Small brand content marketing: How to make it work

Large and small businesses differ in the way they market their products and services. While most larger brands have the robust budgets needed to create and distribute effective marketing messages, they often send these messages into the void, hoping a certain percentage of their audience will respond as a result.
Small businesses don’t always have the capital to spend on mass marketing and must ensure a higher rate of conversion than big businesses need. Smaller companies also focus more on niche markets and special industries, so their marketing must target specific audiences who might use their limited products or services.

How large brands market content

Studies have looked at whether there are differences between big and small brands in terms of how they use content marketing and what strategies work best for them. The Content Marketing Institute’s 2020 Content Marketing Research report demonstrates the differences in content marketing strategies among various industries and company sizes. It found that big companies (of more than 1,000 employees) rely on different content marketing strategies and, in general, use digital content marketing very differently than small companies of under 100 workers.
Overall, big brands have been found to have larger internal teams dedicated to full-time content marketing. In fact, 44% of large companies have 2-5 team members dedicated to content marketing versus 39% of small companies. 
However, almost one-third of all respondents have no full-time team members and instead outsource their content marketing. Both big and small organizations report that the number one marketing function (at 80% of all respondents) they are likely to outsource is content creation. 
Big companies acquire new, more advanced strategies more frequently and at a higher rate than small companies. Large companies are also more likely to:

  • Utilize supplemental microsites to highlight products and services.
  • Use empirically-based content marketing techniques.
  • Take advantage of focus groups, reviews,and feedback to generate more effective content. 
  • Use more multimedia presentations and varied content formats, such as still photography and videos.
  • Return to print publications like magazines to spotlight their companies.

Small brand content marketing

Small companies, sometimes due to budgetary restrictions but more often due to lack of know-how, use more advanced content marketing techniques far less often. One particular point of differentiation between various-sized companies is blogging. The majority of large brands use robust company blogs and AI to make additional engaging content to aid in customer acquisition, while small businesses say that customer acquisition is the largest challenge they face.
Small brand content marketing, however, has thrived by using more marketing channels to their advantage. Almost 70% of small businesses said that they use Facebook to promote their business, and 64% use email marketing to complement their content. However, small businesses still rank SEO and digital media marketing as some of the hardest marketing channels to tackle with small teams or small budgets. 
However, small businesses have an advantage over large companies in one area: developing their brand story. Small businesses are closer to their audience and can show off their expertise on niche or specific topics. This helps to establish the business as a destination for reliable knowledge and amplify the message to their audience. 
By providing content that adds value to the market, small businesses can quickly gain an edge over their competition. However, many small businesses may find that being able to maintain a steady quantity of high-quality content is difficult with small teams and small budgets. 

Is outsourcing the solution?

The main difference between large and small companies in regard to content marketing is the degree to which content is outsourced. Over 60% of companies outsource their content creation, and feedback from large businesses suggests that this means they are able to have access to significantly more content of all types. This variety is used to promote the business, gain visibility and engage customers.
Having the ability to publish, post or announce new information consistently means that consumers are more likely to return to your site on a regular basis. When material remains on a website for a long time, not only will consumers fail to remain interested, but they may even wonder if the business is still open. It is not unusual for consumers who frequent sites that have old content to move on to a company with a more active public persona. Letting your content marketing go dark can lead to insurmountable audience losses, such as decreased SEO, loss of leads, a decline in organic visitors and even a decline in social following. 
The fact that more small businesses don’t outsource content marketing is likely related to budgets. Larger firms have more resources to spend on outside help. However, there are affordable options for outsourcing, and it pays to look around before concluding this option is not possible. The dividends that fresh content written by professionals produces is well worth the cost.

Need help? 

If you have a content marketing program or are planning one, download our e-book 100 Mistakes Businesses Make When Starting, Optimizing and Scaling Content Marketing Programs.
This e-book will walk you through the mistakes of hundreds of other companies and the challenges they faced in implementing their content marketing programs. To learn more about how Tempesta Media can help you streamline your content creation process and deliver quality content at scale, contact us today.

