Content marketing has generated quite a lot of buzz over the past few years.
More and more large corporations and notable brands are focusing on content marketing as an effective strategy.
It’s becoming the “It” thing to do.
In fact, HubSpot’s State of Inbound Report showed that content creation and distribution are very big priorities for marketing departments.
In fact, content marketing has gotten so big that earned media is no longer enough.
Some brands are even working on owning their own media empires!
I’m a proponent of content marketing, but even I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed with how much is going on these days.
The lines between media and marketing are more blurred than ever.
Still, every day I feel like more and more innovative and creative ideas come down the pipeline.
That’s all well and good if you’re the CMO of Sony, but what does that have to do with you as a small business owner?
More than you’d think.
Content marketing is more than just a blog or some crazy sponsored stunt event.
It can be something as simple as rebranding yourself in a creative way.
Have you seen Domino’s new Wedding Registry?
At the bottom of the delivery franchise’s homepage is a slider with several offers, just like usual.
One of them caught my eye, however.
Instead of yet another offer for the average consumer, Dominos set up an entirely new website just for couples to register with them for wedding gifts.
Pizza, chicken, and breadsticks may not be your first thought for a wedding, but I bet you’re thinking about it now.
It’s a delicious idea that’s already being implemented in the nearly 14,000 locations Dominos serves.
If you want to avoid being crushed under the weight of Dominos, you’re going to have to create some local content marketing of your own.
Of course, you don’t have that giant corporate budget.
You already have an advantage, though, by living in the community.
First, you’ll need to start with the basics, and we’ll build out from there while keeping costs and resources at a minimum.
1. Create a blog for your website
If building a website is the first thing you do online for your business, creating a blog for it should be the second.
My blog is one of the main drivers of my site’s organic search traffic.
Blog post length continues to rise. In 2014, you only needed 800 words to fit in with the crowd.
That number is well over 1,100 words now, but it has to be quality content.
Personally, I aim for 3,000 words on each blog post, but I admittedly don’t always hit that.
My strategy doesn’t have to be yours. Twitter proved the effectiveness of the microblog. You have to find the sweet spot for your blog.
A blog gives you 434% more indexed pages and increases lead generation by 126%!
The more blog content you have, the better your chances of being found by customers, whether they’re local or not.
To gain more local traffic, focus your blogging efforts on local issues.
CPA and tax professional Annette Nellen publishes a simple Blogspot blog that’s filled with detailed federal and California tax information.
By providing both national and local information, she’s covering all her bases to bring local customers in with local needs.
Of course, you’ll need somewhere to promote your blog for it to be truly effective.
That’s where social media comes in.
2. Build social profiles and pages
The only form of content marketing more popular than blogs is social media content, which accounts for 93% of B2B content.
In fact, popular social platforms like YouTube and Facebook are used daily by the majority of account holders.
Many people use them multiple times throughout the day!
With so many social media users, it only makes sense to create and promote content here.
Not all of it has to be original. You can use social channels to promote long-form blog posts.
That takes care of some content, but you’ll need more.
Social is a great place to aggregate content from other sites.
This helps you come off as less promotional.
Just be sure to stick to your brand story, like Red Mango does with its Instagram account.
3. Contact local content creators
You can create your own content, but user-generated content can help strengthen your local content marketing efforts.
Influencers can be just as influential as friends in swaying buying decisions.
By employing local content creators, you get to use their influence and content to help promote your brand.
When Dollar Shave Club created its MEL magazine and website, nobody could have expected it would actually employ some solid freelancers with real journalistic chops.
Its writers have been featured in Entrepreneur, Vice, Wired, and more.
From political stories of immigration to explorations of high-tech like AI, MEL resonates because of the contributors.
You can’t fake a movement, so harvest quality content from local creators to help spread your brand message.
But don’t just stop there!
4. Partner with local businesses
We think of content marketing in terms of creating online content, but you can take it a step further.
Consider partnering with other local businesses to build off each other’s brands for an effective content marketing solution.
Backlinks help your SEO. Here’s a breakdown from Searchmetrics that shows how many backlinks the top search results have.
