Top 10 Benefits of Content Marketing for Small BusinessesBy Guest Contributor on September 15, 2018 Whether you run a gym, daycare facility, bank or design firm, you need customers. If there is anything all small businesses have in common, it’s wanting clients. You know you need to find prospects and build an audience if you’re going to be successful, but how? If you can afford to choose only one marketing strategy, what should it be?Whether you’re starting out or are fairly established, your small business likely has only so much to invest in marketing. That’s why, when you’re looking for maximum effectiveness, the best strategy you can use is content marketing.Think about it: People often ignore direct mail, unsubscribe from emails and skip television advertisements. What they pay attention to, however, is that infographic or blog post that shows in online search results. They want to read inspiring articles and find answers to their questions. What this means for you is when your company can inspire and educate readers about your industry or area of expertise, it has a golden opportunity to attract customers.What Is Content Marketing?In a world of nonstop advertising, today’s consumers are looking for real value — and that’s what content marketing offers. Through regular blog posts, infographics, video, social media content and other types of information, you can provide authentic, interesting and useful resources to your audience. This reaps a host of rewards for you. Where advertising talks about a product, content marketing builds a relationship. This relationship is the foundation of more sales. To make the most of content marketing, your goal is to focus on the customers and what they want — in order to make a case that what you sell is the solution. Top 10 Benefits of Content Marketing for Small Businesses For a more in-depth look at what makes content marketing so useful for business, check out some of the biggest benefits it provides:#1. Strong branding. Considering that strong brands outperform the market by nearly 75 percent, according to McKinsey Research, anything that helps you build your brand is worth considering. Enter content marketing. Because it focuses on consistently offering content with your brand personality and image, it helps you build a clearer, stronger company name. Your readers come to know you and what you stand for, and they recognize you more naturally in the marketplace. This lays the groundwork for generating more sales.#2. Differentiation from the competition. No matter your industry, the Internet makes it more competitive than ever. Other businesses in your field want the same top results in search engines that you do, and content marketing is a big part of that. To stand out from the other guys, you not only need to be creating content, but you also need to be creating better content. In other words, you need a strong voice, a specific style and niche and the creativity to be different from everybody else. Content marketing offers the perfect opportunity to accomplish this. Through your unique perspective and style, you stand out and get noticed.#3. More credibility with prospects. When it comes to building trust with prospects, content has always been king. Today’s digital landscape has expanded the possibilities for how you can engage your audience, but the basics are the same. So, to build credibility, you need to create content consistently, in your subject area, in a way that offers solutions or inspiration, free of charge. As you do this, prospects will come to trust you to keep providing value in the future, too.#4. A position as a thought leader in your field. With insightful and useful posts, your business can become a thought leader in its field. Here’s why this matters: Who would you rather buy a house from — the real estate agent who helped you with mortgage options in a thoughtful blog post or the professional who doesn’t have answers? When you post consistently useful information, prospects come to think of you as an authority.#5. Greater traffic and business exposure. Even without a huge investment, content marketing can consistently generate more traffic and exposure than comparable methods. This is partly because keyword-optimized content can help you rank higher in search engines, and partly because the more quality content on your site, the more reasons someone has to visit.#6.More shares. Useful, informative content is the kind of content people want to share online. When your business offers valuable resources to its audience, it can help you get more social shares — resulting traffic. #7. More leads. Content marketing not only boosts traffic, but also generates new leads from that traffic. How much? While it costs 62 percent less than traditional marketing, content marketing generates three times as many leads, according to Demand Metric.#8. Increased lead conversions. After reading blogged recommendations, a whopping 61 percent of American online consumers made purchases, according to Content Marketing Institute. What does this mean for a small business? If you want people to sign up for your service(s) or buy your product(s), you need to be crafting custom content that makes them want to — this is the essence of content marketing. #9. Increased sales. You don’t have to ask your prospects to buy from you directly to be showing them, post after post, why you’re worth buying from — this is the beauty of building trust, authority and interest. #10. A good ROI. Perhaps the best part of content marketing, at least for a small business with a limited budget, is its effectiveness. In return for time, effort and consistency, you can gain more leads, more traffic and more sales. Whatever you sell, this is hard to ignore. Even with a small marketing budget, you can’t afford to skip content marketing. It has too much to offer! So, is your business incorporating a clear strategy for delivering value through blog posts, online articles, etc.? If not, you’re missing the perfect chance to grow your company, no matter what you sell.This article is contributed by Shanna Mallon is a contributing writer for Straight North.