Content marketing: how to boost your small business

content marketing

Earlier today I was invited to take part in a live Q&A over on the Guardian website all about content marketing. Over the course of 90 minutes I did my best to answer as many questions as possible, ranging in subject from building trust to virtual reality.

My fellow panellists represented global brands, membership organisations, content marketing agencies and small businesses. Thanks to their insightful responses I walked away with a few new thoughts, so thank you to all involved:

  • Sammy Todd, The Chartered Institute for Marketing (CIM)
  • Vicky Stewart, Seven
  • Mark Hopkins, Kia Motors
  • Anna Cusden, Look Fabulous Forever
  • Karen Webber, Axonn Media
  • Mike Hollingbery, Bozboz
  • Kim Willis, Cedar
  • Patrick Walsh, Publishing Push

(And a final thank you to Emma Featherstone at the Guardian for organising)

Below are a few of the topics we discussed. Make sure you check out all the questions and answers over on the Guardian’s small business network.

Global audiences

Not every audience is the same, and that’s especially true when you’re marketing to different countries. Karen touched on multicultural content marketing, explaining that you can’t ‘expect the same content to engage people in each territory. When you need to engage people across linguistic and cultural borders, context becomes more important than ever.’

Small businesses

Q: What’s the biggest mistake small businesses make with content marketing?

A: Not having a content marketing strategy in place. Identify your goals and use content marketing to help you achieve what you want.

How to make your content stand out from the crowd

The internet is saturated with content. So how do you make yours stand out from the crowd? Vicky suggested ‘using any data you have to inform better insight, by understanding where your audience are, being culturally relevant and saying something unique.’ That’s something I very much agree with and something very few small businesses think to do. Some companies are sitting on a wealth of data that could guide their content strategy and in some cases actually they could actually create insightful content with it.

User-generated content

User-generated content can be a great way to make people feel part of your brand. Mike reminded us that ‘if customers feel invested in what you do and share your ethos for why you do it, they will become emotionally invested.’ In turn this will lead to ‘loyal customers, more sales and a better brand image.’

Content ideas

There was a lot of discussion in general about content ideas. I chipped in at one point to mention one of my favourite tools, Buzzsumo. Once I have a vague content idea I use Buzzsumo to see how any similar content performed on social media to see whether it’s an idea worth pursuing.

Note: creating content isn’t always about generating a huge number of social shares or receiving large amounts of web traffic. However if you see that the most shared articles about a topic are all long-form blogs, maybe there’s a gap in the market for an infographic or another alternative format.


To say I’m not a fan of video for the sake of it is an understatement. I’m not anti-video, it’s just that so many businesses jump on the bandwagon without considering the medium and whether it’s actually the right platform for them.

A good video example of content marketing? This case study from Anna:

‘We started our business 2 years ago with no budget for marketing at all. We made two makeup tutorials specifically aimed at older women and posted them on YouTube. Within 3 to 4 months we were getting 1000,15000 views a day and orders started to come in from all over the world. We have now had over a million views on our YouTube channel with the only overhead being video production costs (which we always keep as low as possible). It is possible to get traction if your content speaks to your target market and gives them something useful.’

Meaningless stats

Every time someone quotes a content formula (do 60% this and 30% this and 10% this and you’ve cracked it!) I just want to cry. Every. Single. Time. Because content marketing that works isn’t about formulas. It’s about knowing your audience, creating a strategy and sharing valuable content. So when someone asked ‘is it good practice in #contentmarketing to focus 80% of your effort on helping your tribe and 20% on brand-promotion?’ I had to jump in.

My response: If you’re truly creating content with the purpose of ‘helping your tribe’ the brand promotion will fall into place naturally.

There’s no magic number, no universal formula that works for every strategy. If you focus on sharing unique and informative content relevant to your industry your brand and bottom line will benefit.

Thanks for reading, I hope you’ve found this helpful. Now the Q&A has finished please feel free to ask any other questions in the comment section below and I’ll get back to you with an answer.


Published by

Carla B

London blogger

2 thoughts on “Content marketing: how to boost your small business”

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