Companies are depending increasingly on content marketing: a whopping 93% of B2B marketers, for example, now not only leverage content marketing—they spend more than 40% of their total marketing budgets on it.
Why? Well, for one thing, content marketing is arguably more effective than any other marketing strategy at generating high-quality leads, with companies that use it getting about five times as many as those which don’t. For another, it’s less expensive than all other types of marketing. But there’s a challenge.
It’s Getting Harder for Small Businesses to Compete
Content marketing does cost less than typical advertising, but it’s certainly not free—and it’s often more than a lot of smaller companies bargain for. What constitutes “less” for the big guys on the block still looks like a huge chunk of money to those closer to the bottom of the food chain. As an example: the average content marketing spend for large companies is approximately $1.75 million.
And, there’s another problem.
All that money going to content marketing means there’s a lot of content out there, so much that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get your company’s content noticed, especially if your business is small and doesn’t have the resources big companies do. This is how Neil Patel describes the situation:
“…while the growth (and affordability) of content marketing might sound appealing, it also means that it’s becoming harder for brands and companies to stand out. To put it simply, we’re looking at market saturation. Millions of content-marketing pieces are produced every day. It’s not as easy as just using a few popular keywords and banking on a high ranking.”
What’s a Small Business to Do?
The answer, we think, is rooted in what’s sometimes been called guerilla marketing. One might also call it ballsy strategy. It boils down to this: to effectively compete, your business needs to find unconventional, creative and relatively inexpensive content marketing solutions; solutions that surprise and grab the attention of your target audience. That’s precisely how the following three companies took their content marketing to the next level.
Hitching Your Wagon to a Star: Hootsuite
Now, Hootsuite could hardly be called a “small company.” After all, this Canadian darling is one of the biggest social media management platforms out there—but they’re much smaller than companies like GE, Apple and Coca Cola. Lacking the marketing budgets of those industry giants, Hootsuite needed to find a way to cut through the noise.
They did it by linking their business to one of the most popular series in the history of television: Game of Thrones. Their viral video, “Game of Social Thrones,” quickly racked up more than 1.1 million views and brought a lot of new customers into their fold.
So while your company \might not be Hootsuite, you could consider following or adapting their example. To produce content that gets noticed, seek out topics that are trending, using online tools like Google Trends. Fold those trends into your content unobtrusively—and in a way that remains true to your brand story and messaging—and hit the launch button. If your content is well-crafted and your topic an attention-getter, you can reap enormous benefits.
Keep It Relevant with Custom Content: Intelligentsia
Intelligentsia sells coffee. A good brew might very well wake you up in the morning, but coffee isn’t likely to get you attention on social media unless you find a way to stand out from the other caffeine-slingers out there. For Intelligentsia, that angle was custom content.
Almost 80% of CMOs say custom content is the future of content marketing, and 90% of consumers say companies that deliver custom content care about them and their needs. The reason: custom content is designed to solve consumer problems and address their needs, directly and specifically.
For Intelligentsia, a custom content strategy involved creating custom guides which showed its customers and prospective customers the best ways to brew its coffee. This worked because the content was professionally produced, and because no one else in the marketing was doing it.
You can do the same: find out what your customers care about and what needs are being underserved. Once you do, dive in with some great custom content—your customers will be grateful for the help, and your content marketing will rise to the top of the heap.
Don’t Tell Them; Show Them: Fifth Story
Fifth Story is a content marketing agency based in Toronto—so they know how to create winning content. Still, even content marketing agencies have their competition, and Fifth Story needed a way to stand above the crowd.
Their solution? Instead of telling their audience what they were capable of, they showed them in a beautifully-crafted, killer video (“Welcome to Fifth Story“). They answered the likely prospect question, “How good is your content?” by showing them, not telling them, in a one-minute, 52-second video. The takeaway: hit on content marketing strategies that show rather than tell prospects just what you’re able to do.
No one thought David would take down Goliath—but David used his bean (and a slingshot). You can, too, no matter your size.
There’s no question small companies face an uphill battle competing for attention in a market saturated content—but you can win that battle by finding innovative and unconventional ways to create content, and by crafting content that takes customers and prospective customers by surprise to grab and hold their attention.4