Americans absolutely love small businesses. And that's not just because we have anannual support day for local businesses, or because so many Americans have an entrepreneurial spirit. There's legitimate data to back up the statement.
According to a 2014 survey conducted by UPS:
If you're a small business owner, this is a huge benefit because it means that many Americans prefer to do business with you and will bypass a competitor to reach you, even if that competing major brand has lower prices.
The difficulty comes in being seen. You have to do something to stand out so that you're visible. Thankfully, you don't need to have a bloated marketing budget to win customers' trust and gain visibility over your competitors.
You don't even have to spread yourself thin by marketing to a ton of channels online. You just need to invest in content marketing.
As Marcus Sheridan once said, content marketing is the "weapon Davids use to slay Goliaths every day."
Your business can see amazing reach through content marketing, and through targetedcontent promotion once it's published, with tools likeNotifier.
If you're not sure what that looks like, let me give you a few examples of small businesses that have done amazing things with content marketing on limited budgets.
1. Riverside Foods
Riverside Foods in Riverside, Illinois has a terrific newsletter that, for the most part, is standard stuff that includes new product announcements, sales, and promotions. Where they excel with that continued engagement is by regularly including recipe ideas that use ingredients and products directly from their store.
Customers love how that kind of content helps make the task of shopping lists and menu planning that much easier.
2. Folly Theater
In most theaters, you're asked to leave your phone turned off, but at some shows at the Folly Theater in Kansas City, Missouri, you're asked to leave your phone on so you can engage with the performance.
One particular showing used a mobile app that allowed audience members to interact with the cast of a live show, drawing the audience in to make them part of the performance. It's a great way to crowdsource content and boost interest and engagement among fans.
Mint is now a property of Intuit, but it was once a small, independent startup standing against major banks. When it launched in 2006, founder Aaron Patzer grew the company to over 2 million users in a few short years through creative use of blogs, infographics, slideshows, and videos.
Did you ever think content marketing could boost your revenue by 50% in just four short months? That's exactly what Keith Pabley, founder of Good Greens, did.
With a limited marketing budget, he used blogger outreach to increase mentions and reviews of his new nutrition bar. Even for a consumer packaged good from a small independent startup, content marketing can make big waves.
Repair Clinic thrives on the idea of making fixing things easy. This single-unit retailer of parts for appliances and consumer electronics/hardware drives significant traffic to its online store through content marketing.
Co-founder Chris Hall and his team produce a massive database of DIY articles and instructional videos hosted on the site and on YouTube, which teach customers how to repair specific makes and models of various appliances.
6. Yale Appliance
Along the same vein as Repair Clinic, Yale Appliance in Massachusetts uses a well-rounded content marketing strategy including blogs, service guides, and videos to educate customers. And like Repair Clinic, that content marketing has paid off, as Yale Appliance saw a 40% lift in revenue as a result.
Even before the internet was a thing, small companies were killing it with content marketing. Magnolia was photography store in Seattle that transitioned into an audio specialty store. With virtually no advertising budget, its owners created an 8-page printed buyer's guide that was given to customers and placed within newspapers.
The resulting growth was tremendous, and that single store grew to four retail units around Seattle. In 2000, the family business was sold to Best Buy for a whopping $87 million. Now there are more than 350 Magnolia Home Theater locations in Best Buys throughout the U.S.
When Joe Gebbia co-founded Airbnb in 2008, it certainly wasn't the go-to resource for vacation rental properties that we know today. Since its founding date, the site has grown to more than 2 million listings in 34,000 cities in over 190 countries.
Much of that growth is due to content marketing, focused around a well-designed blog that provides helpful content for travelers to make their trips easier and more enjoyable. The site also produces neighborhood guides that serve as local travel guides for people around the world.
When Michael Dubin and Mark Levine launched Dollar Shave Club in 2011, they were tired of paying too much for replacement blades for razors. Instead of pinching pennies, or spending a ton of money on traditional media buys, they sunk $4,500 into a single video along with a video promotion that put Dubin center screen.
It went viral, and in just 2 days they gained 23,000 Twitter followers, 76,000 Facebook fans, garnered 9.5 million video views, and 12,000 new customers. That is how content marketing is done.
Could that success just be a lucky fluke thanks to good timing? Not likely. Read on...
In 2015, founder Chris Stoikos launched Dollar Beard Club to counter Dollar Shave Club and cater to men who wanted to grow and care for their facial hair. Using a similar approach to content marketing with a video featuring Stoikos, the company quickly gained 1.3 million YouTube views shortly after the video launch, and 25,000 new monthly subscribers to their service.
Content marketing isn't just for the big brand players. Small businesses can and should leverage this affordable method for engaging an audience and gaining significant market share. When used properly as part of a documented marketing strategy, content marketing can bring you results similar to the companies I've listed here--or better.
What kind of success has your business seen from content marketing? Share in the comments below: