Content marketing for small businesses doesn’t look much different from what larger companies do to promote their products or services. Or rather, it doesn’t have to, regardless of your budget, time, or resources …
For example, I live around a lot of coffee shops. The most inexpensive and convenient is Starbucks.
“Inexpensive” is self-explanatory, but it’s “convenient” for a couple of reasons.
It’s nearby and predictable.
I can get a cup of joe with a splash of milk at the lowest price around and it always tastes the same and satisfies my craving. (I’m not as picky about coffee as I am about the Oxford comma.)
How brand managers master content marketing for small businesses
Lately, though, I’ve explored other options because I’d like to support local businesses … maybe one of them is a nice place to work or relax.
Unfortunately, they all look roughly the same, which brings me back to the thought:
“I can get exactly what I want at Starbucks. Why try something new?”
It’s an objection that’s not unique to my search for a cool café.
To grow your audience of potential customers, you need to challenge their instinct to stick with a familiar option — their go-to blog, podcast, or video channel.
You have to show that your platform is also a good fit for them.
Digital Commerce Partners is the agency division of Copyblogger, and we specialize in delivering targeted organic traffic for growing digital businesses.
Content marketing projects that boost small businesses
I eventually did discover a café that I’m going to try this weekend, because their marketing persuaded me.
So, whether you’re a brand or marketing manager for a brick-and-mortar business or a website in a crowded niche, here are seven content projects that help new people choose you.
1. The marketing litmus test
This project is an evaluation of your current content marketing strategy.
Some of the coffee shops I looked up had “Coming Soon” pages posted on the “Blog” sections of their websites.
I’d absolutely prefer to see that than a few crappy blog posts. We all know throwing some text up on a blog is not a strategy.
So, review your current plans to determine if they are content marketing and not just content. (Also check out: Why You Think Content Marketing Doesn’t Work).
- Do your blog posts inspire engagement?
- Do your blog posts keep visitors coming back to read or purchase?
- Do your blog posts build community?
Subscribing to your blog should feel like a productive action that is going to guide that subscriber along their chosen path.
2. The intersection of phenomenal and familiar
When someone is looking for something new, they’re still going to gravitate toward their preferences.
A number of reviews of the café I chose to try said that friendly people work there.
While pleasant customer service should be a standard, coffee snobs are real.
Write the copy on your Home and About pages to match the taste of your ideal buyers before you customize your message.
3. The thoughtful choice (how content marketing for small businesses stand out)
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:
When I subscribed to Copyblogger in the early days of the site, I read Brian’s posts not because he was the only one writing about blogging and online marketing at the time, but because he quickly won me over with his approach.
His advice on those topics didn’t just present information, it made me think … and take notes … and think some more … then apply what I learned to my own business.
My Copyblogger blog subscription gave me the practical education that kept me hooked on the site.
Refined and accessible content is a powerful combination.
4. The welcome mat
For this one, I’m going to borrow a tip from one of my favorite restaurants.
Since I go there frequently, I use their app, which gives me points for my purchases that eventually turn into discounts.
But the other day, I got a personalized email letting me know that a $10 credit had been added to my account, just for being a regular customer.
It expires in 10 days, so I’ll need to use it soon (kudos to the use of urgency as well).
I don’t forget about this business because it feels like “my place.”
And even though I’m not fooled by the marketing automation that applied that credit to my account, I’m receiving multiple benefits from engaging with the restaurant’s digital platform.
Your strategic content also needs to make people feel like they belong in your space.
5. The return visit
In the online world, a large part of content marketing for small businesses is about return visits to a site.
A return visit means that a site didn’t just blend in. It offered something special and refreshing that made the visitor think of it again when they wanted to check out more content on the site’s topic.
Similar to “the thoughtful choice” above, this is your opportunity to craft a fascinating content series that brings people back to your site.
The series will reveal remarkable details that convince someone to choose you as a resource.
6. The complete presentation
No one enjoys perfectionism.
It’s maddening for those who try to attain perfection, and it can also drive your colleagues nuts.
But thorough content without errors is always going to be valued.
You don’t want to put off otherwise interested prospects with careless typos, broken links, or missing information. (If you need some help with that, check out 10 Content Proofreading Tips to Catch More Avoidable Goofs.)
Strive for a Tootsie Pop work ethic — with a meticulous, hard shell and a flexible, chewy center that knows when to stop obsessing and start publishing.
7. The best of both worlds
“If you are both killer and poet, you get rich.” – David Ogilvy
What kind of marketer do you want to be?
What kind of salesperson do you want to be?
Those are real questions.
You don’t have to shy away from marketing and selling because you’ve seen both done so poorly so many times.
If you’re proud of your product or service, the people who will benefit from it deserve to find out about it.
Learn the fundamentals of strategic content and marketing ethics, so you can promote your business your own artistic way.
Sparkling espresso or a gingerbread latte?
I just want a simple cup of coffee. 🙂
But other unique offerings are still attractive, and they don’t have to be gimmicks. I’m sure a gingerbread latte is delicious … more like dessert.
While appealing to the types of people who like complex beverages, the goal of content marketing for small businesses is to also hook people who want the basics. That’s what persuades someone to get a simple drink from their local café instead of an international chain.