Whether user or editor generated, unique and insightful content is critical for small businesses to succeed online. Creating the right content engages the audience, helps define the position of a small business, and provides immediate value to potential customers. It is also the base for a high-performing online market strategy including search engine optimization and social media marketing. However, there is no doubt that small businesses face significant challenges in generating content.

Forums and other social media tools help influence the creation of user-generated content, but it is hard to control and difficult to target specific areas. In other words, long-tail traffic gained from user-generated content is highly valuable but typically falls short in gaining ground with top market keywords. In smaller markets where most small businesses operate, the keyword volume alone is limited to a few top-performing ones. In addition, Google evaluates content “quality” which tends to fall between poor and moderate for user-generated content.  Online communities (e.g. forums) may be a good supplemental content strategy but may not work effectively as your core content approach.

Editorial-driven content (e.g. blog posts) is powerful, since it can target specific keyword markets and motivate action often better than user-generated content. However, the dilemma plays out in the time and consistent effort it takes to write it or the cost required to outsource it. Many small businesses are discovering the benefits of social media marketing, until they realize the time investment required in developing the content (likewise with writing articles, blogs, reports, and even general website content). Small businesses who persist, however, and develop unique and insightful content targeted towards their audience can end up reaping tremendous benefits. But keep in mind, content for content sake is wasted time. The content you take the time or pay the price to produce must map to your buyer’s purchasing process.  The WIIFM (“what’s in it for me”) should drive your customer-focused content.

Here are some questions to keep in mind when considering your content strategy…

  • What types (ebook, calculator,white paper, buyers guide, infographic, explainer video) of content can be effective as part of a content marketing strategy?
  • What pain and the flip side, gains, are you potential customers attempting to solve for? How can you inform and educate them to find the solution?
  • What jobs are your potential customers performing that you can help become more convenient, less costly, quicker to complete?

Developing your content strategy (especially one that fits into your resource allocations and effectively reaches and rewards your target audience) is as important as your search marketing strategy. If you get it right, you will not only gain your target market’s attention, but also create the building blocks necessary to leverage up your search marketing and social media strategies to another level.  For small businesses who need to find efficiencies in every aspect of their business in order to compete, having a powerful content marketing strategy is a competitive advantage.