Content marketing is now the order of the day for today’s modern marketer. But for business owners not operating in the marketing world that are bombarded with messages about yet another must-do form of marketing it can be daunting to know whether to adopt or reject it. To set the record straight I asked Rene Power, a Manchester based digital marketing expert, for his thoughts on how content marketing can help small business owners and the best approaches to take.
1. What’s your definition of content marketing and what would you say are the advantages for small businesses who choose to do it?
For me, content marketing is really about using your expertise to solve problems and help customers and prospects. People react better to material that talks their language rather than promotional copy and content marketing is an attempt to reframe traditionally and previously promotional material into something more useful and usable – which has the twin benefit of positioning the creator as a trusted expert. This becomes important to SMEs as most are borne from a need to do something niche a little different, better, faster, cheaper. Content marketing can help differentiate.
2. Not having the time to create content is one the biggest issues for business owners, what would you suggest to business owners that want to create more content efficiently?
Curation is the quickest way to create content. Curation, like a museum curator searching for and collating the finest artefacts for a particular exhibition, is the practice of drawing content from a wide variety of sources. Online resource work best and might involve Twitter accounts, Linkedin, Facebook and other social sources, news websites, trade associations, blogs and more. RSS feeds like Feed.li and services like Google Alerts are both great ways to keep on top of topics too. Don’t forget conventional news sources and printed press too.
3. How can a small business go from merely creating content to being proficient at content marketing?
The clue is in the question. Create the content. Market the content. Going social and stimulating engagement is much easier when you have useable and useful content. Start small and start with a focus and a purpose. If you’re an accountant it makes sense to look at the key financial milestones across the year and focus in on tax advice, the budget and other key dates.
4. How important do you think it is to have a content marketing strategy in place?
Strategy is critical for the time/resource poor. In an SME there simply isn’t the time to waste if it is misdirected. Having a clear handle on who you want to influence, what matters to them, what they need help and guidance with and how they want to receive that information, pretty much determines a content marketing strategy.
5. What brand/company do you rate for their use of content marketing and what is it in particular that gets your attention?
It can sometimes seem a little trite when you see a lot of it, but companies that regularly blog and offer ‘free’ advice on issues and problems, typically do best from content marketing. If you check out the www.foodnavigator.com website you’ll see a wide variety of food companies using content marketing techniques including whitepapers, webinars and more to market to each other. Givaudan are pretty hot right now.
6. What are your top 3 tips for small business owners wanting to add content marketing to their overall business strategy?
- Don’t focus on what you do or the benefits you think you provide – focus on the pain points in your market and the best ways for them to be addressed. Simply by talking about it, you’ll be building a trust position.
- Ensure your own assets (website, blogs etc) are working optimally and are frequently updated before looking at other platforms. In business, buyers still visit websites as part of the research and shortlisting process.
- Pick one topic and own it. Association with a topic that audiences cares about is the quickest route to being seen as valuable.
René is business development director at Barrett Dixon Bell (BDB), a leading industrial marketing communications agency based in Manchester which works with national and international clients of all sizes. Many clients are marketing departments of one! He heads up BDB’s digital strategy and service offering and speaks, trains, consults and blogs extensively on digital marketing. He writes his own Marketing Assassin blog, contributes to Smart Insights and authored Brilliant B2B Digital Marketing in late 2012. Follow him on Twitter @renepower