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5 Effective Content Marketing Formats for Small Businesses

In attending small business seminars or even searching online for ways to market your small business, you may have run into the term “content marketing.” For clarification, content marketing is using a content format to educate and attract customers. Having a solid content marketing strategy has become crucial to attracting and retaining a customer base in today’s business climate.

Much confusion about content marketing stems from the fact that there are so many different content formats from which to choose, ranging from inexpensive blogs to more involved podcasts and YouTube channels. Different formats will bring different results, and only you can determine which ones are right for your business.

There is one crucial rule to follow when creating a content marketing strategy: Use quality content — always. If you don’t have the time or resources to create a quality podcast, consider starting a blog and email campaign that will be easier to manage. Nothing will do more to ensure customers losing interest or confidence in your business than poor quality content.

Here are some standard content formats and how they can help your business thrive:

1) Blogs

If your business maintains a web presence, it’s only natural to add a blog. Blogs are an excellent way to engage with your customers, answer questions, inform the public about upcoming events or specials, announce policy or business changes, and maintain a current and sustained line of communication with your customer base.

Blogs are most effective when your customers can rely on a constant stream of quality content. Consistency is key. Hiring a writer specifically for your blog is a must. Readers want to be confident that they are receiving the same quality content, that they can rely on a consistent “voice.” If you wish to purchase content from a content broker, list these under a “guest post” heading.

2) Videos and Webinars

With online videos, consistency is less important than content quality. Spending the time and money on a quality video or webinar should only be a part of your content marketing strategy if you have something important to say. Many businesses use this forum to explain more complicated subjects to their customers or to create “how-to” videos that showcase their products.

With online video content expected to continue growing for the foreseeable future, this is a preferred medium for businesses to gain online exposure, though it may not be for the beginner. You’ll certainly want to hire a video production team and an engaging online personality to present your content professionally. If done correctly, this content forum can be one of the most lucrative.

3) Podcast

Think of a podcast like an “eBlog.” Weekly or bi-weekly content is recorded and available for your customers to download and listen to at their convenience, much like an eBook. Podcasts have been gaining in popularity for years now, with some of the more popular even becoming television shows. Podcasts allow customers to listen to your content while they are driving, exercising, cooking dinner, or performing any variety of tasks that don’t allow them to be reading material online.

As with a blog, a podcast requires consistency and quality. Consider hiring a professional voice actor to produce your podcast. They usually work from home studios and can create a professional product promptly.

4) Whiteboard Presentations

If your business deals less with the public and is directly marketing to other companies, you can think of whiteboard presentations as the newer (and improved) form of the old PowerPoint presentation. Whiteboard presentations are informative and often humorous, able to captivate an individual or group and relay a lot of information quickly and efficiently. 

Whiteboard presentations don’t require much in the way of consistency, but the quality is still paramount. Whiteboard presentations are easy to produce, with software available online for the do-it-yourself entrepreneur, but unless you’re confident in your ability to deliver a professional product, whiteboard creators can be found for hire and usually work with business owners to produce a quality product for less money than one might imagine.

5) Games and Contests

Games and contests can undoubtedly get your business noticed. If you’re looking for something exciting to attract attention to your store or website, look no further. While games and contests are short-term, they can draw a customer base, create an email list for future marketing campaigns and let you get to know your customers in a fun and creative way.

Consider allowing customers to choose or vote for the name of a new product. Host a pub crawl or walk-a-thon to raise money for charity. Give away gift certificates to the winners of local high school sporting events. Rent a booth at a local farmers market and let customers play carnival-style games for prizes. Allow customers to submit their best stories about your business online and publish the winning story on the front page of your website.

Each content format has its pros and cons. Only you can decide which one or which combination will work for your business.

Content marketing strategies are essential to successful business ventures, but they are also fun and creative ways to get your message out to prospective and existing customers. As long as you have identified your customer base and targeted the format that they want to see or hear, your content marketing strategy should attract and retain customers for years to come.

Sherilyn Watkins
About Sherilyn Watkins
Sherilyn Watkins is a Freelance Sandstorm copywriter specialising in SMEs. She is a California native and currently resides with her husband in San Diego.
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