Why Use Content Marketing?

Are you one of those people who prefers learning through videos instead of reading?

As an avid reader and professional writer, I don’t really relate, but I figure you deserve to learn about the benefits of small business content marketing too.

With that in mind, Part 1 of the new Austin Copywriter video series all about content marketing for small businesses is ready!

Check it out below, and be sure to let me know if you have any questions or feedback.

In case you’re not able to watch it, here’s the transcript:

Hi! I’m Austin Copywriter, Kristen Hicks. Look, I know as a small business, you have limited resources and really need to be careful where you invest your time and money. There are lots of options for advertising and marketing, so what makes content marketing worth considering?

Here’s the thing, people are sick of advertising that feels like advertising. Do you actually sit through commercials anymore if you have the option to fast forward?

Do you bother to look at the billboards, the ads on public buses, or the ones they even put in bar bathrooms these days? Probably not. I don’t

We all encounter too much advertising and have gotten really good at tuning it out.

The solution to that problem is content marketing.

Content marketing is based on a simple idea. Tell people what they want to hear, rather than what you want them to hear.

But how does that lead to sales? We’ll get to the how and why more in parts 2, 3, and 4 but it does!

Small businesses have long recognized the value of building a solid reputation on good products and personal customer service. Content marketing just helps bring those proven values into the Internet age.

Check back soon for Part 2 in to the Introduction to Content Marketing for Small Businesses series, where I’ll discuss just what content marketing is.

Personal Marketing Successes

The idea of demographics plays a large role in many marketing campaigns and can be helpful, to a certain degree, but most people don’t fit neatly into the ideas marketers and others have of different demographics. For example, as a woman in my 20’s who has no interest in jewelry, no plans to reproduce in the near future and who is neither currently on or looking for a diet to try, many of the advertisements that are designed to target someone of my age and gender have scant influence on me. Consumers can tell when an ad is targeting a generic demographic and while there’s a value to appealing to a larger audience, efforts that feel more like personal marketing have a stronger effect.

That being said, there have  been occasions where I’ve encountered marketing for which I absolutely was the target audience. I enjoy experiencing the kinds of advertising that work on me as a consumer, both because it reveals something about myself and helps me grasp what others are likely to respond to as well.

One of the best examples I’ve encountered comes from a box of tea from the company Inti Zen.  The boxes for each type of tea they sell include a quote on the inside, in Spanish (with an English translation), each having some kind of general relationship to tea or to the particular type of tea included.  Their quote for the jasmine flavored mate tea is from none other than my favorite writer, Jorge Luis Borges:

In case it’s too small to read, it says:

“A mi se me hace cuento que empezo Buenos Aires:
La juzgo tan eterna como el agua y el aire”

or, in English:

“I think the founding of Buenos Aires was a mere fairytale:
I believe it eternal, like the water and the air.”

The image pictured above the quote is a traditional mate gourd, use of which is common in Argentina and some other South American countries.  The image and quote manage to tie the experience of this product to a larger cultural meaning: it makes me think of poetry, my favorite writer, Argentina and the cultural role that yerba mate plays in South American society (drinking yerba mate from a gourd is often a communal experience, it gets passed around from person to person, and mate is known for providing a level of energy similar to coffee, but healthier).

Probably most consumers who buy Inti Zen tea don’t get as much out of this reference, but for me it’s a profound personal marketing success. A simple cup of tea comes to represent more than it is in and of itself and due to this (and because the quality of the product merits it), I’ve been a loyal customer of this brand ever since I first tried it.

The second example is a television advertisement I saw several years ago.  Sadly, my attempts to find a clip of the commercial online was unsuccessful, so I’ll have to do my best to recount it from memory, forgive any inaccuracies this may produce.  The commercial showed a man driving from bookstore to bookstore, not Borders or Barnes and Nobles, mind you, but smaller, more independent looking bookshops. Eventually he makes it to one where he finds what he’s been looking for: a first edition copy of a Kurt Vonnegut novel. When he goes to check out, he just happens upon…Kurt Vonnegut, himself, who signs the book for him. It was one of those Mastercard “priceless” spots, that manages to do an especially good job of figuring out an experience and item that a book lover would deem priceless.

My third example, pictured at the top of this post and related to my first example, is today’s Google doodle, an image designed to commemorate the 112th birthday of Jorge Luis Borges. Not that Google really needs marketing–when the name of your product becomes a verb commonly used in every day conversation, the marketers job is pretty much done–but, the team that creates the Google doodles do a great job of endearing users to Google even more. Other great recent examples include the recent Charlie Chaplin and PacMan doodles.

Marketing that hits so personally is relatively rare because it means a necessarily small audience. Most tea drinkers don’t have the interest in Borges and Argentine culture that I do, so it’s not the most wide reaching strategy to try to appeal to an interest in something so relatively obscure.  The upside is it provokes feelings that are deeper and will stick around for longer than an ad with wider appeal that feels less personal would.

My Marketing Philosophy

Growing up in an age where advertisements are abundant and unavoidable in many mediums, over time I developed a discerning eye for the types of marketing messages and styles that are most effective. The Austin Copywriter marketing philosophy embraces a few simple but Austin Copywriter Marketing Philosophyimportant marketing tenets:

  • Accuracy is crucial – Sell what you have.  If what you’re selling isn’t something people want, it’s better to improve your product or services than to create unrealistic expectations in your marketing.  If people expect something awesome and get something mediocre or worse, you’ll destroy your brand.
  • Keep it simple – It can be tempting to embrace industry buzz words or impressive sounding copy that doesn’t actually say much, but you risk diluting your message and frustrating potential customers who don’t understand what you’re saying.
  • Listen to your current customers – The best way to know what will impress future customers is by paying attention to the feedback of those you already have.  Few things are more valuable to a small business than those customers that already love you.  Make sure you keep them happy and you can use their genuine praise to convince others.
  • Don’t bombard people – Have you ever signed up for an e-mail newsletter and regretted it almost immediately because of how much it filled up your inbox?  Everybody in every industry gets a lot of mail and e-mail about products that companies think they should be interested in, not to mention daily exposure to television advertisements, billboards, and the list goes on. One of the best ways to lose the goodwill of your potential customers is to be part of this problem. While it’s important to remind people of your business from time to time to stay front of mind,  make sure to keep from contacting your list too often and ensure everything you send is interesting or essential, or you’ll risk being seen as spam and losing their attention altogether.
  • Know your audience – If you’re wasting time and resources marketing to people or companies unlikely to ever be interested in your products or services, this will show in your results.  Make an effort to know what kind of people and businesses value what you’re selling and do your best to ensure that your message gets in front of them.