Nobody ever said running a small business would be easy. Even in the best of times, it can feel as if you are walking a tightrope and any gust of wind could place the whole enterprise in peril. That’s something that certainly came home to roost during the events of 2020 and 2021 as small businesses had to adapt to restrictions, closures and shifts into cyberspace.
Now more than ever, it’s vital for small businesses to be able to connect with their customers, to nurture brand loyalty. Offline, this comes naturally by getting to know your customers in a literal sense. Establishing that sort of connection when some or all of your business is conducted online is not so easy. But content marketing is an essential part of making it happen.
What do we mean by content marketing?
With content marketing we use the content we put out on our website or social feeds to inform, to educate, to inspire, to entertain – in short, to create those relationships with our customers and in so doing promote our brand.
People sometimes think content marketing is advertising, but it’s more than that. With advertising, you reach out to potential clients, pitching your wares. But with content marketing, you create good copy that they want to read – or to watch, or to listen to.
What makes good copy?
So what do we mean by “good copy?” Well, good copy will have a connection with your products or services, even if it is not directly promoting them and it will be SEO optimized in terms of the keywords it uses and the way it is laid out on the page. But all that should be secondary to engaging the audience.
If you create engaging copy, people will come back for more, and they will tell their friends. It’s the online equivalent of those small businesses you might remember as a child, where the owner always had time for a chat, whether it was a clothes shop owner talking about the latest fashions or the guy in the auto spares shop who was always willing to talk cars.
Benefits of content marketing
Intuitively, it is obvious that content marketing makes sense. But to put it into a business context, we can say it brings four key benefits:
· Increases your exposure – people share good content. Social media makes it easier than ever to do so, but that’s another story!
· Brings customers to you – researchers found that brands without a solid content marketing strategy have to spend three times as much on lead generation marketing as those who do.
· Establishes authority – your blog becomes a knowledge base to which people turn for information relating to your niche. When it’s time to buy, you are also the obvious choice.
· Improves search visibility – this is where ensuring content is SEO optimized brings extra rewards.
Content marketing is a relatively new term, but it describes a concept that is as old as the hills. And it’s something that no small business can afford to neglect.