What Is Content Marketing: An Explanation For Small Business Owners

As a small business owner, you probably have only heard of content marketing.

Unless you’re a marketer, you likely don’t know much more than that.

That’s OK, though.

That’s what this article is about.

We’re going to dig into content marketing a bit today.

By the time we’re done, you’ll know what it is and what it can do for your small business.

Content Marketing Isn’t A New Concept

You’ve probably heard of content marketing.

Any time you search for ways to bring more leads into your business, you’ll probably see something about it.

Every online marketing guru is talking about it.

And it’s been that way since about 2010.

That, truthfully, doesn’t even describe how long content marketing has been around.

There are examples of companies getting ahead of the game as far back as 1672.

There are early content marketing examples from the late 1600s. Click To Tweet

With that much history in the medium, there’s some evidence it works.

Who am I kidding? It’s more than some.

Done well, it gets great results across the board.

That’s what makes it worth learning about.

What Is Small Business Content Marketing?

If anyone has ever explained content marketing to you, you’ve probably found yourself more confused.

The idea of using different forms of content – social media, blogs, videos, podcasts, emails, text messages, etc – to bring in sales without asking for a sale is confusing.

How can you possibly get more sales if you’re not creating sales material, right?

But think about the different online publications you read every day.

Maybe it’s a blog that you read to understand what’s happening with your industry.

Perhaps it’s a video series that demonstrates new technologies your industry is using.

It’s content you consume that’s informative and holds high value for you.

Be it newsletters, blogs, social posts, or any other content you look forward to, it’s all marketing.

Somewhere in there, a sale is being made.

To you.

Content marketing is about selling your brand without ever talking about making a purchase. Click To Tweet

That’s content marketing.

Companies that produce this content are providing you value.

They’re educating you.

But they’re not educating you about their products.

However, the information they provide holds incredibly high value.

That builds your loyalty to their brand.

Loyalty is going to guide you to their brand when you’re ready for the product they sell.

The great part is the fact that you can put those techniques to work for your business.

By creating valuable content for your target audience on a regular basis, you give them a reason to be loyal to your company.

How Can Your Small Business Benefit From Content Marketing?

Obviously, for content marketing to matter to you, you need to see what it gets you.

Unlike many traditional forms of marketing (like newspaper or television ads), content marketing gets you a lot more bang for your buck.

But remember that content marketing isn’t a direct sales tactic.

It’s not going to convert to measurable dollars quite as fast.

When it does convert to measurable sales, though, they’ll cumulatively have a higher ROI and a longer-lasting impact.

In the meantime, content marketing will offer a whole host of other benefits that those traditional forms can’t.

Get Found By The Right People

Traditional marketing tactics focus on casting a wide net to find the people ready to buy.

For companies that produce everyday products and cater to a mass market, this tactic makes sense.

But for a small business that can’t afford to waste its budget, the numbers suggest this is a horrible idea.

Traditional marketing focuses on mass distribution, putting your ad in front of as many people as possible.

With that single ad, your company must build trust, address how it solves a problem the consumer is facing, and ask for the sale.

Unless your company already benefits from massive brand recognition, this simply isn’t enough time to accomplish all three effectively.

Factually, only 3% of your market is ready to buy.

That means the wide net that you’re dragging is only capable of catching a small number of sales.

Targeting too large a market for immediate sales is wasted money. Click To Tweet

The other 97% will simply move on back to whatever they were doing, likely forgetting about you in the process.

Content marketing, on the other hand, focuses on delivering content tailored to your specific target audience.

While it misses the majority of the mass market, it brings in people who may want or need your products in the future.

It also catches the ones who are ready to buy now.

And it catches them better than a television ad can because the content is always available.

They don’t have to be watching the right channel at the right time of day.

Meanwhile, your content gives that 97% something to look forward to.

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Which brings me to the next benefit of content marketing.

Earn An Audience That Keeps Engaging

As I mentioned, great content earns loyalty.

The audience you’re looking for wants to know about your industry.

They want to find a deeper understanding of the ways they can solve their problems.

Most importantly, they want additional information about their industry that will help them make more money.

If you’re the one providing it, you’re the one they become loyal to.

That means content marketing is an excellent opportunity for your small business.

Your ability to earn audience engagement – as subscribers, customers, brand evangelists, or hopefully all three – is the most valuable part of content marketing.

Get your audience engaged with your content if you want success beyond today. Click To Tweet

By consistently producing valuable content that your audience cares about, you can quickly create an audience that’s interested in what you’re going to produce next.

Through your content, you’ll help gain insight into what matters to your audience.

That will not only help you produce better content in the future but also develop improvements to your product or service line.

