How is your small business ringing in the New Year?
This time of the year, big companies and marketing gurus are rolling out their year-long analyses – formulating new content marketing strategies, making industry predictions, and forecasting trends.
But for small businesses, there is often more head scratching and thumb twiddling involved. You don’t want to be late to the game but you don’t know where to start either.
Plus, you’re often working with some limitations (i.e. no budget). That means all these big strategies and implementations are oftentimes a huge undertaking for businesses like yours.
So how can you do effective marketing for your small business at a low cost?
One thing for sure:
Content marketing is still the best way to market your business in 2018, and it’s nearly free if you know where to look.
More importantly, content marketing doesn’t have to be this huge engine for it to work. The key to content marketing for small business is employing little strategies that lead to big returns.
If you’re already on the content marketing bandwagon and wondering how to up your game in 2018, we’re here to give actionable tips and strategies that you – a small business owner – can put to use right now.
The 7 Content Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses in 2018 (Practically Free to Do)
1. Hire the “right” content writers, not necessarily “quality”
This may seem like counteractive advice, but what we really mean is… stop hiring irrelevant writers to create your content!
It’s easy to jump onto Upwork or Fiverr to hire writers halfway around the world for next to no cost. But when content is the all-important “voice” behind your business, your message has to be personal, meaningful and relevant to your audience.
In the last year, localized content (or “local SEO”) has emerged as the dark horse of online marketing. It was proven to decrease bounce rates, reduce CPCs, increase time spent on page, and of course, skyrocket conversions.
That means hiring the “right” content writer can increase productivity, cut creation time, reduce manpower and attract the returns you want.
No matter how good a content writer is, if they are not truly immersed in your company and customers’ culture, they will not be able to market your business effectively.
Here are some qualities of the “right” content writer:
- In-house or attached to a local content agency (so there’s commitment)
- Based where you are or where your customers are (use local, geographically targeted writers)
- Personally interested in your business (they’ve used your products/services before and they like it)
- In it for the long-haul (so they can plan content, instead of working on one idea at a time)
BONUS: Know where to find the absolute best content writers for your business?
Look among your existing customers! Some of the hires we’ve made over the past year have been writers from our own platform. If they already love what you’re doing, then they’ll love working for you.
2. Create a unique tripwire for your business/website
A tripwire is an irresistible offer that people just can’t turn down.
It’s usually something that’s given away completely free but it can also be a discount code, downloadable or something that’s useful to the customer.
Here’s a great example:
A candle-making company gives away free candle wicks to sell their all-natural wax and doubles their sales.
The big lesson here is that you can’t make candles without wicks. So by placing one material in the customer’s hand, they’re more likely to purchase the other.
So how do you create a tripwire for your small business?
- Study your customers. Identify their pain points and study their point of purchase. What makes them click “BUY”?
- Pull your products/services apart (not literally though!) to study its individual components. Can you use any of the components as a breadcrumb that leads to a sale?
- Identify products or services that complement your current products/services. Can you offer those as a value-added add-on?
- Your tripwire is unique, relevant and useful to your customers.
- It serves as a breadcrumb that leads to a sale.
3. Dive straight into video content
As the lines between paid, earned and owned media begin to blur in 2017, there’s no better time to start producing your own content than… last year. (Sorry, but you kind of missed that boat!)
But there’s still hope. If you jump into owned content right now, you could skip the dirty work and get to the gold mine – by using videos!
So instead of worrying about creating blog posts from scratch, jump straight into video content.
Consider some of these ideas:
- Start a daily/weekly/monthly live video session on your social media
- Create a Youtube channel on a topic you’re passionate about
- Fill your social media and marketing channels with beautiful video imagery (like Facebook cover or video profile)
If you’re not already taking advantage of this upward trend right now, you’re already missing out!
4. Create interactive, instant content that comes to LIFE
The Internet is filled with so much information that it’s getting harder to process all that data. So how do you create content that truly stands out in a sea of information?
Create content that comes to life.
People still distrust the Internet because of the invisible wall between human and screen. That’s why video marketing works wonders – it puts a real human face and voice to the brand.
But to provide extreme value to your customers, your content needs to jump right out of the screen. This means creating materials your customers can actually touch, feel and use in their daily lives.
A paper company teaches beginner origami to their customers by creating printable origami templates. Once printed out, customers can immediately create their first origami with a how-to video tutorial.
What this example does right is:
- You’re creating content that’s actually useful. (Giving value)
- Your content is useful right now. (Saving time)
- The content becomes something tangible that people can touch and interact with. (Is interactive)
Hence, it “comes to life.”
5. Take the holistic approach to content
To put it simply: start developing relationships between individual content.
A truly holistic content is a network of content that is closely related and well-supported by each other.
When mapped together, Google can start to notice the network’s visibility and strength, hence placing higher authority and importance on your website above the competition.
Here are some ways to increase the power of content, holistically:
- List out your topics and create a “family tree” of content, starting with your cornerstone content at the top (your most important content) and make your way down.
- Diversify content – break topics up into blog posts, graphics, video, GIFs and so on.
- Every piece of content should link and relate to one another!
- It should source and link externally to other authority content.
- The content has bite-sized, shareable elements.
6. Plan content for the long-term
Have you been producing content one piece at a time?
It’s time to stop.
Small businesses may see content marketing as a humongous endeavour, but it is surprisingly simple if properly planned.
To create content that works, you’ll need to start thinking about the bigger picture. That means having a solid, long-term plan:
a. Start by creating a 12-month content calendar. It should consist of dates and events that are relevant to your business.
b. Identify any special dates, local events, birthdays and anniversaries. Fill in the calendar with content ideas for each of the dates.
For a more detailed guide on long-term content planning, we went in-depth into it in our lengthy blog post below:
7. Update and upgrade your old content
Is there old content sitting on your website that hasn’t been updated in a while? It’s time to dust off the cobwebs on those.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to create fresh content every time to stay ahead. With some tweaks, updates and upgrades, your site can run like new again!
So what’s worth updating?
- Any old, outdated content from the year before last, or earlier. (Two years ago and earlier)
- Keywords: Audit old keywords in your site and run new keyword research to identify new, more competitive versions you can switch to. Add new semantic keywords while you’re at it.
- Length of content: Your competitors may have created a better, more in-depth version of the same topic since you posted yours. Time to add more meat to your pages.
- On-page elements: This means graphics, GIFs, videos, or infographics. If your competitor has a video on the same topic, it would be good to do the same.
- Titles and meta description: Google doubled SERP snippet (meta description) length in early December 2017 from 155 to 300 characters. You can now be more descriptive with search results, but be sure not to give out too much – you still want people to click and visit your site!
The best part? These content marketing strategies are some of the best ways to market your business for free
If you’ve enjoyed our free small business marketing tools and strategies above, we’d love also to hear how it has performed for your own business.
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