By Lisa Barone
Published December 28, 2012
I know–just the phrase “content marketing” is enough to instill fear in many small business owners. But why? As SMBs, we’re pros at using content as a way to attract customers and build word of mouth. We’ve been doing it our whole entrepreneurial careers! But we seem to forget this when the “content marketing” term is brought into the discussion. However, the idea of leveraging content marketing as a lead generation strategy doesn’t have to intimidate you. There are virtually an endless supply of content marketing strategies at SMBs’ fingertips.
Here, I’ll start you off with 20.
Below is just a handful (OK, a few handfuls) of content marketing ideas your business can implement and profit from in 2012.
- Create a free course on a topic related to your business and invite people in your neighborhood to attend. For example, if you’re a caterer, maybe it’s how to host the perfect dinner party. If you’re an accountant, maybe it’s on what you need to know before filing your taxes this year. Promote the event using both local print and online resources.
- Send out a direct mailing thanking your customers for their patronage in 2011 and sharing what you hope to bring them in 2012. Make sure you’re top of mind as the New Year hits.
- Compile your 20 best/most trafficked/most commented on blog posts into an ebook and offer them as a free download.
- Participate in industry-specific Q&A sites and help solve others problems. Don’t promote your business, but do include a link to your website in your profile so people can find it on their own should they be interested.
- Dedicate 30 minutes a week to commenting on relevant blogs to build relationships, get your name out there and create authority.
- Creating a buying guide related to your industry. If you sell a product, focus on the different specs, installation, uses, etc. If you offer a service, focus on the best questions to ask when evaluating a vendor, the different types of services, etc.
- Start an industry-specific Twitter chat. Invite guests to co-host with you.
- Put together an informative blog series (maybe three posts long) to capture traffic for a competitive keyword phrase show expertise in a particular area. Later, bundle the posts together and turn them into an ebook.
- Create a video interview series where you chat with influential people in your industry or community and post the videos on your website.
- Start an email newsletter.
- Host a weekly Google+ hangout to talk about timely issues and topics.
- Be a guest on a podcast.
- Get other local business owners together and hold a workshop on a hot issue in your industry. Or, get together with other business owners in different industries and talk about how you’ve used the Internet/Facebook/Twitter to increase business.
- Write guest posts for other blogs in your industry.
- Review products/services/books you like.
- Write case studies for your website. Promote them.
- Create a tool to help your community. If you’re a tax preparer, maybe it’s a deduction finder or a planning worksheet. If you’re a social media consultant, maybe it’s a list of Twitter conversation starters for people not sure how to jump in.
- Write a white paper detailing a specific issue affecting your industry, what it means and your take on it. Get other experts to share their opinions as well. Include them in the whitepaper.
- Speak at your local Chamber of Commerce. Create a PowerPoint presentation to go along with it and then post it on your website.
- Start a video grab bag series where you answer common questions on YouTube and post the videos on your blog.
See how easy that was? Twenty powerful ways to use content marketing to build awareness for your business. You don’t even have to break a sweat.
About the Author
Lisa Barone is Co-Founder and Chief Branding Officer at Outspoken Media, Inc., an SEO consulting firm that specializes in providing clients with online reputation management, social media services, and other Internet services.