A Guide to Local Content Marketing for Small Businesses

Close to Home: A Guide to Local Content Marketing for Small Businesses

A significant portion of Google searches relate to a specific location. People search for things like “pizza New York City” or “spa Daytona Beach” millions of times per day. That’s because location is just as important for your website as it is for real estate. Tagging your content with relevant local information can draw in a sea of new visitors and keep your page relevant longer.

The Unique Situation of Being Local

Building an online presence for a local company can be a bit challenging. The strategies are different for content creation. Since being local ties your company to a specific market, you’ll often see a smaller selection of topics and options.

A website’s bounce rate is a measure of how many people viewed only one page without clicking another link. Some companies will naturally have higher bounce rates, like news stations. Others struggle to keep them as low as possible. The more your website demonstrates local personalization combined with beautiful design, the more likely you’ll get your ratings where they need to be.

The Steps to Crafting Unique, Local Content Marketing for Small Businesses

Tailoring your subject matter doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, if you do some research ahead of time, you might find the entire process easier than you anticipated.

1. Identify the local audience. If you stay local, then you’re already narrowing the scope of your content and making it easier to find your audience. However, you should fine-tune it for consistency and relatability. Think about crafting buyer personas. These simple profiles offer imaginary people for whom to write. The result feels like very personalized content for anyone who meets the target audience requirements.

TOOLS: Try Facebook Audience Insights or Neilson Prizm to see specific information about your local demographics.

2. Examine the competition and your existing content. Another great way to find useful content types is to look at successful businesses. You can peruse their articles to see if any particular topics are popular. Likewise, you’ll get a good idea about what should be avoided to keep your audience happy.

Take the time to compare the content you already have. Look for things such as shares, comments and likes, which are easy indicators of the post’s exposure. If you seem to be doing better, great! If not, give your content another look. You also can take advantage of analytics to see which of your topics are performing the best.

TOOLS: For analytics, Buzzsumo and Google Analytics transform page views and interactions into usable information and statistics.

3. Redefine broad tactics to make them local. Just because you’re targeting a smaller audience doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of broad content strategies. In fact, adding a local twist to these proven methods is one of the easiest and most effective ways to create engaging local subject matter.

One simple way to accomplish this is by crafting unique headlines. Some formats are simply more successful than others and have proven themselves over and over. Use numbers or a “how-to” approach followed by a geographical keyword. For example, “7 Fun Things to Do During a Daytona Beach Vacation” or “5 Dates You Should Avoid Las Vegas.”

TOOLS: This style of heading is wildly popular among big-name entertainment sites like Buzzfeed and Upworthy. Looking to them for inspiration can be incredibly helpful.

4. Look to the past for inspiration. If you’re really running low on ideas, check out past infographics from the town in question. In many cases, you can find data that’s already been fully researched. All you need to do is make sure it’s up-to-date and expand into the story to craft something interesting.

TOOLS: A Google image search, of course, yields high-volume infographic results.

Once you figure out what works in your local area, it will be easier than ever to add your personal touch and creative spin to the information. Do your research when choosing topics and titles — and you’re bound to see interest from your local patrons.

Local Shop Photo via Shutterstock

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How One Successful Digital Entrepreneur Stays Entertained by Her Business

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Sarah Morgan may rub some people the wrong way with her dedication to naps, her casual approach to online interaction, and the occasional curse word in an email. But make no mistake: she’s serious, works hard, and has found a way to create a lucrative digital business that keeps her, above all, entertained.

In this 30-minute episode, Sarah and I discuss:

  • How she went from corporate job and circus performer to thriving digital entrepreneur
  • Why she won’t apologize for cursing, naps, or walking her dear old dog
  • The joy she felt in the moment when she realized she was making more as a digital entrepreneur than she had been at her corporate job
  • The work habits and discipline that help her get work done and keep moving forward
  • Her failed Photoshop course — and what she learned from the experience
  • Why hanging out in her communities (on her couch) fuels her why

And much more — including my rapid-fire questions at the end, in which Sarah shares how Simon Sinek, The Real Housewives, and the opera have influenced her career.

Listen to this Episode Now

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How the Election is Impacting Halloween Spending (Watch)

People are spending more money on Halloween this year than they ever have before. And you might have Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to thank for that.

