Robert and Courtney Cannon, owners of The Cannons Photography
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Kelly Rice, Treefrog Marketing’s founder & chief marketing strategist
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September 26, 2023

September 19, 2023

Episode 110: A Proven Content Marketing Strategy for Small Businesses


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For any business wishing to grow, understanding and implementing content marketing is non-negotiable. But with the constant stream of information and the ever-changing algorithms, how do you ensure your content not only survives but thrives?

As Treefrog Marketing’s content director, Angel Tobey oversees all content and copy our agency produces for clients. In other words, she manages all the words that go on websites and in blog posts, social media, ads, and any other forms of written communication—including our clients’ content marketing strategies.

In this week’s episode of Priority Pursuit, Angel dives into how you can attract and foster connection with your ideal customers AND improve your SEO with a proven content marketing strategy for small businesses.

 

What is content marketing?

Content marketing is a marketing strategy where businesses create and distribute valuable, relevant, and engaging content to attract their ideal clients.

For clarification, when we say “content,” we mean blog posts, videos, podcast episodes, infographics, organic social media posts, and any other medium that allows you to share a message and engage with your audience.

That said, instead of promoting a product or service, content marketing focuses on providing information, entertainment, or helpful resources that help prospects see your business as a trusted resource.

The goal of content marketing is to attract prospects by creating content that is relevant and helpful—not interruptive. Great content leads, guides, and directs customers where you want them to go while serving them well.

So essentially, content marketing is a strategy where you create and share valuable content that serves your audience well so that you can connect with them and build trust—which ultimately makes them want to do business with you.

 

How does content marketing fit into the flywheel marketing method?

As a recap, the flywheel marketing method is a marketing strategy where your website and online marketing efforts are in sync and function as a flywheel to continually produce results.

The flywheel marketing strategy is a four-step strategy, and content marketing is part of step number three—which is creating content and a sales funnel that serves your ideal clients well.

So, after you’ve developed your messaging and built a strong foundation with a customer-focused, SEO-optimized website—the next step in the flywheel method is implementing your content marketing strategy.

As a reminder, the purpose of content marketing is to help serve your ideal customers and make them want to further engage with your small business. But, your content also needs to strategically move prospects through your sales funnel—and in the strategy we use at Treefrog, this includes a blog post, an opt-in, and a landing page.

We’ll go into more detail about opt-ins and sales funnels in a future episode, but for now, we’re going to focus on content marketing strategy in relation to the content you create that lives on your website—like blogs.

 


Want to take a deeper dive into the flywheel marketing method? Check out “Episode 103: The Best Marketing Strategy for Small Businesses: The Flywheel Marketing Method”!


 

What kind of content should small businesses be creating?

As we mentioned before, videos, podcast episodes, and other forms of content you can put on your website are great. But, blogging tends to be the easiest option for small businesses and the one we most recommend—especially for those just getting started with their content marketing strategy.

Blogging is relatively easy and cost-effective, but it’s still a powerful way to produce content your audience finds helpful. It’s also a great way to improve your SEO.

At this point, you might be wondering, “Isn’t blogging dead?”

The answer is no. Blogging is definitely not dead. In fact, 77% of Internet users still read blog posts and similar articles daily. As a result, blogging is a great way to engage with your clients, develop authority in your field, increase traffic to your website, and improve your SEO.

However, there are a few blogging tactics that are dead…or should be dead. For example, years ago, it was common practice to simply post a ton of content to your blog—which isn’t effective anymore.

We now know that blogging is about quality over quantity. By quality, we simply mean that your blog posts actually serve your audience well by giving them the information they need to answer their questions or solve their problems.

Chances are, your readers are looking to solve a problem, and if your content helps readers find a solution to their problem, your content marketing strategy will be highly effective.

 

How does content marketing fit in the buyer’s journey?

The buyer's journey is the process a customer goes through to purchase a product or service. And, it has three stages: awareness, consideration, and decision.

 

Awareness Stage

In the awareness stage—someone has a problem but they don’t know what to do about it, or they need to be made aware of something. They’re looking for answers, resources, and education on a topic.

An example of content for the awareness stage would be a blog. A blog post is a great way to expand on a pain point, problem, or topic your target audience wants to learn more about.

Let’s pretend you sell swim goggles, and your ideal client is tired of chlorine irritating their eyes.

An awareness stage blog for this swimmer audience could be about how to prevent eye irritation caused by chlorine. Your blog post could cover DIY hacks like using eye drops before and after swimming, not wearing contacts while swimming, and wearing a pair of properly fitting goggles.

As a company that sells goggles, you’re giving your audience the opportunity to explore all possible solutions, but you’re also giving them a chance to move further into your sales funnel by providing your company’s product as a possible solution.

 

Consideration Stage

The consideration stage is the part of the buying process where someone is researching or considering ways to get something done.

In their awareness stage research, the buyer becomes aware of possible solutions to their problem—and this is where they get to research those solutions.

