Last week, we looked at some of the big boys of content marketing, Dove, Red Bull, Louis Vuitton… I know what you’re thinking: yes, yes, they can do all that because they have huge budgets and huge teams.
It’s true that if you were one of those big players, you could conduct extensive quantitative research to understand what type of content consumers want to see, you could hire the biggest and the best agencies to create high-quality videos and flashy websites, and you could have an army of people monitoring and responding to comments across all of your platforms. Fair enough.
At the other end of the spectrum, you have people who think of digital as a low-cost media channel: we can’t afford TV, so let’s just “do digital”. While that definitely isn’t the full story, it is true that there is a lot you can do with a little bit of money and a whole lot of creativity and drive. Here are some easy wins in content marketing for small businesses:
Use what you already have
Before you go off spending money on photo shoots and producers and graphic designers, start by auditing the content you’ve already created. Most businesses (a) don’t have a good system to categorise existing content and (b) don’t use that content as much as they could. Make sure you’re making the most of the content you’ve already spent money on!
If you’re organising a PR event, what are you doing with all the photos and videos? Are you keeping them for PR, or are you uploading the videos on YouTube, creating a Facebook album with your photos, asking attendees to share their own shots on Instagram? If your marketing team is spending lots of money on a beautiful campaign video, can you cut out short clips to use as teasers? And what about all your content on previous campaigns – can you do a #throwbackthursday series? Can you ask your fans to vote for their favourite? Look first at what you already have, and only then do you need to start investing in new content.
Answer their questions
Unless you’re a completely new business, you are bound to already have a list of common questions that people have been asking about your brand or product, whether by commenting on your social network posts or by contacting customer service. That already gives you a rich set of material that you can build on with content: you can re-write your product descriptions in consumer language, you can write blog posts with top tips, and why not create some simple how-to videos?
Speaking of how-to videos, Lauren Luke started out as a taxi dispatcher who decided to sell a bit of make-up on eBay, creating a few videos on applying make-up in order to increase sales. She soon built up millions of views and was selected to be one of the first official YouTube partners, and today she has her own make-up line and a huge following. So there is hope for even the smallest of businesses!
Tap into existing behaviours
Great content doesn’t always come from long-term planning, and some of the best examples are the ones that are completely spontaneous. Oreo’s Superbowl tweet is a fabulous example. Sometimes, opportunities appear completely out of the blue. When women started posting the #nomakeupselfie for cancer awareness, several charities like Cancer Research UK were smart enough to jump on the campaign and use it to drive not just awareness but also donations, raising £8 million in six days.
Listen to what’s already going on, monitor what people are talking about, follow key influencers on social media. Which trends can you tap into? What are people already doing that is relevant to the service your business provides? Where do you as a brand have a right to play? Tapping into existing consumer behaviours will be much more efficient and effective than trying to change the world.
Get people to create content for you
We looked at GoPro last week, a product that absolutely lends itself to letting fans create content with it. Other examples where brands have curated content from fans include Burberry’s The Art of the Trench, a “celebration of the trench coat and the people who wear it”, and the #CoachFromAbove activity in which fans submit photos of their own Coach shoes. And it’s not just luxury brands: Asos created the #ASOSUnbox campaign leveraging Vine to engage users on a less than glamorous part of the shopping process.
Other ideas: run a photo competition, take to the streets with a classic vox pop to get quotes straight from consumers’ mouths, create a forum for your customers to talk about your products and share their tips. UGC (user-generated content) is both affordable and effective, helping you to build awareness and engagement, and to perform better in SEO. Start small and see how it goes.
One of the most iconic examples in the marketing world – for years, it was shared in each and every marketing presentation – is the Tipp-Ex YouTube experience. All they needed was a video camera along with an actor and a trained bear (okay, two actors and a bear suit). It was clever, it was funny, and it was fully on benefit.
Another example is Ora-brush, which is, err, a tongue cleaner. A few years ago, they created a cheap and cheerful video called the Bad Breath Test, which reached 20 million views, built the brand’s social media following, and got the product stocked in major pharmacies; results that had not been possible with previous product campaigns with bigger budgets.
So being small is no excuse! Leverage what you have, listen to your customers, and use your imagination…
Have you spotted some particularly clever campaigns from small brands? Maybe you’ve created some great content that you want to showcase? Get in touch to share your examples!