Content Marketing: An Overview to Help Small Businesses Grow

Content Marketing: An Overview to Help Small Businesses Grow

A detailed overview about Content Marketing and the different concepts within it. Learn how to effectively implement various types of content into your marketing strategy, and watch your business blossom from there.

Content Marketing - a phrase you might have heard a thousand times, but still don’t quite understand what people are talking about. It’s something that anyone’s brand strategy needs, whether you’re just starting up or you’re a well established name, the way you market yourselves through forms of content can always be boosted one way or another. You’ve come to the right place to find out how you might wanna do that. Let’s dive in! Here's what we're going to cover:

1. Content Marketing In A Nutshell

2. Content Creation

3. Content Strategy

4. Repurposing Content

5. Examples of Iconic Content Marketing

6. Pros and Cons

Content Marketing In A Nutshell

So, how is it defined?

Content marketing is defined as specifically designed content that offers valuable information to target audiences, either in verbal, textual or visual form and these are promoted using various platforms from digital to print.

Why is it important?

It has become an integral part of companies and their business models in recent years, and it can become an integral part of yours too! It’s important because generating relevant and educational content will help you attract, retain and engage your audience.

The prime focus is to help consumers with their decision making, and not focus so much on your own gains in sales and profit. 

Content Creation

You yourself come across content tailored to you as a consumer every single day without even necessarily realising. Most frequently it will be in the form of:

  1. Photographs 
  2. Videos/Animations
  3. Infographics
  4. E-books/Guides
  5. Magazines/Newspapers/Brochures 
  6. Podcasts/Webinars
  7. Blogs/Social Media

So, if you think about what content most often engages you and what you might like to see, you can start to see it in the eyes of your own target audience.

Building Your Content Creation Framework

As you begin to build your content creation framework, take into account some of the specific responsibilities that you will need to fulfil in order for it to be a smooth running and successful process. At Beanstalk, we believe the 5 primary responsibilities in content creation are the following:

  • Content management and strategy - creating long term content plan 
  • Writing - content writer/marketer
  • Editing - content reviewing
  • Designing
  • Distributing

You might want to start thinking about who is going to be carrying out each task - do you have an in-house team? Are you going to hire externally? 

Your content creation framework should be repeatable, organized, and agile. This is a big factor when it comes to creating your long term plan, and future you will thank you for this!

Written Content

Written content is vital to any solid content marketing strategy. Everyone is looking to be educated, and 47% of people will consume on average 3-5 pieces of content before taking the step to even engage with a sales rep.

Therefore, blog posts are an excellent way for you to drive traffic. Studies have shown that business blogging leads to 55% more website visitors and 434% more indexed pages. It’s clear that this is one of the best things you could be doing to attract and monetise your audience! The value provided to the audience through your written content gives you higher authority and presents you as a thought leader in your industry. In turn, contributing to your rankings on search engines.

Now you know why you should be integrating business blogging into your content marketing strategy, find out how to do it from us!

3 Steps to Starting A Successful Small Business Blog

Visual Content

It is widely recognised that incorporating fabulous visuals into your content creation process is an influential practice, and will most certainly help you establish an open bond with your given audience and spark engagement with them. Like a moth to a flame, in a sense. 

It is a strategy that can motivate a two-way communication between you and your prospects, instead of being a passive channel for viewership only. People using social media and websites to seek a product or service still want a humanised experience, even though they’re using a machine, so give them that! 

Provide visual content that’s going to tell them a story about your company.

TIP: Visual Marketing is an asset, so use it to your advantage! Make sure that you incorporate call-to-action buttons with your visuals to initiate a conversation.

Video Content (Video Marketing)

“The primary form of media that is used in content marketing is video.” 

A key benefit outlined with the usage of videography is the ability to engage an audience. Even on a higher level than you could using still imagery or graphics, for example. It offers them an opportunity to gain a deeper insight into your brand, ethos and values. Or even understand your product or service a lot better through demos or webinars.

Video content creates trust, and 90% of customers say that it helps them make their buying decisions. It’s like a trust fall - they’ve seen your video content, believed in it, and making the decision to purchase with you is them falling back. It’s your job to catch them, and provide them with exactly what they are expecting from you and then some. 

You can create great content, but you have to be all action no talk when it comes down to it!

If you want to actually reach that point however, you must make sure your videos are optimized correctly. If you’re uploading video content to your website, consider placing it at the top of your landing page. This is known to immediately engage users and encourages them to stay put. This is important because if your bounce rate is lower, you’ll be able to rank higher

Imagery Content

Everyone has heard the phrase: “A picture is worth a thousand words”. Well, that is absolutely true when it comes to content marketing.

