Smaller businesses may think of content marketing as something that is only for large companies who enjoy the resources to employ social media staff. In fact, content marketing can be an even bigger boost for the smaller business. It is a low-cost way to widen a customer base and build the loyalty of existing customers.

At its best, content marketing is about creating connections, and smaller businesses are uniquely poised to do this best. A small business has the ability to be flexible and adaptable, something that a large company may lack, and this aids in lending that personal touch to content marketing.

Content marketing is the practice of providing something of value to customers. Most often, this comes in the form of information. Depending on the industry and type of business, this information might be a product review, a how-to, industry news and more.

It may be presented as a blog post, a video, an infographic or a tweet among other forms. While a small business may have someone who can devote some time to crafting this content, it will also be necessary to think about how to generate content with fewer resources.

A blog with frequent guest posts is one solution. Again, who these guests are will vary depending on the business. In some industries, people trying to establish a higher profile may volunteer to write guest blog posts.

While poorly made, low-quality videos are more likely to hurt than help a business, it is not always necessary to use professional video production either. For example, an engaging discussion can be recorded on a smartphone and uploaded to YouTube. Small business owners can look at other small businesses who have done this for ideas.

Curation of content is another approach to content marketing that requires less generation of original content on the part of the small business. This involves rounding up links to news and other information that will be useful for customers. Google Alerts can be set up to more efficiently collate information that may be of interest.

Use existing customers to create new content ideas

In generating interesting content, small businesses can look to their customers as well for all of the above and more. For example, some knowledgeable customers might be interested in writing guest posts or creating video. Publication of posts or videos can be offered as a reward for producing quality content or customers can be rewarded with coupons, discounts or products in return for doing so. Similar incentives can encourage customers to contribute links for curation.

Online content marketing can be promoted through social media channels and customers can help boost the signal or create some of the content themselves. Followers on Twitter and Facebook can be offered incentives for sharing and re-tweeting information.

Customers can be asked industry-related questions on social media with the best responses shared; for example, a small company that produces its own coffee roasts might share coffee recipes from customers. Social media can also be used to ask customers what kind of content interests them.

Small businesses have a particular advantage in content marketing on social media because they can respond quickly and change course based on customer feedback. They can also engage with customers in a more personal way; this is particularly true if the business is local as well.

Businesses of every size need to do a few important things to develop a successful content marketing plan including defining the brand, setting goals, making an editorial calendar and deciding on a useful way to measure return on investment based on those goals.

Beyond this, however, small businesses have a unique set of advantages in content marketing, and these advantages can lead to a boom in new customers.

This article first appeared on Business 2 Community