I always say that for many aspects of digital marketing, small businesses have an advantage. This definitely applies to content marketing. Although it might not always feel like it as a small business owner, you can just have an idea, create the content and get it out there.
On the other hand, in many corporates (although there are a few exceptions) you need to spend days, if not weeks or months getting content through so many rounds of sign off it loses all its soul before it finally goes out into the world. This isn’t an exaggeration, in my past life, I spent over three months getting a single blog through sign off.
Despite this, many content marketing round ups don’t cover small businesses, just big brands, so I’ve trawled the internet looking specifically for small businesses who are creating fantastic content. I haven’t included any bloggers, although they obviously do create some brilliant content, these are all small businesses who are blogging or creating great content in addition to their core work. There’s also some great business to business content in here too.
I’ve broken it down into six categories – blogs, podcasts, video content, Instagram, content curation and incentives – because content marketing is so much more than blogs.
Blogs are probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think of content marketing, and there’s lots of small businesses out there with great blogs. Here’s a selection.
1. Beach Retreats
The Beach Retreats blog is frequently updated with interesting and inspiring content for its target audience, holiday-makers looking to hire a coastal holiday property.
2. Roo’s Beach
Roo’s Beach have a great Cornwall and beach lifestyle blog, including behind-the-scenes peeks and guest blogs from other local businesses. They’ve done a great job of creating content that sells the Roo’s beach lifestyle, as well as the products.
3. Spoon cereals
Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day, and cereal is one of my favourite foods, so it’s no surprise I have a little bit of a crush on Spoon cereals (that turquoise packaging, swoon!). Their blog is fantastic, especially their Spoon Meets series, where they interview other business owners. I would love to see more businesses do this kind of blogging.
4. Barefoot Cornwall
Barefoot Media are a PR company in Cornwall, their blog Barefoot Cornwall is the perfect example of B2B content marketing in action. They feature Cornwall news, reviews and food and drink roundups, all full of their potential clients. The blog is highly successful, with 4,000 followers on Twitter.
For those that communicate best while speaking, podcasts can be a great way to reach and connect with a new audience. The fact that you’re speaking directly into their ears means that listeners will begin to feel that they know you, and you can build trust.
5. Jan Murray
PR coach and journalist Jan Murray’s content production is super prolific – as well as the podcast she also has a blog, Facebook group and has just started vlogging. It’s all highly useful for her target audience of small businesses who want to get more media coverage.
6. Surf Simply
Surf Simply is a surf coaching resort, and on their podcast they cover surf coaching tips as well as general surf news and opinion. It’s a little irregular but still a great way for them to connect with surfers and potential customers.
I think every year for the last five years has been hailed as the year of the video, but it feels like now really is the time video is taking off and here’s some of the businesses that are taking advantage.
7. Look Fabulous Forever
Look Fabulous Forever is a cosmetics brand for older women. They have been really successful with YouTube videos. According to Communications Director, Anna Cusden, the first two videos were made with no budget, but within a few months they were getting over 1,000 views a day and generating sales. They now have over a million views on their YouTube channel and have doubled turnover.
Facewest is an excellent demonstration that videos can be easily created with just a smart phone. Their videos are not slickly produced, but they serve their purpose excellently. Last year, when I was trying to navigate through the world of camping mats (I never realised there was quite so much choice) it was their video explanations of the range and being able to see them next to each other which helped me make a purchase decision. Naturally I bought it from them – so their investment in creating a five minute video paid off.
10. Origin Coffee
Origin coffee have created a series of brewing guide videos. They’re both beautiful and educational.
11. Sauze online
Based in the ski resort of Sauze d’Oulx, Sauze Online offer a variety of services including ski equipment hire, ski school bookings and transfers. They do a weekly snow report video which is just genius – as people find it just as they are about to come on their holiday and when they need all the services that they’re offering. The video actually serves several purposes (as well as letting people know about the snow) it shows people there’s a real person behind the business who is consistently in the resort. It also helps you trust them because they consistently show up every week to do the report. The website also has a wealth of information to back up their expertise. Again this is another one that worked for me personally, as we ended up booking a transfer through them.
This Instagram section could have been so much longer, but here’s just a small selection of businesses creating fantastic Instagram content. There’s no feeds full of standard product shots here, all these businesses have mastered the art of creating beautifully curated feeds that promote the lifestyle behind their product or service.
12. Too Wordy
A beautifully curated Instagram account run by Maeve Brooks, owner of hand lettering studio Too Wordy. Every product is beautifully styled and photographed, occasionally joined by complementary photographs. This account is a joy to follow so it’s no surprise followers are about to reach 20,000.
13. Surf Sistas
The Surf Sistas Instagram is one of my favourites – every picture is fun, bright and makes you want to book onto one of their trips right away. It works – I’ve been on several of their trips, and I know from talking to others that Instagram played a central part in their purchase decision.
Watershed in Cornwall take the effort to create pictures of their products in lifestyle settings, interspersed with scenic shots, as a result they have 16k+ dedicated followers of their Instagram feed.
15. 26 grains
Who’d have thought porridge could be so photogenic? Despite featuring everything from porridge to books, 26 Grains account has a very consistent look and feel making it easy on the eye and a great one to follow.
There’s a bit of a theme here. LifeBox are another one who never share a product shot in a dark room. Every picture is bright, white and appealing. They’ve got a knack for showcasing the contents of the box in a consistent way that doesn’t get boring.
17. Hiut Denim
Hiut denim tend to get into a lot of my round ups – they featured on my blog on about pages too. Although their motto is “do one thing well” which in their case is making jeans, they also do online content curation very well. The monthly scrapbook chronicles newsletter always features interesting links, which you can also browse on their website.
No one wants more email, so you need a great incentive to get people to sign up, which these businesses have done…
18. Shine yoga
I’m on the Shine Yoga mailing list thanks to their great downloadable incentive, a free class sent to you when you sign up. The emails once you’re on the list are also packed full of delicious recipes and inspirational content, not just adverts for classes.
19. Makelight workshops
Makelight’s free Instagram course is excellent quality and naturally leads on to their paid offerings. Makelight also have the fantastic hashtag tool, a great bit of content marketing in its own right.
20. Me and Orla
Photographer and Instagram expert Sara Tasker offers a downloadable seven-day Instagram guide to incentivise people to sign up for her monthly email, which is just as valuable, as she shares new and current hashtags each month.
I hope that’s given you some inspiration for your content marketing. And I know there’s plenty more amazing small businesses out there. Let me know who have I missed!