Entrepreneurship is an evolving process. Starting a business is just the tip of the iceberg; in order to stay afloat and for your business to be successful, you have to constantly look for innovative ways to build your brand and run your operations. Most entrepreneurs have heard of the term “content marketing” but may not really understand what it means or the smartest ways to implement it in their own company. Content marketing is actually not as intimidating as it sounds, though, and every entrepreneur can make the most of it.
Content Marketing: Defined
Any material that you develop that is meant to benefit your current and prospective customers is considered content marketing. The goal of these materials is not to directly sell something specific; instead, you are cultivating a relationship of trust with your consumer base and showing those people that you are an expert in your industry. Of course your products or services may be mentioned in your material but there is usually no call to action or hard sale for readers.
Forms of Content Marketing
Most people just assume that content marketing is a digital push since the phrase itself is relatively new. In reality, content marketing existed long before search engines in the form of company brochures, articles and other informational materials. There is not one formula for content marketing that works for every company or specific campaign, but here are some effective ways to use it:
- Blogs. Did you know that companies with regularly updated blogs receive 97 percent MORE leads? You can create informational materials on your own site, or seek out guest post opportunities on other blogs. Better yet – develop a blogging plan that incorporates both.
- Videos. If you really want to put a face and personality with your small business, making online how-to videos and tutorials is an excellent form of content marketing. Videos allow you to essentially provide consumers with free advice while building your brand credibility.
- Case studies. Impress your current and future customers with an in-depth look at a topic related to your company or industry. These tend to be lengthy but contain more research than a quick-hit blog post or video.
- Articles. By lending your knowledge to a third-party article, you build your credibility. Seek out opportunities to give your opinion on the issues in your community and industry.
- Social media posts. Do not discount the content marketing potential of social media simply because of brevity. Consider making a Pinterest board that contains a few of your own products and others that complement them, or creating a Facebook photo album with do-it-yourself steps to complete a project that is associated with what you sell.
Best Content Marketing Practices
If you are going to spend the time and energy developing content marketing for your business, you might as well set yourself up for success. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you get started:
- Create a plan. Have a strategy and timetable for your content marketing and a way to measure effectiveness.
- Don’t spread yourself too thin. Roll out your content marketing plan slowly, giving enough attention to each facet so you ensure quality of information.
- Consider your base. Who are your customers? Who do you hope will be your future customers? Do not simply follow content marketing trends, especially if they do not align with your consumer base.
- Encourage sharing. Make sure whatever platform you use for your content marketing has visible social buttons right next to it. Content that goes “viral” can mean big exposure for your business.
It’s never too late to implement a content marketing plan for your business. Start small and see what works for your particular audience. From there, create a content marketing plan that is sure to keep your current customers engaged and bring in some new ones too.