What is it?  Content marketing is the exchange of value.

It’s a long-term strategy based on building a strong relationship with your buyers and influencers (also known as audience), by giving them high-quality content that is very relevant to them on a consistent basis. Creating impactful content and optimising its distribution across a wide range of channels and customer touch points engages specific market segments at precise points in the buying process.

Why do I need it?  Because you need customers!

And customers choose to spend their money based on their own research. Your goal is to make their research as pleasant and painless as possible. When you solve someone's problem, they naturally feel you care about them, and today, more than ever, they want to feel cared about, because the world is louder and noisier than ever before and attention is our most valuable resource.

Can I afford it? Absolutely!

In fact, as we enter a post-GDPR world, you can’t afford not to. Offering something of value like an ebook or white paper in exchange for a contact’s details is one of the most cost-effective methods of attracting prospects and nurturing customers through the buyer's journey. That’s why organisations are now spending up to as much as 40% of their budget on content marketing.

How can it help me grow my small business...?  We're glad you asked!

let’s review 5 reasons why content marketing is a mission-critical growth method for small businesses.

1) Boost brand awareness

Content marketing boosts brand awareness

Customers prefer to buy from brands they know. Fact!

Brand awareness isn’t just whether your audience knows the name of your brand, it’s how well they understand the qualities that make your brand unique. If you’re not in that category for your potential customers, you might have a problem trying to sell to them.

Here’s how it usually goes... Tom realises he has a problem. He needs a new desk for his office, but he’s on a tight budget. Based on the facts, his brain starts to think of cheap furniture companies. He starts to look for available solutions and immediately brand names begin to pop up.

And that’s where brand awareness comes in…

Ikea! Of course! Tom’s familiarity with Ikea is the result of many years of exposure to Ikea’s content marketing, which consistently highlights the qualities of the brand in fresh and relevant ways; a wide range of stylish furniture at affordable prices.

To stay front and centre of your buyer’s mind you need to consistently produce fresh and relevant content. Video is one of the best mediums for generating brand awareness since it’s one of the few types of online material that provides the value, relevance and flexibility consumers need, all while catering to the on-the-go lifestyle they want. What’s more, it’s the most sharable form of content. When prospects start sharing your videos on social media, they’ll naturally boost brand awareness for you.

Boosting brand awareness is less to do with your products/services and more to do with sparking interest and getting prospects to follow through to your website. 

Create videos that convey the unique characteristics of your brand:

  • Funny videos you’ve made in your office.
  • Thought leadership chats with your company’s CEO.
  • Brand films that highlight your values and mission.

2) Build trust

Content marketing builds trust

Who would you rather buy a car from... someone that's taken the time to educate you about cars by providing free, unbiased, educational content, or someone that you've never met or spoken to before in your entire life?

The former, right?

When it comes to parting with cash, customers want to be reassured that whatever they’re paying for is going to deliver on its promises. Content marketing is an invaluable tool for cutting through their distrust and cynicism.

To prove that your business is reputable and authoritative it’s essential to give away content that’s actionable and valuable. Doing this over time builds trust.

eBooks are a great example of content that builds trust!

Why? Because eBooks are valuable pieces of content and website visitors are willing to trade their contact information to access it. Better yet, by offering your visitors expert know-how in the form of an ebook, you present yourself as an authority in your field.

The greater amount of cohesive, quality content that you feed the public, the more you appear an expert in their regard. Eventually, they will turn to you for expert advice. For a small business, trust is one of your greatest assets.

3) Drive more traffic

Content marketing drives more traffic

Traffic is the oxygen of the internet. Just putting your website out there offers limited interest to the average buyer. Particularly for those who aren't even aware of the problem you can help them solve. No matter how brilliant your product/service, if no one knows you exist, you’re going to fail.

According to HubSpot, B2B marketers that rely on blogs get 67% more leads than those that do not use blogs. The reason? People turn to Google when they have a question. What better way to answer those questions than in the form of a blog post.

Pumping out helpful blog after helpful blog that solves the problem of your buyers ensures your content is found organically by the right people. What’s more, once you publish a blog post, it’s out there on the internet forever. This means it has as much value the day you post as it will weeks, months or even years after (so long as the content is still relevant). Compounding blog posts make up 10% of all blog posts and generate 38% of overall traffic.

Base your blog posts around certain keyword and phrases that your target audience are searching for. Continually creating high-quality, authoritative content that answers your buyers' questions and solves their problems ensures your content is found by the right people. Over time, buyers will naturally turn to your website as a valuable source of information.

4) Easy to analyse performance

Two small business employees analysing the performance of content marketing strategy

Content marketing is never a one-off process. It requires constant tweaking and adjustment. Because of all the easy-to-acquire metrics, it is possible to quickly hone in on what is working and what is not.

Did your CTA fail to convert more leads?... Perhaps you’re generating the wrong kind of traffic? Maybe your CTA is weak? That’s okay, it’s all a learning curve. Based on your strategy, the tactics you employed and the metrics you are using to validate their effectiveness, you can work to put those things right.

Doing more of what works and adapting what isn’t will help you forecast your growth based on your content publishing schedule. Gradually, you will start to see your content marketing become an integral asset of your core business strategy - a growth driver - rather than an expense.

5) Bring people back to your website again and again

A strong social marketing strategy generates customer advocacy

You’ve attracted prospects with awesome videos, converted leads with helpful eBooks, and closed countless customers with killer CTAs. Job done? Not even close… Now your goal is to keep them coming back again and again.

This is when a strong social media strategy can really pay off. The opportunity to speak and listen to your audience, responding directly to their wants and needs is central to the inbound marketing methodology. This helps you connect with your audience on a human level, showing that you are listening, understand, and care about their concerns. By spending as little as six hours per week, 66% of marketers see lead generation benefits with social media.

It’s also your chance to show your audience that there are real people with real emotions behind your brand. To do this well, it's important to communicate in a consistent, personal brand voice that is unique to you. Think of it like your best friend. You know who they are and what they sound like. If they said something that didn’t sound like them, you’d know immediately. The same is true for your customers. When customers recognise your tone and style they will naturally develop an affinity with your brand.  

The opportunity to grow lasting and scaleable relationships with the people who feel that you’re worthy enough to subscribe to create the foundation for what can eventually become one of your greatest marketing assets: customer advocacy.
Carl Davies

Written by Carl Davies

Carl is Founder of RevM