Before this year, 2012 held the record for highest amount spent on Halloween. And there was even an uptick in 2008 even though the country was in the middle of a recession. So it stands to reason that people tend to spend a bit more on Halloween during election years.

That could be because of all those Trump and Clinton Masks you’ve likely seen around Halloween stores. But it could also be because people simply need a release from the stress caused by a long election season.

Whatever the reason, trends like this are important for companies to note. If you have a store that sells any Halloween supplies, you should be aware of people’s spending habits so that you can create messaging that’s most likely to get them to buy.

What You Can Learn From This Halloween Business Trend?

Halloween and the election might not seem like they have a lot in common on the surface. But tons of industries experience changes like this based on factors that aren’t directly related. So it’s important that businesses pay attention to trends in various areas to stay ahead in their market.

Image: Newsy

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The Brilliant Strategy and Backstory Behind Zero to Book

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Pamela Wilson just launched a book — Master Content Marketing — and a podcast played a key role in the project from idea inception to launch. She dishes on the details in this episode of The Showrunner.

In this lesson, Pamela describes how she:

  • “Showed her work” every step of the way with ZeroToBook.fm
  • Developed a community around the show, which informed the production of her book
  • Is considering using the audio asset once it’s complete

You’ll learn a lot from this episode, even if you’re not planning to write a book.

Listen, learn, enjoy …

Listen to this Episode Now

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How to Be a Great Community Leader, with Chris Lema

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This week we’re joined by Chris Lema. Chris is a Product Strategist, a people manager, a speaker, and a blogger. He also works with companies to help them build better software products, run better software development teams, improve their marketing messages, and bring their products to market.

In this episode Brian Gardner, Lauren Mancke, and Chris Lema discuss:

  • Aligning your work with your areas of expertise
  • Making a course correction in your career
  • Defining leadership by difficult decisions
  • Leveraging WordPress in your business
  • Leadership that requires a move beyond good
  • Taking the leap to achieving success
  • Being sold on yourself to become the leader you were meant to be

Listen to this Episode Now

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Airstory Gets Your Team Collaborating on Content — From Anywhere

Airstory Writing Software Gets Your Team Collaborating on Content -- From Anywhere

There are many small businesses that specialize in creating content for websites, and when Airstory becomes available by the end of the month, it could make it much easier to do so.

Airstory is a collaborative cloud-based content creation platform for planning, writing, editing and kicking ideas around with your team. It works no matter where they are or what device you are using.

The Airstory software brings all of the research, data points, images, graphs, notes and any other material into an outline or a doc with drag-and-drop functionality. This information can be accessed by anyone with a simple invitation to bring the entire team to collaborate on the current draft.

The software saves research as cards so they can be easily accessed by the team. Once the cards are saved in the Airstory library, they can be searched and amended as needed by adding new information.

As the team continues to research, Airstory lets everyone comment like they are chatting. The in-line commenting doesn’t require any additional functions. Start typing your comments, answer previous concerns and even add an emoji.

While the collaborative process is great, keeping it under control is important. User permission in Airstory lets you designate who can comment, and who has access when you are not working on a document.

When you are ready to write, outline your content by adding headings, subheads, bullets and more, and drag the notes to adjust your story. The importance of quality content can’t be understated, especially with the increasing capability of Google’s algorithm for detecting bad or clickbait content. As these algorithms get smarter, quality will be emphasized and it will place sites that have it on top of search queries.

So this is important for any business that stresses content creation — which is most companies these days! Airstory is scheduled for launch today and you can get an invite by visiting the site and signing up.

Image: Airstory.co

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How to Enhance Your Membership Site With Live Events

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Live events are a great way to amplify your authority and enhance your membership site, if you know the right way to produce them.

Membership sites are about community — creating an online environment for those who share similar interests and passions.

But for all their strengths, there’s a layer of abstraction that lacks the personal and emotional engagement found when people are in physical proximity to each other.

Live events allow you to extend your authority within your community, while providing a unique platform to fundamentally help your members enrich their lives.

That is … if you know how to do live events right.

