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In this day and age, small businesses can compete on almost every level with big brands. That includes content marketing. Regardless of the size of a business, the goal remains the same: to use great content to attract qualified customers.

But while the basic concept behind content marketing is quite easy to grasp, achieving the best results through content creation and promotion… well, that’s the difficult part.

Sometimes the best way to understand how to grow your business through content marketing is to learn from others. So in this post we’ll look at six creative examples of how small businesses on a small advertising budget use content marketing to promote their businesses.

But first…

What is content marketing

“Traditional marketing and advertising is telling the world you’re a rock star.  Content Marketing is showing the world that you are one.”Robert Rose, Chief Strategy Officer, Content Marketing Institute

The phrase “content is King” has generated quite a buzz for the past few years. Why? Because content is at the heart of everything you do as a business owner. Even when you reply to a Facebook comment or to a tweet, that’s still content.

So what is content marketing anyway? It’s simple. Content marketing is the creation and sharing of content – regardless of what form it takes, whether it’s a tweet, a blog post, an infographic, a video, or an FAQ page – to attract and convert prospects into customers, and customers into repeat buyers. In other words, it’s content that you use to educate, help, engage and entertain people so they know, like and trust you enough to buy from you.

Why does it matter to your small businesses?

But what does content marketing actually mean for your business? What’s so different from what you’re already doing to promote your products and services? Why should you put time and resources into it?

Here is how content marketing can benefit your small business:

  • Increased brand awareness. Content gives your audience something to talk about. And when people talk about you, they share, like, comment on your content. You know you’re doing a good job at content marketing when people keep mentioning and praising your name, and when you’re at the centre of your prospects’ conversations online.
  • Trust and admiration. Building trust takes time but great content can help make that happen more easily. When you share your knowledge and advice time and time again, your audience will come to regard you as the guiding light and the top source of information in your industry. Quality content helps you to gain authority, authority that is then transferred to your products and services, making customers much more likely to choose you over your competitors.
  • Increased sales. When you’re creating quality content that targets potential customers, you’re shortening the distance between them and your products. Imagine a prospect stumbles upon one of your blog posts. They read it and find it so insightful that they have to visit your site to learn more about your business and your offering. They is your chance to turn them into customers.
  • More site traffic. This one’s obvious but very important. Great content will send people to your site where they can find out more about your business and products or services. It will also entice readers to share it with others and to subscribe to your content, which can result in a loyal audience for your business.
  • Better SEO. Think about it: without content, what is there to optimise for search engines? Your content tells Google what your business is about and, if optimised correctly, it will allow it to return your site for relevant user queries. High quality content also attracts links, which tell Google that you’re an authority in your industry.

Now, while content marketing isn’t a short-term strategy and you have to be at it all the time, over time it can help you reach more qualified prospects and customers.

Can I get results with content marketing if I don’t have a big budget?

Oh, yes! A lack of resources means you don’t have the time or the money to dive into every content-related project you can think of. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Instead of focusing on quantity, always choose quality. Get creative with content marketing as it’s the only way to truly compete with the big brands.

Next we’ll look at six examples of small businesses doing content marketing well so you get some inspiration and see what similar approach your can take while on a small advertising budget.

Examples of content marketing done well and how you can replicate them

Riedel wine glass

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon this article on wine glasses, which talked about whether the glass has any impact on the taste of the wine. While reading it, I thought to myself: this is just crazy! How can a glass improve the wine?

riedel_1

So of course I  started looking into the name Riedel and soon discovered the story behind it. The business, now owned by Maximilian Riedel, was founded by his grandfather, Claus, who revolutionised wine stemware in the 1950s by developing different glass designs for different types of wine. Today the name Riedel is synonymous with fine crystal.

Why does it work? Claus’ concept was that the choice of glass can improve the wine, or at least our experience of it. Wine-lovers were gripped with the fear that drinking from the wrong glass would diminish their vino-cred. See what he did here? This is storytelling at its best.

How to apply it to your small business

Storytelling is an integral part of content marketing. Why? Because our brains are hungry for a good story. So if you want to make the sale, forget the data and make a personal connection. Stories will not only help create an emotional connection between the reader and your business, but it will also make your brand stand out.

So, what’s your story? What are people missing out on by not using your products or services?

These articles share some great tips and advice on using storytelling in marketing:

Dollar Shave Club

When you hear “content marketing”, your mind probably thinks of written content first, but video has become a major player in the way online users consume media.