Reasons why your brand should invest in high quality content

Have you ever used an outsourced content provider only to receive a deliverable with absolutely no substance? Or worse, have you ever tried marketing yourself with content where the grammar was so atrocious it was clearly written by someone who had not mastered the English language?
Savvy business owners and marketers know high-quality content is critical to online success. Yet so many brands still skimp on content.
At Tempesta Media, we hear horror stories about brands taking the cheap route when it comes to content. This is why we will never stand for it. In this guide, we review the top three reasons brands should invest in great content.

  1. Garbage content hurts SEO rankings

Google’s search engine algorithms are smart enough to detect poor-quality content, which negatively affects a site’s search ranking. Conversely, high-quality content improves the chance a website will be discovered by its target audience.
Panda effectively killed the keyword-centric approach to content creation. Google now indexes sites by keywords and the semantic relevancy of their content. The more value content provides readers, the more its authority increases, which boosts a website’s ranking.

  1. High-quality content builds thought leadership

Today, every business and personal brand have websites and social media accounts for an online platform. To pierce the competition, brands need demonstrable authority to stand out to customers.
One of the most effective ways to accomplish this feat is by consistently and regularly producing high-quality content to show thought leadership. Effective writing takes time and expertise, which is why it makes sense to turn to a reliable copywriting agency employing seasoned writers.

  1. Content is the first touch point between brands and customers

When customers come across a business website, its content is the first thing they review to assess quality and reliability of the services or products. It must be remembered that the first impression goes a long way in making the right impression. Therefore, it is imperative to ensure your content can quickly and concisely show visitors the information they need.
Content should answer customer questions, which builds trust. This is precisely why customer testimonials and reviews are a critical component of any content strategy.

Conclusion

It is easy to see why content affects your brand online, especially when it comes to perception and reputation. To be effective, content must be insightful, informative, valuable, and, most importantly, clear.
Given these demands, it certainly makes sense to trust the process of creating content to a seasoned professional agency. When outsourcing content creation needs, look for a reliable content provider.
At Tempesta Media, all of our writers are from the United States. We subject them to an extensive vetting process to ensure high-quality content.

How brand journalism improves your content strategy

As the marketing world continues to become increasingly digital and dynamic, traditional marketing tactics have given way to a new strategy, one that embodies a multiplatform and multidimensional approach to marketing. This concept, known as brand journalism, has taken the marketing world by storm.
Gone are the days of heavily saturated, simple slogans across single platforms. Brand journalism instead utilizes a variety of content across different platforms for a more personalized and engaged marketing experience, with strong content at the core of the entire strategy. For this reason, corporations and agencies alike have turned to brand journalism as their marketing solution.
What is brand journalism?
Brand journalism, in essence, explains the heart of the brand to consumers. The distinctive character of the brand becomes evident in every piece of content, across topics and platforms. Though this approach may seem more unstructured than traditional marketing, according to the University of Alaska Anchorage, certain values are necessary when implementing brand journalism in a content strategy. These include:

  • Focusing on good storytelling
  • Understanding news values
  • Remaining true to transparency
  • Keeping content factual and well-investigated
  • Using a variety of multimedia to tell stories
  • Combining journalism with traditional strategic PR and marketing communications

Brand journalism, as result, is an integrated communications strategy. Brands have the means to tell stories about their successes, struggles and culture to their customers in a targeted yet relatable fashion. In order to achieve this relatability, the content must be superior and balanced. The content should be enlightened, engaging and innovative, creating a dialogue between the brand and consumer.
How brand journalism can help build a client’s following
The conventional mass marketing strategy of pushing the message at consumers is no longer effective. Instead, brand journalism focuses on creating relationships with consumers. These relationships increase brand engagement, establish trust and signify the brand as a dependable authority in the industry. In a culture that depends on social sharing and immediacy, continued positive interactions with the consumer base can only lend itself to success.
Quality content rests at the core of this success in brand journalism, according to Curatti. Text should be flawless and other content, such as video/imagery, should be “professional and neat.” Inadequate or incorrect content reflects poorly on the brand and can negatively impact these highly sought-after relationships with the consumer base.
Brand journalism thus achieves everything traditional marketing cannot. Brand journalism opens the door to an interactive audience, establishes credibility within the industry, and creates unprecedented transparency with the consumer base. Brand journalism offers the brand a chance to grow in correlation to the customer.
Should brand journalism always be used?
The incorporation of brand journalism in a content strategy can be detrimental if implemented incorrectly. Brands should never, unintentionally or intentionally, deceive the consumer. Proper research and homework should be done in every piece of content. Brands should also refrain from turning to new platforms for the sake of just being present. Poorly produced content can have a greater negative impact than no content at all. The intimate understanding of an audience is a powerful tool, and brands should be wary to negatively affect this relationship by any means.
The integration of marketing and journalism has proven to be a success. Brand journalism can take many forms, however, and brands should utilize the approach that most directly applies to the brand’s strategy. According to Hubspot there are four opportunities within brand journalism:

