How a Strong Content Marketing Strategy Can Transform Your Small Business

Content marketing is key for small business growth, and it is vital to have an effective strategy in place. Today on the Atlanta Small Business Show, we’re pleased to welcome back Skip Blankley, Marketing Director for Juxt Media and nobox creatives, who shares his tips on developing a robust content marketing strategy.

Transcription:

Jim Fitzpatrick:
So, welcome back to the show, Skip. We very much appreciate you taking the time out of your schedule for our viewers. So, thanks so much.

Skip Blankley:
Thank you, Jim.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure. So, for those few out there that may be living under a rock maybe, and don’t know what content marketing is. I think so many of us have heard that term, we’ve heard native marketing and all different types of things. Give us the definition from your perspective, what is content marketing?

Skip Blankley:
Sure. So, essentially, content marketing, this is a form of content marketing, we’re producing video. But it’s essentially the creation of any form of digital media or just media in general, whether that be video, audio, blogs, social media posts, these all fit under the content umbrella. And then the marketing essentially is tying that to the strategy element, which is speaking to a very specific demographic or a very specific audience, one that your company has defined as the one you’re going after. And so, you want to create content for that audience. And then again, use that, again, double that down with some strategy to essentially determine not only who the audience is you want to speak to, but what kind of content you want to create, but that’s essentially all that it is.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure. 10 years ago or so, you heard about content marketing. It started to become somewhat popular out there and for companies. And it seemed as though everyone said, we got to advertise, we got to run banner ads, and we got to run pre-rolls, and we got to get out there and we got to do direct marketing. We got to have to do all these types of things. And we have to have a little bit of content marketing, talk a little bit about who we are and the product or whatever. And then it seems like it has switched over time. And now content marketing is very, very important to companies. And on the banner sides and on the other types of, whether it be TV ads or things like that, not as much. While there’s a place for it, it seems as though really everyone, both the consumers of news and information and products and such are just as much interested as the companies, when it comes to content marketing. Give us information that we can use, right?

Skip Blankley:
Exactly.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s consumable and usable, and then we’ll go to your company. Or in theory, that’s what it’s all about. So, who should be using content marketing in their marketing strategy or content in their marketing strategy?

Skip Blankley:
Yeah, honestly, I think everyone. I think at this point that what you were just describing, that changing of the guards, so to speak, has already taken place. People, especially younger generations, they don’t want to be sold. They don’t want ads. Everyone’s getting annoyed, everyone’s downloading and implementing ad banner hides from their browsers, et cetera. So, everyone’s tired of being sold to, everyone’s tired of the advertisement. Everybody is interested in your product if it solves a problem for them. And so, essentially, and that’s what content marketing helps you do, is provide them with the solution before they even make the purchase, or at least guide them down that path before they make a purchase, before they sign up for your services, whatever the case may be. But yeah, again, the guards have changed. People are tired of being sold to, they want to solve problems on their own, and so content marketing is one of the best ways to do that.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure. So, if I’m a business owner and I’m listening to you and I have this discussion today, and I say, well, what kind of content, what types of content should I be using in my marketing? What’s going to be important or relevant or interesting enough for my clients? Maybe I’m a plumber, or maybe I’m an attorney, or maybe I’m an insurance company or something like that, how am I going to be able to develop content that’s going to be interesting enough and also get my brand out there and my message out there for my company?

