I recently had the pleasure of doing a series of free digital marketing assessment sessions with small business owners that are members of the Fields of Gold Farm Trail, a group of agritourism businesses in the Shenandoah Valley, and the definition of content for small businesses came up quite often. While there is general consensus that the need for small business to be on social media is undeniable (see some of the latest stats HERE), many entrepreneurs think of content marketing as an insatiable online machine that requires volumes of exciting articles, photos, videos and posts that will drive people to their website and social accounts. Creating all that perceived content feels like a huge burden on top of what they are already doing to run their business. They can’t imagine how or even why they should try to do it without a dedicated marketing department.
This inflated definition of content marketing is often a key stumbling block for many small business owners trying to incorporate online marketing strategies into their routine. What they don’t realize is they have a wealth of authentic and compelling content at their fingertips in the everyday running of their business.
So what are the most frequently overlooked small business marketing assets that can be turned to content?
- Relationships. Every person a business owner comes into contact with each day is a potential marketing asset. Customers, business associates, friends, family members, old school buddies, members of business or social groups they belong to, their church, their kids’ school groups, even the gal they talk to at the checkout counter at the supermarket has the potential to become a marketing asset. The key to leveraging all these relationships into assets is to commit to having authentic and informative conversations with everyone about your business. Not a hard sell, but a reminder that it’s part of who you are, of your family’s reality and ultimately a valuable part of the community. Your business contributes to the quality of their lives as well, so don’t hesitate to talk about it!
- Setting. Many of my customers have a unique or beautiful setting from which they run their business. Does it have an interesting history? Are there things about the town, the landscape or even the ways in which you have transformed it that set your business apart? Are there curious details that could be turned to content?
- Stories. Entrepreneurs fascinate people. Why did you decide to open a business? What were the early challenges? How did you overcome them? Have there been impacts on your family? What are the stories of your employees and customers? Why do they choose to work/do business with you? What are your ambitions, your beliefs, your activities in the community? You are your small business, use your story as a marketing asset.
- History. History is everywhere. What is the history of your industry, your land, your buildings, your people? Allow people a deeper glimpse into how you and those before you have operated this type of small business. Small facts, folklore, and innovations that enrich your customer’s knowledge can be surprisingly popular.
- Expertise. You are an expert at running your business. Share bits of knowledge that your customers can use. Have a roadside produce stand? Give them tips on keeping produce/flowers fresh or recipes for unusual items. Show them how to arrange fresh flowers. Teach them the folklore behind various kinds of herbs and vegetables. Explain how weather, soil, beneficial insects and pests can impact production. Give them the benefit of your hard-earned experience in describing how food gets to their table.
Those are just a few examples of marketing assets that can be leveraged into marketing content. So what’s your definition of content marketing? Are you underestimating your marketing assets and resources? Taking a few minutes to do a quick inventory that might make you aware of some brand new (and exciting!) tools in your marketing toolbox you’ve been missing. Kill the content marketing machine and start using your existing assets to tell your customers how you do what you do!
Take our FREE Marketing Assets Assessment to see where you might be missing valuable content in your small business.