A single image can communicate a message clearly and effectively, in such a way that can be 10x more expressive than any passage of writing. Relevant imagery captures the attention of your audience, and has the ability to evoke emotion in them. (I mean, try not to make them cry, of course).

Your consumers love browsing and sharing visual images. It’s actually a lot easier for them to memorise. AdWeek has discovered that in general people will remember 80% of what they see, 20% of what they read and 10% of what they hear! So, using images is a MUST if you want to leave an impression on your audience. 

If you’re asking yourself “how can I achieve this?”, the key way is getting a grasp around the fundamental rules of design - white spaces, hierarchy of text, typography, appropriate images, etc. 

Another really important aspect of design is colour psychology. If you’ve already identified your brand colours, always strive to integrate these into your designs - consistency is key, you don’t want it looking all over the shop. Crucially, always tailor your visual content to match the platforms you’re posting on, and consider the varying demographics as well.

Content Strategy

Understanding your Core Message & Business Goals and KPIs

Before starting to draft your content take a minute and answer the following questions:

  • Who are you and what are you trying to achieve? 
  • What makes you unique? How do you stand out from the crowd?
  • Who is your audience and what are they interested in?
  • What problems are you trying to solve with your content?

Once you have established your brand identity, you can create your brand message which conveys who you are, what you do, who for and most importantly why you’re doing what you do!

After that write down your goals, and make sure they are S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-based)

What is your goal? Is it to:

  • Drive sales
  • Create brand awareness
  • Expand your market share
  • Create relationships with your stakeholders
  • Increase website traffic
  • Gain more social media followers
  • Improve conversion rates and so on...

Whatever you are trying to achieve make sure it falls within the realm of your capabilities. It’s a marathon, not a race, so keep track of your progress.

Your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) will assist you during that process. Their sole purpose is to keep track of your progress, and where you are in the journey toward your goals. KPIs add focus for the improvement of your strategy, by developing analytical grounds for decision making.

Creating a Memorable Brand Experience

Your content offering is what leaves an impression on your audience even after the sale. So, brand identity helps you shape this impression! And you rarely get a second chance to do so. 

Brand experience basically includes any interactions that your prospects or current customers have with your company or product/service. Creating a memorable brand experience starts with simplicity. Humans are always looking for the most straight-forward, non-fuss way of doing things, so try not to overcomplicate things for them. 

In most cases you can start by offering relevant, consistent and creative content:

  • Relevance - Relevant content demonstrates that you know what makes them tick. The information you provide is showing them that you have something important to say, and you should be listened to! Anything else that falls outside of this is irrelevant to them  - which means that it’s going to be ignored. 
  • Consistency - Content is King, right? Well, content is really a king when it’s consistent! Assure consistency in what you share, how you do it and when. Quality and frequency are key aspects when it comes to formulating consistent content! Consistent content = consistent growth for your business.
  • Creativity - Usually creative content is an umbrella term for the various formats of content you can produce. Key content variants are: photography, video, graphic designs and blog. Remember: try to make it innovative! Standing out from the crowd is going to get you bonus points.
  • Speed to market - This phrase is pretty much self explanatory; it refers to how much time it takes you to present your offering. Although it gives you a sense of urgency, you still have to be mindful because good quality content that is well considered is what will attract and engage the people you’re marketing to.

Knowing Your Audience

To better understand who you’re marketing to and how to market to them, it is useful to generate a ‘buyer’s persona’ for your company. This is defined as: a semi-fictional representation of your ideal buyer based on data, interviews and some educated guesses. 

So, you start by creating a detailed description around someone who represents your target audience. But, remember, it is built around the most common and identifiable characteristics amongst all of your customers. This should include:

  • Demographic data - age, gender, marital status, etc.
  • Psychographic traits - interests, lifestyle choices, values and so on
  • Behavioural patterns - it speaks everything about how they behave online (how they act online or what language they use when browsing) 

You can give life to your buyer’s persona by naming it or even visualising it’s outer appearance, e.g. Sales Manager Sally or Recruiter Ron. The idea is to think about him/her as a real person. This will allow you to understand their pain points, goals and buying behaviour.

Keep in mind that as your company changes and grows, so might your brand’s persona. Therefore, it should be updated on an on-going basis, so the purpose of your content can be kept in line with this.

What Might Be Your Main Channels For Promotion?

If you’re considering entering your company into the alternate universe that we call social media, have another look at your buyer’s persona… Do you think it’s an effective approach to engaging with them from what you know about their wants and needs?

If the answer is yes, think about what specific channels they’re going to be present on. This is essential, as each social media platform has been designed and evolved to have it’s own demographic that is based on gender, age, and interests. Maybe then consider what purpose they’re using it for - Professionally? Personally? The news? Shopping? Latest trends?