Skip Blankley:
Yeah. And so, the types of content will largely vary based on the industry you’re in. Obviously, if you’re B2B, LinkedIn is a great place to be. If you’re marketing to millennials or younger generations, TikTok and Instagram are a great place. But then so each of those have their own forms of content. Like LinkedIn, for example, you can have long form articles, you can have short posts, you can have short videos, et cetera. But identifying where your target demographic spends the most time online is the first step in determining what types of content to create. YouTube is another great example, but if you’re trying to target a demographic that doesn’t spend a lot of time on YouTube, like anyone say 55 and older, or I think it’s like 20 to 25 or younger, they’re not spending as much time on YouTube. So, video may not be the best approach for you. But again, identifying where your target demographic is spending the most time online is the first step, and then that’ll give you some clues as to what type of content to create.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure. A friend of mine that owns a business, we had this discussion over dinner one night. We said, well, try to find out which one is what you’re selling to what you just said and try to find that market and then feed that market. And he said, I agree with you. However, I’ve taken the spray and pray approach where I just produce content for all of it. And then I decide, let that consumer of our goods and services determine where they’re going to meet us. He said, so I have something on YouTube, I have something now on TikTok, I’ve got LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. He said, I just cover it all and I get it all out there. We’re not really knowing where I might meet that next client. And have you seen that to be an effective strategy as well, or not so much?

Skip Blankley:
It can be if you have a lot of time and resources on your hand. If you’re a small scrappy startup, that’s not going to be an option. Or I wouldn’t say it’s not going to be an option, but sleep might suffer as a result. But I would say that the spray and pray absolutely works. It’s actually a really good way to start collecting data, because essentially if you don’t, if your product or your service is something that appeals or could appeal to a large, everything from a 16 year old female to an 85 year old male and everything in between, if that is your target demographic, then yes, the spray and pray approach might work. And it does work for a lot of people in a lot of industries. But again, I think most business owners don’t have the time, the resources or the funds necessarily to take that approach.
But I will say also that if you’re going to create YouTube videos, for example, I know a lot of people that produce a podcast, but they turn on a camera while they film that or while they record that podcast. So, now they’re on the podcast platforms, which are only audio, but now they’re also on YouTube, and now you can chop those videos up and place them on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook stories, et cetera.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right.

Skip Blankley:
It just depends on whether or not you have the resources, because that takes time. Chopping all of those up to fit each of those platforms will take time.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure. The good news about this, Skip, and see if you agree, is that in most cases it’s free. I mean, it’s going to take some time, which time is money, but at the end of the day, if a business owner has got some time on their hands with a few hours a week or a couple of hours a day, or even an hour a day, and they devote that to social marketing and being out there, everything else is free. I mean, YouTube doesn’t cost anything to on, YouTube, or LinkedIn, or Twitter, or Facebook, or any of the others. So, that’s the really good news about this, right?

Skip Blankley:
Correct. Absolutely. Yeah. Each of these platforms, there is a pay to place scenario. Facebook, 10 years ago, it was much easier to reach your audience by just simply posting something and that organic reach was far greater than it is today. Now, essentially, they’ve turned down the knob on the organic reach. And I mean, based on their business model, they want people to spend more money on advertising. And so, they turn that down intentionally to help drive more revenue through the ads. But you’re right, the platforms themselves are free to use, but unfortunately a lot of them are moving towards a pay to play model, where the organic reach is being turned down. And we could go down the rabbit hole on what that means for small businesses, but essentially you’re right. It’s all free to use. And if you have a distribution plan, if you’re posting on Facebook and you have a strong organic reach because your content is actually something people want to consume, then you’re in a win-win scenario. If you have less appealing content, you may have to pay to get that content in front of the right people.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure, sure. So, your company will help businesses with this process. They’ll come to you and say, look, I’m a plumber. Like I said, maybe I’m attorney or a dress maker, whatever the case might be. And I make really great dresses, or I’m a really great attorney, but a marketer I’m not, and especially as it relates to social media and social marketing. That’s something that you people help these small business owners with and big business owners for that matter. So, they’ll come to you and say, here’s our scenario, can you help us build a strategy and let us know and teach us and train us on how to do this, as well as actually doing it for us? Do you take it to that level?

