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Is content marketing worth the effort?

At a recent seminar I attended, the presenter spoke about the value of content marketing. A follow attendee asked me the question: is content marketing worth it?

“You can’t buy attention, you have to earn it. The little smart business is going to be able to out run and our compete and out run the big dump business.” Sonia Simone of Copyblogger said.

Content marketing is built on the idea of creating great content as a method of pull marketing. That is, to pull people to your product or service. However, the question floating around is, is it worth the time, effort and creative energy to create this content in its many varied forms?

Well to answer this question Copyblogger Sonia Simone wrote a great blog and also did a podcast. Let me summarise her take and mine on this topical subject.

My take: is content marketing worth it compared to what?

Compared to spending money on print advertising, the Yellow Pages, trying to trick Google, Groupon or signage – I say yes. Simone explains that the “buy or die” hit and miss approach of sending people to a sales page is becoming less and less effective.

The advertising world has recognised this and now ads send people back to a content experience (like email responders) so customers get a greater taste of your business before they buy. “No body owes you any attention,” Simone added,

Content marketing is worth it because it allows you to “call your own shots” as Simone explains. It allows you to do your own lead generation and more importantly, build your own reputation by pulling your ideal customers to you by creating valuable content that means something to your audience.

It doesn’t matter what business you’re in – coaching, consulting, technology, bricks and mortar retail, hairdressing, architecture, real estate – for any small business this is a great way to DIY marketing to build your business.

This is especially true for new businesses, which aren’t yet enjoying referral business. You need to create awareness!

Content marketing is one aspect of marketing

… And it’s just getting started.

Make no mistake, it’s hard work. You need to create content that is of high value. This takes creative insight, listening and customer understanding. Your content strategy needs to be consistent, because after all you’re building a following of people that like, know and trust you.

However, what could be better than that? People who want to listen. Yes, it’s time consuming, but as a small business you can make a lot of profit from a content strategy that is well done. The costs can be very low if you’re doing the content yourself, but even outsourcing some of the copy creation can still be a very profitable model.

Create compelling content to attract customers to you

It is easier for a small business to be creative, think on our feet, be responsive to our customers. This is our time to take on big business. Our customers want it. They don’t want to be interrupted, they want to be educated, to be entertained and have real relationships – and content marketing allows you to do this.

The content mediums have exploded. YouTube, blogging, articles, podcasting, webinars and email marketing are just a few examples. You should choose the medium that works for you and your audience, but I personally would start with a blog.

When blogging, keep your audience in mind, keep your focus clear and write in an educational, informative and entertaining way. By being out there and capturing the audiences attention with your relevant content you will be the “go to” broker, architect, graphic designer, gardener or dentist in your community!

Make use of the many communication tools available. As small businesses, we have better access to our customers, we can be nimble and lean and we generally know what our customers want. By providing some insights and learning we can create the marriage between our ideal customer and the service or product we provide the logical choice.

Still not convinced? I’ve spent less than $200 on advertising and my content strategy has me run off my feet with clients. It can work for you too!