Starting and developing a small online business is a difficult task, especially, if you’re trying to enter a ‘packed’ niche with a lot of competition. There are tons of other small businesses, challenging your piece of the pie. And as always, there are the big players — with their multi-million budgets and brands to back them up.
What can you do to stand out from the crowd of yet unknown online businesses and build a content strategy that will have a lasting effect on your revenue, reputation and traffic?
You probably know a couple of aggregators, like Feedly, BizSugar or Reddit (arguably, but still a news aggregator). As a small business owner you most likely don’t advertise too much using these outlets. You probably use these, as services for your personal enjoyment, not as business tools. But it’s time to revise this approach. Let’s talk about news aggregators, as marketing tools.
The best part about these resources is that most of them are pretty easy to take advantage of, with certain exceptions and rules. For examples, let’s take Reddit — it has hundreds of local communities, dedicated to various topics. Interested in craft beers, produced in the LA area? There’s a subreddit for that. Looking for ways to save money on food, entertainment and shopping in New York City? There’s also a subreddit for that. The point is simple— find a community that you fit in nicely. Then comes the tricky part — marketing yourself properly. Fortunately, KISSmetrics have you covered on this.
Things are a bit more complicated, when we’re talking about news aggregators that are more restrictive. Aggregators like Feedly have their own sets of requirements, which you have to follow to be accepted. Why should you even try? Because millions of people use news aggregators everyday. Some people are just looking for news, others want to stay on top of their topic. Some marketers use these tools, as sources of content for their own feeds — Twitter, Facebook, etc. The more people are exposed to your content — the better. Your content doesn’t have to be long. It has to be informative and useful. Creating a 300-word article per day and have it featured on any of these is not that big of a task.
Focus on Customers
Big brands differ in their content marketing strategies. Some post about people wearing their products. Others post about product features. Some companies choose to use their platforms as press release outlets. There’s one common thing about all of these — they concentrate too much on their product and on their company. There’s not enough room for the customer in all of these stories.
Your business needs to take advantage of this huge gap in content marketing that your competitors might have too. The rest is a matter of techniques — share your content, geared toward your specific audience, in specific online communities, dedicated to your topic. Don’t be spammy. Take your time, ask questions — people love to answer them, because it’s all about them.
People Are Not Just Numbers
Big businesses don’t have the advantage that you have — the size. Yes, your size is an advantage in a certain way. You have the opportunity to personally meet your customers and build relationships with them.
You can do that in a number of ways:
- Write personal e-mails to your clients, asking them about their experience with your products and services.
- Follow clients on Twitter and engage them, using your personal and/or corporate accounts.
- Build questionnaires and share them with your audience/customers. Share the results and ideas with your followers.
- Birthdays are a great opportunity to engage people (personal birthday cards, etc.).
- Personal discounts, based on buyer’s behavior (not just your generic coupon codes and holiday discounts).
Most of these methods don’t require any significant resources and time investment, but the outcome and the benefits far outweigh your input.
Focus on One Outlet at a Time
You might not have enough resources to effectively cover most of the important content marketing channels. That’s why you have to prioritize them. It’s good to test various channels and approaches to see, which ones actually work. This also greatly depends on your business niche and the kind of goals that you have. Start with the channel that you spend most of your time on. Remember that different channels value different content. For example, if you’re spending your time engaging people on LinkedIn groups, then it’s probably a good idea to share your blog posts there and/or start a discussion. While Facebook or Instagram will have you focused on visual content.
Everyone is a Content Creator
Yes, you might hire a copywriter or a marketer for your content creation needs, but in the end — they will need time to fully understand your business, your clients and your niche. Is there a person that better understands your clients, than a customer care representative? Is there a person that better understands the technical difficulties attached to creating, maintaining and delivering your products, than your IT personnel or the production managers?
All these people have valuable information to share. They know a lot more than your dedicated content marketer, because they have spent the most time working with your product directly.
Use these people to deliver amazing content that will actually be valuable for your audience and build their interest in your brand and what you do. This doesn’t have to be a regular task, as for your workers — it might seem like a chore. After all, they didn’t sign up to be content creators. But at the same time, their input is vital for content pieces that go beyond a simple uninformative set of words.