In this episode, Jessica Frick shares her knowledge and insight on creating live events for membership communities …

  • Why live events are extremely helpful in building your community
  • How to start small and build an event with momentum
  • Ways to finance your event without breaking the bank
  • The single most important ingredient to a successful event

Listen to this Episode Now

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Getting the Right Funding Can be Daunting – But There is Hope

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Vendedy is the first social network designed to connect global travelers to street markets. Founded by Forbes30Under30 Entrepreneur Christine Souffrant Ntim, the small business’s goal is to digitize the $10 trillion dollar street market economy and make it accessible to anyone and everyone.

But when Ntim started out, she had an incredibly difficult time getting the funding she needed. Watch this quick video to find out how Vendedy turned fails into sales:

When you’re an entrepreneur attempting to start a small business, getting funding can be tough. That’s especially true if you’re like Ntim and trying to launch something bold and new. So its important to explore all both traditional and newer funding options and pick the one that best fits you and your business best.

For example, you might be able to get a traditional small business loan, just beware of prepayment and other penalties that are part of the agreement. Newer types of options to consider include crowdfunding, online lenders and non-profit lenders. You might also consider applying for a loan from the U.S. Small Business Association.

Watch more of Carbonite’s “Small Business Storytellers” videos.

Image: Video Still

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Feds Short-changed Small Businesses Out of $200 Billion in Contracts in 2015 Alone, Says Advocacy Group

Did the SBA fabricate small business contracting numbers? The American Small Business League, an advocate group, has accused the agency of doing just that.

The United States government agency responsible for supporting entrepreneurs has been accused of short-changing small business owners out of $2 trillion in federal contracts over the last ten years.

Federal law currently dictates that small businesses must receive a minimum of 23 percent of all government contracts granted, and the Small Business Administration (SBA) is responsible for helping to ensure that target is met by connecting government agencies with business owners.

Yet according to advocates at the American Small Business League (ASBL), the SBA has been “falsifying” the government’s 23 percent target compliance by using inaccurate budgeting figures.

In 2015, the Congressional Budget Office (PDF) reported an acquisition budget of $1.2 trillion. This would mean that small businesses should have been legally entitled to receive a minimum $276 billion worth of government contracts that year. But according to the ASBL, the SBA only used an acquisition budget of $370 billion in its figures — thus “inflating their numbers” to show that small businesses received 24.9 percent of all federal contracts in 2015.

As a result, the ASBL asserts small business owners received just $40 billion of the $276 billion in contracts that should have been set aside for them last year, landing them with just three percent of all federal contracts.

In addition, the ASBL accused the SBA of diverting billions of dollars in federal contracts to larger companies thanks to a grandfathering rule that continued to class businesses that had grown substantially in size over time as “small”.

Those accusations led to the ASBL filing a controversial injunction against the SBA in May, although Federal District Judge Vince Chhabria ultimately tossed out the injunction (PDF) on October 18. He argued that, if the SBA has indeed falsified meeting its target requirements, it should be Congress not the courts that hold the agency to account.

In an release, ASBL President Lloyd Chapman said the court’s decision is disappointing setback in the group’s battle to hold the SBA responsible.

“If the lawsuit had been allowed to get its rightful day in court on the merits, the lawsuit would have required the SBA to give all small businesses — and doubly so for minority, women-owned, and disabled veteran businesses — a larger and proper share of federal procurement,” Chapman said.

“Dismissing the suit frustrates the legitimate rights of small businesses to their proper share of the true scale of government contracting.”

The SBA has yet to issue a statement following the court’s decision to toss out the injunction. The ASBL has said it plans to appeal.

Two-dollar Bill Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Feds Short-changed Small Businesses Out of $200 Billion in Contracts in 2015 Alone, Says Advocacy Group” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Want to Sharpen Your Writing Skills? Try This Fun Challenge

Fun ways to gamify your content creation

Does this ever happen to you?

You read something from one of your favorite writers — maybe it’s a blog post, or a scene from a novel, or an essay on Medium.

You’re caught up in the words. The way that writer spins and turns the language, shaping what you see and feel as you read.

And once the reading spell is broken, you think …

Dang, I wish I could do that.

Experienced creative workers — writers, painters, musicians — know how to make it look easy.

