Hi small business owner!
Content marketing can feel like a lot when you’re first looking through it. I think we forget that content marketing is something we do every day. It’s when we send a funny meme to someone. It’s when you share a song that your jamming on to your Instagram. It’s when (I’m sure someone else) is blaring music at a stop light to let everyone know how cool they are. We are always trying to tell other people who we are and what we are about.
I think where we get tripped up is when we think of the business as some faceless, concrete building. When we begin to think of our company as a living breathing “thing” that people can identify with and interact with through the employees and yourself we begin to open up the possibilities of communicating that through content. Why do you think big name brands have spokespeople for their commercials? It’s because it humanizes that business. Do the same for yours.
Even if you’re not the face of your business because either you don’t want to be or maybe you don’t fit the mold of the business, imagine a friend of yours or a celebrity that you think embodies the essence of your business. Let them be your guide on how funny your posts are, the tone of the words, and the kinds of images you choose.
“Content marketing is the strategy of creating and publishing entertaining, educational, and captivating content for the purpose of building trust and community that can be leveraged for increased profits.”
What Is Content Marketing?
A planned strategy to reach your target audience
Production of content (video, photo, graphics, copy) that appeals to, educates, and delights your ideal customer.
Publishing content in the right places to the right people
Let’s be clear that content marketing is NOT sales. It is relationship-building content that builds trust with your potential clients. The intention of your content will be immediately picked up, even subconsciously, by your followers and will shape their option of your business. The intention of content content marketing is simply to engage with your following.
One simple and commonly known example of this is the polar bears for Coca-Cola. While it technically has a call to action (CTA) that says “Enjoy Coca-Cola” there is no real strong push towards anything. The commercial is simply cute polar bears enjoying a soda. What most people don’t realize is Coca-Cola is one of the strongest stocks you can invest in. That didn’t happen by accident and it certainly didn’t happen because they are the only good choice when it comes to soda (although some would disagree with me). It’s because they NEVER leave your mind. You see them on billboards, movie theater commercials, TV commercials, and Youtube ads. They are everywhere and because of that they are doing quite well financially.
Why Is Content Marketing Important To Your Business?
Building trust with your target market
Educates your market about your product or service
I’m sure this has happened to you where you have a cool shop or store you frequent and you share it with a friend who has never heard of the place. I used to work at Sprouts Farmers Market in the deli and was shocked to find out that a business than have over 100 stores still had plenty of people who had never heard of it. At the very least they didn’t know about the delicious sandwiches they make. Tragic! I was gaining exposure for that brand by being an unintentional ambassador for them while not being a salesman. We can have that same genuine sharing of information through the content we share.
It is important for those of us who have gained some public credibility that we must not get too caught up in whatever level of popularity we are experiencing…there are still an incredibly large amount of people who have not heard of you. While our ego may make that reality hard to swallow, the entrepreneurial spirit inside us must get excited at the prospect of so much more opportunity!
Maybe your just starting a small business and literally ANY amount of exposure will be more than you have now. What an exciting place to be! You have the opportunity to shape, communicate, and design things exactly as you want. It’s important to keep in mind people have no frame of reference for your business, your reputation, or your quality of service. Give them some time to learn about you.
It may be be obvious but check out this statistic…
100% of people that don’t know about your business can’t do business with you
Building Trust With Your Target Market
You would be surprised how often people put business relationships in a different box than personal ones. While I would agree the dynamic is different, in almost every other way it’s similar.
In both situations you meet someone for the first time and someone has to break the ice.
In both, each starts not knowing anything about the other person.
In both, neither trusts the other.
In both, neither knows what the other has to offer.
It’s no different than a regular human connection. You wouldn’t (I hope) tell your darkest secrets to just anyone, you would tell it to someone that has earned your trust over time. Take that same approach with your potential clients! Your posts should encourage people to share their opinion. Do polls on Instagram stories. Encourage feedback and input! Most important, when people comment on your post make sure to respond! It’s crazy to me how many businesses use social media as an online billboard. It’s called SOCIAL media. Make sure to make human connections and friendly interactions with people. You’re giving them a great reason to come back and revisit you either in-person or online!
Below we get into what different kinds of content you can make to help you communicate about your business and build trust.
If your looking for ways to do content creation that feels authentic so you can better connect with your audience you’ll probably want to check out this article on strategies on creating authentic content.
Examples Of Content Marketing
Social Media Content Marketing
Blog Content Marketing
Podcast Content Marketing
Video Content Marketing
Paid Ad Content Marketing
Social Media Content Marketing
Social media content marketing is constantly evolving. There are always new techniques on how to keep people engaging with your content. Whether it’s posting long-form posts in your Instagram so people will stay on your content longer, doing more “stories” on Facebook or Instagram, or just picking a trending song for your Tik Tok’s, there is an ever changing target for doing well. With that said the cream always rises to the top. The quality of your content will always be a determining factor in how well you do over time. OVER TIME. It’s important to remember that this is not a short term game. Credibility and trust is not built overnight.
