content marketing not just for big guysIn a recent podcast on OpenView labs, I discussed how content strategy can drive real results for businesses of all sizes.

I talked about how every business needs a content strategy – it is not just for large companies.

I also answer the question of whether content marketing is just another term for marketing.

Finally, I discuss how can companies get started in content marketing and also how to get past “campaign-brain” and create the mindset that puts customers first.

Here is an overview of my comments but I invite you to check out the audio recording here…

Is Content Marketing Just Another Word For Marketing?

The answer is yes and no.

Yes, content marketing is just another term for marketing because effective marketing should already seek to deliver on the needs of individual buyers at different stages of the buying cycle with helpful information and educational content.

But the fact is that when you say the word “marketing” to non-marketing business people they often think of SPAM – overly promotional messages that no one wants.

So the answer is no, content marketing is not the same as marketing today because it does not seek to blast the market with overly promotional interruptions that do not serve the customer audience.

Content Marketing exists to bridge the gap between the largely ineffective marketing that takes up the largest share of marketing budgets today and the more effective, customer-focused marketing that will be required in the future – required by our customers, by our executives and by our larger ecosystems.

Does Every Company Need A Content Strategy?

Every company needs a content strategy because content strategy addresses the problem of all the noise in the marketplace. There are way too many messages in the marketplace. And customers are simply tuning out!

Content strategy is defined as the content our audience is looking for, in all the places they are searching for it, for all the stages of the buying journey and for each buyer persona.

But with the rise of internet connectivity, mobile access and social media, content development and delivery has become affordable for even the smallest company.

Is Content Strategy Just For Large Companies?

Content marketing is not as hard as small company marketers may fear. Because of web and mobile access and the rise of social media, small companies truly can compete with larger companies. By focusing on customer-driven content, small companies can be effective at generating leads, opportunities and real revenue.

Content creation can come straight from a small company’s existing customers. Profile who they are, what challenges they faced that led them to your solution, and how they traveled the journey to a solution. Have them tell a personal story about the challenges they faced.

And stop there…create a webcast from the content featuring the customer. Write a blog post. Write a whitepaper.

These are the kind of stories that people want to listen to. And with enough of this content and a strong conversion engine on your website, any company can be effective with content marketing.

How Can Companies Get Started In Content Marketing?

  1. Remove the campaign-brain mentality and start thinking about the content needs of your audience
  2. Define the buyer stages, channels and personas of the people whose business you want to earn
  3. Look for compelling customer stories to create effective content in multiple formats
How Do You Change the Mindset of the Traditional Marketer?
  • Show them how ineffective push-based, promotional marketing is ineffective
  • Identify all the bad content your company creates that never gets used or read by anyone
  • Show them how the buyer journey has changed
  • Identify the audience your not reaching with outbound promotion
  • Demonstrate how inbound marketing is more effective on a cost-per-acquisition standpoint

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About Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is the Head of Strategy for the leading content marketing platform, NewsCred. He is also the author of B2B Marketing Insider, a contributor to Forbes and a frequent speaker at industry events covering topics such as marketing strategy, social business, content marketing, digital marketing, social media and personal branding.  Follow Michael on Twitter (@BrennerMichael)LinkedInFacebook and Google+ and Subscribe to B2B Marketing Insider by Email

9 Comments

  1. Nick Stamoulis said…

    A small business can be successful with content marketing, but only if they are willing to invest in it. Content marketing takes time and if, as a business owner, you don’t have that time then you need to hire someone to do it for you. Since small businesses have smaller budgets, content marketing is an attractive alternative to expensive ads but it still requires a monetary commitment.

    • Michael Brenner said…

      Great point Nick. It’s not free but it’s not too expensive either. It is not an option no matter how small the business. It’s why so many successful solo entrepreneurs are very successful bloggers.

  2. Hunter Boyle said…

    Michael,

    This is all great stuff, and dead-on accurate. I love the concise list at the end — especially cleaning house on all the bad content that didn’t yield results. A quarterly content “audit” and plan to analyze, repurpose, revise or remove content is a fairly easy way for any size company to establish a consistent process.

    You could write a stand-alone blog post for each of those bullets, too, as many SMBs will read something like “define buyer personas” and get exasperated just thinking about the specific steps involved!

    Keep up the great work and thanks for sharing!

    • Michael Brenner said…

      Thanks Hunter and you are right. Same with “quarterly content audit”. It can be overwhelming but these simple steps are so important. I’ll get started on that next post. ;-)

  3. Paige Holden said…

    Great post!

    In my view, content marketing and small business goes together like peanut butter and jelly. Corniness aside, we have built our marketing strategy around content marketing and we are already seeing the benefits. Granted, we have a full time marketer here (me) so we don’t have to outsource the writing, but we do outsource design and some technical support for the blog and website.

    All in, however, we are still spending less on our content marketing program (including a direct mail campaign calling action to our content) than we would on some of the following traditional venues for our industry:

    1. We spend less than what it would cost to place four quarterly advertisements in our industry publication
    2. We spend less than what it would cost to place four quarterly advertisements in our target publication
    3. A recent piece of content cost about as much as a small event booth, but generated a response from three solid, qualified prospects which is more success than we have experienced with recent industry events.
    4. The search value on our blog is worth its weight in gold, although I would agree that PPC ads would take it to another level.
    5. Our blog content has led to articles with target sites and publications.

    These are just a few examples and our program is still in its infancy.

    • Michael Brenner said…

      Paige, thanks for the great examples of how content marketing costs less than some of these traditional approaches. Again, it’s not free, but certainly more cost effective! I love your comment on the value of the search traffic on your website which, of course, you are earning through your content.

  4. Marcus Miller said…

    If anything, content marketing is even more important for small business.

    You need deep pockets for PPC and more traditional advertising / marketing but with content, you can nestle right up next to the big boys in organic search and use this to build a following (leads) with social media.

    So often, people try to do SEO with no content, try to do social with no content or nothing to say and it’s completely topsy turvy.

    You have something to say, you can solve your customers problems, you can put this out there to share your knowledge, gain exposure and build your credibility in your market place.

    Sure, it is not free, it takes time, and not everyone can write, create videos etc but it’s certainly a damn site easier than paying to play in PPC or watching your business go down the toilet because you were simply dropping off the radar.

    If you have existing marketing staff who are concentrating on nag marketing and expending all that creativity on direct mail then they would be much better ‘refocussed’ to look at inbound marketing strategies.

    Main point being, with content, David can tackle Goliath. :)

    • Michael Brenner said…

      Marcus,

      I love your points about people putting channel ahead of content. You can’t do social or search without content. So it’s table-stakes to get in the game. And yes, it all levels the playing field for big and small companies. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Paige Holden said…

    Thank you Michael! The power of search is really amazing. And, while I do consider keywords and meta and such, it’s really the regular updating of the blog with meaningful content that influences engine results.

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