SMBs and Content Marketing

“Content marketing” has become the new mantra for brand marketers inspired by viral marketing sensations like the Old Spice Man to reinvigorate a washed up brand. I attended the Content Marketing Conference this week, where the focus is adaptation to a new marketing paradigm that uses content to engage, and more importantly transact with consumers. I see the marketing concepts being taught to brand managers handling national accounts applicable to small business owners.

Rebecca Lieb from Altimeter Group set the stage with research supporting the consumer attitude shift taking place. Ads no longer work – 77% of Internet users do not engage in online ads, and a survey of marketers by Altimeter gives traditional advertising a vote of low confidence as persuasive marketing content.

Altimeter Group Where is Content Confidence Held?

Content marketing is really an old strategy with new tactics. Bill Flitter, the conference organizer, points out that content marketing has been around a long time, but the steps in the process, like ad production and media planning, have updated to accomodate online and mobile channels.  For the conference, Bill created a graphic that illustrates the tactics that are evolving around the new marketing discipline.

Content marketing lifecycle

1. Strategy and Creation. Ads are no longer limited to 30 second spots. Nigel Morris of Aegis Media America urges us to watch a CGI enhanced 3 1/2 minute “movie” produced by Cartier that has been viewed over 15 million times. Five years ago, there wasn’t a practical media channel to run a long commercial like this, but YouTube is now proving to be a far more flexible and inexpensive channel than the traditional media ad placement.

2. Curation. Content production is expensive. It’s now easy and cheaper to leverage good existing content to accentuate a brand’s marketing points and reinforce their position of media authority within their domain. Amex, whose target customers are small business, developed by curating business writers talking about small business issues. Many startups, like Kapost and Curata, are developing to deliver real time curated content to brands.

3. Management and Distribution. Content is text, pictures and video, and it needs to managed across multiple devices and distributed across multiple channels. Media planners used to buy ad placements and manage the logistics of videotape delivery. Now content is managed online and promoted via social media. And monitoring is far more complicated. Ad campaigns just focused on view and conversion metrics, now brands need to react and respond to the social web to ensure campaign engagement success.

Small business needs to think like the brands they are. They should be following the same protocol now being established by content marketers. First, create a portfolio of content – blogs, videos, webinars – and use the new distribution channels and social media to get the word out. Next, learn how to curate. For example, an indie home and garden store should syndicate gardening content and create a local social arena discussing home and garden for their community. By adopting the content marketing approach, small business will change their public perception from being simply a storefront to becoming a local media resource revolving around their products and services.


About Pat Kitano

Patrick Kitano works with brands in developing hyperlocal engagement solutions and is administrator of the Breaking News Network, a national hyperlocal network devoted to community service. He is the author of The Local Network on Street Fight, and is reachable via Twitter @pkitano and email