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Small business guide to content marketing

Within your business there could be a whole world of untapped information that could add extra value to customers by creating unique and useful content that they love.

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As a small business owner, you probably set up your small business because it's something you're passionate about and an expert in. Within your business there could be a whole world of untapped information that could add extra value to customers by creating unique and useful content that they love. Consumers and business buyers all need content at different stages of the buying process. If they already know what they want to buy, this might be a simple product description or a technical specification, which you probably already have on your website or in a brochure. But what if they're not at the buying stage yet? Perhaps the customer is just researching their options or has a problem and isn't sure what product or service will solve it yet. Perhaps they're not even aware they have a problem that needs solving yet! This is where content marketing can help you engage with customers by providing useful content at the right time to answer their questions and helps them decide on the right product or service for them. If they're using your content to make that decision, you're in a better position to make a sale than if they're reading your competitor's content. Types of content marketing Content marketing can come in many different forms – you may be using some of them in your business already, including: Blogs – your own and guest posting on other websites Email newsletters Whitepapers and reports Buyer's guides Case studies and testimonials Infographics (like this one on content marketing) Tools and calculators, such as a free quote tool on your website Free trials YouTube videos – instructional, advice giving, product reviews Mobile apps Webinars. Benefits of content marketing It helps you to get yourself known as an expert in your field by publishing relevant, up-to-date content that your target market finds useful. If you host your content online and use search engine optimisation techniques, it might get picked up by search engines and drive more relevant traffic to your website. Therefore, people who may never otherwise have found your business will come across it when trying to solve a problem. It's cheap or even free to produce. Because the content is generated from within your company, you don't have to pay someone else to write it. You may need to hire a designer to present it for you, or you may already have the skills in-house. For video content, it is now easy enough to produce good quality video with just a smartphone and a tripod. Web pages, PDFs and videos are easy to share around the internet, especially via social media, which can increase the reach of your content far beyond your website. You can use it to generate leads. Some content, like blogs and videos, you may give away freely to help raise awareness of your business. But for other content like industry reports, quotes or free trials and webinars, you should a sign up form to collect information from prospective customers. Like all marketing, and whatever type of content you choose to reach your customers, you should know what you want to achieve by publishing your content, i.e. lead generation, new customers, improved retention. Each piece of content should end with a call to action that leads them to achieving your goal, such as calling you, visiting your website or making a purchase. The potential for content marketing are only bound by your imagination and it's all about choosing the right method for your business and your target market. For more examples and ideas for how other businesses are using it, visit Content Marketing Daily for inspiration.

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