Every year, the value of online video content grows, and Dollar Shave Club has been taking advantage of this trend. Dollar Shave Club sells no-name razors for less than the cost of brand razors, but with high-end customer service and packaging.

With no employees and a small budget, they created a video that got them 9.5 million views, 23,000 followers on Twitter and 76,000 Facebook fans. Oh, and 12,000 new customers in the first 48 hours alone.

The company’s chief executive officer used his fun personality and sense of humour to convey product messaging in a way that supported the brand.

How to apply it to your small business

You don’t need to be a comedian to replicate and create a fun video. It can be as simple as facing the camera and saying, “Hi, I’m John and I want to tell you about our plumbing business”. Just make sure to focus on how your business stands out.

Worried video creation can be too expensive for your small budget? Don’t. Today, if you have a smartphone you can make a great marketing video. A one-minute video highlighting the things that make your business great could become your best customer acquisition tool.

Check out our guide to effective low-cost online video marketing to learn how to create quality video content on a small budget.

Movoto

Movoto is a real estate company that become well know through content marketing done well. Their strategy to stand out revolved around taking fictional building and calculating how much it would cost to purchase if it was real. One of their earliest posts in the series established the cost of Barbie’s Malibu Dream House.

Movoto_2

But they took the idea even further and created other creative topics including a quiz to figure out which Breaking Bad characters’ house would suit you best, an infographic detailing how to wrap your house in bacon, and a tool to find out how many bricks of LEGO it would take to build your house.

How to apply it to your small business

While Movoto’s content is more design-led, that doesn’t mean yours has to be too in order to be successful. It’s safe to say that the topic is key in their approach. So, to replicate try to find a unique, interesting angle that would appeal to your audience, and create content that is short, sweet, simple and, most importantly, fun!

Origin Code Academy

Origin Code Academy is a coding education provider that guarantees its students a job after graduation. But who’s going to take their word for it?

With this question in mind, Jeff Winkler, the founder and CEO of the company, used a news story about one of the Origin Code Academy graduates who secured a $110,000 programming job. He shared the TV segment on his Facebook page and paid to promote the post.

Origin Code Academy _3

Within a week, Winkler sold enough course applications that he needed to start a wait-listing people for future courses.

How to apply it to your small business

Know when to take advantage of media and user-generated content that tells your brand’s story for you. Keep on eye on what’s being said about your business online and see whether you can use a story, a review or a customer testimonial to build trust. Sometimes the best way promote your business is to encourage your customers do it for you.

Hipmunk

Hipmunk is an online travel company that has been using guides to answer common traveller questions and conundrums. They’ve published lots of resources and guides with places to eat, to stay in, to visit in countries around the world. But while they also cover basic topics like things to do in Asia, they also create creative pieces of content such as the Traveller’s guide to tipping. This details the tipping practices in countries around the world for restaurant, taxis and more.

How to apply it to your small business

While their content isn’t flashy, it’s useful and it answers their audience’s questions, which is very important. So make sure your content marketing strategy focuses on creating content that is both purposeful and unique.

Tortuga Backpacks

This business sells carry-on-sized travel backpacks. Fred Perrotta, the co-founder of Tortuga Backpacks and a travelling entrepreneur, came up with the idea to create these backpacks after not being able to find the perfect backpack for his European trip.

But there’s something else they excel at: content marketing. While they sell backpacks, their content covers most everything that has to with travelling. And all this content is nicely organised into separate blogs. They write about everything from the best travel shoes to tips to dealing with airport customers. They even have a blog where they cover topics specific to the digital nomadic lifestyle.

A cool thing that they’ve done to grow their mailing list was to offer a free packing list. This is a like of checklist of things you needn’t forget to include in your backpack before you travel.

Tortuga Backpacks_4

How to apply it to your small business

You don’t have to create several blogs to make your content strategy work. Just make sure you think outside the box and figure out which broader topics you can cover, that are still related to your business and relevant to your audience. Do your homework and see what type of information your prospects are looking into and create content around it.

For example, if you’re a makeup artist, don’t just create makeup tutorials. You can go even further and share tips on how to care for skin in the summer, or how to look fresh after a long flight. If you’re an event planner, you can share tips and advice on how to deal with inviting divorced parents who have a conflictual relationship.

Wrapping up

As a small business owner, we understand that content marketing can initially seem intimidating and time-consuming. But you shouldn’t be afraid to try, or to fail.

The best content marketing campaigns are almost always a mix of proven methods and a bit of creativity. So use these examples to get inspired, figure out how you can resonate uniquely with your specific audience and then innovate and deliver. And please: have fun with it!

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