Do you believe content marketing activities such as blogging are beneficial to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs)? I would argue yes, there are many benefits to business storytelling. Content marketing is an integral part of small business promotion, and it has been for dare I say decades. However, the term "content marketing" has taken on different forms throughout the years.
Think about the various inventions that have occurred over time. We've seen print technology helping us with promotions such as flyers and print advertising, and that led to radio and television broadcasts. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, digital technologies took over. What's the common theme throughout all of this, however?
Customers are consistently receiving more communications from companies who are looking to achieve more sales.
One of the most significant ways to bring increased attention to your business is with business storytelling through blogging. Let's look at the benefits that storytelling for small businesses can bring to your vertical if you're not doing it already. If you are doing it, then hopefully you'll find some tips in here regarding boosting those efforts.
According to a Clutch survey, 46% of the 350 small businesses they interviewed did not have websites. Their reason was, "they do not have a website because it is not relevant to their business or because it's too expensive." These small businesses had less than ten employees and under $1 million in revenue annually.
No matter if you're running a business with one employee and earning $50 weekly or 750 employees and making millions, your customers need information online. Customers need to see a page describing who you are, what you're doing, what your offering them and your contact information. And of course the COVID-19 pandemic drove this home with an even greater urgency as prospective customers were restricted in their outings and only wanted to venture out when they were sure they could find what they wanted. Otherwise, they have no idea how to find you, or they must rely on a third-party. It's to your benefit to make the search process more manageable, even if a handful of people are initially searching for your business.
According to statistics posted by Blue Corona, "Studies show that between 70-80% of people research a company online BEFORE visiting the small business or making a purchase with them." Due to the COVID-19 crisis, customers are changing their behavior and making more purchases and decisions online. This shift isn't going to change.
You're missing the boat if you're not launching a website to tell your business’ story with an up-to-date blog.
When you're blogging about a topic or industry you have expertise in, this is an excellent way to share this knowledge with your customers. They'll receive evergreen information regarding your niche and if you're doing it right, other relevant interests as well. Customers can see that you're an expert on the subject as you write more and feel more confident about the brand you're building. In doing so, you'll naturally develop relationships with your readers. Large companies have staff and may even outsource writing but even small and medium sized businesses can benefit from business story telling. In my life as a consumer I can tell you that I chose my nail salon because not only did they describe the experience I would have with them on their website, but they also have a blog that shares trends in colors and shapes and gives me food for thought on what I want before I even arrive in front of their color wall.
2. Value: Enhance the Value of Your Customer's Experience
If your brand is overly sales-y, your potential customer is going to click away. You're going to lose followers, and no one is going to trust you as an expert. Your stories aren't going to be interesting, and your relationships are going to dwindle. Instead, you must develop value using storytelling as a small business that your customers can benefit from each time they visit. Each time you blog, you're giving something to your customers before they make a purchasing decision. These pieces of information help build loyalty. But in my business-to-business (B2B) work life too, my coworkers and I enjoy reading the blogs of one of our giveaway vendors, because one member of our team is obsessed with getting the coolest giveaways (spoiler alert its Alexandra). But the 4imprint blog is a good example of authentic story telling while also showing prospect buyers items they might be interested in. OK granted, 4Imprint might not be an SMB but their blog does something SMBs can in their story telling, explain something that you did that delighted a customer and invite your reader to see what you can do for them too.
Writing blog posts with SEO in mind means you're thinking about the search phrases your potential customers are using to find your blog. You want your blog to be visible above your competitor's. An exercise we do internally here at Progress is Google what you terms you want to rank for and see what types of results you get. Are the “how-to” topics, or promotional pages, or problem/solution descriptions? The content you will see is likely rated well by Google because its proven relevant to the people you are trying to get in front of. Try to make sure your work is relevant and that you're using popular keywords several times. Use high-quality images, as well as outbound links to high-quality sources. Your blog can help you here because it can be a fast way to regularly put out content that tells your business’ story and helps prospects understand what area you are an authority on. You can be more informal on your blog and help your readers understand your personality, and likely by extension the personality of your business.
Advertising and promotional expenditures are just as vital as investments in management and operations but can also break the marketing budget of your SMB with sometimes limited ways to show ROI. But otherwise, how would your company build its brand awareness?
Content marketing, and specifically blogging and content marketing is the answer to many promotional issues small businesses face—particularly if they're running on a low budget. Writing blogs with customer value in mind gets picked up by search engines. Therefore, it's an excellent strategy for small businesses to house their new products and services on their blogs. That way, when customers come to their website to learn more about this information, they can also learn about the business simultaneously.
The benefits don't have to end here.
Your SMB blog is going to continue benefitting your business in a variety of ways. In addition to building your brand and being a place to post evergreen content, you'll create a network and develop opportunities for backlinking.
Your blog is also an opportunity to receive feedback from customers regarding your products or services. The key here is to answer every comment, suggestion, and question. These insights can help you understand your customers' tastes, interests, what they like, and what they don't like.
Each of these steps can help you stay ahead of the competition. The main reason is that you'll have a consistent and interesting blog that stays in-tune with the reader's interests.
And, as it has many ease-of-use features, Progress Sitefinity Web Content Management System makes it easy for blog authors to quickly and effectively publish and get their content out there, take it from me—I’m doing it right now.
Jen McAdams was Vice President of Global Demand Generation and Field Marketing.
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