4 Reasons Why Employees are the #1 Content Marketing Resource for Small Businesses
A common misconception about content marketing is that it's only valuable for large brands. Small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs) may not feel they have the resources, budget or time to use content creation as a strategy that boosts web traffic, builds an audience and ultimately increases sales.
However, the number one most important rule for ensuring content marketing ROI is to provide value. Neither large companies nor SMBs have to spend exorbitant amounts of money or time to create extremely valuable content that gets results. In fact, one of the best resources for content ROI is your own employees.
1. Authority and Expertise
When it comes to informational content, the most valuable pieces come from experts - and who knows more about your business and industry than your own employees? Providing expert, authoritative advice in your field will go a long way towards attracting potential customers and generating leads. Not to mention, search engines look very favorably on long-form, authoritative content that thoroughly addresses a searcher's query or answers their question.
For example, if you run a financial planning service, it's likely that one of your employees has the knowledge to thoroughly explain whether or not a Roth IRA is a good choice for any given person. Tapping their knowledge to help create an ebook entitled, "Is a Roth IRA Right for You?" can result in an extremely high-quality piece of content that you can advertise on social media, offer as a downloadable file for email captures, or use as a lead generation tool in any number of ways. Your employee's knowledge of the subject will often bring a level of insight to the ebook that many freelance writers or other creators of financial content may not have - giving you a competitive edge in search results and reputation.
2. Filling in Knowledge Gaps
For many large companies, content marketing is going to get more and more difficult as time passes. With so much content being created every day, it'll just keep getting tougher to cut through the noise. However, SMBs in niche industries are uniquely positioned to create content that addresses topics rarely covered on the internet. While industries like technology development and marketing are saturated with many different articles and blogs that address the same topics over and over, there are still many industries that are underserved. Filling in these "knowledge gaps" is a classic content marketing strategy that allows you to have the only website that answers a specific question. Whenever this question is asked in a search engine, it's highly likely you'll be represented first if you answer it thoroughly.
For example, musical instrument repair specialists often have a wealth of tribal knowledge that isn't represented well on the internet. As of this writing, a search for "how to fix sticky keys on a Roland XP-10" results in this:
These results contain a few unhelpful forum posts, as well as some YouTube videos that are far from comprehensive and don't deal with the XP-10 model directly. Any music store that uses an employee to create a well-produced, informative video guide showing how to perform this task is likely to gain a ton of favor with any keyboard player who has this issue. Of course, you'll want to research the demand for this type of information to ensure your ROI, but there's no denying the potential for lead generation that comes from addressing a very specific need in your industry.
3. Social Audience Expansion
This one is simple. Asking your employees to support your content marketing efforts on social media can help expand your audience and capture new leads for your business. While many employees may want to keep their social profiles separate from their work life, it's becoming more and more common for employees outside of a business's marketing department to share company posts, invite friends to like a page and generally help boost and leverage a business's social following. This can be especially effective on a network like LinkedIn.
4. Idea Creation
You likely know that you need fresh content to grow in search engine rankings and develop a social following. While content like video, infographics, ebooks and podcasts can be very effective, they're often much more labor intensive than regularly publishing valuable blog posts. It's why just about any marketer would recommend that a small business has a blog section on their website. Of course, maintaining a company blog is no walk in the park either, especially for SMBs who don't have an in-house marketing staff. Simply coming up with ideas for blog posts can become cumbersome, and many company blogs end up abandoned.
Much of this can be remedied by teaching your employees to think like marketers. If they come across any situation in their daily work that could make for an interesting blog post, have them add it to an ongoing Google Sheet for company blog ideas. Also, your employees can be especially helpful when trying to determine content that your customers will find useful. Regularly talk to them about what questions they're receiving from customers or how they recently solved a customer issue. Stories like these can show your site visitors that you're a caring, engaged business, while gaining all the SEO benefits of hosting content that genuinely helps customers in your industry.
Adjusting Your Company Culture
Of course, many employees simply will not have the time to write whole blog posts or film a video. However, you can always get inspiration or initial outlines/sketches of an idea from an expert employee and complete the writing, editing, publishing or designing yourself, with your marketing team or with an outsourced marketing service. Your business may also not be totally comfortable giving tribal knowledge away for free, but providing valuable content to potential customers at no cost is a tenet of content marketing that you may end up finding works extremely well.
So, as many big brands are essentially turning into publishers in order to stay competitive, SMBs can see the same results by getting everyone on the team involved at least marginally with their internet marketing efforts.