Is Content Marketing King for Local Businesses?

Conventional wisdom of the digital marketing industry tells us that content is king. But is content really king for local businesses?

New trends are forged by bucking conventional wisdom, and while I support the notion that great content is a crucial component of a comprehensive digital marketing strategy for some businesses in some industries, content isn’t king for every business.

This may be a relief to you. And it probably makes some of my digital marketing peers cringe. But stick with me; there’s a method to my madness.


Common Content Marketing Expectations

Over the past several years, content marketing has evolved from savvy practice embraced by thought leaders to a marketing buzzword, and everyone – from agencies to startup owners – is jumping on the bandwagon. I don’t mean to imply businesses shouldn’t embrace content marketing. Many should, because content marketing is very much “a thing.”

But here’s the problem. There’s a lot of noise in the marketplace with businesses turning their marketing departments into high frequency content machines with the expectation of improving search engine rankings and increasing customers.

All this noise makes it that much harder for your content to generate the kind of results you’re working for. So you have to spend more time and more money to produce more and better content, which puts this long game out of reach for many small and mid-size businesses, because quality content development isn’t cheap.

Setting Content Marketing Expectations for Local Businesses

A wide-spread content marketing strategy will certainly help improve your search engine rankings over time, but it will also attract out-of-market traffic to your website, which won’t help you increase your customer base. Now, I’m not suggesting that you eliminate content marketing from your digital marketing strategy, just that you focus your efforts to maximize your return.

All content creation for local businesses should be centered on these two rules:

Rule 1: All educational content is for current customers.
The best customer for a local business is a current customer. It’s the old 80/20 rule that 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers. You want to give those customers, and the other 80% of them, a reason to keep coming back. Educational content is ideal for achieving this, but it doesn’t need to be produced frequently. This content can be archived on your website and also be utilized in email marketing, social media, and printed handouts at the store level.

Rule 2: Get involved in the community.
Community-focused content is the best type of content a local business can create. Define a strategy for getting involved and giving back to your community. Align your business with organizations and institutions that your business leaders and community are passionate about. Invest in them with time, funds and service. Give your local media great news to share. The high-quality content that will help increase your customer base will follow in short order.

These guidelines bring specific relief to the three most important goals of content marketing:

  1. Retaining current customers
  2. Strengthening the local perception
  3. Increasing brand awareness

Following them will help you tailor your content marketing strategy to maximize the effectiveness of your efforts. They’ll also have the least impact on your budget, which will free up dollars for other digital marketing efforts, such as pay-per-click advertising and search engine optimization, aimed at filling the top of your prospect funnel with new customers from your market.

Brad Timofeev

Brad is an energetic thought leader on digital marketing.

Since joining the WebArt team in 2009, he's guided the agency's unique perspective on search engine optimization, content marketing, and other digital strategies. Book Brad for your next speaking arrangement.

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