If there’s one thing that catches our attention while we’re walking or driving down the street, it’s billboards.
These massive, glossy ads demand attention in the mere seconds they are put up and could easily stop anyone dead in their tracks if the subject matter is eye-catching or provocative enough. It also has the ability to leave a lasting impression and get us talking about it hours and maybe even days after seeing it.
These kinds of billboard advertisements are proof of what marketing can do to boost awareness and recognition for your business.
Marketing can create your brand image, make it stand out from competitors and increase awareness for your products and services, leading to potentially more sales and a higher income for the company.
As every business owner knows, marketing is not cheap. It can easily cost tens of thousands of dollars to have a marketing firm drum up material and release information about your small business.
The reality is that as essential as effective marketing is, not all business owners have an unlimited budget to spend on marketing campaigns and even if they do invest in those big marketing experts, these campaigns don’t always guarantee immediate and positive results in boosting brand recognition.
Luckily there is a strategy small business owners can use to attract more customers to their business and get the results they want, without breaking the bank.
The answer is content marketing.
Content marketing is a cost-effective marketing strategy that uses the communication channels your business already has to increase brand awareness and generate customer leads.
There is a wide range to choose from including blogs, videos, email newsletters, podcasts and social media posts that you can mix and match as you please. The more of these you use, the better reach you will have and more opportunities to capture a bigger audience. As well as being easy to do yourself, the mediums are flexible, able to be angled to best show your business product, experience, service and value. Best of all it works immediately to tap into the target market’s interests, advertise the business products or services and receive customer feedback.
It’s a big bang for your buck reward too. Content marketing is 62% cheaper than traditional marketing but delivers as many as three times more leads per dollar spent than those expensive campaigns. If you feel like it’s over your head and you can’t get words on the pages, having an experienced content agency handle your marketing will keep your ideas flowing and published for your customers to read, and read they will. Studies show that online users spend 20% of their internet time reading content. That’s because 70% of people would rather learn about a company through an article, than adverts.
The results speak for themselves with 72% of marketers agreeing that content marketing has played an important role in increasing engagement with their target audience, meaning better brand recognition and retention for the business.
What’s the catch? I hear you ask. You do need to put in the time to create an effective campaign strategy and do research to communicate the right message to customers. The good news is there are straightforward steps you can follow, advice you can tap into and, if worst comes to worst, you can chalk it down to a learning experience and modify your content strategy with insights from your mistakes, without losing any ground.
5 ways to ensure you use your business communication channels effectively
From blogs on your company website to 15-second Instagram stories and minutes-long YouTube videos, businesses can jump onto any number of online mediums to add value, inform and inspire and increase trust and loyalty.
Which ones you use will be directly related to which ones your customers prefer, what they are looking at most and where they go to find information. Knowing who your target market is and defining that into a focused group gives you the ability to go where they are, be that Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube videos or web-specific blogs.
Here are five different ways you can use your current communication channels to get your message across clearly to customers.
1. Research your target market’s online habits and behaviours
Research is at the core of content marketing success. It dictates the subject matter, the type of content that will be released, what platforms it will be uploaded to and the schedule you need to follow so that you connect when people are listening.
As well as knowing who your target audience is (age range, gender, income, parents/singles etc.) it’s important for business owners to research deeper into their online use including:
- Topics of interest. What topics do they engage with most, what problems do they have, what questions do they ask. Knowing this will enable you to create content they want to read, listen to or watch right to the end.
- Online behaviour. What channels and forums do your customers engage with and at what time of day and day of the week are they there? This enables you to match your content strategy to release posts when they are online to get a high level of interaction and responses.
- Level of engagement on different communication channels. What content medium works best for them? Some customer groups prefer videos over blogs. The preferred medium doesn’t just depend on personal preferences either, it also depends on what’s simple and convenient for your customer to access at the time. Podcasts are good for people on the go, videos are great if you have detailed step-by-step instructions that are easier to understand in a follow-me type video. Webinars are great for problem solving customer issues and blogs are great for online searches, when people have a question they need answered or detailed information that takes up a thousand words or so. It helps to know what kind of content your customers are keen to watch, listen to or read to be able to give them content they will be receptive to.
Taking the time and energy to thoroughly research this information will help you come up with the best content strategy for your business and drive traffic back to your website, generating customer leads and potentially more sales in the process.
You can use tools like Google Analytics and Facebook Insights to get hard data on your target audience’s internet search habits to know what topics will best engage them.
The best data comes directly from your customers. Use surveys, email lists and social posts to ask them questions and get their opinions about how they view your business, your product/services and what they would love to have as extras. Your customers will like being included and part of the process, it shows you care about delivering services that meet their needs. Who knows, maybe uncovering their likes, dislikes and product reviews will lead to new offerings that get you to the next level of business success.
