Content marketing is an important and effective strategy for many small businesses. Creating content that your customers find useful can be a great relationship builder. But creative content marketing ideas are hard to come by, especially for small business owners, and can often lead to a business abandoning this powerful strategy.
You most likely have more content than you realize. It’s just a matter of taking what you have and turning it into something very consumable for your audience.
Benefits of content marketing
We know that content marketing can help our businesses tremendously.
- Helps improve your SEO. Without content, there is nothing to optimize for search engine results.
- Increases brand awareness. Great content helps people understand how you can solve a problem or fulfill a need.
- Establishes your industry expertise. Creating and sharing useful, actionable content can make you the go to person when people are looking for knowledge.
- Provides a greater return on your investment. Your good content builds a relationship with your audience, which helps convert them into clients.
Plan your content marketing before you execute
You may want to dive right in thinking you have some great content ideas. But before you start, develop a simple content marketing strategy. This will help guide your efforts and make sure all the content you create is drives more traffic to your website and converts that traffic into leads.
As a reminder, a simple content marketing strategy helps you to:
- Define the goals of your content
- Understand your target audiences needs
- Execute a content audit if you have content currently available
- Create a content calendar to define frequency, content types, call-to-action and promotion strategy
- Determine whether you need specific landing pages
- Manage and monitor your results
Content marketing ideas to inspire you
There are many ways to provide useful content that will help your audience. Here are a few options that can be implemented easily for a small business.
Write blog posts
Not very inspiring, but having a blog as a primary content marketing activity is a given. If you have a strategy and consistently produce the content your audience needs, you will see a return on your investment. Make sure your topics align with the problems your customers are trying to solve.
A blog also helps you expand your digital footprint. Each new post adds breadth to your web presence, adds trust and authority to your business and gives you an additional page to optimize. Make sure you do your keyword research and then write expert content.
Provide an audio version of your post to give options to your subscribers on how they wish to consume your content.
Start a podcast
Podcasts continue to grow in popularity as a content marketing tool. There are now more than 850,000 active podcasts in the world. More people would rather listen to content than read. They can get their content fix while they are driving, exercising or traveling. Sometimes I listen to a podcast while I’m working, depending on the work I need to do.
Determine a theme for your podcast. Some podcasts are interviews. Some are covering educational content based on audience inquiries. Others are covering topics of the day.
Then turn your podcast into a blog post by providing a transcript for those who want to skim the content before they listen to the entire episode.
Create a guide or white paper
Guides and white papers are valuable resources for your visitors. They can provide more in-depth educational content that may not be feasible in a single blog post (although blog posts can include how-tos, checklists and guides).
Types of guides could include:
- How-to Guides – Offer a step-by-step approach to problems you can help someone solve.
- Product comparisons – Review and offer product pros and cons of key automation tools and products your audience is considering for their business.
- Beginner’s guides – Help people get up-to-speed in a topic you are an expert in.
- Templates – Help your audience complete a task with a simple template that makes a process easy to implement.
White papers are based on facts and are great for presenting original research on an important topic in your industry. Other topics would be educational, data focused and something that people want to review more than once. Here’s a resource for white paper templates that can help you create a powerful lead magnet.
This type of content can be used to grow your email list (using them as a lead magnet). Require people to enter their email addresses to gain access. Then you can continue to touch them with more content and offers that will help choose your business when they need a professional.
Start an eNewsletter
Now that you have started building your email list, send these leads additional content in the form of an email newsletter. You can send your content weekly, monthly, or quarterly, but whatever you choose, it should be consistent and expected.
Email newsletters help you stay in touch with your list and develop relationships with subscribers who are interested in your business. Email newsletters can contain business updates, industry news, and helpful insights.
If your email service provider supports it, you can automatically send your blog posts to your list when it is published. For busy small business owners, publishing a post and having it turned into a nicely formatted email saves you time while providing useful content to your subscribers.
Share case studies
Demonstrating how you’ve helped other customers is a powerful lead magnet. Case studies provide proof of your expertise and validate your business’s credibility.
Sharing case studies go further than testimonials. They provide more details about how you solved a customer problem and the results you achieved. It helps people determine that you actually can achieve the results that your messages claim.
Develop an eBook
If a topic is complex and needs several blog posts to cover the topic completely, turn those posts into a well-designed eBook. Combining the posts into one eBook makes it easy for your audience to get all the information they need in one place.
Make it easy to read. Similar to writing a blog post, use lists, visuals and graphics so people can skim. Make sure the design is professional and reflects your brand.
Create a free course
Depending on your business, you most likely have a skill that your audience would like to learn. Understand your objectives for creating this course. You can offer it as a downloadable product or an email course. An email course is delivered via a sequence of emails. In both cases the person takes the course on their own.
Free courses are a great way to get people to subscribe to your list. It also helps to build a stronger relationship with your subscribers.
Offer a webinar
Webinars are great to gain brand recognition and provide valuable information to interested customers. With the convenience of attending from the comfort of your office, webinars are very popular. Nearly all marketers (99%) include webinars as a priority in their marketing plans.
You can offer information to beginners or explain the more complex aspects of your product or service. Provide quality education and ensure you give them something useful during the webinar. Don’t make it a sales pitch only.
The advantage of a webinar is that it is a great way to capture leads. To attend live or watch the replay, people sign-up and provide their email address, making webinars a great way to build your email list. Those who sign up are more likely to be interested in your product or service, making conversion from a lead to a customer easier. Offer attendees a promotion to encourage sales.
Show your expertise via videos
If you have a business that has a visual component, create a series of videos to demonstrate your expertise. This works well for:
- Personal trainers who can show you how to perform an exercise correctly.
- Plumbers, handymen and other home services professionals can create how-to videos for homeowners to solve small issues.
- Financial advisors, CPAs or marketers can provide videos answering their top questions from clients.
Organize your content into topic clusters
Topic clusters are organized groups of content around a specific topic. Each specific topic has a page that provides an index or table of contents, supported by smaller pieces of content that fill out details around that topic. The index page can be evergreen content that you can update regularly to keep it fresh.
Although this is an SEO strategy to help the search engines index your content, organizing your content in clusters also helps your audience find what they are looking for more easily.
Need help with content marketing?
Every business is unique. Picking the right content is a challenge. The types of content that will work for your business may be different from what may work for another, even in the same industry.
Make sure whatever you create aligns with what your customer wants and needs. Spend time brainstorming your ideas and create your content strategy before you spend time producing content. And if you need help, reach out to an experienced writer, content marketer or creative resource to help you project your best image to your audience.