Content marketing for small businesses brings in new customers and retains existing ones. Plus, many small businesses can do it even on a limited budget.
When you need to grow your small business, one of the best ways is with creative content marketing. The term “content marketing” can be broad, but in general, it is the development and promotion of online materials — blogs, videos, social media posts — to generate interest in your brand and your products and drive search traffic to your site.
The idea of content marketing for small businesses might be intimidating. But the good news is that it doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are 15 creative ideas to drive your business forward in 2021.
1. Use the words of your customers
Do you have online reviews from your satisfied customers? Those are a great place to start to create some engaging content. Pull quotes from your social media reviews (Facebook, Yelp, Google). Build a whole campaign around the things people are already saying about your great products or amazing customer service.
These don’t need to be fancy graphics, but try to spice things up by adding a background to make them stand out in your feed. Facebook has pre-designed backgrounds, or you can upload a custom background from your business. Websites like Canva make it easy for even novice graphic designers to create something that you can be proud to share with your followers.
To protect customers’ privacy and ensure that people are still comfortable leaving their reviews, consider sharing it with just initials or a first name and last initial. If you personally know the customers leaving reviews, consider reaching out to them and ask if they are comfortable having their reviews shared. You can also consider asking if they will allow you to use their full name (or even a photo from their own social media feed) and be tagged to spread the joy around even more by allowing their friends online to see it.
If you’re feeling extra creative, you could also get some inspiration from this ski resort in Utah that turned one-star reviews about hard black-diamond trails and too much powder into a positive, using them in a highly effective ad campaign.
2. Bring your team to the forefront
Do your team members create incredible experiences for your customers? Tell everyone about them with content marketing for small businesses that spotlights different people who work for you.
It can be as easy as asking each employee to share their favorite thing about your business, then including a photo of the person with their own promotion for your products or services. You can also create an “employee of the week/month” and use that as a way to spotlight your employees.
People love supporting their friends and are more likely to buy from someone they know and trust than a complete stranger. Plus, the spotlights can help build team camaraderie and loyalty by publicly sharing how much your employees mean to your business.
3. Have a tip of the day/question of the week
Do you have valuable information, insight, and expertise you can share? How about questions that your customers keep asking? Turn that information into a quick tip or a Q&A that you can share online. These little tidbits can help position your business as the expert and are easy to digest and share as people scroll through their feeds each day.
If you’re not sure where to start, scour your social media feeds (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn) to see the most common questions people ask. Try to answer one of them weekly. Come up with a short name for the series to help build your brand even more.
As an added bonus, create short videos to explain or answer the question. (Video is one of the most popular ways for people to consume information online.) Plus, it garners more views and interactions than just a text post. You don’t need to be a videographer — simply find a quiet place to set up your smartphone camera with good lighting and start shooting.
4. Invite guest bloggers to contribute
It’s hard to constantly churn out new content, especially when you have a lot of other day-to-day tasks to think about in running your company. If you need some help coming up with content marketing for small businesses, partner with guest bloggers (or vloggers) to share content on your site. To find a good guest blogger, search for:
- Expertise in your industry.
- Strong writing skills.
- An audience connection or knowledge.
- A high-profile online presence.
Featuring someone who shares your passion can help lend credibility to your business. It’s also a great way to open yourself up to new audiences by reaching the followers of your guest blogger along with your own audience. Be sure to vet any potential guest bloggers to make sure they’ll promote your brand in a positive way. You don’t want them to come with added controversy or headaches (like in politics) – unless that’s your thing as a brand, of course.
5. Create “behind the scenes” videos, photos, and slideshows
Customers today want to know more about the brands they do business with, and one of the best ways to humanize your brand so people can feel more connected is to share what happens behind the scenes. These videos create fun and relatable content and can showcase your skills and experience in your industry.
For example, if you own a bakery, share a behind-the-scenes look at the process for your signature desserts. You don’t have to give away any trade secrets, but you do want it to feel fun and real (not staged or overly produced).
6. Use your customers as case studies
One of the most convincing ways to bring in new customers is to show them how you already solved a problem. The success of your customers is a great source for content marketing for small businesses because it shows that you can deliver on your promises. Case studies:
- Are specific to your audience, which makes it easy for other customers to relate to the success.
- Use factual data and statistics to back up claims to be more authoritative than a sales brochure.
- Explain how you solved a specific type of problem.
- Provide a third-party endorsement of your products or services. This is a type of social proof that many people seek out today before buying a product or engaging with a business.
Add pictures, graphs, and other visual data to support your claims to make your case study stand out even more.
7. Create a “best practices guide” specific to your industry
A best practices guide is a great way to showcase your experience and expertise on a specific topic while also providing your readers with valuable insights to help them succeed. Best practices are standards or benchmarks that anyone can apply to improve business operations or performance.
For example, if you’re a B2B company that offers accounting services, you might create a best practices guide to help other small businesses organize their tax documents so they can easily file taxes each year.
The most successful best practice guides for content marketing for small businesses are ones that identify a clear pain point. They must lead your readers through specific steps that will help them overcome the problem using methods or activities that are proven to work. This type of content is ideal for building your brand and establishing yourself as an expert in your field.
Best practice eguides are also a great way to build your contact list. Promote the guide on your social media channels, funneling the traffic to a landing page where you can collect the person’s name and email address before they download the guide. Then you can use that information to continue marketing your services to that person.