Our post consists of images that usually have lengthy copy (the words), videos that we have produced that we are sharing from our IGTV, and behind-the-scenes of things we’re doing and interested in so people don’t forget we’re human. It adds to the relatability of our business and keep things well…social!
Blog Content Marketing
Blog content marketing is fantastic for a number of reasons. If done right a great blog can generate traffic to your website for years to come. Especially if you continually refresh blog posts that are doing well and consistently adding new posts.
Companies that blog get 97% more links to their website
While we will dive deeply into why links back to your website are important, in a general sense links to your website increase its ability to rank higher in google when they are from credible sources. For those of you who have an email marketing strategy getting traffic to your blog to convert into a subscriber is incredibly important.
Ideally you’re spending about 2,000 words explaining something about your business (this length is the most effective at ranking in search results). Whether this is explaining a service, telling a story about a customer, or simply providing some entertaining escapism for your client, blog content can really amplify your marketing efforts.
72% of online marketers describe content creation as their most effective SEO tactic.
We recently took a course through Hubspot where we learned that creating a series of posts that talk about a topic not only rank well but give you the ability to hype up a product that you may still be in the process of building. When you’re prepared to launch your product/service you actually have an active audience and stream of web traffic to funnel into purchases rather than releasing a product into a dead space.
Podcast Content Marketing
Podcasts have historically only been audio. Typically they feature a guest, though they don’t have to, and have some sort of topic they talk about that’s relevant to their audience. Some are just entertaining but since I’m talking to you, a small business owner, chances yours will be mainly helpful while being entertaining.
One thing we do to delight people is create a show that we call “The Digital Hustle Show”. We feature small business owners and marketers in order to bring inspiration and practical tips to people chasing their dreams by building a business. Although people are invited in the description copy below the video to reach out to us, the primary function of the show is to delight and help people. We shoot it with video so that we have the option of creating video content, pulling photos from the video, and also using the audio from the interview as well. It’s how we, and how I suggest you, capture your interviews. Even if you don’t have a guest just record video so that you have the option to do YouTube videos and a podcast.
In 2020, for the first time, more than 100 million Americans listen to at least one podcast each month.
While many won’t be able to do a show at the production level we do ours at they can take the concept of interviews and find other ways to bring the helpful tips of others to people in their network that would benefit.
Believe it or not our show costs us money in the short term…but can you really put a price on building a solid network and building a library of useful content?
Video Content Marketing
Let’s be honest most of the content you see is video so it should come as no surprise that marketers are creating more video content and more people are watching it.
54% of consumers want to see more video content from a brand or business they support
There are fewer ways that a business can communicate that packs more punch than video. For one, if a picture is worth a thousand words then surely a video is worth a million. Not only can you say a lot with your words but you can have nuance with how you shoot, how you color correct, how quickly the video transitions, and music choice. Purely in my prospective music is a defining element in a video that can move people emotionally, deeply, and quickly.
While most people look at video content marketing as a big production it can be as simple as holding your camera in front of you and giving people a tour of your business. It could be doing a time-lapse on your phone of you making a latte. It could be doing a live video of you repairing a motorcycle and giving people insight to what you are doing. The possibilities are endless. Of course, having a high-budget video will turn heads. Depending on your industry having something of a low quality might not even be an option.
Whether the budget is high or low, having authentic and entertaining content will be the defining factor in the success of your video content marketing.
Paid Ad Content Marketing
I’m sure one of the things you’re thinking right now is, “Hey Steven I thought you said content marketing wasn’t about sales, but we’re making an ad!”.
You are so right. However there is something important we have to remember about these social media platforms. Making a post may be free but “doing” social media is far from free. Whether it’s the blood, sweat, and tears we put into our content or whether we spend money on an ad there is a cost. Specifically, platforms such as Facebook or Instagram started out with fewer users, less marketers, and certainly less volume of content. If you are Facebook you realize that as the number of users grows the amount of content grows exponentially and soon your user experience will be compromised and people will leave your platform. Hence algorithms.
Algorithms make the experience for users less overwhelming online by only showing them content they regularly interact with as well as people that have paid for a chance to get their attention. Our research suggests that anywhere between 10-35% of your follows actually SEE a post you make. These are people that already have shown interest in your brand by following you. But they aren’t even seeing your content! Frustrating right? Unfortunately and fortunately Facebook doesn’t charge us to use their platform. I can’t actually think of any social media platforms that do. Because it’s free they are allowed to do whatever the hell they want. So it’s on us to make the best of the changes and not be offended when they happen.
Beyond paying for your content to be seen by your follower, paying for an ad also gets your ad in front of new people. Any small business owner that is looking to have a healthy future is going to want to be scaling even if it’s slowly. Paid ad content marketing is a great way to do that.
While a little more advanced, you would also benefit by having an ad because of re-targeting. While we can’t get into all the details here, re-targeting is simply the act of putting other content or directions in front of someone who has shown interest with another ad in the past or have spent time on your website. One might go as far as calling those “warm leads”. Paid ads are tricky on the front end and take a lot of testing to make them maximize the budget set for them. However once you get it figured out it can be game changing for your business.