2. Use a digital medium that interests your target market
Varying age groups react differently to digital mediums. Some generations prefer video over text while others vice versa. It’s important to research what medium and platform appeals to your target audience the most in order to catch their attention, get them talking about your brand and heighten brand awareness for your products or services.
Doing this also ensures better brand recognition with your customers. The more they see and can relate to your content, the better they’ll remember it and recommend it to others.
Content marketing has the flexibility to allow businesses to deliver a variety of digital mediums across a number of platforms. This includes blogs, social media cards and videos, all of which they can customise to fit with their brand’s messaging and personality. You can also repurpose content that performs well by making a video from blog information or breaking the content down into social media cards. The options are absolutely endless for ways you can mix, match, dice and slice one piece of high-quality content.
If you are feeling creative and it’s part of your target audience interests you can also branch out to make use of popular media such as memes and gifs. This is particularly well-received when engaging younger online communities. A good example of this is a meme we posted on our Instagram page to relate to young professionals within the content marketing business:
If you are targeting the younger generation, in particular, millennials and gen Zs have been found to prefer both reading blogs and watching videos for information about products and services they’re interested in. As a business owner, you can utilise this to your advantage and create blogs as well as videos that introduce your brand to your target audience.
Research is key in finding what medium best suits your target audience’s preferences. Devoting time and resources to getting these insights is critical for developing an effective content strategy for your business.
3. Write in a language your audience understands
Once you’ve mastered the basics of copywriting, you need to learn and use the right language to make your content appealing to your target market and entice them to continue reading, watching, or listening.
Getting on the same level as your audience and achieving great rapport depends on your language use. Use language that your target audience understands and that is relevant to what they are trying to achieve. A content piece that is looking to entertain will be vastly different to one that is looking to inform.
Remember, everything in the business revolves around copywriting services. Having bad copy can make or break the brand’s reputation. To avoid falling victim to this, you can enrol in online classes for copywriting and learn the basic lessons from digital marketing experts.
If you’re short on time, however, you can have your content looked over by an experienced copywriter or content agency. These professionals can help identify mistakes in your content and correct them before you release it to the public.
Another important tip is to include the appropriate jargon and to think like your audience when writing your content.
Doing this adds personality to your content and allows your customers to relate to the brand on a more personal level. You can even tap into their interests further by integrating your own personal stories and anecdotes into your content. This creates a deeper connection between the brand and the customers and will make them more eager to patronise your brand, especially since they’re able to see themselves in it.
4. Post your content on the right social media platforms
Not all social media platforms work for every age group. Some age groups prefer one social network over another and choose to use that platform above all the others available.
Knowing which social network to use for your content is important since it gives you an avenue to instantly connect your message to customers and engage with them in real-time, increasing traffic to your website and social media pages and generating better brand awareness in the process.
Using the right social media platforms will allow you to establish a positive image for your customers and give you opportunities to discuss inquiries or questions in a fast and convenient manner.
Businesses can even use their target audience’s chosen platform to further foster communication by listening in to customer feedback and replying with relevant content or solutions. This will show your target audience that you appreciate and understand what they have to say and are eager to provide them with high-quality products or services.
5. Hire a content agency to create quality content for your business
If your in-house marketing department has difficulty in producing content, then it might be best to outsource this to an experienced content agency.
A good content agency has knowledge of the interests and preferences of different age groups and they can cater to these with high-quality content that effectively communicates your brand’s messaging.
Outsourcing your content is more cost-effective than using traditional marketing. While it comes as an additional cost, the price is nothing compared to running one ad on television, radio or in print, which can easily cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in design and air time. Even then, it can’t guarantee that the message will reach your target market, or have any positive effect.
Content marketing, on the other hand, can provide you with immediate data on:
- The number of people who were able to see your content
- The number of clicks made on the page
- The number of sales that went through because of the content you released
This allows you to accurately gauge if your content marketing plan is working and, if not, immediately adjust the processes to gain better results.
The right content agency can also create a solid content strategy for you. Content creation needs to follow a solid content strategy to ensure that all material and marketing efforts are created to bring the business one step closer to its goals. Also, customer’s value and expect consistency and predictability with content delivery, earning small businesses who deliver content on a regular schedule builds loyalty and trust.
As an added bonus, working with a third party content agency gives you access to fresh and varied viewpoints on how to market your products or services more effectively. Giving you the ability to really stretch your creativity and provide new, quality content for years to come.
Through careful planning, and assessment of your audience and the different content marketing mediums available, you can start to release high-quality content that will be of incredible value to your customers. That value and trust entice them to click your website, like your posts and buy from your business. The more content you post the more feedback you have access to about what is working and what your customers want so you can return with more of the same.
If you need help, a professional content agency can advise and guide you in the process and help you transform your content ideas into well-polished online materials that effectively communicate your message to your target audience.
In time, you will see that doing this can bring on an increased awareness for your products and services, a higher income and new opportunities to grow your small business.