Effective Content Marketing for Small Business: What is Content Marketing?

Learn how to create an effective content marketing strategy for your online business.

Content marketing may seem like a big undertaking for small businesses, but it is a key marketing tool for brand building and customer loyalty. Part one of our blog series on content marketing defines and explains the concepts behind this budding strategy.

BREAKING NEWS: There’s been a major shift in marketing.

Instead of shouting products and discounts at the world, businesses are now required to coach their customers to make a purchase. Let’s face it – nowadays, people only buy from brands they trust, and trust comes from two things: relationship building and expertise.

This is where content marketing comes into play, especially for small businesses. By creating and sharing information that your customers want to absorb, you’ll establish yourself as a valuable resource. While becoming a resource is a softer and more tedious sell than traditional marketing, it’s growing in effectiveness.

That’s why it’s so important for your business to get started with content marketing. Over the next couple of weeks, this blog series will explore the basics and depths of the subject, including information on how to research, write and package your content. We’ll also discuss various strategies to use your content to find customers and build loyalists.

But wait – what the heck is content marketing, anyway?

Copyblogger has a nice definition, offering the following:

Content Marketing means creating and freely sharing informative content as a means of converting prospects into customers and customers into repeat buyers. The primary goal is to obtain opt-in permission to deliver content via email or other medium over time. Repeated and regular exposure builds a relevant relationship that provides multiple opportunities for conversion, rather than a “one-shot” all-or-nothing sales approach.”

The bolded items are particularly important; especially since many people believe that content marketing is as simple as writing and distributing a document. Wrong. Effective use of this tool involves much, much more. Let’s dig deeper into the key points of the definition:

  • Creating and freely sharing informative content: This means that you must create new content, which includes ideation, research and construction. Then you have to figure out a killer strategy to share and distribute your work.
  • Converting prospects into customers: Not everyone is ready to purchase your product from the get-go. An effective content marketing strategy educates prospects to push them further down the sales funnel. This means that during the creation and sharing process, you must cater to this audience.
  • Converting customers into repeat buyers: This is where brand loyalty comes in. By creating content that demonstrates new usage ideas and information to current customers, you’ll encourage repeat purchases. More on that in a future post.
  • Goal is to obtain opt-in permission: Yep, this is one of the biggest obstacles to launching your content marketing campaigns. Before you can deliver anything, you have to get customer permission to share your content.
  • Repeat and regular exposure builds a relevant relationship: Yet another kicker – creating one document or content piece just isn’t enough. To really reap the benefits of content marketing, you have to keep it up and keep it consistent.

Learn what content marketing is and isn't.

Content marketing can come in a variety of forms. Whether it’s a brochure, an ebook, a white paper, a video, a podcast, a webinar, a recipe, a style guide, etc. – content marketing, especially for small business, can be summed up as this:

“Leveraging relevant, sharable content, based on insights, to educate customers/prospects and leave a lasting branding impression.”

Make sense?

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Equally as important, here’s what content marketing isn’t:

  • Content marketing is NOT just writing. Instead, it takes a number of forms and requires a strategy. So before you get started, put the pen and paper down and think about what you’re doing.
  • Content marketing is NOT spam. Sending irrelevant information is a fast-track to disaster.
  • Content marketing is NOT a shotgun approach. A shotgun sprays bullets everywhere. Alternatively, your content marketing needs to be catered and targeted to specific audiences.
  • Content marketing is NOT a luxury. In fact, it’s becoming a necessity, particularly for small businesses with small budgets. This is one of the most affordable and effective tactics you can use to build your brand.

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So now that you’re a bit more familiar with content marketing and the concepts behind it, stay tuned to this blog series to learn how to leverage this blossoming tactic for your own benefit. With an investment of your time to studying this topic and building a solid plan, you’ll turn your small business into a content factory in no time.

Happy selling!
-Matt Winn, Online Communications Specialist, Volusion

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This article is a part of our Effective Content Marketing for Small Business series. Please check out the other posts and share them with anyone who may be interested.

Effective Content Marketing for Small Business:

Volume One: What Is Content Marketing?
Volume Two: 9 Ways to Get Started
Volume Three: 6 Steps to Create a Content Marketing Strategy
Volume Four: 4 Ways to Break Through the Content Clutter
Volume Five: 9 Simple Ways to Spread Your Content Like Wildfire
Volume Six: Metrics You Can Actually Use
Volume Seven: How to Stay Committed to the Cause

About 

Matt Winn is Volusion’s Senior Brand Manager, where he helps oversee the organization’s branding and communications efforts. Matt has created hundreds of articles, videos and seminars on all things ecommerce, ranging from online marketing to web design and customer experience. Beyond being a certified nerd, Matt is an avid college football fan, enthusiastic home cook and a self-admitted reality TV junkie.

7 Responses to “Effective Content Marketing for Small Business: What is Content Marketing?”

  1. Content marketing for the small business: The 10,000-foot view | ConverseConnect

    […] a good short series of articles about how to get started, see this article by Volusion. This company is focused on online businesses, but most of the ideas apply to brick-and-mortar […]

    Reply
  2. Evan Jacobs

    I completely agree on the difficulties of gaining permission to market content to your audiences. Our system thus far has been relying on organic visitors who like our news and blog content to fill out our opt-in forms on the site and grant us the ability to deliver newsletters, marketing emails etc. So far so good!

    Thanks for your angle on content marketing, I enjoyed the read.

    Reply
  3. Content Marketing - Creating Content to Help You Get Found

    […] Content marketing has become one of the most important marketing activities you can do as a small business. Regardless of your industry, people are searching for quality information to help them make decisions, solve problems or keep up with what is happening in the world. Providing valuable information for your reader gets their attention and encourages them to continue to listen. […]

    Reply
  4. Content Marketing - Creating Content to Help You Get Found | Masterful Marketing

    […] Content marketing has become one of the most important marketing activities you can do as a small business. Regardless of your industry, people are searching for quality information to help them make decisions, solve problems or keep up with what is happening in the world. Providing valuable information for your reader gets their attention and encourages them to continue to listen. […]

    Reply
  5. Tonerboss

    Our challenge in content marketing, is delivering content that is interesting enough but doesn’t deviate far off from our product or niche.

    For example.

    We are in the printing industry and our product are hp toners & printer supplies. Aside from printing tips, printers and printing news, we have a hard time coming up with interesting content.

    Reply
    • Matt

      Great issue to bring up. Sometimes it seems like there isn’t a ton of captivating content for your product line. In a case like this, it’s important to broaden your topics just a bit.

      For example, perhaps it would be useful for you to create a pamphlet that teaches people how to pick the perfect printer. Or, maybe some sort of calendar your customers can use as a reminder to pick up new printer supplies.

      Sometimes topics that do deviate just a bit from your product can help bring in new customers. An infographic or timeline documenting the history of printers is one idea, or maybe even talking about the benefits of certain features could make a nice piece of content.

      Either way, it’s great that you’ve already started with your content marketing. Take a look around to see what other type of content is floating around your industry. Then, try to make it better.

      Thanks for the comment!
      -Matt

      Reply
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