  • Brand awareness: Business publish so audiences can learn about them. Content is not focused on direct selling.
  • Industry news: Content focuses directly on the company and its industry, supplementing what has been published on mainstream media.
  • Create and sponsor: This content positions a business as a thought leader, it has an independent site to showcase content (Hubspot cites Adobe’s CMO.com as an example).
  • Lead generation: Content is used specifically to generate leads and make conversions, high focus on brand awareness.

Brand journalism is a trend that has been steadily gaining traction and, according to Curatti, experts anticipate this growth will continue and take “new twists” as more businesses integrate the concept into their content strategies. Most importantly, this content approach has the high potential to develop new relationships and strengthen existing ones, further expanding audiences.
Understandably, many businesses do not have the resources to develop the quality of content needed to be successful in the realm of brand journalism. As a solution, many are turning to expert third parties to provide branded journalism and other varieties of content to fill their branding needs.
If you have a content marketing program, or are planning one, download our ebook:  100 mistakes businesses make when starting, optimizing and scaling content marketing programs.  Learn from the mistakes of hundreds of other companies.  100 mistakes walks you through common and uncommon challenges that they faced with their content marketing programs.

Is it brand journalism or content marketing?

Did you know 88 percent of B2Bs and 76 percent of B2Cs use some form of content marketing? Most agencies realize the importance of publishing content to promote clients. The challenge is to figure out what approach works for a particular brand. This is made more difficult by the fact that we don’t all speak the same marketing language. Terms such as “content marketing” and “brand journalism” are used interchangeably, so exactly what we’re doing gets a little fuzzy around the edges.
Let’s try to clarify things. While related in the respect that both are designed to reach audiences and increase brand visibility, there are some subtle differences between brand journalism and content marketing.
What is brand journalism?
Brand journalism takes a traditional journalistic approach to communicating information, but with a twist. Designed to connect with readers, brand journalism uses stories to connect with audiences and focuses on distributing memorable content that readers will easily recall or associate with the brand. Stories are something most people can relate to. They add context and personality to an organization.
While brand journalism is about the business, the content is ultimately geared to focus on the audience through the stories told. It is about creating an image — giving a more human personality to what might otherwise be a faceless corporation. Using this editorial style, brand journalism builds a specific image with the intention for it to be associated with the business. In essence, advertisers become publishers. But brand journalism has key characteristics that differentiate it from typical marketing content.
Good brand journalism does the following:

  • It maintains journalistic integrity with good balance.
  • It pays close attention to facts.
  • It is published with transparency.
  • It uses a variety of media.

Mass marketing does not carry the same weight it used to. Brand journalism effectively fills this void. As the Business2Community website notes, “They [brand journalism stories] linger in memories and influence behavior.” What they don’t do is try to directly sell the audience on a company’s product.
Ultimately, brand journalism is a form of content marketing. To use the old comparison tool: All brand journalism is content marketing, but all content marketing is not brand journalism.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is defined more generally by the Content Marketing Institute as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Marketing is no longer a one-way street where companies advertise their products and services and hope to gain conversions. With the Internet a huge part of daily living, buyers expect a two-way street. They don’t want to be sold to and prefer information to ad messages.
As a result, companies are putting less focus on direct promotion and are instead trying to establish themselves as experts and as trusted sources. They can effectively accomplish this through producing and sharing good content in a variety of forms. These content formats include, but are not limited to:

  • Informational articles.
  • Blog posts.
  • An interactive and engaging social media presence.
  • Distribution of free eBooks.
  • Relevant and easily digestible infographics.
  • Informative white papers.
  • Imagery through videos and photos.

