Local businesses can use content marketing to their great advantage but unfortunately, most of the local businesses aren’t even aware of the concept. I’ll give a personal example.
The housing society where I live has a Facebook page. The page was created so that the residents could exchange ideas and although, the exchange of ideas does happen, people mostly post messages to promote their local businesses, and one of such businesses is a small catering business that is perhaps run from within one of the apartments in another housing society.
In the beginning, when they hadn’t yet created a nuisance on our housing society’s Facebook page, I had contacted them because I was interested in getting early breakfast from them (which, they don’t provide, but promote anyway). Now I don’t remember how I shared my phone number with them, they also included me in a WhatsApp group. Later on I had to block their number because they were sending 5–10 image messages every day about what a great catering service they have and what are their offerings for the day.
As I am always excited about helping new businesses in the beginning I advised them to register themselves with Google Local. I also told them not to spam the Facebook page and the WhatsApp group but, although, they didn’t know how to set up themselves in Google Local and I provided them step-by-step instruction, they didn’t take me seriously when I told them that continuously posting senseless messages is going to be counter-productive. Eventually people started complaining about them on the Facebook page and like me, many blocked them on WhatsApp.
Although the catering service is using the available content distribution channels like Facebook and WhatsApp, they are not providing any value through their content. They’re overdoing it by posting their menu multiple times in a day. They are not making personal connections. I helped them with the Google Local listing, I initially showed interest in their service and even interacted with them multiple times but even with me, they have never tried to make a connection. They were simply crowding my timeline with their menus and photographs of the food they are cooking. They never even thanked me for the Google Local listing help. And the worst part is, when I eventually tried to order breakfast, they informed me that they couldn’t deliver, and that was the last straw.
A very nice example of creating a presence through providing content (in the form of a low-cost service) is the hair-salon chain owner Habeeb. Although he runs a chain, at the micro level, what he is doing is, running a local business. Although in the conventional content marketing sense, he doesn’t use the Internet, it definitely uses the “freemium” service to attract customers, and the sort of tactic he uses certainly qualifies as content marketing, or at least inbound marketing (which is, content marketing seen from the other side).
In the local malls, mostly in the basement lobby, he hires a small space and erects a temporary, mostly wooden structure. In the wooden box (with good interiors) a sleek, unisex salon is run. You can get a nice haircut at 20–30% of what you would normally pay to a nice salon in a mall or a posh market. The hairstylists (normally very young trainees) are very courteous and friendly and give you a basic haircut with all the modern gadgetry. Seats are always occupied and one only has to wait for his or her turn. The place makes good money, it is very affordable, it offers good service and the initial investment is very little. Then, after a couple of years, he opens the big saloon where you have to pay the normal posh-salon rates. Does brisk business.
He doesn’t have to spend on advertising; instead, he advertises round-the-clock in various malls. Everybody is familiar with the name because the box is always set up at the most crowded place. At a fraction of the cost of conventional advertising, he doesn’t just create a presence for himself, but also makes good money while laying ground for the bigger, five-star salon.
What has it got to do with content marketing for local business? I think you already know what I’m talking about.
He is basically indulging in content marketing as a local business. Instead of providing content in terms of text, video and audio, he is offering his service at a highly affordable rate at strategic locations. In the local community, instead of stepping on everybody’s toes, he is providing a useful service. Those who don’t want to get a haircut at a roadside unkempt barbershop but also don’t want to spend a ton of money in a salon, are very thankful that there is a place that is clean, well-lit and efficient and all the hair stylists are neat and clean and courteous.
But not every local business can afford to provide such a service either for free or even at a lower cost. Such local businesses can use content marketing to their great advantage.
Local businesses can use content marketing channels like Facebook, YouTube and to an extent even WhatsApp to stay connected with their customers without annoying them with useless updates. As a customer, from a catering service, I don’t need an update on their daily menu, but I definitely need to know what sort of service they are running, whether they are reliable or not and what the others think of them. For that they can create a Facebook page and invite people in the neighbourhood to join. They can create a food channel on YouTube. They can start a blog detailing how they cook various items.
As long as content is relevant, it doesn’t always have to be something about your business. Yes, eventually, it is about your brand, but be useful. Be a part of a community through useful content. Encourage people to talk about your business on social networking websites, blogs and even YouTube videos. Make videos of your satisfied customers if they don’t mind and then post them on YouTube. Create an Instagram account or a Snapchat account if you want to post daily pics of your food items.
Stay tuned — in the coming days I will be publishing posts on how different local businesses can use content marketing to their advantage.
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