Content Marketing: 3 Basic Pieces of Content Every Small Business Should Provide

| October 20, 2015

?????????????????????????????????????????????The concept of content marketing has been getting a lot of attention over the last couple of years.  It’s not really new, but it’s newfound fame is definitely making it seem like the flavor of the month.  The truth is, though, that every company should have a content marketing program, it’s just a matter of figuring out how big it should be and what you should be doing with it.

For small businesses, content marketing may feel like something unattainable.  If you own or run a small business, you may feel like you don’t have the time, money or knowledge to put together a successful program.  But you do, you can and you should – you just need a little guidance.

For a small business, you should have three pieces of content on hand, whether you have a “content marketing” program or not.  The pieces can provide your voice as that of trusted advisor to your customers and clients and can make the difference when prospects are weighing their options between you and your competition.  This list takes it for granted (probably a wrong assumption,) that you have a strong website that you can build your distribution program off of.

Content Marketing Piece #1 – The Case Study

A case study is something that all your customers will want to see so that they can understand what you and your business can do for them.  You should approach this by thinking about what the greatest pain points are for your clients.  If you are an accountant, perhaps your clients greatest fears are that they will be audited, so write a case study about a client who was audited and how you were able to see them through it successfully and without any repercussions from the IRS.  If you’re a realtor, you have multiple types of clients and can make case studies for each on – one for a buyer, one for a seller, one for an investor, etc.

The key elements for a case study are:

  • Focus on a universal pain point shared by a large percentage of your customer base.
  • Detail the original situation, how you contributed and the outcome (it goes without saying that the outcome should be very positive).
  • Highlight your unique contribution and how your company was able to contribute in a way that others may not have been able to.
  • Get a quote or two from your featured customer that reflects the value that you offered (aka, what you did,) and the difference it made to them.
  • Use images.  If you can include an image or two that reflects the situation, this is ideal.  People like to look at pictures.
  • Create both hard copy (aka printed version) and digital copies of this piece.
  • Feature case studies on your website home page.

Content Marketing Piece #2 – The eBook

The eBook is somewhat like the case study, but is more of an educational piece that is less specific to your involvement.  Where case studies are specific to a single client, an eBook should provide insight useful to all of your customers.  If you’re an interior designer, you can create an eBook that gives basics about how to start a design project – collecting images of designs you like, etc.  If you’re a lawyer, you may want to provide your clients with an eBook that talks about the steps to putting together a will.

The guiding principle for the eBook is that you want to educate, versus sell.  It’s not about self-promotion, it’s about positioning yourself as an expert and trusted advisor in your field.  You can include a small call to action at the end, but you don’t want to make the piece be all about you.  Focus on what your customers are interested in learning.  They will respect you for that and appreciate the information you are able to share with them.

The key elements for an eBook are:

  • It must be digital (that’s the “e” part of the name).
  • It should be featured prominently on your website.
  • If at all possible, you should gate it.  Meaning, you should require someone to provide you with their email address before they can download the eBook.  This is a great way to build a list of prospects.
  • Definitely use images and graphics in an eBook.  eBooks that are visually appealing and engaging perform better than ones that are text heavy.  But make sure you don’t overdo it.  No visual vomiting.  Make any images relevant and appropriate.
  • Make it educational and very low on self-promotion.

Content Marketing Piece #3 – The Blog Post

This last piece is meant to cover both of the areas above, in a less formal way.  When you have a well maintained blog on your website that provides interesting and/or entertaining content, it creates repeat visits from your customers.  A blog can seem a very daunting undertaking for many businesses, but it doesn’t have to be.  You don’t have to update it daily or even weekly, but do keep it current, so 3-4 posts per month would be a minimum level.

Your blog is a great place to provide little nuggets of education.  Not as much as you would in an eBook, but enough to keep your audience coming back for more and putting you in a position of really adding value to their daily lives.  It’s also a good place to talk about current trends in your industry or weigh in on news items or research that may relate to your business (or theirs,) a bit more tangentially.  It’s also a great venue for sharing mini case studies.  Snippets of recent work that resulted in great success – you don’t always have to do a long case study, people love to see current activities.

The key elements for a blog post are:

  • Keep it relevant.  You want your audience to relate to what they read so they’ll come back for more.
  • Post regularly.  There’s nothing worse than going to a blog and seeing that it hasn’t been updated in six months or longer.  You can really use credibility that way.
  • Keep it familiar.  No need to be really fancy and formal, make your blog posts be as if you were having a conversation with someone.  No lecturing required.
  • Call in the grammar police!  You definitely want to make sure that you are editing and your final product is a well worded, spell checked post.  Mis-spelled words, fragment sentences or excessively poor grammar can definitely drive your audience away.


Category: Marketing

About the Author ()

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Karen McGagh is the President and founder of KCM PR, an award-winning public relations firm which offers public relations strategies for established companies, hospitals, non-profits and law firms as well as tech giants and start-ups. She attended the University of the Pacific, and was a feature and news writer for the Wall Street Journal before forming KCM PR.