Content marketing 101 for small business owners

Barnaby Smith

As with all aspects of digital marketing, content marketing has come a long way in a startlingly short time. The growing sophistication of audiences (and Google’s ever-hawkish criteria for authenticity) ensures that any small business must now produce content that is thoughtful and penetrating – at least as part of its wider strategy.

It is, of course, a case of finding a balance, says Dave Keam of New Beach Media. “If it’s all about search engine rankings, then you’re after quantity through well-crafted articles with the right keywords associated.

“But if you’re after solid brand messaging to a select demographic, you need to work out the medium and deliver accordingly.”

Quality, therefore, trumps quantity when you’re trying to consolidate your business’s identity and reputation. Too-frequent posting can cheapen your output and compromise mystique. “Posting more thoughtful pieces less often is better than a meaningless spray of content that gets ignored,” believes expert Lauren Quaintance.

Prioritise longform

In terms of both written content and video, one needn’t be afraid of length if you have the substance to justify it. Research has found that longform blog posts (of 750 words or more) generate nine times as many leads as short posts. Longform content marketing can also project a sense of a resource that is not simply a marketing tool.

Be original. Make sure you’ve got good stories to tell and don’t try to be everything to everyone.

Localise

A particular weakness of much content marketing is its generic nature. An emphasis on quality over quantity can incorporate the language, culture, interests and socio-economic priorities of a target region. This means tailoring output according to geographical distinctions.

“Know your audience,” says Keam. “Be original. Make sure you’ve got good stories to tell and don’t try to be everything to everyone.”

Research and expertise

To identify local flavours, it may be necessary to conduct research and recruit sources of local knowledge. Similarly, it may be worth outsourcing to journalists and subject experts (those with experience in research and presenting information coherently) in order to ensure a base of knowledge for longform blog posts, video or infographics. Think editorially, in other words.

Video

No doubt due to the preferences of millennials and Generation Z, video content marketing is booming in Australia – according to a study from Forrester’s, which stated, “We have seen a significant increase in the amount of money businesses spend hiring for video-related skills such as Adobe After Effects, Video Production and Motion Graphics.”

Again, however, any video output needs to prioritise substance and style over prolificacy.

Barnaby Smith

Barnaby Smith is a writer and journalist who has written for a variety of publications across several subject areas in the UK, Australia and Switzerland.

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