Carrying on with the swimmer example, after they’ve read your blog post, they’ve likely decided that goggles would be the easiest solution to their problem. But, what kind of goggles should they get? Are some goggles better than others? Do they need a specific fit? These are the questions they’re asking themselves during the consideration phase.

In the content marketing strategy we use at Treefrog, content for this phase is an opt-in of some kind. Again, we’ll go over opt-ins in more detail during a future episode, but basically, this can be an informational download, a coupon code, a quiz, or anything else that your audience can gain access to in exchange for their email address.

For your goggles company, a good opt-in might be a quiz about choosing the right kind of goggles for them based on their swimming habits and eye care needs. They’ll take the quiz and then receive a personalized recommendation featuring one of your products via email.

Once you have their email address, you’re able to continue the conversation and nurture your potential buyer as they make a decision about how to solve their problem.

 

Decision Stage

This stage is when a potential customer is ready to make a decision—meaning, they need to be convinced that choosing your product or service is the right choice.

An example of content for the decision stage would be a service or product landing page. Your potential customer is already aware of their problem and has considered how they can solve it, so they’re ready to look into the exact specifications of a product or service that will make that solution a reality.

While prospects will receive emails between taking advantage of your opt-in and making a final decision, the landing page is where you’ll actually sell your product or service. In other words, it’s where customers will make a decision.

Finishing with the swimmer example. They’ve decided that a specific kind of goggles is what they need. Your product landing page is where they’ll decide to buy those goggles from you.

To wrap that all up, the whole goal of content marketing is basically to create engaging and informative content that leads prospects through the buyer’s journey.

 

How many blog posts, opt-ins, and landing pages do you need?

We know this sounds like a lot of work—and it is if you aren’t familiar with the process—but more often than not, our clients just need one or maybe two opt-ins per offer for the consideration phase and just one landing page for the decision phase.

However, you do want to have multiple awareness blog posts that lead to the same opt-in. You could literally have dozens of blog posts—assuming they’re all high-quality—that lead people to the same opt-in.

If we stick to our goggle example, you could write blogs about how to protect your eyes while swimming, how to prevent goggles from leaking, the importance of polarized goggles, and so much more that all naturally lead to your quiz about choosing the right pair of goggles.

In case you need an example you might be more familiar with, every podcast episode we put out for Priority Pursuit is an awareness piece, and we have dozens of episodes that encourage listeners to take our free Marketing Guiding Statements mini course, which is one of our opt-ins. This is one opt-in, but we direct our audience to it regularly.

 

What is the goal of awareness blogs?

Awareness blogs serve two primary purposes in the content marketing strategy we use.

First, they answer your ideal client’s questions and provide them with the information they need so that you can serve them well, earn their trust, and show that you have authority.

Awareness blogs also help Google see you as a trusted source in your industry. Google favors websites that are updated regularly with fresh, relevant content that follows SEO best practices. The more “trusted” your content and website become to Google, the more likely you are to improve your search rankings—making it easier for your ideal customers to find you.

For the sake of time, we aren’t going to dive deep into SEO, but you can check out “Episode 88: Three Blog Topics You Can Use to Improve Your Local SEO” and “Episode 106: How to Optimize Your Website for Search Engines” to get started optimizing your small business’s website for SEO.

To get the most out of your awareness blog posts, you do want to make sure that you’re optimizing them with keywords. So, with this in mind, we want to encourage you to check out our guide “How to Use Keywords to Improve Your Small Business’s SEO.”

 

What should your small business blog about?

When it comes to deciding what to blog about, it’s important to rely heavily on research and strategy. If you’ve created your messaging—AKA your Marketing Guiding Statements—you’ll already know the problems and pain points your ideal customer is facing, which can inspire a lot of awareness blog post ideas.

Use these pain points and problems to determine what questions your ideal clients have and write specifically about those topics.

Also, what questions are your ideal clients Googling in relation to your products or services? Whatever the answer, these topics will likely make for great blog posts and may even give you an opportunity to create blogs that rank well on Google—allowing even more people to discover your small business organically through Google.

As you decide what to blog about, doing some competitor research is also a good idea. What are your biggest competitors writing about? How are they serving clients with their blog posts? How can you better serve prospects through your blog posts?

 

How often should you post blogs?

As for how often you should be adding blogs to your website, we recommend posting a minimum of once a month. If you can blog more than that, wonderful. Google favors websites that regularly produce helpful content.

But, as we mentioned before, it should be quality over quantity. It can be tempting to get in there and start posting a lot of blogs to your website, but you really need to take the time to make sure that you’re producing quality content for your audience.

On that note, AI resources—like ChatGPT—can help. However, we DO NOT recommend copying and pasting AI-produced blogs. AI can help, but quality blogs have a human touch.

 

What are some blogging best practices?

There are a few best practices you should keep in mind when you’re creating blogs—especially if you’re new to content marketing.

 

Producing Quality Content

This seems a little obvious, but poor grammar, bad word flow, and irrelevant content can make your brand seem like you don’t know what you’re doing. Be sure to take the time to determine who you’re writing for, what they’ll want to get out of the blog, and how this content will appeal to them.

