Giving it Away for Free is Not a Bad Thing Anymore

Content, content, content. Yes, it’s a marketing buzz word right now and yes, it’s probably overused. But that doesn’t take away from its astounding potential for customer attraction purposes, particularly for small businesses. Creating useful and interesting content paired with a calculated distribution plan can be the perfect center piece to your inbound marketing system. Inbound marketing, as a reminder, involves “pull” tactics such as SEO, blogging, authoring white papers and even social media. Opposite of traditional outbound marketing (direct marketing, paid search, telemarketing, etc.), inbound marketing has a 61% lower cost per lead. Small businesses are the driving force behind the recent surge in inbound marketing and on average assign 43% of their lead generation budget to the discipline compared to only 21% for large corporations.

So why the big push from small business here? It’s due mostly to the idea that proper use of inbound marketing can very much level the playing field. Securing customers is no longer about who has the biggest budget and the most 30-second television spots.

Newsletters, videos, Facebook – these take time, effort and creativity, but minimal budget. That’s exactly what makes inbound marketing such a powerful weapon and a great opportunity for differentiation.

Here are four things to keep in mind when developing your content building plans.
1. Value: Above all, you must provide information that is useful to your target customers. Content that includes how-to guides, checklists, insights into industry trends, etc. will position you as a go-to expert in your field and attract people interested in services or products similar to yours.
2. Authenticity: The good news is that there is only one of you in the world and that’s exactly what will lend authenticity to your content. People appreciate when you are true to yourself. Find your voice, define your brand, establish your goals and make sure those are consistently the foundation of your content creation process.
3. Creativity: The only downside to the influx of content out there right now is that it’s getting harder and harder to distinguish yourself from the competition on quality of content alone. Finding new, disruptive ways to engage customers is a key part of the process.
4. Distribution: The job doesn’t stop once your content is produced. You also need to determine a distribution plan based on your target market’s profile and the type of information you’ve generated. It’s not as simple as pushing your message through every single available channel (that’s an easy way to annoy a lot of people!). Be relevant, be timely, be interactive.

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