Have you done a content marketing plan for 2018, yet? As a small business owner, you might not have millions to spend on your marketing efforts, but there are savvy and innovative content marketing strategies to maximize your marketing dollars and rapidly generate interest, authority and leads for products and services.
As important content marketing is to small B2B companies, a lot of small companies will struggle or fail at their content marketing efforts this year.
Why? First, small companies often lack an effective content marketing strategy nor understand the trends to build brand awareness, ignite market presence and grow their business exponentially. I’ll just wing it approach will not cut it! Second, a lot of companies promote content that is a hard sell or gimmick, which comes across to your audience as being pushing, untrustworthy, and a huge turn-off. Third, in today’s marketplace, people want to date and get to know a company before they make a purchase.
Content marketing tactics are a great way to generate leads and build authority if you’re a small business. At the end of the day, people buy from people, not products. At Play Big Content, what we have found works best with our clients is to use content marketing tactics to connect to customers on a deeper and more emotional. Think about it? Who are you more likely to do business with, a business that takes the time to get to know you understand your needs, and offers great free advise and tips. Or a company that does a hard sell, blast generic information or are not transparent about how they work.
At the end of the day, people buy from people not products.
Before you spend a dime on content marketing, here are key content marketing tactics you want to make sure is included in your content marketing plan:
- Strategy Is A Must: If you think you can just wing it with content marketing… think again! You’re just throwing money out the door! It’s been proven that companies who have an integrated content marketing plan are more likely to succeed in their marketing efforts. For a small B2B, content marketing is the most highly effective and affordable way to connect with people who can refer, recommend, and hire you for your products and services. You also need to establish clear goals, identify different types of content for each stage of the marketing funnel (top, middle, bottom), as well as determine what metrics to measure to determine your return on investment (ROI).
- Invest In Quality Over Quantity: Content marketing can be overwhelming and frustrating for small companies where people wear many hats. Invest your time and money into producing high-quality and well-written content. If you are new to or rebooting your content marketing strategy, I will suggest that you start small to get your content creation, distribution, and follow-up process down and to test and measure what types of content generate the most interest. People do their vetting and determine your social worth as an authority through content. Just producing content for the sake of getting something out there will do more damage to your reputation than not producing anything at all.
- Keep It Simple, Professional, and Consistent: If you want to play big in your marketplace and work with Fortune 500 companies, you have to look, act and sound the part. Don’t give people the chance to dismiss you because you’re a small business due to poor branding, design, and messaging. And guess what, you don’t have to spend a million bucks to look and sound awesome! Sites like 99Design.com, Designhill.com, and Fiverr.com can help you deliver clear messages and content across multiple platforms (i.e. website, content, video, emails, and social media) for a complete integrated content marketing strategy.
- Focus Content on Interests and Pain Points: While your target may be a large corporation, always keep in mind “the contact” is a person. It’s critical to do market research to identify your ideal customers and create customer personas. Connecting with people through shared struggles, interests and passions is the quickest way to break down barriers and make people want to get to know you, open your emails, or take your calls. This is what I call “Interest Builds Authenticity.” Survey your customers and ask them what they like to read, are their parents, do they have cats or dogs, what do they like to do for fun, etc. And guess what, all your competitors are looking in the same place for new customers, by surveying your customers you can tap into new markets by running a Facebook Ad campaign based on your customers’ interests. One of my favorite examples is a former client who was a recreational pilot because we knew his target market entrepreneurs often shared this interest we were able to tie his love of flying into a blog post. The result, it generated leads for his consulting service.
- Tap Into Existing Resources: If you have a lot of IP, don’t recreate the wheel… use what you already have! Hire a professional writer on crowdcontent.com or fiverr.com to help you re-purpose old content. Companies who are better able to tap into the diverse perspectives, skills, talents, connections, accomplishments, and intellectual property within their organization gain a competitive advantage over their competitors in coming up with more innovative content ideas. With engaging and informative content, you can gain a competitive advantage over your competitors and position yourself as a leader in your industry.
- What’s Your Story: People connect with people on an emotional level. People want to know why you are so passionate about what you do. They want to feel that you understand their challenges, dreams, and aspirations. So, what’s your story? When they feel they get you, you’ve got them!
- Leverage and Build Connections: It is critical to building relationships with people who can refer, recommend, or hire your services. Tap into everyone’s social networks in the company. When new blog posts or content is published, ask employees to share, post, or retweet these blog posts on their social networks. The more people see you as an influencer and authority the more they will seek you out to add you to "their" professional network.
- Make People Rock Stars: Make the person who hires you look like a “Rock Star,” your “Rock Star.” Ask them to be a co-presenter for a professional association’s conference or webinar, interview them as a source expert for an article, podcast, blog post, or write a case study about their company, this will be a great cross-promotion opportunity for you! Always ask them to share on their social networks. By helping your rock star succeed in their personal and professional life, you will be at the top of their list to re-hire, re-order, as well as refer and recommend to others. Word-of-mouth marketing is priceless!
- Get Your Voice Heard: Look for speaking opportunities through professional associations or online sites such as speakerfile.com or speakermatch.com to build your thought leadership authority, or serve as an expert source for a blog post or article. You can find PR opportunities on HARO.com, and it’s FREE, or you can take matters into your own hands and produce your own webinar or podcast. All of these opportunities will help increase your influence and authority and generate leads and sales for your business.
- Use Technology: Technology, social media, and crowdsourcing have leveled the playing field to the point where it is possible for small businesses to compete against “The Big Guys.” Determine the right channels of content distribution (i.e. email, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook ads, etc.) for your target market. Make sure to use Google Analytics to study your return on investment on content marketing, this will give you insights into how visitors use your site, how they arrived on your site, what they read, and how you can keep them coming back.
- Automate Email Follow-up: As part of your content marketing strategy, you must have an automated email follow-up process to convert leads into sales. From my personal experience, I've worked with small companies who have spent $50K going to a tradeshow or are sitting on a 100K email list, that ended up having dismal sales conversation because they don’t have a follow-up process. With no follow-up, you are throwing your money out the door. The best time to convert someone from a lead to a sale is when they download a free piece of content. By having an automated email follow-up process, you can immediately thank them and offer a special low-cost offer for something that’s a part of your main products or services. If they’ve had a good experience, they are more likely to purchase your main product or service. This results in the creation of a constant sales pipeline for you.
Remember, when it comes to developing a successful content marketing strategy and to “play big” in the marketplace, it’s not about the individual content pieces, but rather a plan and successful execution that determines the success of your marketing efforts. Everything works together to bring you, customers.
Andria Younger is Play Big Content’s Founder and Chief Content Marketing Strategist. She uses her diverse background and experience in business, marketing, thought leadership, as well as managing Fortune 100 accounts to help small B2Bs generate leads through content marketing. She has a Masters from George Mason University and B.S. from Pennsylvania State University. Andria lives with her husband, daughter, and Mac the Cat in New York City. Connect with Andria on LinkedIn and Twitter.