My three kids are close in age. As in really close — all three were born in under three years, and the younger two are only 11 months apart. I still remember how overwhelmed I felt with a newborn, an unsteady walker, and a very stubborn toddler.
Forget teaching my babies to sign; I was too busy changing diapers, making bottles, managing tantrums, and administering breathing treatments. I thought I was doing pretty awesome if everybody was alive and relatively clean at the end of the day. (Don’t ask about the house.)
It was a lot like being a small business owner. There’s just so much to do!
Depending on your business, you’ve got product development, marketing, sales, payroll, HR, funding, research and testing, etc. Oh, yeah…and customers.
So when everybody keeps telling you that you need to publish content, you probably feel like I did when my kids started pulling things out of the arts and crafts closet. If I didn’t have the bandwidth to deal with it right that minute, and no one was in danger of getting hurt, I ignored it and hoped it would just go away.
You’re probably hoping I’m going to tell you the same thing…that, if you wait long enough, content marketing will go away, that businesses are tougher than you think, and that yours will grow up to be just fine, even without content marketing.
Sorry. It won’t.
I know, I know…you’re probably swearing at me right now and yelling that you don’t know how to “do” content and you don’t have time to learn. I get it. But, if I can help you understand why content marketing is crucial for small- and medium-sized businesses, I think you’ll start planning a way to make it happen.
What is content marketing, anyway?
It’s kind of like building a relationship with the parents of your kids’ friends before you ask them to let their child spend the night at your house. It’s silly, but it’s a good analogy.
Through content marketing, you introduce yourself to potential customers, build trust, and show them what an awesome person you are (because you’re providing them with valuable information and/or entertainment) before you hit them up with a sales pitch.
If you think that’s an overly simplified explanation, you’re right. Amazon has entire books devoted to small business content marketing. But that’s it in a nutshell.
Why is publishing content so important for SMBs?
Content marketing is more than just the latest advertising fad:
Content marketing is both cheaper and more effective than traditional marketing tactics. In fact, content marketing generates 62% more leads than traditional marketing – for 1/3 the cost.
And since most SMBs don’t have huge advertising budgets, that’s a pretty important benefit.
It’s good for brand awareness.
The more content you publish, the more chances people have to find their way to your website.
You get better leads.
Not only do businesses that publish quality content get 97% more leads than those that don’t, those leads are 8 times more likely to turn into sales than outbound leads.
Why? Because they’ve already taken the time to learn about you and your product or service. They’re already invested.
They’re also further down the sales funnel. Instead of getting them at the awareness or interest stage, you get them closer to the action stage.
To put it in a real-life context, let’s say you sell insurance. If you put thorough, relevant content on your website, your sales staff won’t have to spend as much time fielding questions from people who have no idea what kind of insurance they need or want — or if they even want it to start with. Instead, they they’ll be able to focus on people who want to verify or add to the information they found on their own.
Everybody else is doing it: 91% of B2Bs and 86% of B2Cs.
I’ve written a number of times that “because everybody else is doing it” isn’t a good enough reason to spend the time and resources needed to publish content.
And I still believe that it shouldn’t be the only reason…that you shouldn’t slap some filler content on your website just so you can say you have a blog.
But it’s indisputable that, if all of your competitors are doing it well, you’re going to miss out in terms of brand awareness, SERP rankings, leads, etc.
It’s like trying to play baseball without a glove. If you’re not using all of the available tools, you can’t keep up with the people who are.
Customers like it.
Unlike TV ads, pop-up banner ads, etc. — which are about as welcome as a telemarketing call right in the middle of dinner — consumers see content as both valuable and actionable. A full 61% of consumers say that they’re more likely to buy from a brand that publishes custom content.
When it comes to B2Bs, 80% of decision-makers say they’d rather learn about a company and its offerings through a series of articles rather than from advertising.
Consumers also trust branded content just as much as they do content from third-party publications (and they distrust those third-party publications more, 12% vs. 6%).
It makes you look smart.
The buzzwords are “thought leader” and “authoritative,” but let’s keep things real, shall we? Publishing relevant, high-quality content that your customers actually want to read, use, and share makes you look smart.
It’s no surprise that customers prefer to buy from somebody who looks smart. It helps them feel confident in your company and your offerings.
And here’s a bonus: Sharing content is all wrapped up in self-identity. People are more likely to share your content if doing so will make them look smart, well-informed, connected to experts, etc.
The downside, of course, is that content can also make you look dumb. Sloppy content that’s full of spelling and grammatical errors is going to make people think you’ll be just as sloppy with your product or service. And if your content isn’t targeting the right audience, readers will conclude that, since they’re obviously not the kind of person you’re talking to, they must be in the wrong place. The secret here is relevant, authoritative content.
It lets Google know you’re there.
SEO strategy is beyond the scope of this post, but the bottom line is that the more high-quality content you publish, and the more people link to it and share it, the more important Google thinks you are. And when Google thinks you’re important, they move you higher in their search results (SERPs).
Not convinced it matters? The first link on a results page gets 33% of the traffic from that search. Links from page 2 get less than 3%.
It lets customers know you’re still breathing.
Although the failure rate for small businesses is down significantly, dropping 30% since 1977, the ugly truth is that businesses still close every day. Fresh content reassures people that you’re still alive and kickin’.
If you came here hoping I’d tell you not to worry your pretty little head (yes, I speak Southern) about content marketing…I’m sorry. It matters just as much for SMBs as it does larger companies. Maybe more.
I know that your plate is already stacked as high as somebody who’s about to blow their diet at an all-you-can-eat buffet.
That’s why I focus on helping SMBs keep up with the big boys when it comes to content marketing — and to do it without giving themselves an ulcer or a premature heart attack.
If I can help, please get in touch.