To help you out on this one, our team has designed for you a series of Infographics that will guide you through the important information to help you make the most appropriate decision for your business.

When your decisions are made and you’re ready and raring to go, we recommend you really present your human side. Write custom messages, strike up a direct line of communication, interact in the comments. Consumers love to get to know who they’re doing business with.

Try to Effectively Promote your Content

This moves us nicely onto the element of your content strategy where you must think about how you’re going to promote it effectively. Alongside optimising your organic content through social media, there are loads of ways to optimise your content on the internet. This comes down to your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) efforts. You can read our very own Ultimate Introductory Guide to SEO today. 

Measure the Results of Your Strategy

Are you worried that your efforts to promote your content effectively aren’t so… effective?

Once you have implemented your strategy, you must start measuring your results from the outset, so you can plan for future initiatives. Refer back to the marketing goals and KPIs you set yourself. Assess the initiatives and assets of your company at present by carrying out a content audit - you might want to reconsider the following aspects:

  • Content title
  • Content format
  • Targeted buyer persona
  • Topics

Maybe start thinking of tactics you might have not yet considered, such as influencer marketing and collaborating with authoritative individuals/companies within the industry.

Think You Need to Freshen Up the Content You Already Have?

Do you have an old blog post that needs updating or repromoting? In the marketing world, this practice is referred to as ‘repurposing’ or ‘syndicating’ your content. Think of it as being reborn - a new opportunity for it to do even better! 

By republishing existing content, it gives you another opportunity to rank on search engines and allows you to reach a new audience. Consistency is key when it comes to your content, and by repurposing it you’re supporting and enforcing the consistency of your message! It’s also going to help your team create content on a more consistent basis, so it’s a win-win situation. 

It sounds easy enough, but make sure you’re carrying out some best practices in the process! You might want to choose the most reputable sites to partner with and publish your content on - after all, their traffic = your traffic, so try securing websites that hold good authority in their field and help drive your visitor numbers up. 

When it comes to choosing exactly which pieces of content to repurpose, ensure that it is only those that are top performing, because chances are if it performed well on your website, then it will perform well on another website too. Most importantly, wait at least 2 weeks before you republish, because this way you’re giving the search engines enough time to find the original piece.

What Are Some Examples of Content Marketing?

If you’re still struggling to find some inspo for your own content or are unsure as to what types of content are going to be the right vibe for your brand, let’s check out some examples that might help you reach that lightbulb moment…

COCA-COLA’s Personalised Bottles:

Image Source

Personalisation makes your customers feel special. Think about how you might be able to integrate this into your own content for your products/services. Perhaps you have company merchandise you could personalise and send out to your lucky customers. Or even as simple as personalised email marketing.

GoPro’s User-Generated Content Strategy:

Image source

Go-Pro is the number one player when it comes to engaging an audience in their own content creation, also known as UGC (User-Generated Content). The company is known for its high quality content that is produced by their very own customers whilst using their product.

People trust other people’s judgements when it comes to making purchase decisions - so how might you be able to get your customers involved in UGC with your product/service? Generating word of mouth is the best form of marketing! 

Spotify’s Annual ‘Wrapped’:

Spotify wraps up the end of each year by showing their listeners some of the weirdest and funniest listening habits that they’ve gathered from the last 365 days, and distributes the content across their social media channels.

Image Source

Luckily, this kind of personal data handling is very appreciated by users and seen in a lighthearted way, instead of being considered an invasion of privacy. See if you think your target audience might appreciate a bit of humour here and there. Just don’t take it too far….

The Highs and Lows of Content Marketing

We’d all like to think that there are no cons to our business strategies, but unfortunately you have to pay as much attention to the constraints as you do to the benefits.

Let’s look at some of the benefits:

  • More on-site content = more reasons for people to stick on your website
  • Helps you rank higher on search engine result page (SERP)
  • Increased social traffic and potentially followers
  • Potential to lead conversion
  • Improves brand reputation
  • Creates relationships with your audience

Now, let’s see some of the potential drawbacks:

  • The results aren’t immediate - it involves a trial and error approach until you learn what works for you
  • Time-consuming process 
  • Skills and resources
  • Constantly searching for inspiration
  • Evaluating your results

Think You Got It?

Hopefully you can now walk away with a solid knowledge base on content marketing, and the different forms that are available to you. Most importantly, we hope you’ve gathered the importance of understanding your own audience and what they’re looking for from you. Now go attract, engage and delight them with some wonderful content! 

And the pros are always here to help in the meantime. If you want to get started with your content creation today or just need some friendly advice, contact us now.

Contact Us Today

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