You’d be forgiven for thinking that content marketing is a big brand’s game. After all, the blog posts you read addressing content marketing tend to focus on brands such as Coca Cola and Oreo. This begs the question: is content marketing exclusive to those with the bigger marketing budgets? Do I need a 24-7 brand newsroom for content marketing to be really effective?
Hopefully you already know that the answer to those two questions is no. Almost any business can use content to bring in new customers, no matter their size. Sure, the content output from big brands is on a completely different scale to small businesses, but that doesn’t make it any less effective.
This blog post is mainly for SMEs who are unclear on how they could be using content in their overall marketing activities; I will be addressing the question raised above and will outline why small businesses can use content marketing as effectively as any other business. And hopefully, you’ll pick up a tip or two along the way.
The cost of getting started is essentially free
Many of the individual tactics you’d use in your content marketing efforts are basically free to get going with; a blog, social media, newsletters, case studies… You might be doing some of this already. Although we have to be careful when referring to activities as being “free” – if you spend time doing it, it isn’t free. It costs whatever your time is worth. But, you can get going with these tactics with virtually no budget, which is the important thing. Take a look at the graph at the beginning of this post.
This graph is taken from the Content Marketing Institutes excellent report B2B Small Business Content Marketing (itself an awesome example of content marketing). Also, while this report is focused on B2B, don’t think it isn’t relevant to B2C too – your audience is simply different.
How many of these tactics are you using already or would find it relatively easy to get started with? Probably the vast majority of these are completely within your capacity or budget.
You might also be interested in this graph below, showing which content tactics marketers believed were most and least effective. Please bear in mind though, that just because someone believed something, it doesn’t make it fact.
Why don’t we address some of the highlights from this list of tactics and look at how you could be using them? And specifically, why you don’t need to be a big brand to be using them.
- Social media – other than blogs. Sure, social media can be time consuming. But there aren’t many better ways of getting in front of your audience, and, it doesn’t need to become a full-time job (that can wait until later!).
- Articles on your website / blogs. I’ve lumped these two together. Provided your website accommodates blogs and articles (and if it doesn’t, you should be thinking about getting that sorted), writing is one of the easiest ways of producing content on a regular schedule. I’m sure there’s someone already at your company who is knowledgeable in your niche with good writing ability who can write a post on a weekly basis.
- eNewsletters. This is one of those tactics that many businesses are already using without considering that they’re using content marketing. But, for a newsletter to work, you need to have something to put in it, right? Newsletters tie in with all of the other content activities you’re engaged in and are a great way of getting that content in front of your community.
- Case studies. These may or not be appropriate for your business, but case studies are a great example of the maxim “do things, tell people” – or more appropriately perhaps, “do things, write about it”. When you do some work for a customer/client and the result is positive, write about it! What did you do, how did you do it, and what were the results. Include some images too. Cases studies can be as brief or as in-depth as you like, but unless you’re selling a super-premium product or service, err on the side of brief.
- Videos. No longer is video a medium for those with big budgets. Even smartphones take fantastic HD quality videos now, so there is no excuse for not thinking about how you could be using video. If you have a product or service, consider making a video about it. Use video to support your other content; if you produce a case study for example, make a short video interviewing the customer or client. Whatever it is, video has the power to engage like no other (excepting interactive media such as games).
- In-person events. You might not consider events to be a form of content marketing but this graph does so let’s address it as such. We held an event last year, the A-Z of Instagram, a mobile photography exhibition. We not only had a great time, we developed some great relationships and increased our awareness in the local community. People remember you that much more when they’ve actually attended one of your events in person. The time investment involved in holding events can be considerable, but the rewards can be so great.
- Articles on other websites. Writing for other websites can put you in front of an entirely new (and perhaps much larger) audience than you’d reach on your own website, and the time/cost is more or less the same. Find websites/online publications that your customers and audience visit, and find out if you can write for them. It’s as simple as that.
I’m going to leave it there, but I hope that if you weren’t already, you’re convinced that content marketing can work for you, no matter the size of your business, or your budget.
If you’re a small business and you’re using content marketing, we want to hear from you. Email us on email@example.com (or give us a call on 01608 649600) and talk to us about how you use content marketing and why it works for you. And even if it doesn’t, let’s talk about that instead.
By Peter Meinertzhagen