Does content marketing work for a brick-and-mortar business?
This question comes up a lot, and that makes a lot of sense.
A lot of the digital marketing hoopla revolves around driving web traffic. Many brick and mortar businesses aren’t necessarily affected much by increased traffic to their websites, especially if they don’t sell their products or services online or if the traffic isn’t from their local area.
One local business owner recently told me the tale of a marketing agency that offered him a plan promising to increase page views… to which he gave a big “so what?”
How does that help him meet his business goals? How does that help him sell more stuff?
Well, it has the potential to help.
But without a clear goal for that traffic, it may not help much at all, beyond improving the website’s SEO.
The thing is, web traffic and SEO are only two pieces of the marketing puzzle. Two pieces aren’t going to come together to produce the whole picture your business is trying to reveal.
Not only that, every business’s puzzle is unique. Sure, the puzzles each have similar pieces. Yet the completed picture and the way the pieces fit together to make that picture will be at least a little different every time.
Content marketing may well be the handful of pieces you’re missing.
Yes, content marketing can work really well for a brick and mortar business. A content marketing strategy that’s pointed at measurable, specific, local goals can be really powerful.
For both online businesses and local businesses.
Here 7 benefits your brick and mortar business can enjoy from content marketing:
1. More people in your actual shop
Several years ago, my husband and I considered opening a coffee bar in a mall. One of the big considerations during our research for that venture was the foot traffic in the mall. How many people would be walking by on a consistent basis? Out of that, we could only count on a small percentage stopping to buy a drink.
Content marketing done well can give a local shop a measurable boost in traffic. Depending on your type of business, that might mean appointments, or it might mean more people meandering in to browse or shop.
Either way, if you make your money from people buying your goods or services at your physical location, then you need traffic to that actual location, not just to your website or Facebook page.
Good content marketing can connect those dots.
2. Directly reaching your ideal customers
Content marketing enables you to use specific targeting that reaches the right people with your message.
If you rely only on print ads and traditional media, then you usually end up spreading a really wide net.
And, no, more exposure isn’t necessarily better if the right people don’t see your message. Reaching 1,000 more people who have zero interest in what you offer doesn’t help you.
Most of my clients cater to kids and families. Think tutors, schools, pediatricians, party venues, playrooms, extracurricular classes, family organizations, dentists, and shops that sell children’s and baby clothes and products.
They all sell to a really specific niche: parents.
And, since mothers make most buying decisions for kids and households, this means that at least one more specific target is moms.
Moms don’t fit in a box, though.
Brands and businesses need to narrow their ideal customer down even further and identify more specifically which mom-segments will be most responsive to their message.
When your target audience is a distinct niche (and I think it should be), then it makes sense to target as many people in that specific group as much as you can.
There are ways to do this with traditional media.
- In TV advertising, they try to do this by planning to air certain commercials during shows watched by specific demographics.
- You might also be able to get your ad in front of a more specific audience in a trade magazine or a local publication directed at your audience.
- You could also send mailings to specific neighborhoods or a number of homes within a certain distance of your business.
With any of the above options, it’s hard to know how many people saw your ad. It’s also nearly impossible to measure the number who responded to that particular ad, and in what way.
That was the reality of marketing for a long time.
Times have changed.
With content marketing, you can target very specifically. You can get your message in front of people within a specific demographic, psychographic, and interest set.
Who cares if your post about summer camp gets 1,000 views if most of the viewers don’t have kids in the age range offered for the camp?
The more you can target your audience, the more people will be likely to click through, and the more camper slots you can fill.
Content marketing makes that happen.
3. Warming up your audience
People need to be exposed to your brand at least seven times before they’ll make a buying decision. Content marking gives natural, consistent, non-salesy touchpoints you can use to build relationships.
Done well, content marketing can give your target audience all kinds of positive thoughts and feelings about you and your brand, which means that when they need your product or service, they’ll naturally be inclined to turn to you. Which leads me to…
4. Putting and keeping you at “top of mind”
We know this intuitively from everyday life.
The people you see consistently are the ones that stay at the top of your mind. When you don’t see or hear from someone for a long time, the memory of them gets moved to the back burner, and if enough time passes, you might only think of them very rarely in a nostalgic, past-tense way.
“I wonder whatever happened to ole’ such-and-such.”
You might not remember their name. You might forget about them altogether.
The same goes for businesses.
When my husband and I are trying to decide where to eat out on a date, and we want to try something new, it’s tough to come up with a place without turning to Google or Yelp.
Even though we’ve lived in our town over seven years and have heard of literally dozens of excellent local eateries, at that moment, we can only think of:
(a) big-name chains that are everywhere and
(b) the three places we’ve been and liked, because that’s where we always end up going.
Unless, say, this place we heard of has a strong content marketing game.
We follow the place on social media and end up liking many of their posts because they’re interesting or entertaining. This prompts us to say off-and-on that we really ought to go try that place.
The steady flow of quality content keeps that restaurant at the top of our mind, so when date night comes, one of us suggests we try that place again.
And, if our experience is good, it might become one of the places we regularly go.
That’s the power of content marketing.
5. Increasing customer loyalty
If you have a business that markets to parents, then you often have a profound opportunity to build customer relationships that will be both valuable and long term.
According to the 2018 survey conducted by Hulafrog, 96.5% of moms will send all younger siblings back to the same business if her oldest child is treated well.
Think about the lifetime value of your customers! You don’t have to put so much effort into acquiring new customers when you have repeat customers.
Give them a great experience, treat them well, do your job with excellence, stay at the top of their mind, and they’ll keep coming back and sing your praises.
6. Increasing registration for local events, camps, classes
Content marketing can produce great results in stirring interest and registration for events and classes.
If your business involves recurring or one-time events that you want to fill with new prospects or customers, and you don’t use content marketing to do that, then you’re missing out on tremendous opportunities to fill those seats.
7. Saving money
Content marketing can cost so much less than traditional marketing!
When you’re running a small business, trying to keep all the plates spinning, every penny counts, right?
It’s good to invest in your marketing. You should do that. Traditional media may be an integral part of your picture.
Content marketing is a way to be smart about that investment and maximize your reach for your buck.
What do you think?
Do you own a local, brick and mortar business? How is content marketing working well for you?
If you’re not using content marketing, what’s stopping you?
(Shameless plug – if the hurdle is getting your content written, I can help you with that!)
If you think content marketing won’t work for your business, go ahead and tell me in the comments why you think that is.
You may be right.
Or, you might just need a viable strategy.
I’m always researching this stuff and I love hearing from you guys.
Drop your ideas and questions in the comments below, or send me an email for further discussion.
If you’re ready to start content marketing for your business, click below to chat with me about moving forward.
Jenni Burks is a web content writer and copywriter who loves helping small businesses that market to parents. Content marketing has been her side hustle and passion project for almost 20 years.
She lives with her family in Virginia.