Apr 132012

Photo of business strategy bookWhat is content marketing? I hear you ask.

Content marketing is all about information sharing, as opposed to product pushing.  It’s about the creation of content and sharing of it with your potential customers in order to engage with them and build a relationship.

In this multi-dimensional, communications-enabled age people are blind to advertising; they want information.  Not only that but they usually want it free (or very cheap) and they want it on their terms.  Bombarding them with adverts doesn’t achieve any of that so we need to find new ways to get our name out there.

As a small business the best way is through the use of the web and this can be done in many forms.  Underlying each strategy, however, needs to be the key remit that you’re doing it primarily to help others, with little or no indication of selling on your behalf.  Let’s look at a typical small business example.

Imagine that I run a Web site design company.  I will, naturally, have my own Web site which is aimed at selling my services with a few ‘calls to action’ but I should also include content marketing stuff on there too.  For example, I may have a glossary of web design terms so that people can start to understand the difference between html, css, Java and Flash.  I may also have a free downloadable pdf with the key questions people should ask a web developer before using their services.  I could go as far as putting together some videos showing how to make a site more Google friendly, or sowing how to make the most of Adsense.

There are a number of great things about all these ideas.  First, they’re free/cheap to do, second, once done they are there forever and third (and most importantly) they help to show me as an expert in my field.  This is the key thing that helps towards building the relationship of trust that will over time result in business coming in.

The next element of my strategy will be to get myself involved in forums.  Here, I will go online to give my expertise freely to others who need it.  I will go to a variety of sites spread across a wide range of subject areas (even Mumsnet has pages on business so don’t just look in the obvious places) and start building my reputation.  Initially I probably won’t even mention that I run a web design business but, as my reputation grows, I will slowly start to drop hints until I finally ‘come out’.  Even then I will still avoid explicitly touting or business.

Content marketing is a slow burner but it is one that will bring huge rewards to you and your business because it is built on relationships which tend to be strong and, therefore, enduring.

Image: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net