As small business owners become more savvy about marketing their business online, many are creating content – blogs, videos, podcasts, etc – and uploading them with the intent to attract new customers. But if all we needed was a video that got some traffic, everyone could just put up a video of a laughing baby on YouTube and call it a day.
As we regularly tell our clients at The Hive, “viral is not a strategy.” There is a misconception that all you need to do is put something online and watch it spread like wildfire, driving millions to your website in the process. The reality is that there is a ton of content online that no one reads/watches, much less passes along to their friends. While creating content to market your small business, you need to have a plan that speaks to your customers, addresses them in a way that will be effective, allows them to share it with others, and ultimately, delivers business back to you.
Make It For Your Customers
What kind of online content is right for your customers? Well, that depends on who your customers are. If you are marketing to moms in their 20s and 30s, they are a lot more likely to read a blog than a teen boy, who will respond more positively to a visually stimulating video. If you aren’t sure of what kind of content will work best for your business, try talking to your customers to get an idea of where they spend their time online. The right format for your content is just as important as what goes in it.
Make It Worth Sharing
Think about the kinds of content that you would share with a friend. They are probably not super sale-sy or promotional, and they would contain an element of interest or entertainment, right? (This is where many business owners struggle to get beyond the idea of a traditional advertisement – you aren’t advertising here, you are building a relationship with potential new customers.) When you are creating content to promote your small business, keep that end goal in mind. For example, if you are a restaurant owner, no one wants to see a video you standing in the middle of your dining room, telling everyone how great your restaurant is. Show them something that they will be interested in, like a peek in the kitchen with your chef making a signature dish, or a Man vs. Food style eating challenge. If you are writing a blog, that is not the time to show off every 50 point word you know – keep it informative and useful, using your own natural style. No one wants to hear about the gardening you did this weekend, but if you are a realtor, maybe you want to blog about tips for soon-to-be sellers to get their gardens ready for selling the house? Bringing it back to your core business gives the content a purpose.
Make It Easy To Share
If you make people cut and paste links to share your video, you have already lost the battle. It is a simple fix to add share buttons for Twitter, Facebook, Digg, StumbleUpon and more, as well an email share for those who want to send something to a specific person.
Make It Work For Your Business
For a small business that is just getting into the world of marketing with online content, you need to do a bit of hustle. You need to build up that initial base of people to regularly consume and communicate out with your content. Try sending links to other bloggers who cover your industry and post them on your business’ social media pages. You can even get your regular customers into it by including special offers in the content that makes it worthwhile to read – and let them know! For example, a spa owner could fill the next day’s open appointments by posting them on the blog in the morning and offering a discount to those who book and mention the blog specials.
Marketing your small business with online content can be a valuable resource for obtaining new customers, as well as maintaining a relationship with your existing ones. Follow up on your content - track usage, read comments – see how people are responding. It is a landscape that is constantly changing, evolving, and reinventing, so don’t worry if something doesn’t work – think of it as a learning experience, apply your new knowledge, and try again.