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Small Business Love Affair with Content Marketing

small business content marketing

Photo credit: eMarketer

by Frank Strong

Small businesses are engaged in a growing love affair with content marketing according to a survey by BusinessBolts.com and analyzed by eMarketer.

Three-quarters of small businesses are engaged in content marketing and 74% said they plan to increase their budget on content marketing in the next year.  The results mirrors other findings, for example, in late 2012, a joint report by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs found that 91% of B2B marketers use content marketing and budgets were up 26% from the previous year.

The BusinessBolts.com study says small businesses are finding benefits in traffic, search rankings and brand building in exchange for minimal effort.   Sixty-two percent of small businesses reported spending less than $100 per month on content marketing and almost half (45%) said content has lowered their advertising costs.

What are they publishing? “Content that is narrative and shareable appears to be a particular small business focus for the coming year,” said eMarketer.

The statistics:

  • 77% of those surveyed reported that content marketing has helped increase their traffic.
  • 71% of those surveyed reported content marketing has helped them gain higher rankings in the search engines.
  • 59% of those surveyed reported that content marketing has helped them increase their sales.
  • 48% said that content marketing has helped them generate leads and grow an email list.   
  • 61%  surveyed create all  their written content on their own and never outsource.

Small businesses can deliver a story that has meaning. – Duct Tape Marketing

Three takeaways from the study:

1.  Small businesses have an enormous advantage.  Small businesses tend to wonder how to compete with larger firms, but the reality is, they have a distinct advantage.  John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing pointed out a number of ways small business stand out in a post titled 7 Natural Advantages of Small BusinessHe wrote, “Small business is personal. Markets are hungry for businesses that allow them to connect to something beyond the products and services. Small businesses can deliver a story that has meaning. Can lead with purpose and intentionally attract both staff and customers drawn to an internal sense of purpose without the need to heed investors bent only on profit.”

2. Helpful is sharable and helpful sells.  People who make a business based on knowledge are often reticent to share that knowledge for fear it will undermine their business — but the opposite is more often true.  In sharing knowledge, we build understanding and understanding builds trust.  People are more inclined to both share that content and buy when we’ve answered their questions.  In a post on the HBR Blog Network, Joe McCambley wrote about “learning to help instead of sell.”  Some of the most successful brands on the web, which were all once start-ups, “win because they ask How can I help you? instead of What can I sell you?”   Any business from a re-modeler — to a plumber — to a florist (it is Valentine’s day) will benefit from answering questions.  Provide tips on how to re-model a bathroom and a prospective customer is more likely to hire that re-modeler to do it.

3.  Publishing content is just the start.  Small businesses are catching on to the idea that integrating other marketing tactics with content marketing is the key.  It’s not enough to give a prospect one touch, we’ve got to have a reason for them to come back. That half of small businesses in this survey are building their email lists is important –but the same principles apply — learn to help not sell.  Small businesses with higher revenue — above $10,000 per month — were even more likely to tie their content to email newsletters.  Email marketing is still a staple — and that people are increasingly reading email on mobile devices will keep it as such for the foreseeable future.

Content marketing is at a tipping point — and for small businesses it’s effective and cheap.  It’s a love affair worth having.

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