Maintaining consistent content quality and generating enough content are key marketing challenges for small business owners in 2016. Many small businesses don’t have the time or money to manage a full online marketing strategy, but that doesn’t mean they should forget about marketing altogether. Today, startups and small businesses with limited financial resources have access to a wealth of content marketing tools and services that are affordable and deliver a measureable return.
Content marketing (and digital marketing in general) are so important for small businesses today because they level the playing field. Until now, small businesses didn’t have much opportunity to broaden their horizons and go head-to-head with larger, geographically dispersed competitors. With the right content marketing strategy, many of these small businesses can completely take over a niche, becoming the go-to resource in a region or among a select group of people.
Recently, a Business2Community author highlighted three small businesses that turned their businesses around in a major way with inbound marketing tactics. One of the three developed an enormous expert blog to boost his new site visitors to 500,000 per month. In another example, a small hot tub company, Bullfrog Spas, earned a place as a content marketing finalist in the 2015 Content Marketing Awards for its YouTube video series called “The Principal.” These and other small business marketing stories demonstrate how significantly content marketing affects brand success.
YouTube Video: “The Principal Season 1 Trailer”
Finding outside support allows small businesses to focus on other business activities without sacrificing content needs. Grow brand awareness, hold onto your customers, and compete in a global digital world with these resources:
- Use free and low-cost technology solutions for DIY content. You don’t need a full suite of content management tools, but some tools are easy and effective ways to take control of your content strategy. To get started, try BuzzSumo, a tool that helps you understand the type of content trending at any given time. The basic version is free. Use the Hemingway App to make your writing more readable.
- Enlist the help of high school or college students. Students who want to write or go into marketing need practice. Consider talking to a local school to find free writers who want to gain some real-world experience. Some professors looking for extra income may also express interest in writing for your business. Allow the students to highlight their work for you in a portfolio or resume. It’s a win-win situation. You may not always receive the most professional writing level from students, but you receive free marketing and they get real-world job experience. Save higher-quality writing needs for a professional writer.
- Involve all employees. You may have a writer in your midst without knowing it. Give your team the opportunity to produce digital content for your business. Entry-level employees may be looking for ways to add more value to the business, and every business needs a writer who understands the company and wants to write. If you have more than one volunteer, offer to let your employees create bylines on your blog.
The internal effort will give your marketing strategy a personalized touch while keeping all the work under one roof. If your team doesn’t have any experience with professional writing, you may want to consider using a marketing company for proofing or attending some professional seminars first. Accidental or malicious plagiarism can seriously damage a company’s reputation. You may also have new salary requirements to consider.
- Hire a freelance writer. Freelance writers are everywhere. You can look on eLance, Fiverr, and Upwork to find freelancers for all types of projects, including content writing. Like giant freelance job boards, these sites include independent agents who may have little training or years of expert experience to offer. If you’re willing to go there, you may find some of the most economical content work available.
However, freelance work always comes with a level of risk. Plagiarism, unfinished contracts, unmet deadlines, and poor communication are potential problems that can arise from working directly with independent freelancers. Try it out for some smaller projects to get a feel for a writer’s style and professional demeanor.
- Hire a marketing company. Marketing companies are great, because they handle end-to-end marketing services. If you can find the right company and the right pricing, a professional marketing agency can help you start a marketing strategy to grow and find your voice in a crowded online marketplace. Qualified marketing companies are proactive, responsive, and have access to the content marketing resources that work well for small businesses.
Use caution when selecting your marketing agency. Large companies may not offer the right kind of professional relationship and some pack expensive overhead costs into their pricing structures.
- Hire a professional content company. Content companies are ideally suited to handle any number of content requests. If you already work with a marketing company or prefer to do other marketing activities on your own, then a content-only firm may provide the best solution for your needs.
Some, including Content Equals Money, offer flat pricing, fast turnaround times, and quality guarantees to prevent duplicate content. Since every writer is associated with the brand, content company writers are professionals, trained to ensure that clients receive the content they need. Insourced writing companies offer a professional alternative to more costly full-service marketing contracts and questionable freelance writers.
At the end of the day, small business owners need to find the right fit for their needs. Every company is different, and one size rarely fits all. Regardless of the resource you choose, do some careful planning to get the most from your budget. Ask outside writers about their experiences, writing styles, and industry knowledge before making a hiring decision. If the company or individual offers a free sample, look at the finished product carefully.
You need to know that the content you invest in will produce measureable results over time. Investigate some of these content opportunities to grow your brand and meet your business goals in 2016.
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