Skip Blankley:
Yeah, it depends on the client. Oftentimes, especially with social media and content creation in general, for the most part, it needs to come from the company itself. People want to hear from the CEO or just any anyone within the company. If they know that they work for the company and they didn’t hire someone, hire an actor to perform it for them, it can often come across as more genuine, more authentic, and they can relate to it more. So, yes, to answer your question, we cover the spectrum in terms of the services we offer, whether it’s a completely done for you model or more of a strategy. And then we provide you with the tips and tricks and the checklist, essentially, the calendar so that you know that you and your team are creating the content you need to be creating, and publishing it and distributing it in the best way possible.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
And then also helping that business owner with the analytics at month end to say, here’s what’s working, here’s not, here’s what you need to do more of, here’s what we’ll do less of, as you said, filling out the marketplace and seeing what content is connecting with those buyers, right?

Skip Blankley:
Which is a critical step that I think a lot of companies overlook, especially when they’re doing it on their own. You see probably there’s two ends of the spectrum. One, where they’re literally refreshing the page every 14 minutes to see how many people have clicked, liked, or shared their content. And then the other end of the spectrum is they ignore it completely. But you want to be somewhere in between and monitoring the likes, the shares, the comments, et cetera, on these platforms, is a good idea. Don’t obsess over it, but definitely spend some time, at least on a weekly basis, reviewing to find out, okay, well, TikTok is a total miss, what are we doing wrong or is our audience not there? But YouTube is killing it. We’re getting 1,000 of views and tons of likes and comments. And then again, start doubling down on what’s working and then maybe table some of the stuff for later that’s not working. Pay attention, but don’t obsess over it.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure. A friend of mine asked me about social media and what I felt about it. And I said, “Hey, you got to be in it.” And absolutely, there’s no question about it. We have grown our companies through social media in a very big way. It’s very effective, it’s free, there’s no reason not to do it. You got to win in this area. He goes, “I tried it for a full month and it didn’t do anything.” What do you say to that business owner, Skip?

Skip Blankley:
Yeah. It’s funny, in the industry, we often joke that often, especially some with something like search engine optimization, if you’re going to be writing blog posts and doing some keyword research and whatnot, and you’re expecting the blog post to go live and then suddenly the floodgate’s open and now you’re just printing money, it doesn’t work like that. There’s several things that I won’t… I’ll again, avoid the rabbit hole in terms of how all that works in terms of ranking and whatnot. But yes, in terms of checking in after a month to see if it’s working, no. Any solid marketing strategy is going to take at least three months to start to see, unless you’re advertising. If you’re paying, then the results can come in within 24 to 48 hours.
But when it comes to organic reach, you definitely need to give it at least 90 days before you start even revisiting your strategy for that matter, because you want to collect that data. And especially if you’re doing a spray and pray approach, you want to get at least that amount of data in before you start making any decisions. You’re not going to get a week’s worth of data and make any good decisions, in my opinion.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Right. I have found with our companies that you get a much more qualified lead with somebody that’s engaged from your content that you push out there, somebody that knows your company, feels good about you and your brand, understands you, sees you as maybe even an authority in that particular field or in that space. So, when they make the call or they click onto the website to fill out a form fill or send you an email, I’ve gotten the feeling like I’m already 75% into this transaction of happening versus, when you run an ad and somebody clicks and goes, yes, send me your price list. Would you agree with that statement? Is that a fair assessment?

Skip Blankley:
100%, it’s essentially, it’s referrals at scale. If I’m looking for a plumber and my neighbor says we just hired X, Y, Z company, and they did a great job, the price was fair, they rented out in 24 hours, we’re super happy, I’m going to call them no questions asked. I’m not even going to bother Google searching for a local plumber. And this essentially, content marketing, essentially, if you’re establishing that level of trust, you’re doing the referral part at scale. So now I don’t need to speak to someone because I’ve already read your blog post, I’ve watched your videos. And the plumbers are a good example. Someone who goes to YouTube and tries to fix a leaky faucet DIY, and then they get in there and then they start a small flood in their bathroom, they’re going to call whoever published that video that showed them how to do it.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right.

