Many business owners have the perception that only big brands can really succeed at content marketing. They assume that content marketing requires a super slick website, advanced writing skills and an intimate knowledge of social media and online marketing. Fortunately, this isn’t the case at all. While these abilities and assets can certainly make your content marketing more effective, the most important aspect of content marketing can be learned and implemented by almost anyone.
So, what is this ‘magic’ ingredient? Becoming a resource for your audience, obviously!
Following are 3 examples of small businesses that are off to a great start with content marketing. Are there ways they could improve? Absolutely. However, I’ve chosen these businesses specifically to show that any business, in any industry, and at any budget can succeed at content marketing.
Content marketing works best when you can really get inside the minds of your target market. Hannah McIntyre appears to have done just that with the official website and blog for her Winchester, England bed and breakfast. This website is simple yet elegant, and does a good job of providing much of the content a potential needs.
Instead of just talking about their rooms and services, this site offers some great advice:
- Links prominently to her Trip Advisor reviews, giving visitors external proof of their reputation and services
- Includes detailed, professional photos of their amenities
- Provides travel and attraction info for visitors
- Her blog offers photos, recipes and personal tidbits regarding the B&B. The blog content is sparse, but does a nice job of conveying the homey feel of the establishment.
- This is a great example of a business site that’s off to a great start with content marketing. What could make it even better? Here are a few ideas:
- A downloadable visitors guide to the area and local attractions
- A Trip Advisor widget so visitors don’t need to leave the site to see reviews
- Blog posts discussing the local area, including restaurants, parks, events, etc.
- A newsletter signup box so she can continue to communicate with visitors off-site
I wanted to include this small business as it’s a great example of how you can succeed at content marketing simply by simply consistently making yourself available to your audience. This website isn’t sleek or particularly user-friendly (or optimized for mobile, for that matter.) However they provide a useful feature that most plumbers would never think of: a DIY plumbing and remodeling discussion forum.
Members can ask questions about home reno’s, watch renovation tutorials or find the best products for their projects. The staff at LOVE answer questions and offer advice, thereby increasing their credibility as experts in their field. You might be wondering how a DIY forum can help a plumbing company attract business. After all, DIY’ers are looking to do tasks themselves, not hire a plumber…right?
While this will certainly be the case much of the time, a forum can be a valuable part of a content marketing strategy by:
- Allowing you to establish yourself as an expert in your industry
- Getting your site ranking for highly-relevant, long-tail search queries
- Keeping your business top-of-mind. Even DIY’ers need professional help sometimes.
- Helping increase the search rankings of your main site (assuming you’re hosting your forum on your primary domain)
- In order to take their content marketing to the next level, they could try a few additional strategies:
- Becoming active on social media, particularly via a Facebook page and/or DIY plumbing group
- Getting their site and forum optimized for mobile so they can take attract more mobile visitors
- Have a regularly updated blog where they give expert advice and tips
- Offering downloadable guides on common home renovation projects
While they could arguably be considered a mid-sized business, I really wanted to include Yale Appliance & Lighting in this article. They’re a great example of a business that has succeeded at becoming an important source of industry information for consumers.
This website is easy to navigate, and contains an insane amount of useful content aimed at helping consumers choose the best appliances and lighting fixtures. Here are just a few examples of the content they offer on their site:
- 24 in-depth buying guides (dishwasher buying guide, ventilation buying guide, etc.)
- Various comparison guides (e.g., Bosch vs Miele dishwashers)
- Ratings and reviews of various appliances
- Comprehensive ‘Best of’ lists (e.g., Best 30 Inch Professional Gas Ranges)
- Most reliable brands lists (e.g., The Least Serviced/Most Reliable Appliance Brands 2015)
It’s obvious they’ve invested heavily in content marketing, and it’s paying off. They rank highly for many competitive commercial keywords, and are active on a number of social networking sites, most notably YouTube, where they answer common appliance-related questions in their ‘Yale Appliance University’. What’s interesting is that there is a distinct lack of self-promotion in their blog posts, guides and videos. While they obviously link to their own products where relevant, you’ll be hard-pressed to find content that pushes a particular product or even their business a whole.
Some small business owners assume that their website needs to be perfect before they’ll benefit from their content marketing efforts. They worry that their site isn’t properly optimized, or isn’t user-friendly enough, or that their writing isn’t good enough. The 3 businesses above prove that simply becoming a resource for your audience and spreading awareness of your resources, such as through link building services, can get you on the path to content marketing success.
Start with what you have, and work your way up!