When I ask the question “How Will You Find Your Next Client — or Will They Find You?”, it is a direct challenge to business owners to define an inbound marketing strategy to encourage those who are ready to buy to contact you. Regardless of whether you are marketing to businesses (B2B) or consumers (B2C), attracting your prospects to your brand, product or service is done through developing content in any form that can be consumed and shared.
Inbound marketing combines search, social media and content marketing to showcase your knowledge in order to attract a clearly defined audience. When a prospective customer finds you through the content you provide, they begin to form a connection with you built on trust.
10 Content Marketing Benefits
The foundation of a successful inbound marketing strategy is the consistent delivery of quality content. Without content there is nothing to optimize and nothing to share on social sites. Content marketing:
- Increases visibility of your brand
- Develops lasting relationships with your audience
- Improves brand awareness and recognition
- Creates loyalty and trust, with both your current customers and prospects
- Helps you to build authority and credibility
- Positions your business as an expert in your industry
- Generates traffic to your site to improve lead generation
- Opens a channel of communication through social shares and comments
- Helps your customer move through the purchase decision more quickly
- Provides value with no strings attached
With all these benefits, it’s no wonder that according to Hubspot’s 2014 State of Inbound Marketing report, more than twice as many respondents cited inbound (45%) as their primary source of leads versus outbound (22%). In addition, marketers who have prioritized blogging are 13 times more likely to enjoy a positive ROI.
10 Content Marketing Challenges
With all these positive benefits, why is it so difficult for small business owners to successfully implement content marketing? Inbound marketing is not a “set it and forget it” marketing activity. It is a process that requires regular, consistent delivery of focused content to increase your visibility and demonstrate your expertise.
The biggest challenges facing small businesses are:
- Determining your goals for content marketing
- Being able to focus on a narrow target audience and intimately understand their challenges
- Having enough time and resources to produce the content your target is looking for
- Developing a content plan that provides the roadmap for what content to produce and when
- Writing content with focus and clarity
- Not understanding what content to produce and in what format
- Not knowing where to post your content to reach your ideal client
- Producing quality content consistently that excites and informs your audience on a regular schedule
- Measuring the effectiveness of the content you produce
- Proving ROI of content marketing
10 Content Marketing Tips for Small Businesses
- Intimately understand the audience you are trying to reach. Do this first otherwise your content marketing efforts could be a waste of time.
- Document your content marketing strategy. According to the B2B Content Marketing 2015: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends — North America, produced by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs and sponsored by Brightcove, those having a documented strategy are more effective than those without one.
- Focus on quality content published regularly. Don’t believe you have to blog everyday to succeed with content marketing. Most small businesses don’t have a marketing department that can create and distribute content as often as some folks say you should. Strive for a rate that works for you and publish useful content.
- Be realistic in how much time you can spend on content marketing based on your resources. If you don’t have the time, consider outsourcing to someone who can produce the content and distribute it for you. Just be sure you oversee the process so what is being created aligns with your vision and beliefs.
- Produce content that is timeless so that it continues to work for you long term. Publishing quality, evergreen content will continue to drive traffic to your website over a longer period of time.
- Repurpose your content across different content types. A blog post can be turned into an infographic, presentation, video and a podcast. These different media types can then be shared on different platforms to increase your reach.
- Remember who you are writing for and focus on how your content can benefit them. Answer the questions your prospects and customers have to generate your content. When someone starts the buying process, they start with a search. Become the brand that answers their questions thoroughly so they have no choice but to contact you.
- Be sure to put all of your valuable content on your website and share it to social media. You own and control your website but rent space on social sites.
- Build your email list so you can reach interested parties on your terms. Again you own your in-house email list. Get people to subscribe to your list by offering some type of content that is very useful to them. Once you have them signed up, you can then provide your content to them directly via email.
- Have patience. Content marketing is a long term strategy that takes time for the results to be visible.
Every business can successfully market their products or services through inbound marketing offering content that educates and helps your customers. When you share your knowledge and expertise freely with no strings attached, the giver’s gain philosophy takes hold and you become the recipient of wealth – both from the satisfaction of helping someone from sharing your knowledge and through new clients who truly appreciate what you have to offer. Don’t wait to get started on this effective marketing strategy.
What are your content marketing tips and challenges?