Content Is the Guerilla Marketing of Today for Small Business
It seems hard to believe that Jay Conrad Levinson published his landmark book, Guerilla Marketing, almost 40 years ago in 1983 – a work aimed at helping small businesses gain greater visibility at a time when big companies dominated the promotional airwaves. Levinson saw back then what we also see today, a growing disparity between the marketing capabilities of a small business, which often has scarce resources, trying to survive against larger players whose brand and reach can now dwarf them in so many areas.
And it’s not just straight advertising budgets we’re talking about. If you think about new technologies, ad options, staffing, expertise, data sophistication, brand investment, video and media production, the big players have the means and the power to crush most small enterprises who might try to compete against them.
To put it simply: For many small businesses, it’s an uneven playing field.
But there’s hope. (And, no that doesn’t mean hiring the guy to wield the spinning sandwich board on the street for you.) Levinson writes: “Traditional marketing has always maintained that to market properly, you must invest money. Guerrilla marketing maintains that if you want to invest money, you can — but you don’t have to if you are willing to invest time, energy, imagination, and information.”
In a nutshell, that latter statement, to us, encapsulates the role content can play as the great equalizer.
After all, if you think about it, anyone can write a good blog and post it. Anyone can create a compelling website now with the tools available. Anyone can also get into social media and post regular, interesting updates. And today, many can produce video content from phones that can work just as well as a professional production.
But many small businesses still hesitate with content development. Some don’t dive in at all fearing they wouldn’t be great at it. Others may want to but not know how to produce interesting content, which might be a skill that doesn’t come naturally to them, or isn’t the core product they’re selling in the business. And, finally, a third group might produce content but it doesn’t resonate and they give up.
We’ve seen every type in our consulting business. But take heart here a few things you can do.
Our Steps to Produce Great Content
The following steps can help you get a better grasp of content development best practices:
1. Follow our five content marketing rules.
The 5 rules are:
- Start with your audience challenges
- Create a plan
- Set an approach and test it
- Develop a SEO workflow
- Distribute it, track it, and measure it.
For this, we’re not going to go into a lot of detail as you can read the above post. But if you haven’t focused on these areas yet, we suggest the 5 above are a great starting point.
2. Understand your strengths.
Many small businesses attempt a video or a blog but may not have a sense of what constitutes “good” or they may be trying something that just isn’t their strong suit. Focusing on what you’re good at in content will keep you both engaged and also help you think through your client solutions. For the other content types that you deem important, you can then hire (either an agency like Marketing Nice Guys or a staffer) to help you of produce the rest of what you need.
3. Scale what works.
By definition, you don’t have unlimited resources. So, if you notice a piece of content you do produce resonates, why not replicate it in other forms? A successful blog, after all, can be a great webinar, or a downloadable whitepaper. Maybe you think about a video on the topic or any other content type where you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to produce it. Scaling content horizontally this way you can produce your next piece efficiently.
4. Figure out the point of what you’re trying to accomplish with content – and in what part of the buyer journey.
The other day we talked to an executive at a company who mentioned that blogs, for him, were a waste of time. And that might be true for him. But part of the problem we often see with small businesses is understanding how the content they produce is driving individuals further down the purchase funnel. Every piece should have some aim from a marketing funnel perspective. In the case of blog, the point might not be purchase but awareness. Hence, hitting those awareness goals can be a big part of the eventual way you can convert someone. But unless you outline that directly, it can seem like a useless activity.
5. Get creative in social.
As we suggest with step no. 1, it’s important to have a plan, not just a content marketing plan but also a plan for how you intend to approach social. After all, social (at least in terms of organic posting) constitutes one of the few ways you can get at least some measure of free publicity, albeit with the effort it takes to produce the content and post it. A few questions you can think about here first:
- Understand your brand or company’s personality. Are you funny? Serious? Thoughtful? What distinguishes your brand emotionally from a competitor?
- Why would people follow you? What value are your bringing them with your content? Is it practical? Do your posts make them aware of things they may not have realized?
- What accounts do you enjoy following? Can you look at others’ social media accounts and get a sense for why you like them? What can you emulate in terms of tone or approach? And finally, what would you want to read about?
Understanding these questions can you help you create something valuable in social. For more, download our guide to social media for small businesses.
6. Most importantly, keep at it.
Content development isn’t easy. And in the course of our experience, there are always hits and misses. But from a guerilla marketing perspective you may not have a lot of other options available to you that can help improve your company’s visibility while keeping costs low. That’s why our message is to keep at it and keep trying. You’re not playing on an even playing field so you have to find ways to get noticed. That’s the art of guerilla marketing. It also surely beats wielding that sandwich board on the street corner.
Marketing Nice Guys helps individuals and businesses excel at digital marketing. We provide consulting and marketing operations services to help augment existing staff, as well as training in the form of boot camps and customizable corporate events. Contact us to learn more.