How to Build Your Local Brand with Content Marketing
How Content Marketing Helps Local Businesses Grow
Content marketing is one of the best ways to build an audience for your local business. It has several advantages over paid advertising (though it’s also quite effective to combine the two). Creating content is cheaper than launching paid campaigns. It’s also better for building authority in your industry. Content marketing is an especially effective strategy for local businesses that want to rank better in the search engines. People are more interested and impressed with information that solves their problems than they are with ads. Attracting readers and followers, however, takes a certain amount of time and effort. Let’s look at how to build your local brand with content marketing.
Create a Buyer Persona
The first step in attracting an audience is to identify your market. Every business has a general idea of who their customers are. Your business may appeal to pet owners, pizza lovers, people who want to lose weight, or golf players. The secret to creating the most compelling content for your audience is getting more specific. A buyer persona is a profile you build that represents a typical customer. While these are fictional people, they are still useful for the purposes of marketing and content creation. You construct your buyer persona based on research and experience. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind when constructing buyer personas.
Research demographics. You can get a good idea of who your likely customers are even before your business opens its doors. If you have a storefront, you’ll want to research the neighborhood and calculate who is most likely to stop in. This is based both on who lives nearby and who you’re serving. You then narrow it down to create a buyer persona. If you own a beauty salon, for example, your buyer persona might be a 35-year old woman who’s married, has two kids, and earns $37,000 per year.
Learn from your customers. You should be constantly refining your buyer personas. You can learn from your customers with tools such as surveys, questionnaires, and interviews. Depending on your type of business, you can survey people via email, on social media, on the phone, or in person. You might offer people a reward such as a coupon or free product in exchange for participating in a short interview.
Understand that you may have multiple buyer personas. Many businesses have two or more distinct types of customers. If you have a fitness center, for example, you might find that you have three buyer personas: a 22-year old man interested in bodybuilding, a 30-year old woman whose main goal is weight loss, and a 58-year old man who wants to stay in shape and shed a few pounds.
Identify your typical customer’s main interests and challenges. The real purpose of a buyer persona is to personalize your customers so you can effectively address their needs and problems. This helps to drive your content strategy. Whether your typical customer wants an abundant garden, a new home, better teeth, or a relaxing vacation, make sure you address these issues in your blog posts, social media pages, and in all of your content.
Understand the Buyer’s Journey
The buyer’s journey lets you know the specific steps your customers take as they learn about your business, consider their options, and actually buy something. There are several main stages to the buyer’s journey. Let’s examine these and see how they relate to your content marketing strategy.
At this stage, your potential customer realizes that he or she has a certain need or problem. You can create content that addresses these issues. If you’re a real estate agent, you can create articles, videos, podcasts, or other content that discusses how to shop for a home, apply for a loan, or choose a school. This creates a bridge between the customer’s concern and your business.
This is when people have identified their need and are researching their options. They may be comparing similar products or even different types of products. This stage may be very brief or quite involved, depending on the nature of your business. If your customers are car buyers, they may be debating whether to get a Ford, Honda, or Toyota or whether a wagon, coup, or SUV will best suit their needs. A downloadable report or e-book is helpful for educating people and steering them towards your business.
This is when the buyer actually decides on a solution. As a content marketer, this is where you want to finalize the customer’s decision and make it easy for him or her to move forward. Tempt customers with coupons, specials, happy hours, or free samples. If you provide a more involved product or service (e.g. real estate, healthcare, insurance, accounting, legal services), you might offer a free consultation.
The buyer’s journey differs quite a bit from one business to the next. People will obviously spend a lot more time in the consideration stage when buying a car or home than choosing a restaurant. However, you can always customize your approach to your customers’ needs.
Where to Post Content
There are many ways to promote content. Finding the right platforms and channels takes a certain amount of research and testing. Here are some of the best possibilities for promoting your best content.
No matter what kind of business you have, a blog is one of the best ways to reach your audience. Blog posts are great for SEO, building authority, and guiding people to your business. For example, if you’re a contractor, someone might read your blog post on home improvement then click on your link and call you if they need some type of repair.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media sites are powerful for building an audience. When you post interesting and relevant content on these sites, your followers can share it. Use the sites where your audience is most active. Instagram and Pinterest are good for posting shareable photos. LinkedIn is a must if you do B2B marketing. Facebook and Twitter, meanwhile, are useful for all types of businesses.
According to a report by Cisco, video will account for more than 80% of all internet traffic by 2021. Videos are one of the best ways to reach your audience at any stage of the buyer’s journey. Video marketing overlaps with both blogging and social media as you can share videos everywhere. For marketing purposes, shorter videos of 5 minutes or less are usually best.
Building an email list is a powerful way to drive traffic to your content. Email itself, in the form of targeted messages and newsletters, can be informative content. You can also use email messages to send subscribers to your blog, social media pages, videos, and other content.
If you have the type of product or service that requires significant research on the part of customers, webinars a good way to educate them. With today’s technology, anyone can create webinars. You can use these to explain your products, answer questions, or interview experts in your industry.
Podcasting is another way to create valuable content for your audience. In addition to educating people, you can use your podcast as a way to send people to your website, social media pages, or directly to your business.
Content marketing is an economical and very effective way to attract customers to your business. People are often more persuaded by informative content than high-pressure sales tactics. That’s why your main objective with content is to inform your readers/viewers/listeners. Information helps them make their own decisions and guide them to your business.