The VAR Guy Blog

Content Can Be King in SMB Marketing

In today’s digital age, if you want to be perceived as an expert or thought leader, you need to have and promote interesting, engaging content your customers would find valuable.

Every time I go to an industry event, people are dying to pick my brain about marketing. How does ConnectWise do it? What do you suggest we do? Honestly, I could spend all day chewing their ear off about our email marketing, social media, Google AdWords, SEO, you name it, but they’d probably still walk away confused as ever, not knowing where to start. The problem is, trying to compare your business to significantly larger tech companies with global presence, like Google or any of your vendors, is unfair and unrealistic. These organizations have significant resources and budget allocated to marketing efforts that you simply don’t.

I know how it feels, though. My wife owns a small business, and even with my background in marketing, I spend a fair amount of time on the weekends discussing with her new ways to market her business that don’t kill the profits. So, for today’s thoughts, I’m not going to tell you about Google AdWords, Facebook, or what old school marketers refer to as "traditional marketing channels." Today we’re going to talk about content.

In today’s digital age, if you want to be perceived as an expert or thought leader, you need to have and promote interesting, engaging content your customers would find valuable. While some potential customers are searching Google for “VAR in the Baltimore area,” many are searching for something more like, “Setting up a phone system in my office.” And when they search for something like that you want them to find your website with an appropriate white paper, video, blog or other piece of content called, “5 things you need to know before installing a new phone system.” Content such as this helps drive people to your website organically (read: for FREE) and builds you as a trusted authority in your market. I know this because this is one way we drive traffic and visitors to ConnectWise.com.

Now, I’m sure you’re sitting there thinking, "This sounds time consuming!" and it is—if you try to do it yourself. But here’s the trick: outsource it. In today’s world of declining print media, there are a TON of out-of-work reporters (read: "content writers") who can help you get off and running. In addition, everyone with a video camera and video editing software and other starving artists are out there trying to supplement their income. In fact, over the past five years the cost of content creation has declined such that it now costs less than most other forms of marketing, so it can be done without breaking the bank.

To help you get started, here are some of my favorite sites to help you build your content base:

Fiverr

If you haven’t tried Fiverr yet, you’re missing out. Freelancers from around the world posts all kinds services on Fiverr for just $5. Not kidding, FIVE DOLLARS (hence the name Fiverr). It’s really great for short videos, but you can find anything from graphics to flyer designs to copywriting on this site. Sometimes you have to pay more to have it rushed or to have your logo added, but even if you end up paying $15 for a piece of content, how can you beat that?

Two ideas to start with: Create a cool quick video thanking new customers after they select you, and another video informing them of your referral program.

Zerys

Zerys is a marketplace of thousands of professional freelance copywriters that work on a price-per-word basis. I recommend staying within the 6 cents to 9 cents-per-word range to get the most bang for your buck, and the best writers. While there are some ‘rules‘ about how many words a blog or an article can be (400+ words), if you keep each piece less than 1,000 words you’ll pay less than $100 for a piece of content you can claim as yours. Even if you want to pay for the less expensive copywriters, you’ll still end up with good material that you can tweak to your liking.

Idea: Not all searches are for IT help—sometimes good content (and good customers) come from articles that are interesting to the reader. For a doctor’s office, for example, create a blog post titled, “How I can see more patients without adding staff?” An article such as this leads to an IT solution but brings medical professionals into the conversation via a real pain point they experience today.

Clicky

Clicky is a really simple web analytics service, perfect for small businesses and people who shiver at the thought of trying to tackle Google Analytics. While Clicky isn’t a tool to help you develop content, it will give you insight into what your site visitors are really interested in. If you don’t want to waste your time developing content that no one cares about, spend the small amount of time and money to get real intelligence on your prospective customers’ pains. In fact, unlike Google Analytics you can see your visitors' IP address, which can help with warm calling your prospects soon after they visit your site!

These are just some of the sites that I’ve seen help with "bootstrap" marketing, but I’m sure there are plenty more out there. Ultimately, here’s what I want you to take away from this:

  1. Just try it! Seriously, don’t just put it on the back burner like all other marketing ideas that you’ve always planned on doing. I guarantee it will take you less than 30 minutes to put together an idea for your first piece of content and send it off for someone else to complete. You could even do it while you sit on the couch catching up on your favorite show tonight. No excuses!
  2. Don’t make it harder than it has to be. Keep it simple and start with topics that are right in your wheelhouse. You are the expert—you just have to prove it to your prospective customers.

And if you want more ideas, I’ll be hosting a Marketing 101 webinar on June 19 with a panel of marketing experts.  

Mark Sokol is senior product marketing manager for ConnectWise, the IT business automation software provider. Monthly guest blogs such as this one are part of The VAR Guy's annual platinum sponsorship.

Discuss this Blog Entry 3

Michael Davis (not verified)
on Jun 14, 2013

One important key is that it takes time for content start developing into leads so don't think you will see a return in 3 months. Keep at it and take each piece of content and reuse it as much as possible in different mediums. A webinar that is recorded can be a blog post (transcribed), an email campaign, a sales email to prospects, as well as internal training for existing customers.

on Jul 2, 2013

Great read this. Comes at a time where I'm reviewing my content and digital marketing strategies. Keeping up with developments in digital marketing is a full time job in itself, and I'm loathed to part with the cash to line a 3rd party's pockets.

That said, our niche involves cloud-based recruitment software. We've managed to get ourselves into 2nd place with our targeted activity, but there's room for improvement.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jul 7, 2013

Mr. Smith - does your new "content and digital marketing strategy" include spamming an html link to your business in 5 or more comments on this blog?

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