Marketers today strive to stretch beyond self-promotion. The content they produce may include “how tos,” helpful hints, current trends or statistics or other non-promotional information. The goal is to be original, interesting, helpful and engaging, and to combine this with a strong presentation.
While the purpose of content marketing is to generate leads and eventual sales, it is a far cry from direct advertising. Instead, it takes a lengthier route to reach audiences. Content marketing is a strategy, not a tactic. It doesn’t happen overnight, and the value of the investment grows over time.
Both brand journalism and content marketing are designed to keep people engaged and increase brand visibility. It’s not a matter of choosing one or the other. Brand journalism can help to establish a brand’s personality while other content marketing approaches can serve more direct and specific goals: to generate leads, increase website visits, collect user information or grow social media connections.
If you have a content marketing program, or are planning one, download our ebook:  100 mistakes businesses make when starting, optimizing and scaling content marketing programs.  Learn from the mistakes of hundreds of other companies.  100 mistakes walks you through common and uncommon challenges that they faced with their content marketing programs.

How content marketing builds a brand

Content marketing remains an unstoppable force in marketing, with no signs of abating any time soon. It has become one of the critical tools for building a brand online.

The power of digital content is a reflection of how much time prospects and customers spend online, what they search for and why they share certain content but not others.

Content spans the full gamut of media, including websites, blogs, photos, video and social media. In the ideal scenario, brands create a variety of custom content with a number of goals in mind to educate and engage audiences.

For instance, a recent study published by Forrester Research revealed that driving sales is the top goal for content marketing. Other notable goals in the same study included brand awareness and lead generation.

Content is as old as the Internet itself. What has changed over time is the ability of marketers to unlock the power of content as a means to bolster a brand’s value proposition and differentiate one product or service from another.

It is well known that prospects are skeptical of sales talk; content marketing changes the paradigm and provides factual information in lieu of promotion and overt sales propositions. Striking a balance between information and engagement — another way to interpret the imperative to entertain Web users with fresh content — is why businesses create custom content in the first place.

What type of content works best?

Creating content that is engaging and compelling takes time and effort. Measuring content marketing ROI remains a challenge for even the most advanced marketing and PR agencies. Standard Web metrics, such as unique page views, time spent, bounce rate and search engine rank, still rule the day when it comes to measuring the success of new content. Certainly, these top-line metrics have their place as a starting point, but they do not tell the whole story when it comes to content and what this marketing paradigm can achieve.

To illustrate this point, marketers can turn to research on social media, which has revealed a number of compelling insights in recent years. A large number of digital marketing agencies rely on the “big four” of social media — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube — to distribute content and engage their audiences.

Rebecca Watson, VP of business development for RadiumOne, wrote an article for SocialMediaToday.com revealing that only about a quarter of social media shares originate from popular social media platforms. The remaining 75 percent come from what Watson calls “dark social media,” the private, personal sharing that occurs outside of the big four social networks.

From a slightly different perspective, Watson’s company has also revealed that content shared on a Thursday has the longest link lifespan. Weekends are not the best time to distribute content, despite the fact that Web traffic generally increases on Saturday and Sunday.

Unique, compelling insights of this kind are possible only when agencies leverage content marketing to gain a better understanding of core audiences and their online behaviors. Relying solely on basic Web metrics will not reveal which types of content work best because people share content, not search algorithms.

Where to find value in content marketing

Content marketing builds a business by elevating a brand’s value proposition in the eyes of a company’s ideal prospects. By building trust and brand recognition through a narrative of different content formats, agencies can tell the story of business without taking a heavy-handed sales approach.

It is possible to strike a balance, likewise, between educational, fact-based content and content that begs to be shared for its entertainment value. Content marketing reveals how to find the right mix of digital content with respect to overall marketing strategy.