By partnering with local businesses, you can gain backlinks to each other’s sites.
This will help Google see that you’re part of a trusted network of local businesses instead of just a solo act.
Eharmony recently partnered with Mashable to provide a great piece of content marketing.
In the 20th century, we called these partnerships synergy.
Branded journalism was a buzzword for this specific type of partnership.
Whatever you call it, I call it a content marketing win!
Start thinking about partnerships you might leverage to get more traffic in the door.
5. Create offline materials
There are two top-level categories of content marketing.
I touched on this subject earlier, but online and offline marketing are both crucial to your content marketing strategy.
You can reach more people in the community if you’re active with local businesses and residents.
While I’ll continue touching on different offline techniques, it’s important to be prepared for offline marketing in general.
Get business cards made.
Research by Adobe found that, for every 2,000 business cards passed out, sales increased by 2.5%.
You’ll also need fliers to hang up in local businesses or to hand out at local events.
These are especially useful for bulletin boards at community centers, city parks, schools, libraries, and other public places.
Just make sure you get permission before you post anything in the community.
The more offline materials you have on hand, the easier it’ll be to host events and experiences to get the community involved.
6. Host events and experiences
Event marketing (also known as experiential marketing) is the most effective strategy for B2B marketing, according to 67% of B2B content marketers.
This means showing up at local events held by the Elks Club, the YMCA, and other local organizations.
Your local Chamber of Commerce should have event listings, as well.
Be sure to check local event spaces to find out what meetings are coming up. This can be a great opportunity to get your brand out there.
If there aren’t enough events being held in your community, host your own!
I host numerous online marketing summits that attract thousands of attendees from around the world and top industry speakers.
A study by EMI and Mosaic found that 74% of event attendees have a more positive opinion about a brand after a promoted event.
And the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a 44% increase in the event industry between 2010 and 2020.
That’s a bandwagon worth jumping on!
7. Confirm your business on mapping platforms
I’m focusing a lot on content marketing strategies.
But as you develop your content marketing strategy, don’t neglect online properties that can include your local contact information.
The social and user-generated aspect of these platforms means your customers will contribute to the brand story.
With Facebook and Foursquare, you can enable check-ins and badges.
On Yelp, you can respond to customer reviews.
When people look up your brand online, no matter what platform you’re on, there should be content.
These platforms also provide contact information and extend your brand voice and reach.
Good or bad, these mapping platforms can create a brand story of their own.
8. Remain consistent
Riverdale is one of this year’s most talked-about TV series.
It’s based on the always-family-friendly Archie comic digests you’ll find at any grocery checkout across the country.
Fans of the Archie series hate it because it twists these previously innocent characters into a dark, twisted plot.
What remains consistent in the show and comics is Pop Tate’s Chock’lit Shoppe as the gang’s favorite hangout.
Throughout the 20th century, Archie Comics fans will remember that Pop Tate was often offered large sums of money to sell his burger shop.
He always refused, and they could never replicate his recipes because of something he put in it that made every generation of Riverdalians come back.
The secret ingredient in Pop Tate’s burgers that keeps Archie’s gang coming back is love, and that can’t be replicated.
Keep that passion in your brand, and remain consistent across all channels.
Your enthusiasm will make the content resonate and keep it authentic.
And your audience will forgive you for warping Miss Grundy.
9. Build a content calendar and event schedule
Studies show that both B2B and B2C businesses are focused on creating more original content this year over last.
That poses a bit of a challenge, though. In fact, it creates a combination of several challenges.
The Content Marketing Institute’s 2016 survey of B2C content marketing trends found that creating, optimizing, and repurposing content rank among the top challenges.
To overcome this hurdle, we’ll need to take a look at professional content creators.
Cosmopolitan, for example, has its editorial content calendar for the year published in advance for advertisers.
Each quarter has its own stylish page that provides important publication and sale dates, along with an outline of that month’s theme.
This is just the summary the editors show us. The actual Cosmo content calendar is likely very intricate and interactive.
Start with a white board or calendar and start scheduling blog posts, social media promotion, and other content well in advance.
This approach gives you flexibility.
