You already know that you do not have the marketing budget to compete with the “big boys.” But the good news is this: the digital world of marketing has equalized the field like never before. Small businesses have a host of venues and tactics that are both effective and low-cost.
One of these, of course, is content marketing. In fact, it can be the most cost-effective of all marketing strategies. Here are content marketing tactics that every small business should be utilizing:
Networking and Collaboration
Local businesses understand the value of networking – establishing relationships with other businesses in a community for mutual benefit. In the digital word, the same can be done. Networking can occur in a number of ways:
- Establish a LinkedIn profile and join all related groups. Participate in discussions within those groups, get yourself known as an expert in your business niche, and make connections. Those connections can result in business coming your way, through referrals and recommendations.
- Locate related businesses and blogs and establish relationships with these owners/bloggers. Set up mutually beneficial relationships, promoting one another. Be mindful, though, that these relationships must be with reputable and related sources, or you could suffer SEO penalties.
- When you set up these cross-relationships, consider collaborating through bundled promotional campaigns, coupon offers, etc. This will increase your customer base and spread your brand to other audiences.
Maintain a Blog
This is a long-term marketing tool but can be effective. The cost? A good deal of time and effort creating compelling and engaging blog posts that your target market finds valuable. Blog posts must solve problems for your potential customers; they should be creatively written; they should include visuals and other media; they should be easily shareable; and they should be easy to read and scan.
You can learn a lot about blogging by reading popular and successful blogs of your competitors and related niches. Your challenge will be not just in the crafting of these pieces but being consistent and regular with your publishing. There are resources and tools that can help you do this.
- If you are looking for contract writers, you can try out some writing services that have copywriting services, such as EssaySupply or FlashEssay.
- If you want to do some research, you can access OnlineWritersRating and get reviews of the copywriting services of top notch agencies
- Check out sites that offer freelance writers, such as Upwork and Fivver. You can review writers’ experience and successes and try a few out.
If you decide to write and maintain a blog yourself, or even if you choose to use contracted writers, you will still need to come up with topic ideas for those blogs. The best way to do this is to check on your competitors and see which of their posts are the most popular. Take those ideas and improve upon them. You can also check out sites like BuzzSumo to find the most trending topics in your niche.
Craft an Elevator Pitch
You need a creative 30-second speech that you can use at any time, in any place, when someone asks, What do you do? It’s called an elevator pitch because you should be able to give it in total in the time it takes to ride an elevator up or down. This pitch must be creatively prepared and focus on what value you bring to your customers/clients. You can review some great elevator pitch examples and fashion one for yourself. Memorize it. And have your business card ready to hand over at the same time.
While many believe that email is not effective anymore (peoples’ inboxes are stuffed to the brim with promotions and advertisements), this is actually not the case. In fact, on average, the return for every $1 spent on email marketing is $38. That’s pretty cost-effective.
The key is to do it so well that people scanning their emails will want to open yours. Here are some tips:
- Don’t be a spammer. Don’t buy lists and send out mass emails – they don’t work
- Gradually grow your list by getting subscribers through your other content venues – your website, your blog, your social media channels
- Segment your lists according to where your prospects/customers are in their buying journey. They should receive different emails.
- Study the emails that you personally get from businesses that are courting you. What makes you open some of them and not others? This should give you some great ideas about crafting your own.
- Focus on the subject line. If it is compelling, you have a far greater chance of opens. Use available tools for creating great headlines, if you don’t feel creative yourself. And, these tools can also be used for headlines/titles of your blog posts and social media posts.
As Shelly Crawford, Head of Content Department at ResumesCentre, states: “It took us a while to figure out this whole email marketing thing. We were just throwing emails out there, hoping to generate even a tiny percentage of response. Once we made the decision to go about this logically, to use data and segmentation, along with some much-needed creativity in subject lines, we saw a vast uptick in opens.”
This goes without saying. And you have probably read enough about social media marketing to know the following:
- You cannot be on every platform – you will spread yourself too thin and not be able to maintain any of them well.
Chris Mercer, CEO of Citatior, puts it this way:
Our clientele is younger, primarily students. We focus on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat because we know we will find them there. My advice is to go only where you know there are large numbers of your target audience and post as much and as often as possible. You’ll get results.
- Do the research to find out where your audience is on social media, and pick the top two platforms to establish your presence. Then, post regularly on just those. This is more manageable.
- Consider a theme for your postings. The point is establishing personal connections and relationships with your audience. You can have a joke of the day, an inspirational quote for the day. Followers will keep coming back and they will share.
- Involve your customers – use surveys and quizzes; feature customers in your posts. Show the human side of your business. Lots of businesses are doing these things very well. Follow them and emulate how they do things.
Visuals and Media – You Cannot Do Without It
Image Credit: Neomam
According to research, people following directions with text and illustrations do 323% better than people following directions without illustrations.
Never has it been easier to use visuals (photos, infographics, drawings, and even animation) in your content. And videos have become the most popular mechanism for getting content across to audiences. People will watch a video far more than read a lot of text.
A Google search for tools to create any of these visuals will bring up a huge number, many for free. There is just no excuse for not pumping out as many visuals and videos as you can to introduce your products or services, to feature you and your team, to explain or give how-to training, etc.
You can even experiment with augmented and virtual reality content – there are tools to get this done too.
Remember this: today’s consumer wants to see genuineness from businesses. Being a bit of an amateur in your production of visuals and videos is a great way to do this. The less formal, the better.
That’s a Wrap
As a small business owner, your time is precious. But marketing has to be a big part of the time and effort you expend. You can’t grow without it. But marketing does not have to “break the bank” as far as your budget is concerned. You have so many options now for low-cost marketing – use them.