Content Marketing is the creation and sharing of content in order to attract, acquire and engage customers. A recent study by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) shows that 86% of B2C companies and 82% of B2B companies are using content marketing. Perhaps more telling is that only 1% of content marketers plan to decrease their content marketing budget next year, with the rest either planning to increase it (55%) or keep it the same (44%). All told, content marketing is a $41 Billion business.
Why is all this money being invested in content marketing? In a word, leads. Generating new leads is mentioned as the top benefit of content marketing, while building brand awareness and thought leadership are also important drivers.
Yet, content marketing is hard, takes time and is expensive. Small businesses, in particular, find it challenging to practice effective content marketing. The three tips that follow, will help small businesses kick-start their content creation process and effectively compete in grabbing their potential customers’ attention.
Tip 1: Don’t talk about your products or services
This is well known and accepted by seasoned content marketers, but many small businesses fall into the trap of making their content about their products and services. Don’t do it. While there is a place for such communication, it is unlikely to generate significant, if any, leads. Instead think about your potential customers or clients. What content are they interested in that is not related to your products? For example, here are some article titles along with the type of company that might have written them:
- 10 Tips on minimizing the effects of jetlag (by an airline)
- Avoid skin cancer while enjoying the sun (by a resort in the Caribbean)
- How to potty train your child in 5 days (by a preschool)
- 3 effective ways to combat seasickness (by a scuba dive school)
In the above examples, the content is related to the product or service that you are offering, but it is not about the product or service you are offering. A good check to see whether this is the case is to look at the article and think of whether readers would know which company blog the article came from, if the branding were hidden. If they could figure it out, then you should probably revise the content and make it less about you.
Tip 2: Create 10% and curate 90%
Producing good content is hard. Producing good content consistently is very hard. In fact, the top two challenges mentioned by content marketers, according to CMI, are: (1) producing enough content and (2) producing engaging content. This is particularly the case for small businesses, who lack the resources to consistently produce engaging content.
One way that small businesses can benefit from content marketing is to practice careful and knowledgeable curation of content, coupled with a bit of insight or commentary. For example, if you are an attorney and are interested in offering you potential startup clients some useful content, you could collect the 10 must-read articles for new company founders. These can come from magazines, such as Inc. or Entrepreneur, from the SBA, from VCs, from business schools, etc. Then, create a short new post for each of these articles with a couple of sentences, perhaps highlighting why you picked the article and who it is primarily targeted towards. This list is going to be immensely valuable to a new founder and does not require you to create any original content, other than your 2-3-sentence introduction to each article.
Another example might be a company that sells camping equipment online. Instead of describing your products, launch a section of your site where you collect the best campsite reviews from across the web, from magazines, blogs, etc. You can also add your own introduction to the campsite review article and personalize it if you’ve been to that particular campsite.
There is plenty of good content already produced and available on the web, but there is also a lot of white noise. Finding the gems for your site visitors can be very valuable. You are saving them a tremendous amount of time, and, in the process, positioning yourself as an expert.
Tip 3: Optimize for SEO
Now that you have found a way to quickly update your site with fresh, relevant content, you need to make sure that you are reaping all the benefits. To do this, your next step is to practice some basic search engine optimization on your content snippets. You can find several articles on SEO on our blog, but in a nutshell here is what a small business practicing content marketing should do:
- Define who your target customers/clients are – most small businesses already know this.
- Think of the content that is most valuable for your target customers/clients and resist the urge to gravitate towards content that relates to your product or service offering.
- Come up with a list of keywords that might be used by your target customers when searching for the content you identified in step 2.
- SEO-optimize your curated content by mentioning the keywords in your titles and descriptive text.
You can probably start off doing the above with a sheet of paper and a pen but once you get serious about SEO optimization and tracking things like your keyword ranking, you’ll want to use an Excel sheet or specialized software to do so. There are free options that will give you some basic info, such as Google Webmaster Tools, and several professional software packages. At Lingospot we use HubSpot, which is a complete inbound marketing platform.
While optimizing your posts for SEO is a no-brainer, we are surprised to see how many curators don’t take advantage of this opportunity to drive traffic to their site. Not only will ecustomizing the title and text help your site rank higher, but adding your own viewpoint is considered to be an added value for your readers and is encouraged by Google. Pay particular attention to this video by Google, especially after 3:15, where they talk about value-added curation:
I highly recommend spending some time on Daring Fireball, which is mentioned in the above video. It’s a good example of value-added curation.
As an example of good and SEO-friendly content marketing through curation, here are some example intros to the articles we mentioned earlier. The keywords that the site is trying to rank with are shown here in italics for illustration:
- “This article shows 5 quick ways to fight sea sickness which is often a problem for scuba divers, especially the ones getting certified for Open Water Diver.”
- “Most preschools in Los Angeles will expect your child to be potty trained before registering. Here is an article that shows you some quick tips of how to do so.”
- “Jetlag is one of the toughest aspects of transatlantic flights and this article may just make air travel a bit more pleasant for you.”
- “Planning your next Caribbean vacation? Make sure you read this article before you depart for your next sun tanning paradise.”
See what I’m doing here? I’m introducing an article, which is valuable to my readers, but I’m also making sure to include keywords that I’d like to rank for in my description. The idea is that when an individual goes to Google to search for “getting certified for Open Water Diver”, “transatlantic flights” or “sun tanning paradise”, the relevant post will show up.
To summarize, here are three easy steps that small businesses can follow to kick-start their content marketing efforts:
- Stop talking about your products and services
- Focus on doing more curation and less creation
- Make sure your content is SEO optimized
If you are interested in automating the above process and fueling your small business content marketing, Lingospot offers a Free Trial of its Starter Edition, which will allow you to easily practice content curation marketing in less than 10 minutes a day. Check it out and you can be on your way to cost-effective content marketing today.
Post by Nikos Iatropoulos