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7 Tips for Diving into Content Marketing

Small and medium-sized businesses tend to be challenged when it comes to content marketing. They often have a more limited headcount and fewer resources available to augment marketing that’s not directly linked to sales and promotions. While practical, this can be shortsighted because it overlooks how content can support the purchase process.

To help your firm jump into content marketing in a way that fits your business and available budget, here are seven tips other businesses have used to effectively add content to a marketing plan.

1. Provide useful information

For on-the-go consumers, use bite-sized content chunks that can be presented on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter or your blog. Give customers a tip or photo of the day that’s appropriate to your business. Your goal is to distribute useful nuggets that readers want and will pass-along.

For example, I use my blog to provide useful, actionable bits of marketing advice.

2. Solve customer problems

Remember that fulfilling prospects’ needs is at the core of marketing, so become a destination for information by serving content that answers your target audience’s big questions. Not sure what to write about? Check with your customer-facing staff for their ideas. Alternatively, create a professional blog that addresses an unmet customer need.

For example, scissors manufacturer Fiskars created a fun blog called Fiskateers to give consumers craft ideas and inspiration.

3. Offer an education

Whether it’s how to market a product or how to put on makeup, you can win prospects with educational information on topics they need and want to learn about. This type of content works well both in text and  video formats, and it doesn’t require you to be a university professor to work well. Even everyday people can be great presenters and spokespersons.

A great example is Lauren Luke, a British woman who’s not a model or beauty queen, but she’s built a following through her beauty-themed videos on YouTube where she’s known as Panacea81 (BTW, she got a deal with Sephora after building her following!)

4. Strut your stuff

While no one likes a show-off, portraying your work visually on your website is a great way to pull prospects in. Use photographs, video and/or presentations  especially for products and services where there are perceived purchase risks such as a major event like a wedding. Get real people to show they are using your services and let their creativity do the marketing work (but don’t forget to get permission to use their likeness).

Use blogs to show off your bridal photography work or Flickr to showcase your baking expertise.

5. Entertain people

Isn’t this the reason we spend time searching YouTube and being couch potatoes? This is old-fashioned branding at its best. Think of soap operas that were created to engage women during the afternoon.

Will It Blend expanded its brand with entertaining videos, and Old Spice took social media videos to the next level by letting users interact with them through Twitter.

6. Connect with prospects’ passions and/or hobbies

People love their hobbies and will make unusual trade-offs to support them. Whether it’s their dogs, quilting, or photography, if your business caters to their  passions, you’re in luck.

You can get prospects to share photographs of their work like Two Peas In A Bucket did, distribute patterns that use your yarn like Lion’s Brand or create a group on Flickr like Canon.

7. Leverage other people’s audiences

In lieu of building your own blog, you can become a regular contributor to one or more blogs in your category. You can also actively engage in the social media conversation by commenting on other people’s articles. This option has the added benefit of reducing the investment required to build your own audience  and can spread your influence more quickly. This content  acts in a way that’s similar to advertising in another publication.

For example, there are many blogs that use regular and guest contributors such as the Content Marketing Institute or Search Engine Land.

One of the keys to stretching a small or medium-sized business’ marketing budget is to make sure that your content engages your target market to solve their problems, overcome their objections or give them a reason to buy. Start small to test and see which options work best for what you offer.

What other ideas would you add to this list of content marketing options?