include a non invasive resource box at the end of the content.
Note: A resource box is a small blurb at the end of the content that highlights your organization, product or service and asks the consumer to take a specific action. It is not a hard sell, which isn’t needed if you have properly built trust and proven a credible expert.
How is content marketing delivered?
How do you get content in the hands of potential customers? Content marketing delivers its message in three primary ways:
* Through the vast number of sites across the internet
* Through online discussions and communities
* Through search engines
Through these means you can gain visibility almost free using content.
At the end of the day, content marketing uses highly trafficked websites communities, news services and search engines to share information.
Why does it work?
The internet was invented for sharing information. From this you can draw the conclusion that the best way to market on the internet is using information. Need more evidence? Just look at the most profitable business models of the internet, search and content portals. Their focus is using information and content to sell advertising.
The bottom line is that the idea of information sharing aligns with the reason that people use the internet, to find information. In fact, anywhere from 50 to 65% of searches on the internet are focused only on information, having nothing to do with commerce. People seek information
first and use it to inform their purchases.
Search engines also put higher weight on content rich information. In turn ranking content rich sites higher in their results. A simple search for “digital camera” will reveal this fact. Most of the top results in Google, outside the paid advertisements, are for reviews. And unless you already know what camera you want, you are more than likely going to click on one to learn more.
Then, after reading one of the reviews, you might move on to purchase the camera fully informed.
Well what if you had provided one of those reviews to a potential customer with a link back to your online site selling cameras, and a coupon for first time purchasers? I bet you would have earned the sale. On the internet, content rules… even as a sales and marketing tool.
What does this mean for the small business?
Content marketing gives small business a way to compete. On the internet, money doesn’t matter. The value of the content is what matters. Therefore, by creating quality content and distributing it online, small businesses can generate enormous traffic and capture new customers.
Content marketing also provides the opportunity for small business to to build trust and credibility with millions of potential customers online at little or not cost.
Content marketing is therefore truly a revolution in small business advertising.
And content marketing has proven itself to work time and time again, for small organizations to giants like Southwest Airlines [http://www.sbimonline.com/content/how-southwest-generated-25-million-sales-using-free-online-pr-what-can-online-pr-do-your-sma].
Yet, to date, the potential of content marketing has been largely ignored. Those who sell traditional advertising have no incentive to promote it. And as it is also a relatively new concept, you are unlikely to find much published about it. Yet this same lack of attention provides the opportunity for small businesses to sneak in under the radar and seize customers, with little resource investment.
A few examples of content marketing in action
* An article placed on a site such as EzineArticles
* Participation in a community discussion on startupnation
* An online press release directed toward customers and optimized for certain keywords
* A podcast published through one of numerous online services
The options are endless… Give it a try.