Having a sound content marketing strategy in place can inform overall marketing strategy. Given the power of content marketing to engage the right prospects, content helps build a brand organically and efficiently.

If you have a content marketing program, or are planning one, download our ebook:  100 mistakes businesses make when starting, optimizing and scaling content marketing programs.  Learn from the mistakes of hundreds of other companies.  100 mistakes walks you through common and uncommon challenges that they faced with their content marketing programs.

How content marketing shapes your brand

Back in the “good old days,” creating a trusted brand that attracted strong sales and high customer satisfaction ratings was as simple as planting a pair of “golden arches” on every other street corner in America. It was easier to establish and maintain a successful brand when consumers were given very few options from which to choose.
These days, the Internet offers millions of choices to billions of consumers, making it very challenging to successfully launch any product, let alone build a brand around one. However, the amazing content marketing examples below demonstrate that today’s clever marketers are harnessing the power of the Internet to build their brands online, and they each focused on a different corporate metric to achieve their goal.
Marriott International, Inc.
This global hotelier manages 18 hotel brands, one of which is Renaissance Hotels. The chain is designed for business travelers who explore the world while also doing business in it. In 2012, Renaissance created two content marketing platforms to help their guests engage in local cultures both inside and outside the hotel facility.
“The Navigators” platform provides suggestions and insights about the city in which the hotel is located. The “RLife LIVE” platform directs guests to art, dining and cultural discoveries within the hotel itself. Both platforms offer content-rich information to engage patrons online and follow that effort up with those guests when they venture out offline.
In addition, in May 2012, the chain launched their revamped RenHotels.com website. Not just a hotel website, the portal acts as the curated presentation venue for the more than 6,000 “local discoveries” that can be found in and around their 155 hotels worldwide. Consequently, the brand’s website experienced record-breaking traffic and exponential growth in customer engagement as it established the chain as a cultural and comfort industry leader. And all that traffic was gained with little or no mention of high-thread-count sheets or cable TV.
American Express
One of the longest, most successful content programs for this company is its “American Express Unstaged” platform that streams live concerts to fans across the world. Its 2011 live-streamed Coldplay concert event became the largest single artist event at that time on YouTube. Fans receive not just the concert, but also exclusive videos before and after. The 2015 “Taylor Swift Experience” offers viewers a 360-degree “cinematic interactive musical experience” that can be downloaded through the AppStore® and GooglePlay®. The “Unstaged Artists In Residence” showcases the music of four rising international musical talents, who not only get to present their skills to Amex card members, but also will receive best practice tips from digital marketing sites YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.
The point of the program is to convert potential card users into actual card users by creating memorable experiences for cardholders, their friends and families. The company has since branched out to stream sports and other entertainment opportunities.
L’Oreal
Thinking completely outside the shampoo bottle, in 2011, L’Oreal’s Garnier Fructis brand partnered with Rolling Stone magazine to jointly run a content campaign focused on discovering emerging musicians and their styles. The hair company launched a survey, asking site visitors to vote on who should become the first unsigned artist to appear on the music magazine’s coveted cover.
The partnership took the project one step further in 2012 when they jointly launched the “Women Who Rock” annual issue, inviting customers and readers alike to vote on strong female musicians. The 2012 winner, Karmin, was featured on the flip cover opposite Adele. The second year of the program surpassed the targets and benchmarks set and inspired marketing shifts towards Millennials.
Lessons learned
These examples and other truly innovative corporate marketing adventures demonstrate the big lessons that can teach all marketing professionals, digital or otherwise:

1. Focus on existing and potential customers. Maintain loyalty while inviting new friends.
2. Focus on top-of-the-funnel customer engagement and awareness. Attract ideas and relationships through education and information.
3. Amplify the strategy through many channels and encourage sharing across them, too.
4. Invest an appropriate amount of resources into the project. None of these projects were inexpensive or completed in a hurry, but instead had the financial, creative and HR resources available to make them great well before the “Enter” button was clicked.
5. Stay true to the brand. Its quality underscores the quality of the marketing campaign, and, in the end, will be the real reason customers continue to return to shop for more.

