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Inbound Marketing Blog

    Using Content Marketing to Build Your Small Business Brand

    Posted by Bill Faeth

    Content Marketing Requires Thought Leadership


    Why? While some PC fans would argue the point, Apple produces some of the best products on the market, and they've never wavered from their commitment to quality. They focus on a few key products in order to get them right - when Steve Jobs returned to his position as CEO in 1997, he cut production from 40 products to just 4. Building a brand that ac$100 billion. That's the annual revenue of one of the world's most powerful and well-defined brands. Apple is often cited by experts as an example of a company who've gained a strong footing in their market due to years of carefully defining their niche. As a result, they currently are responsible for over 50% of the revenue in the realm of mobile phones, but only 4% of total units sold worldwide.


    Become an Experthieves cult-status worldwide isn't about being the biggest or loudest, it's about finding your niche and never wavering from what makes you different. 

    Just because your website visitors might not react well to highly technical content doesn't mean there's no market for your expertise. Even if you're already an expert in your subject matter, never stop learning. Here are some of the best ways to position yourself as an expert:

    • Build Relationships with the Best. Oprah Winfrey has been quoted as saying "You are who your closest friends are." Surround yourself with other vertical experts and small business owners on social media and in your personal life. 

    • Challenge Leading Thought. Don't be afraid of a little controversy. Whether you're issuing a thoughtful response to a news item and engaging in dialogue over Twitter, never be afraid to take a stand and challenge the status quo. Blogger Marcus Sheridan has developed a reputation and enormous popularity as a speaker due to a reputation for slightly controversial content driven by original thought. 

    • Leverage Every Possible Medium. Even if the majority of your businesses' fans might hang out on YouTube and Twitter, you should still have an active presence on LinkedIn. Respond to queries, submit pitches to guest posts. While being able to maintain an active presence on social media channels should be your first priority, spread your net as far as you can in the time you have.

    Target Super Fans

    Whether or not they realize it, there are Twitter users who've built a personal brand around promoting the products or services you sell. Whether you're in the business of gourmet cupcakes or home improvement, there's bound to be people who are just waiting to promote your brand. If you haven't enlisted keyword searches relevant to your industry, start tracking this in HootSuite or another social media management tool. Are there any Twitter users who seem to be referencing your products on a regular basis?

    Even if they're not your clients, make a point of courting their business. Not sure what to do? Build a relationship over time by engaging in dialogue and offer them a discount. Don't underestimate the PR benefits associated with converting a social media super-user to your team. 

    Be Different

    HappyFamily health foods CEO Shazi Vizram has compared the concept of differentiating to a marathon. Determining why you're company is different than competitors isn't a sprint and a single statement. You've got to patiently stick to promoting these core values over time. If you're brand develops a loyal following, a dramatic departure from your points of differentiation might not go over very well.

    One of the best marketing books I've read recently, Steve Jones' Brand Like a Rockstar is filled with examples of brands who've suffered when they've departed sharply from the factors that defined the company to loyal consumers. Remember how successful McDonald's was when they tried to start selling made-to-order pizza and pasta? The products bombed because consumers don't head to McDonalds to wait 20 minutes for Italian food. They want a hamburger and fries, and they don't want to wait. You need to identify your niche and never compromise:

    • What Are You? Does your brand provide the most inexpensive car repairs in the Midwest? Is your law firm unusually focused on the people behind each retainer? Figure out your core values and never waver. If you've branded yourselves on customer service, figure out how to drive these values home in your corporate culture, content marketing and client interactions.

    • Keep at It. Every time your company innovates, whether you're publishing a content offer or releasing a new service, use your point of differentiation as a litmus test. How does the product or service fit with the values that make your company unique? Are the ingredients organic and natural enough to fit your health-conscious image? Does your new "About Us" page fit your fun-loving and high-energy image? Differentiation isn't a one-step task. It's a continual process that takes place over time.

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    Image credit: freedigitalphotos.net/lamnee

     

    Topics: Inbound Marketing