Set GOALS to determine what you want to accomplish with your content marketing
Almost any high-achieving person and business are SUPER clear on what their goals are. Maybe for you those goals aren’t monetary. Often we think those are the “important” goals but your the business owner, you get to decide what the important goals of your business are. Maybe your goal is to reach 1 million people with an encouraging message rather than say “lets make a big impact”. Maybe it’s to get 20 more comments per Instagram post instead of having a goals of “better engagement”. Whatever you decide what is important to you, get specific about it!
This is in a similar vein of “specific goals”. I feel like you make your goals measurable by either finding or creating a way to measure your progress towards a specific goal. Often as a small business owner we can pick hard to measure goals like, “Making men feel badass by picking the right motorcycle for them”. That’s a great sentiment and wonderful goal, but how do you measure that? How do you know if someone is feeling somewhat badass as opposed to Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible badass?
As a small business owner it is in the best interest of your progress to find out a way to measure the goals you have set for yourself. It will be one of the only ways you can determine if things you are doing are working or not and how well changes you make to your process improve your chances of reaching your goals.
A possible measurable content marketing goal could be growing your email list by 1,000 subscribers by the end of the quarter. As time progresses you can see how many people on any average week are signing up for your emails and extrapolate that data to show the expected number of subscribers that will be in your list by the end of the quarter. If your going to be over, great! Celebrate that victory and possibly shoot higher for a final subscriber count. If you’re going to be under your goals then you have a chance to look at what content is resonating well with your customer base and do more of what is doing well. You then have a chance to test how well that affects the number of subscribers and if that means you’ll hit your goal.
Attainable goals are often difficult to get a handle on. If you have a business who’s process is a bit different, or maybe you just hired your first employee, or your in a new market space that is largely undocumented, it will be a challenge to know what is or isn’t attainable. The balance of you and your team’s moral will be dependent on whether or not they feel like a goal is attainable. Maybe it is possible for you to post multiple times a day on every social media platform or maybe it isn’t. Unless you have someone who’s job description contains those responsibilities I would imagine that will be a very unattainable goal.
It is best to check around and see what competitors are doing or at least people in a similar space find possible. If you are a coffee shop having 500,000 followers is mostly likely an unattainable goal unless you’re a celebrity. See what some of the big names in your industry are doing to make an educated guess.
If how MUCH content you need isn’t your concern maybe it’s how well it will do. It’s what we call Return on Investment (ROI). It’s very common to look at content marketing as quick money maker but often it doesn’t work that way. Content marketing, like we discussed before, is a slow build of trust and awareness with your target market. Be gracious to yourself in giving yourself time and patience to see how attainable your goals and your expectations are.
As a small business owner you are constantly making changes and readjusting to make things more profitable. Sometimes we can get ourselves in a situation where we start going down a wrong path because it looks promising but doesn’t match out goals we set out to achieve. For a lot of businesses a goal that looks good is having a large follower count. While this isn’t a bad goal you have to see if having a huge following is going to help you hit your goals or if an engaged following will. That difference will change where you spend your money and put your energy.
One of the greatest tools we have used to find out whether a goal is relevant is using the 80/20 rule. In a very basic sense the rule states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts. Much like any content marketing strategy testing is how you find out what that 20% is. That’s why at Burkhart Creative Agency we start out our strategy process with an evaluation of what is currently working and if that is pushing your business in the right direction.
For some small businesses your 20% of content marketing that works may be sharing the stories and posts of people who have tagged your shop. It could be paid ads that drive traffic to your site that convert into email subscribers. It could be Facebook live sessions that help people interact and get to know you. Just walk into the process with an open mind so that way you are not doing the content marketing that comes easy to you rather than what’s most effective.
When testing the effectiveness of your strategy it’s hard to compare changes when you’re not comparing similar time frames. Having time-based goals also helps because you can run a campaign or strategy that’s actually long enough to make sure you get valid feedback on it’s effectiveness.
Now that you have learned all about what content marketing is and the goals you can use to shape what your content will accomplish we now need to understand HOW we will get the content to the right people. Check out our article and making a content marketing strategy here!
I thank you so much for making it to the very bottom of this article. I hope it’s been helpful to you in really getting your mind around what content marketing is. If you missed them be sure to look back through for links to more in-depth articles that can help you shape your strategy and approach.
As a final thought, be patient with yourself as you figure out your content marketing. Don’t be afraid to spend some serious reflection time to think through what your business is all about, what it represents, and what it means to your customers. Without clarity on who you and your business are it will continue to be tough to make content that feels genuine and connects with the right people. When you have thought that through and feel confident about what your business’s identity is it will really make it easy for you to make content. That authentic content will connect with the right people which in turn will mean you’ll do business with more people who really care and appreciate your business. And doesn’t that feel good?
If you need help thinking through your business identity, creating a content marketing strategy, or actually making and marketing the content please reach out to me! Steven@burkhartcreativeagency.com
Best of luck to you!