8. Curate content and add commentary
Sometimes the best way to create content is to not create it from scratch. There is so much great information available online today that you don’t always have to create everything yourself in order to have good content marketing for small businesses.
However, you don’t want to just copy and paste content from others all the time. (And definitely don’t plagiarize content from someone else and try to pass it off as your own work — that’s illegal and lazy.) Instead, curate content from authoritative sources online and share it with your audience while adding your own commentary.
For example, if you subscribe to an industry publication for a roofing company and they publish a review of the types of roofing materials that last the longest, share it with your audience and add some information about the quality materials your company uses to build long-lasting roofs. It’s a great way to promote your business without it seeming too much like a sales pitch.
9. Take advantage of news or current events commentary
Similar to #8 above, if you see something interesting in the news that relates to your industry or your business, share it with your audience! Add your own analysis of what it means, share your personal thoughts, and request discussion and comments from your audience if appropriate.
There are a few important items to remember if you are planning to share current events and news on your own social media feeds:
- Check the source to make sure the information is accurate and authoritative. Sharing something that turns out to be inaccurate can damage your brand and reputation, halting any progress you made with content marketing for small businesses.
- Consider the potential reactions and implications before you post. You might feel strongly about a controversial topic, but before you post, make sure that you want those feelings associated with your brand and your business and that you’re willing to deal with the potential fallout.
Social media can be a valuable tool for outreach, but the internet is full of examples of when people shared something through a professional or business page that went viral for the wrong reasons and landed that business in hot water.
10. Conduct a social media survey
Do you want to know what people are thinking about a trending topic, a current event, or one of your products? Ask them! One of the best things about social media is that it can be social. It’s not just a one-way medium for you to put out content. It’s also a great way to gather information about what your audience is thinking and feeling in real time.
A quick survey is the perfect way to gather data. Depending on the reach of your survey, you may even get enough information to publish future content about the same topic. For example, you could publish a blog post or a press release if you get statistically significant results from your online survey. Remember though: Keep surveys simple with just one or two questions. Most social media platforms make it easy to create a survey and share the results with everyone in real time as followers participate.
11. Solicit and share user-generated content
Everyone loves validation, and you can validate your followers by sharing their content on your page. User-generated content (UGC) is a valuable tool when it comes to content marketing for small businesses.
Major brands like GoPro excel at UGC, asking their followers to create a video using their products and submit the content for contests or page features. The social media feeds of GoPro are filled with real-life examples of how people can use GoPro cameras for action and adventure everywhere from your neighborhood skate park to the top of a mountain or the bottom of the ocean.
You might not have the same social media following, but you can use the same concepts because every user submission is an endorsement of your products and services.
12. Create online courses
If you have valuable information that others would want to learn, create a course online as a part of your content marketing for small businesses. Social media makes it easy to promote these courses and let anyone join, whether you decide to do them live, record them for later download, or a mix of both. You can make the courses interactive with quizzes and fun, engaging videos while educating people about an important topic.
13. Tap into micro-influencers
The world of social media influencers is taking off, but it’s not just big-name celebrities who are influencers online. There is a growing industry of micro- and nano-influencers. These people have smaller followings. (A micro-influencer is usually someone with 10,000-100,000 followers, while a nano-influencer has between 1,000 and 10,000.)
These can be people in niche industries or local communities who have a smaller — but very loyal and engaged — following. Partnering with micro- and nano-influencers helps your brand reach new audiences in a more effective and targeted way than mass paid ads on social media.
It’s important to select influencers whose audience aligns with your brand and who believe in what you are doing and selling. After all, someone is influential because their audience believes they are authentic. So, it’s important to find people who align with your own values as a business.
14. Repurpose your old content
Content marketing for small businesses doesn’t have to be a one-and-done effort. If you create something that gets a lot of engagement, clicks, and traffic, update it and repurpose it for use in the future.
For example, say you create a post of your predictions for your industry in the new year and it takes off. You can update it and release it again at the beginning of the next year. Make it an annual trend as long as it keeps getting attention and interaction.
Some other ideas for repurposed content include:
- Taking a popular blog post and turning it into a video.
- Using the results of all your social media surveys (see #10 above) for an infographic.
- Putting all the biggest news stories from your industry (see #9 above) into a “year in review” at the end of each year.
- Making a downloadable ebook out of your tip of the day/question of the week posts (see #3 above).
- Taking an older eguide and breaking it into smaller emails or blog posts.
Repurposed content is a great way to make the most of the information you already have and already know is popular with your audience.
15. Create roundup infographics
Psychologically, our brains can process images much faster than text, which makes visual content appealing to draw in your followers. You don’t have to be the one that is designing the infographics — a process that can be costly and time-consuming.
Instead, do a roundup of the best infographics from other industry experts and share it on your own blog. Be sure to give credit and source the infographics to their original creators (again, no plagiarism). The result is a powerhouse of imagery that draws in your audience.
Ready to get started with content marketing for small businesses?
Content marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways to stand out and reach your audience. If you’re not a marketing expert, don’t have time to create your own content, or have a small marketing team that could use some help, Tempesta Media is your solution.
Companies using our platform can improve their internal team’s performance by up to 30%. We can also take care of all your social media content creation and publication needs to build up your presence online. Tempesta Media is the only performance-based content marketing solution that drives revenue for your business. Find out more about our managed content services for small businesses today, and check out our ebook on the 100 most common mistakes that can appear when implementing or scaling up content marketing for small businesses.