Skip Blankley:
And a lot of local plumbers and various service professionals are doing exactly that, they’re helping people DIY, but the moment that homeowner or whomever reaches that point where they’re no longer capable or willing, then immediately, they’re going to call that company.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
But Skip, if I teach somebody how to fix their own leak, what do they need me for?

Skip Blankley:
Yeah. No, that is often, we hear that all the time, but again, I cannot tell you how many times I personally have reached out after watching multi… And we talked about it-

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Me too.

Skip Blankley:
…previously. The Boulder, what was the name of the company, Crawl Space Ninja, that had a series of YouTube videos. And again, I was determined. I was going to learn how to encapsulate the crawl space in the house. And I, after watching a series of videos, quickly realized it was a terrible idea, and called them and they got a decent amount of business from us. And I’ve actually referred them to two other people at this point. And they spend, I don’t even want to know, they have hundreds of videos and probably thousands of hours worth of video content. That again, would someone 10 years ago may say, why would I teach them to do it? They’re not going to call me if they’re not going to need me. That’s case and point, that you can teach someone to do something, but there is going to come a time when they realize that they just have met their match and they need to call the professionals.
First and foremost, identify your demographic. Who’s your market? Who are you trying to market to? What kind of content are they going to want to consume? And then where are they consuming that? that’s the first step. And most companies, I hope that most companies, no matter what stage they’re in, know who their target market is. And so, again, identify your target market, create a persona, identify what kind of content they actually want to consume that relates to your product or service, and then where are they consuming that content? So, start there and then just start creating the content. I think a lot of people get hung up on having to be perfect. They want to spend $10,000 on a professional studio and get all the right equipment, which is all well and good if you’re targeting that individual or that type of company, but for the most part, most people just need to get started. But again, the basics of strategy would be just identify who you’re targeting and where they’re consuming the content and what types of content they’re consuming.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right. That’s right. My recommendation to business owners that are watching us today. This is just me, do what you want, you can do the DIY and learn maybe what works and what doesn’t work. But if it were me and I’ve opened up a number of companies and started a number of companies and exited a few as well, very successfully. So, take that with a grain of salt there. But I would seek out a company like Crawl Space Ninja, or what Skip’s providing here with his business, to get started. Because what you don’t want to do is you don’t want to do a ready, shoot, aim for business owners out there that go, I think I can do them myself and I can run out there and I can take care of things, and all of a sudden you realize, oh, I think I made a mistake. I put content out there that maybe wasn’t right or maybe I put it in the wrong areas.
Time is money and if you’ve got a year or so to figure this thing out, and leads don’t matter, then maybe save a buck or two and do it on your own. But if it were up to me, I’d probably call Skip. And I know this is not an ad for Skip. But call somebody, if not Skip, call a Skip out there that does this, that says, look, before you spend any money or time, I should say, here’s what we recommend. We’ve identified your market. We’ve identified what you should do and how you should do it, and the kind of content that you should push out. I’m telling you, it is very, very valuable. It’s like starting a business and saying, you know what? I don’t need an attorney or an accountant, I’ll just kind of wing it. I’ll figure it out. I’ll go online and get the necessary forms. Big mistake. So, Skip, I didn’t mean to give you a full blown ad there, but I will say-

Skip Blankley:
It’s appreciated.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
…that I’m passionate about this for small business owners, because I talk to a lot of them in conferences and such that say, man, it took me a while to figure that out. I wish there was somebody out there that could help us with it. And we know a few of them here, Skip happens to be one of the best out there. So, Skip, thank you so much for joining us here on the show. We very much appreciate it. He’s marketing director at Juxt Media and nobox creatives. You can check him out online. We love him here at the show. But till next time, thanks so much for joining us.

Skip Blankley:
Yeah, absolutely. Thank you, Jim. Great to be here.


The Atlanta Small Business Network, from start-up to success, we are your go-to resource for small business news, expert advice, information, and event coverage.

While you’re here, don’t forget to subscribe to our email newsletter for all the latest business news know-how from Atlanta Small Business Network.