It’s always better to be proactive than reactive. A content calendar provides a bird’s-eye view of your content creation process.
It also makes it easier to track, reschedule, and make other changes to content.
10. Involve the community
World of Warcraft is one of the highest-grossing video games of all time.
So when Defense of the Ancients (a mod based on Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne) became a phenomenon, nobody expected it.
This small, independently-developed game spawned an entire genre of games: the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA).
Now MOBA games like League of Legends, Dota 2, and Smite outpace World of Warcraft in online interest.
These smaller, mostly unheard-of companies were able to dethrone a giant video game publisher by getting their communities of gamers involved.
Riot Games holds dozens of live League of Legends e-sports competitions throughout the year.
Gamers show up from around the world to compete for huge cash prizes.
These tournaments are truly epic and helped make e-sports a legitimate form of entertainment.
The crown for most live events goes to Dota 2.
There were three events last month alone, with over $500,000 in prizes given away!
This type of viral, guerilla, experiential marketing catapulted three small games past the corporate king.
Start thinking about how you can you spread your brand throughout your community.
11. Syndicate your content
You created a brilliant piece of content. Now you just need to get people to read it.
You can share it across social, but syndication is how you really broaden your reach.
Syndicating content by submitting it to RSS feeds and content aggregators can give it more visibility.
Take TechSpy, for example.
This community of tech journalists and bloggers submit article links. The community can vote on those links for inclusion on the main page.
Being featured on the hottest stories can bring hundreds and even thousands of clicks for your content.
The community also includes sites for movies, video games, and anime.
In fact, if you want to reach gamers, you can do it in-game, within the consoles, or on platforms like Steam, Twitch, Discord, and Raptr.
There’s no shortage of online communities for syndicating content.
Reddit is another great link aggregator that you might want to target.
There are 234 million unique monthly visitors on Reddit.
I’m sure some are local to you.
Unless you’re in a very small town, there’s a good chance you’ll find a subreddit for your town.
Here’s a list of local subreddits around the world so you can find yours.
And don’t forget RSS feeds!
There are a ton of RSS feed directories online but start with Feedage.com to submit your content to be pushed out to the right platforms with the right audiences.
Finding your RSS feed is as simple as typing YourWebsiteAddress.com/feed.
This link is all you’ll need to get started today!
12. Contact local media
One of the most effective local marketing strategies is to target local media.
Earned media is the holy grail of marketing.
It’s free. It’s how Donald Trump won the 2016 election.
The Edelman Trust Barometer shows that 65% of people trust journalists, analysts, and other experts versus 78% who trust friends and family.
Being featured by a local media outlet can create a huge surge in website traffic and engagement.
Earned media is seen by half of all marketers as having the best return for their 2017 marketing efforts.
The trick to contacting these journalists and editors is to keep up with local events.
While some may be interested in featuring a local business’s grand opening just for the sake of it, many will need an angle for the story.
Helping with local emergencies and participating in local events helps.
If you’re at the local Art in the Park or some other community event, it’s likely the local media is already covering it.
Find a way to get featured.
Which reminds me…
13. Stay ahead of the local news
The best part about being local is that you understand the topics of interest to other locals.
Use this to your advantage!
Keep up on local trends and show up at organized events to stay ahead of what’s happening in your town.
When I’m at home in Seattle, discussing other places makes me sound more worldly, but that only goes so far.
It’s local events in The Seattle Times that give me something relatable to talk about.
Football season is starting, so anything Seahawks will resonate.
Local elections are coming up.
There’s even an underground business that was shut down.
Each of these topics gives me something to discuss with locals, and I have several decades of such events to compare them to.
This deep knowledge adds just the right amount of flavor to my local content.
Techniques like content marketing are usually mentioned in the context of huge mega-corporations like Walmart.
But local businesses benefit from content marketing the most.
Using the right content, you form local connections with your neighbors that a faceless corporation simply can’t create.
Content marketing is how you provide value to the local community, whether it’s educational or entertaining (or both).
With a few simple processes, you can make content marketing a win for your business, especially among the locals.
What types of local content have you created? What works best for your industry?