Beginner’s Overview of Content Marketing

For Small to Medium Businesses

In today’s internet-based world, content marketing is becoming a major advertising stream for many businesses. If you’ve never heard of it before, it can be intimidating and confusing. Content marketing can actually be quite fun and highlights the knowledge you already have of your business.

So what is it exactly? Content marketing shares information and ideas online about your business without explicitly advertising the goods you sell. Instead of advertising the price or benefits of items or services you sell, content marketing can help expand your customers’ knowledge of your business area in ways that are interesting and informative for them.

Even though you may not be directly advertising your product, most content marketing is aimed at current and potential customers, people who already know and are interested in purchasing from you. It’s much easier to sell something to someone who is already a customer, so it’s well worth your time to work on your content marketing strategy. Some types of content marketing are: social media, videos, blog posts and emails.

Kinds of Content Marketing

  • Social Media: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter
    • Great for posting photos, short written clips, video clips and links, as well as interacting with customers and potential customers
  • Videos: Posted on YouTube and social media
    • Great for demonstrations to show your product in action
  • Blog Posts
    • Great for in-depth, informative articles that help your customer and are related to the product of service you sell
      • How-to articles, reviews,
  • Email
    • Great way to speak directly to your customer list about what’s going on in your business
      • Current events, new blog posts that might interest them

Share what you know

Content marketing is a great way to share what you know best – your product. You should share what you know about your product and the ways it can benefit your customer. You’re the expert here, and this is a great way to interact with your customers.

Start by trying to answer some common questions asked by your customers. These can be the questions they ask before or after they purchase an item. Give them invaluable information to help with their decision making. This information could include how to use an item, how to care for it and additional uses for your product.

People love talking about and sharing their own experiences. Ask your customers what their experiences have been with your product and how they have used it. The personal follow-up is a great future sales tactic, and the information they give you can become or inspire your product marketing content. You may even want to feature your customers and/or give them credit for the content you create from your conversation with them. Everyone loves to feel involved and knowledgeable, and will appreciate the chance to share with you and others.

Sharing personal stories also makes customers feel closer to your business, as if they are “in the know.” Learning about the people who use your products can create more of an emotional attachment to your business and increase their loyalty to your business and products.

Help your customers expand their knowledge of your product and how the ways it can benefit them. Giving your customers valuable information should increase their interest in your product and lead to future sales and referrals.

What not to do

  • Don’t only produce content when you are informing customers of new products. If you want to feature a new product, that’s fine, but make sure you do it in a way that is beneficial to your customer. Showcase the product, but make sure you give your customers ideas and inspiration for using it and other products they may already have. They might not purchase your new product right away, but they will appreciate you sharing information that can benefit them right now, even without a new product and will keep your product in mind when considering their next purchase.
  • If you’re writing a blog post, don’t link to your product or sales page a hundred times. It’s irritating to customers and won’t be appreciated. Instead, limit your sales links to one or two and provide them with more information and ideas about using your product.
  • Don’t spam your customers. More is not always better. If you have an email list, make sure the information you send out is beneficial and interesting. A daily email will just get deleted, but if you make sure emails you send are informative and worth reading your customers will appreciate that.

Business Examples

Knowing the theory of content marketing is great, but it can be hard to think of how to use it in your industry. Here are a variety of examples of how to use content marketing in different industries.

Vehicle Repair Shop

  • Highlight the benefits of regular vehicle maintenance. Rather than saying “Come get your service done at our shop,” let your customer know why a service should be done.
  • Share some common issues you’ve seen when routine maintenance is neglected.
  • Offer tips for ways your customer can complete maintenance tasks on their own. You may not have them coming in for service, but they will appreciate the information you give them and still purchase parts from you.

Craft Shop

  • Free tutorials are always great information to share. When you plan a tutorial use products and supplies that you are marketing to complete the craft item.
    • Get your customers to share photos of their finished items, and post them on your social media accounts.
  • Share your favourite items and let customers know what they are used for and why you like them so much. Keep it personal and explain why you personally like them and prefer to use them over other products.
  • Share seasonal crafts, themed crafts and projects that can be done as a family or with kids.

Bakery

  • Help your customers plan a meal or two. Create a menu plan with recipes that compliment the products you sell.
  • If you sell baguettes, share how the French prefer to eat them, and a cultural history. Or share recipes for the best bread dips. Make your customers crave your baguettes.
  • Give your customers ideas for planning a party or special meal. Offer table setting tips and fancy napkin folding instructions.

Clothing Store

  • Showcase local models wearing your clothes. People will love to be asked and made to feel stylish, even if they don’t feel comfortable being photographed or featured.
  • Offer tips on how to choose a clothing palette or give tips on how to pack well for a vacation.
  • Teach your customers what clothing is worth splurging on and keeping for a long time, versus what is trendy right now.

Hardware Store

  • DIY project tutorials are great, and can showcase both tools and supplies that you sell.
  • Compare and review tools across brands. Make sure you offer both benefits and drawbacks of the tools featured, and compare different price points as well.
  • Help your customers choose current paint colours and teach them how to calculate how much they will need. Let them know why they need primer or why a paint and primer in one will work for them.

Start your planning

Creating a content marketing plan may seem like a lot of work, but it’s well worth it. Done well, you will notice increased customer interaction and increased sales.  Your customers will appreciate you sharing knowledge and information with them, and may even share it with their friends, creating referrals. If it seems overwhelming to you, talk to your team. Someone may already have knowledge or ideas that could easily be implemented. Share what you know and what excites you about your business, and you will have the basics of a good content marketing plan.

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