 

Following SEO Best Practices

Are you using quality keywords throughout the copy? Have you properly written your meta description, SEO title, and image alt descriptions? SEO is how your blog is going to be found via Google, so be sure you put some work into doing it correctly.

 


Want to learn more about keywords? Check out our guide “How to Use Keywords to Improve your Small Business’s SEO.”


 

Remembering Formatting & Appearance

Don’t forget to make your blog visually appealing and easy to read. Break your content up into readable sections using headings and quality images. Also, be sure your blog looks nice and professional on your site. If your formatting or design is wonky—it will make your business look unprofessional.

 

Including a Call to Action

Last but not least, don’t forget a call to action (or CTA) at the end of your blog that takes your readers to your consideration opt-in. This is a mistake we often see small businesses make. You can have a beautifully written awareness blog, but if it doesn’t lead your prospects further into the buyer’s journey, it’s likely you’ll lose them.

We want to make it as easy as possible for potential clients to move forward in the buyer’s journey, and including a CTA at the bottom of your blog—as well as linking to your opt-in in relevant places throughout the blog post—is a great way to spur them into action.

 

Can small businesses realistically handle blogging in-house? If not, what are their options?

If you have the time, writing ability, and the strategy already laid out—then yes, your business can likely handle its own blogging.

However, blogging has a lot of moving parts and can take quite a bit of time. At Treefrog, we have an entire strategy, writing, and editing process that numerous members of our team are involved in for each and every blog post we produce for both ourselves and our clients.

If you or your team don’t already have the skill sets or experience needed to create clear messaging, write grammatically and professionally, or understand how to properly include SEO and keywords in your blogs—learning even the basics will take hours of your time.

And, as a busy small business owner or leader, writing this content likely isn’t the best use of your time—considering your hours could be spent focusing on money-making aspects of your business or life outside the office.

So, in summary, it depends on the skillsets you have available in-house.

 

What are the steps you can take to get started on content marketing for your business?

Assuming you’ve already completed steps one and two of the flywheel marketing strategy, the first thing we would encourage you to do is to pick a single offer—one product or service—that you want to build a content marketing strategy and sales funnel around.

Then, come up with 12 awareness blog topics you can write so that you can publish one of these blog posts each month over the course of the next year. If you have the capacity and can come up with more than 12 quality topics, feel free to do more.

Next, choose your consideration piece—your opt-in. Again, we’ll talk more about opt-ins in a future episode, but start thinking about topics that would serve your ideal client well during the consideration phase of their buyer’s journey.

Then, make sure you have a landing page that helps your ideal client make a decision and see the value of your product or service. If you’d like help with this, be sure to go back and listen to “Episode 107: How to Write Website Copy for Your Small Business: How to Write Your Home, Service, & About Pages.” In this episode, we break down exactly how to write service pages using a formula that’s proven to convert prospects.

Last but not least, have a strategy for promoting this content. This is an aspect of the flywheel marketing method we’ll discuss in another upcoming episode, but for now, use social media and email marketing to share the blog posts.

With all of this being said, as you develop this content, make sure that you also develop systems for writing, publishing, and sharing your content. More often than not, a lack of systems is what kills a small business's marketing strategy, because people simply get overwhelmed and tend to put marketing on the back burner.

 

Can you outsource content marketing?

We know this might sound like a lot of work—especially to small business owners. But, you can outsource content marketing. This is a service we offer at Treefrog, and content marketing is absolutely worth your investment of both time and/or money. In fact, studies show that conversion rates for businesses that implement a content marketing strategy are about six times higher than those that don’t.

Content marketing for small businesses is commonly overlooked as an impactful marketing tool because it doesn’t often have immediate payoffs. Therefore, many busy leaders miss the opportunity to build trust, authority, and brand recognition with their potential customers.

That said, we already know you aren’t like most small business leaders. You’re willing to put in the work and commit to strategies that work so that you can take your business to the next level.

 

Links & Resources Mentioned in This Episode

 

Learn the EXACT marketing strategy we use to help small businesses grow: The Flywheel Marketing Method.

 


 

The Priority Pursuit Podcast is a podcast dedicated to helping small business owners define, maintain, and pursue both their personal and business priorities so they can build lives and businesses they love.

You can find The Priority Pursuit Podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, Stitcher, and wherever you listen to podcasts.

 


 

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Angel Tobey dives into how you can attract and foster connection with your ideal customers AND improve your SEO with a content marketing strategy for small businesses.

 

 

Leverage Kelly’s marketing experience, insights, and leadership to grow your business.

As the founder and chief marketing strategist at Treefrog Marketing, a co-host of the Priority Pursuit Podcast, a StoryBrand Certified Guide, and fractional chief marketing officer, Kelly Rice has spent more than two decades helping small businesses take their companies to the next level by providing trustworthy leadership and building effective marketing strategies and systems.

She has dedicated her career to helping small businesses succeed because she knows, firsthand, how hard they work to make their communities a better place. 

Still, many people undervalue the strength and ingenuity of small businesses, but not Kelly. She believes they deserve to have a marketing partner and strategy that works as hard as they do.

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