One of the biggest challenges facing small businesses in an increasingly competitive market is how to make marketing budgets work effectively.
As the media climate changes at a rate of knots never before seen, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) need to really focus in on how they channel their messages.
But no matter how they try to dress it up, traditional media outlets such as newspapers and magazines, are becoming less and less relevant to consumers.
It’s an obvious follow-on that paid for advertising through these mediums becomes less and less effective.
As an SME, you want every single marketing pound or dollar you spend to be worth at least £10 or $10. But how can that be done?
One of the most effective ways to do this is to simply cut out the middleman. Instead of paying a publisher to tell your message, you become the publisher.
Creating your own content and self publishing it is known as content marketing and it’s an incredibly effective way of speaking straight to your current or potential customers.
Content marketing, in its most basic form, is the process – and some may say ‘art’ – of using quality, relevant and regular blogs/news, videos, infographics and other forms of media to engage potential customers and create awareness in your brand. You can publish on your own website and channel it through social media or even create your own print content marketing proposition.
It’s effective for many reasons but one of the biggest is that it allows you to talk directly to customers without a facilitator or a middleman. You create the content, you publish the content and you reap the rewards eventually.
All the research – and there’s a mountain of it – suggests that when you use quality content to engage customers, you get long-term buy in from them and that’s because you’ve gained their trust.
There’s also plenty research to show that traditional marketing – let’s use display advertising as an example – is incredibly ineffective for SMEs who use it in short campaigns. Quite simply, it’s a very inefficient way to market your company.
Content marketing costs around 62% less than traditional marketing and generates four times more leads.
These facts and figures should be like gold to an SME. Why spend thousands on a marketing campaign that is proven to be ineffective at engaging customers when you can create your own bespoke content marketing campaign that tells your company’s unique story and wins long-term buy-in from customers?
Consumers love a bargain and what could be cheaper than free? Content marketing allows you to give away something for free that customers value – quality, relevant content. It’s a currency today and it’s becoming more valuable all the time.
Once your potential customers realise that you are giving them valuable content for free, they’ll start to trust you and you don’t need me to tell you again what customers do when they trust you.
What’s more, the content you create is there virtually forever. It’s for the long haul and it’s yours.
These are all hugely important reasons to be looking at content marketing as an SME and that’s even before we start thinking about your search engine optimisation (SEO).
Google no longer puts all the emphasis on keywords when it’s ranking websites. Quality, relevant, regular content on your website is now the most important factor in maintaining and improving your Google rank.
Why is that important? Well, when was the last time you looked for results to your search query on page two of Google? Exactly. I rest my case. It’s essential that your business features on page one of Google in the first few results. Content marketing will help you get there.
Before you break out another thousand for your marketing budget, think about content marketing and how it could really help to grow your business. It’s likely to be one of the most important decisions you will make this year.