There is an amazing moment in the movie Chef.
A ten-year-old kid, hitch-hiking with his father, struggling to establish his mobile food business, comes up with an ingenious idea. He clicks positive frames of his business and, using simple tools, creates a small video and posts it online. In a few minutes, there is a long queue outside his father’s food truck. There was a brisk business and an elated and proud father.
What is content marketing?
This happy frame lingers with you for a long time. This is what happens when the right content
through the right medium reaches and strikes the right chord in the customer. Simply put, all this should translate into sales and consequently profitable business. This is what content marketing is all about.
A management treatise on content marketing defines it as: “A strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Types of content marketing
Content marketing is all about creating communication and disseminating it through the right channels. If earlier it was done through leaflets and pamphlets, now technology has spawned new channels through which a business owner can tell his story to attract the right audience for selling his wares.
There are social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram through which a business owner can build up his narrative over time, besides other mediums such as emails, memes, case studies, videos, etc. A website mentions as many as 105 ways of content marketing!
However, content marketing is not about shouting or pushing promotional messages but gently guiding or nudging the audience to gravitate towards one’s product or services. In this age, “Buy my product because…” or the on-the-face advertisement is slowly losing its relevance.
It aims to gain the trust of the customer. And that happens over time. So that when a consumer makes the final purchasing decision, it is over and above the nearest competitor he did not trust enough.
The golden opportunity for SMBs
Small and medium enterprises have generally shied away from creating effective communication content and tools to disseminate it. The theory of constraints usually hampers them. There is an inherent fear of technology because of the low digital literacy and a misplaced assumption of envisaged cost.
It is light on pockets
It is a war out there. And an SMB operator is akin to a general leading his troops with scarce resources into a dynamic environment where survival is at stake. Here the fear of scarce resources is only a perceived one, for technology can help anyone reach the right audience without digging a big hole into their pocket. A small business owner cannot book a TV ad spot, but nothing can stop him from telling his story over a social media platform if he decides to.
An SME should consider itself to be in a blessed space. It can reach out to a vast audience at a fraction of the cost. Technology has made it easier and faster to connect with prospective customers. This was unimaginable till a few years ago.
Overcoming the initial hitch
For most small businesses, it is just the initial hesitancy to jump into the pool. After all, even our grandfathers cannot do without smartphones these days. They, too, have gone through a fair share of learning curves to stay relevant. An average user in India has increased its consumption of smartphones by an astounding four times in the last year.
According to a Nokia report, an average person consumes close to 5 hours per day on their devices. There has been a burst of content across platforms, and there is no shortage of guzzlers, as the data released in early 2021 suggests.
Key to driving revenue growth
Content marketing is not an option for SMB. It is the need of the hour for driving consistent revenue growth. They, too, need to corner a fair share of eyeballs.
Of paramount importance for any company is to show up – to be seen on the internet. One thing to remember is that most people are looking for information online before making a purchase. When this has become our primary instinct, a company trying to sell its brand can ignore it only to its peril.
A blog talking about the product is more likely to click with the audience rather than an advertisement in the middle of a video that can be skipped.
There have been instances where companies have attracted customers to their sites just by commenting on popular blogs. Ask any entrepreneur whose success story has gone viral in digital media if this has not garnered more business for him than all other mediums put together.
Piecing together a strategy
All that a business owner has to do is to start by putting a content marketing strategy in place. Otherwise, it could be a time and money-consuming exercise without the desired results. The first thing is to find out who your audience is. Next is to find where exactly you can best locate them. For instance, if the product is for the young, Instagram can be your preferred hunting ground. Deep research has to go into deciding the social media platforms depending on your customers’ inclination. It’s like a lion zeroing in on the pocket in the jungle that is deers’ favorite gazing ground.
The better you understand your customer, the easier it becomes to convert the leads into sales and revenue. Content mapping becomes crucial at every stage of the customer’s journey, from discovery to purchase, while nudging the customer to choose in your favor. Persistence pays, but at no point can one be annoyingly pushy. In times like these, one can keep the targeted audience engaged with relevant side stories from third-party sources. For example, a news story about the pollution level in the city, if one is trying to sell an air purifier.
External help at hand
So it can be a newsletter, video, a personalized email to address the long tail. The story that you want to narrate is the most important thing, and any help in this regard is just a click away. Several companies can help align your story so that it reaches the maximum number of people.
They can manage to attract better traffic to websites and help you with engaging and timely content and track the customer metrics for you. For instance, Instagram recently enlisted the support of actress Kareena Kapoor to endorse a small business, myBageecha, to her fans on the site.
A reduction in customer acquisition cost and higher return on investment is, after all, what companies are looking for. Why not give content marketing a try?