Content marketing aims to do a single thing: craft a story that sells. For local businesses, this can be a challenge. Many business owners have great stories to tell. But some decide it isn’t worth it to use storytelling to define their brand.

However, for the ones who use the right content marketing strategy, the results are impressive. Here we share the some of the basics of content marketing, focusing on the ways local small- or medium-sized businesses can use these tactics for measurable results.

Why is content marketing important?

Content marketing has been around for a while. Some of the world’s most memorable brands have made it a priority to connect with their audiences on a personal level.

In the past, sponsored stories in newspapers and magazines were the best (or only) way to get the message out to a broad audience.

Sponsored stories like this are still common and effective, but nowadays there are far more options for story-based advertising. Consumers expect a business to show personality online while making individual connections with people. Often, brands can be opinionated, helpful, funny or controversial on social media.

Using media channels like Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram, brands can connect to specific a customer’s way of life, values or aspirations.

What does this mean for local small- or medium-sized businesses? It means you have more ways than ever to bring your message to customers and prospects. With so many options, it’s critical to figure out which ones will help you reach the people you want to reach on the media platforms they enjoy most.

With so much to keep in mind, it had better be worth the effort.

Does content marketing work?

Consider this: Per dollar spent, content marketing generates approximately three times as many leads as traditional marketing.

Content marketing also costs 62 percent less than traditional marketing. It’s no surprise many Portland businesses are embracing content marketing. They focus on finding the intersection between what people want and what their brand represents.

Where and how to use content marketing

How should small- or medium-sized businesses approach content marketing?

  • Make a connection. Produce sharable content that inspires your audience.
  • Start long-term relationships. Don’t oversell your brand or push for conversions too soon. Appeal to your audience on an emotional level to grow long-term connections.
  • Find the right channels. Which type of media helps you convey your ideas best? Social media? Video? Photos? Email? Start by picking one or two and focusing on how to maximize those channels.
  • Establish preference. You can dig into what makes your brand/company unique later. Tell those stories. Consider user generated content (reviews, testimonials, advocates) to speak for you.
  • Retain. Keep the conversation going with a consistent cadence even after the sale. Email and social are great channels for maintaining that connection.
  • Fuel your own channels. Use communication you can directly control, such as social media, newsletters, articles, videos, events, blogs or infographics.
  • Distribute through trusted, paid channels. Get your message out to a broader audience with sponsored content.

Key Takeaways

  • Join the conversation. Being present when consumers seek information is key to staying relevant in this “always on” world.
  • Quality is important. Consumers are savvy and can see through veiled ads. Contribute value to the conversation and watch as your relationship grows in value.
  • Distribute widely and wisely. There are so many channels. Choose what’s most relevant to your business and then make the message match the medium.

If you’re like most marketers, you’ve already begun experimenting with content marketing. You may be looking for ways to become more efficient, effective or are just looking for some good old tricks of the trade to advance your content marketing activities.

Studies prove that when executed effectively, content marketing reduces sales cycles and lowers total acquisition costs, while also delivering inherent business benefits to drive mind and market share—a compelling business case to start amplifying your content marketing plans.

It’s important to connect the dots to building and nurturing personalized relationships over an extended period.