The digital media universe that is offered through the Internet creates the same potential for unique and innovative marketing campaigns as those that were invented so brilliantly in the mid-twentieth century.
If you have a content marketing program, or are planning one, download our ebook:  100 mistakes businesses make when starting, optimizing and scaling content marketing programs.  Learn from the mistakes of hundreds of other companies.  100 mistakes walks you through common and uncommon challenges that they faced with their content marketing programs.

Good content marketing builds trust

Good content marketing develops trust, which is an important cornerstone to any business’s foundation. In order to successfully gain credibility, public relations firms and advertising agencies want to present their clients not only in the best light. In the process, they want to position them as solution providers. This can effectively be established through developing and distributing strong content.

Establish the company’s identity

To start, the client’s website and social media profiles should always list contact information. Consumers should be able to easily find a phone number, email contact and physical address for a company. Not listing these will appear shady and many web visitors will bounce right off the page. People are less likely to buy from companies that appear to be anonymous. Companies should be visible and show they are “real,” not appear as an anonymous Internet entity.

Provide valuable information

A common phrase suggests “Content is King,” and as content strategies become more vital to marketing plans, this saying perhaps has even deeper value. Poor quality or inconsistent content is not attractive to customers or potential buyers. Therefore, it is essential that you provide information of value, such as:

• Helpful and relevant tips.
• Useful information.
• Links to interesting statistics or expert reports.
• Easily digested infographics.

These are only a few examples; videos and other types of content can also augment a content strategy. The key is to provide something of value that helps to increase brand awareness and give the web visitor some good takeaways. This will all contribute to building trust.

Show documentation and be honest

Well-documented content is also important. While the company will want to be portrayed as an expert, no one is proficient in everything. When using statistics or other facts, back these up with outside sources if needed. A study conducted by the marketing firm Kentico found 46 percent of consumers were less likely to trust content not supported with outside sources, and 57 percent said they viewed content as more credible when expert opinions were linked.
Additionally, content should always be honest. Own up to blunders and apologize. Give opinions that are genuine and do not appear to be just what an audience wants to hear. This can appear insincere. Objectivity is another factor to consider. In some cases it is best to keep opinions out of content, but this will vary depending on the industry and type of content being distributed.

Develop a strong social media presence

Statistics highlight that referrals are one of a company’s strongest assets. In 2013 Nielsen reported a whopping 77 percent of survey respondents said the advice of family and friends was the most persuasive when seeking information about new products. In 2015, statistics suggest this number is now at 91 percent.
While traditional word-of-mouth is still vital, social media is increasingly becoming an important source of referrals. Yet, many businesses still do not leverage this power effectively. A company blog post that garners attention and loyal social media followers share can go a long way in gaining endorsements. A strong social media following can contribute to that coveted goal of being perceived as trustworthy.

Ask for testimonials

As already noted, word-of-mouth referrals are some of the best advertising — and they are free. Getting testimonials from satisfied customers also establishes credibility. If buyers are unsure, reading the words of happy customers can help them overcome any apprehensiveness of buying. As Forbes notes, testimonials help build trust, eliminate skepticism and are not “salesy.” Dedicating a page to testimonials is a good addition to a content strategy and helps round out a business website.

Always keep the customer’s best interest in mind

Selfish, one-way marketing does not work in today’s markets. With the advent of the internet came plenty of choice, and consumers and businesses will quickly turn to a competitor if not satisfied with their interaction with a company. Hence it is OK to try selling a product or service via content and social media, but if your client cannot effectively meet a customer’s needs, give a referral. As Salesforce notes, honesty is the best policy. Never propose something that will not deliver what the customer seeks.
In conclusion, building trust and credibility takes time, but it will come naturally and more quickly to companies that display sincerity and engage with their audiences. As an agent you can help build that trust.
Tempesta Media, a managed services provider, assists digital agencies with their content development needs. Contact TempestaMedia.com for more information on what we can do for you and your clients.
If you have a content marketing program, or are planning one, download our ebook:  100 mistakes businesses make when starting, optimizing and scaling content marketing programs.  Learn from the mistakes of hundreds of other companies.  100 mistakes walks you through common and uncommon challenges that they faced with their content marketing programs.

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