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  • Chris Mellor-Dolman

Content Marketing for SME Businesses

Content marketing is a powerful tool that takes your potential customers along a journey, outlining what you want them to do. Ultimately, it converts them.

Regardless of your company size you need to create, publish and share content with the view to building awareness, reputation and affinity for your business, brand, product or service.

Consider everything

What you write about your business and how you write it is vital to your success. From a social post to an inforgraphic, you need to create your messages with care and attention, because what you communicate matters. You need engagement, and you only get it with engaging content.

What are the benefits?

The aim of content marketing is to convince an audience about what it is that you're trying to sell, and to convert them into paying customers. To make it work you need to recruit supporters of what you make or do - people who believe in what you’re trying to achieve. In turn, this activity will increase your search engine optimisation (SEO) so that you rank higher in online searches, and improve your discoverability. As you become more visible you’ll generate more potential leads that you can convert into additional sales. All of these benefits will come from an enhanced understanding of your business as potential customers learn more about what your proposition is in the market.

What should you do?

Without exception your customers are looking for content that entertains, informs or connects them. It should include both topical and evergreen content:

Topical content is newsworthy content that is linked to a current topic and thus has a shorter lifespan of relevancy.

Evergreen content is content that can be used at various stages of the buyer's journey. It can be repurposed into different formats, making it valuable for prolonged periods, and so it can drive more traffic and generate a greater volume of leads.

By leveraging evergreen content you can make your content creation process more efficient and enjoy a greater return on investment (ROI). Therefore, your focus should be on creating a greater proportion of evergreen content versus topical content.

Whether you’re creating evergreen or topical content you should always reference the following checklist when creating it:

1. Be relevant: Speak to your audience in a personalised way that’s relevant to them as individuals in terms of their needs and interests.

2. Use variety: You should use different formats, types, and styles along every stage of the buying funnel to help you achieve the best return on investment for your content marketing efforts.

3. Educate: You should provide useful information about your business, in terms of the services you offer, who your people are and what they do, and what you’ve done for previous customers based on their experiences.

4. Be the solution: Demonstrate that you are the solution. You’re addressing their pain points, and you have the potential solution complete with unique selling points (USP’s) to meet their needs.

5. Give clear calls-to-action (CTA): Always tell your audience what you want them to do as a result of seeing your content. Remember, you’re taking them on a journey towards a conversion and they need to know how to get there.

What content, when?

So what content should you use and when? In previous blogs I’ve mentioned the five-stage Buyer’s Journey. Here, the journey is mapped with content in mind:

1. Awareness: This is the start of the journey where you state your USP’s and general proposition to your potential audience. Present enticing pieces of imagery, short-form video, social ads, GIFs, advertorials, templates and banner ads. Make them hungry to find out more about your business.

2. Interest: Capture the audience's attention. Offer something to spark their interest and get them excited about what it is that you do. Their attention span will be receptive to slightly longer content, so consider formats like blogs, long-form videos, white papers, podcasts, e-books and infographics

3. Consideration: Provide your potential customers with further information about what your business does. Incentivise your customers to try your products or services, and give them a taste of what it is that you can offer as a solution. Use formats like carousels, case studies, webinars, FAQs, testimonials, newsletters, Facebook Messenger and social display advertising.

4. Conversion: This is where you need to generate a friendly, personalised experience between potential customers and your business to get them across the line and make them become customers. This includes lead nurturing, added value, return purchase incentivising, requesting feedback, and community management. Use formats like re-targeting, imagery, carousels, social display, canvas, and cards.

5. Retention: The final stage is about encouraging repeat business by delivering on great customer service, so that buying customers stay in the loop and become brand ambassadors. Using retargeting methods to highlight user-generated content from previous customers is a great way to incentivise repeat purchases. You can also use click-to-buy formats and other exclusive offers for people who've previously bought. You might also want to use imagery, rewards, reviews, value additions, and discounts.

A well-defined content strategy process will help you to create meaningful content, aimed at the right audience, that’s measured and optimised to inform future content output. Matching the benefits of content marketing to your business objectives will help you to create content that drives growth in your business. Always be clear about what you want it to achieve.

Embrace it

Content marketing is a fascinating area of digital marketing that’s constantly changing as its pioneers continue to break new ground. Embrace it, enjoy it, and make sure you find your unique position within it to ensure that your business is as engaging, informative, useful and entertaining as it can possibly be. Guide your customers through every step of the journey with compelling content that has clear calls-to-action and you’ll reach the Utopia of securing loyal followers who champion your brand.

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