“I’m a small business. Why do I need content right now?”
That’s a question I’ve been asked quite a bit lately. I talk to business owners all the time who feel like they don’t have the time or money to invest in a content marketing strategy.
Their business is small, and they want to put that time and money into things that will directly impact its growth, RIGHT NOW.
My answer is always this: Content is the difference between short-term sales and long-term relationships. And those relationships turn into consistent, sustained business.
Here’s what content ISN’T: A direct sales pitch. I like this definition, which I heard from a master content marketer, Gordon Graham, in a recent seminar:
“Content marketing means developing and sharing relevant, valuable and engaging content that will help acquire new customers or increase business from existing customers.”
It’s not about hit-them-over-the-head sales; It’s about engaging current and potential customers so that they want to do more business with you.
To me, it comes down to one key word: TRUST.
When you send out regular content to your mailing list, you show them three things:
1. You are here. (That may sound silly, but “out of sight, out of mind”, right?)
2. You care about the things that keep them up at night.
3. You are a trusted resource to help them with those things.
That being said, it can be daunting to get started on a content marketing strategy, for two main reasons:
TIME. I know how busy you are. I’m a small business owner too, so I get the time constraints. You want to put out quality content on a regular basis, but there are only so many hours in a day.
MONEY. OK, so if you decide to pay to have someone research and write your content, how much will that cost? Who’s got a big marketing budget when you’re just starting out?
That’s the beauty of it. You can start small.
My suggestion, if you do nothing else, is to send out a regular e-newsletter to everyone on your mailing list.
Why an e-newsletter over other forms of content? So many reasons, but here are three:
1. It’s personal. Ann Handley, one of most brilliant content marketers out there, describes the email newsletter as inherently personal: “Ultimately, it’s a letter from someone to someone. From you to me. So focus not on the news part of the word newsletter, but on the letter.”
2. It’s direct. When someone reads your post on Facebook or LinkedIn are interacting with those formats. When they read your newsletter, they’re interacting directly with you. Everything about it is under your control: your voice, your visuals, your unique vibe.
3. It’s a great investment. Some studies have shown that for every $1 invested in email, there’s a potential $56 return. OK, OK, “potential” gives you a lot of room for concern. But that’s where a good writer comes in: It’s all about knowing your customer, reaching that customer with the words that will jump out and grab them, and sustaining interest with helpful, human, trustworthy content.
For an investment of a few hundred dollars a month, you can be regularly reaching the people you want to reach, with content that will resonate with them. That can result in thousands of dollars in long-term business, and relationships that can last a lifetime.
The key is CONSISTENCY. Make yourself someone that others want to hear from. Give them information that can help them.
The next time they’re looking for a service that you provide, who do you think they will think of first?
Have you been using e-newsletters in your business? If so, what's been working for you? Let me know in the comments!