As a side note, producing content correctly will help you gain better SERP rankings, which will lead to more traffic.

All your efforts will eventually earn you an audience ready to hear your message.

That, in turn, will lead to increased sales, better customer data, and will help convert your biggest followers into great referral sources.

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More traffic, more data, and more leads can only mean one thing.

Bring In New Clients

Yes, content marketing does earn new clients for your small business.

Isn’t that what we’re all after?

As a small business owner, growing revenue is the number one goal every day, month, and year.

If we don’t grow, we don’t stay in business.

Content marketing is a powerful engine for that objective.

Your content is a great way to get your audience to know, like, and trust you.

When your content is of high quality, they want more of it.

If they’re both eager to hear from you and trusting of you, they’re more likely to buy from you when they need what you have to offer.

You've got to attract the people who aren't ready to buy just yet. Click To Tweet

From an inbound marketing perspective, content nurtures your audience by telling them what they likely need to hear in their phase of the buying cycle.

At an early level, your content is focused on brand awareness, using things like social media or apps to get your viewers engaged.

Later, you’ll move those viewers into the lead phase, where their content will be slightly more tailored towards addressing the concerns your products solve.

At this point, you’re still not talking about your product.

Eventually, as they begin to show buying signs, you’ll send them content that leans towards the right product for them.

But even producing regular content that helps them do the things your products help them do can impact your revenue growth.

That’s because the information you provide keeps your audience engaged with your brand enough to spend money with you when they’re spending money in your industry.

With all these new opportunities to earn new customers, you can see how content marketing is so much more effective than outbound marketing.

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But it’s not just good with new customers.

Multiply Opportunities With Existing Customers

Loyalty is a huge factor in the lifespan of your customers.

When another company, product, or service comes along that seems interesting, people will opt out because they’re loyal to their existing provider.

Loyalty goes beyond whether a customer will leave to check out something new, though.

When you’ve built loyal customers, you have a chance to up-sell and cross-sell them.

Many times, when your customers trust what you say, they’ll buy something purely off your suggestion.

As long as you operate honestly, they’ve got no reason to do anything else.

Again, the value you provide through high-quality, consistent content is an effective way to build that trust.

When they’re receiving regular answers to some of their biggest questions from you, they’ll treat a product recommendation the same way.

They’ll listen.

You need to make yourself your audience's number one resource. Click To Tweet

It’s about the idea of you being an authority in your industry.

But what does that mean?

Think about the leaders in your industry.

If you took the first 4 that came to your mind, you probably see them regularly in your inbox, social media feed, or regular online reading material.

What you might find interesting is that not everyone will have the same top 4.

The content you consume heavily influences who you feel the biggest names in your industry are.

That’s what being an authority is.

And producing great content can turn you into a key resource in your audience’s mind.

That’s exactly what you want from them when they go to purchase from your industry.

You’ll do that by getting your content in front of them as often as possible.

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Do it right and your money goes further.

Keep Your Marketing Costs Down

Now I’m speaking your language, aren’t I?

I mentioned content marketing costs 62% less than traditional already.

However, because it also spends more time doing its job dollar for dollar than traditional, it’s like running the ad continually forever for the same price.

It’s possible that “forever” is a little overzealous but think about it.

Your content is going to do its job for a while. Click To Tweet

Video content on YouTube, audio content on iTunes, and blog content on your website will likely exist for as long as the mediums do, though.

Based on the way content is having success right now, that’s likely going to be a very long time.

That means the content you create today will still be gathering leads 5 years from now.

When the time is factored, the cost of content marketing is way lower than traditional forms.

That means you can make your marketing budget go further.

If your marketing budget can go further, and you’re getting more leads for every dollar, it’s worth it, right?

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Content Marketing Is A Small Business Owner’s Best Friend

If you don’t understand small business content marketing and all its benefits at this point, I’m not sure you ever will.

It’s easily the most beneficial thing your small business should be budgeting for.

If you’re not ready to do it yourself, you may want to hire an agency.

It’s that important.

As you can tell, content provides a ton of benefits to your small business.

Many of them aren’t available any other way.

And all of them are incredibly important to build your brand online and keep growing.

Which is ultimately what we all want.

By applying a great content strategy to your existing marketing plan, you can start to reap greater benefits and see the growth you’re looking for.

That’s going to assure your company pushes on and continues into the future.

Get your content plan in place and see the growth happen.

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About the author:

Michael McNew
Web developer, marketing innovator, technology enthusiast, and founder of Visceral Concepts, Michael McNew has developed a passion for delivering value to small business, turning his creativity towards image and reputation building for small business owners.