But when we try our hand … it’s harder than it looks.

We all want to get good at things

Maybe you want to master the art of creative storytelling for your content. Or you want to start off your content with that satisfying “Bang!” that gets people to keep reading. Or you would just really like some more shares and links.

“Enjoy the process” is fine advice, but it’s even nicer when the process leads to real improvement. When we get better at what we’re doing. When we start to have more impact.

I find this quote by Jeff Olson both intriguing and depressing:

“Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do.”

My friend and genius dog trainer Susan Garrett has tweaked this to:

“Successful people make a game out of what unsuccessful people are not willing to do.”

For the chronically immature (like me), this is an especially useful insight.

Some things about business are hard.

Some things about content marketing are hard.

If you can make a game out of them, you get to change “hard” into “fun and challenging.” Do that consistently, and there are all kinds of amazing things that can happen.

The content marketing Intimidation Factor

We love content marketing for many reasons … but we tend to avoid it for one:

It’s intimidating.

There are so many things to learn.

Effective headlines. Audience building. Calls to action. Crafting shareable content. Emotional and logical benefits. Empathy and experience mapping. Strategic content types.

Not to mention techniques for specialty content like podcasts, infographics, or video.

If you’re standing at the foot of Mount Content and looking up, the summit looks uncomfortably far away. And high. And spiky. And probably cold.

Lately, I’ve been counseling people to try a new approach to scaling that mountain … and it starts with realizing that it isn’t a mountain at all.

There are lots of recipes for success

You can visualize content success as Mount Everest. There’s one defined path up to the summit. It’s very hard to climb. You need equipment, know-how, elite-level conditioning, relatively good weather, a guide, and some luck. Even then, you might die.

Or you can visualize content success as making some soup.

There are a lot of recipes. Some people like spicy soup. Some people like savory soup. Some people like cold soup, or fruit soup. There are a lot of options. Some of them are weird, but that’s fine, because there are plenty of people who adore weird.

Personally, to tell you the truth, I feel a lot better about my ability to make some nice soup than to climb Mount Everest and possibly die.

One thing I like about the soup metaphor is that it recognizes that you can create something worthwhile out of what you happen to have available.

If you have a great writing voice, hardly any money, a few chunks of free time on weekends, and a lot of hilarious stories, you can create an interesting content soup out of that.

If you have a writing voice that isn’t as strong, but you have the budget to hire an editor, you consistently have an hour a day to create content, and you have a whole bunch of interesting people in your contact list, you can create a different content soup out of that.

You don’t have to master every single element of content marketing right away. And hardly anyone no one does.

But the more techniques and tactics you can get good at, the more kinds of soup you can make. And the more effective your content will tend to be.

Enter: the 30-Day Challenge Method

Anyone who uses Facebook is familiar with these — we decide to adopt some habit or pattern for 30 days, and watch what happens.

There are nutrition challenges, fitness challenges, art challenges, handwriting challenges. One of the best-known, NaNoWriMo — a challenge to write an entire novel in the month of November — kicks off tomorrow.

I have to be honest; I’m not necessarily a fan of signing up for other people’s challenges. Too often, they’re inflexible and they’re overly sweeping. They set you up to fail, instead of setting you up to learn. (Every time I’ve tried NaNoWriMo, it’s tanked my writing output for months afterward.)

In other words, the game quits being fun around Day One and a Half.

Instead, try writing your own challenge. And make sure it’s more play than penance.

Here are some guidelines I’ll suggest:

  • Decide in advance to define your challenge as a game, to be played for fun and learning.
  • Pick something to work on every day for 30 days.
  • Make it not too hard and not too easy. You want to push yourself, but still have fun.
  • Set a defined start date.
  • Do some prep before the start date. Make sure you have access to everything you’ll need (materials, internet access, free time, etc.).
  • Allow yourself to do more on some days and less on others. But do a little something every day during your challenge.
  • Decide in advance what the “absolute minimal effort” option might look like … you’ll need it at least once.
  • Try to have a defined time of day to do your challenge activity — but if you miss it, just squeeze it in there somewhere.
  • If you miss a day, start again the next day. Try very hard not to miss a day.
  • Don’t come up with elaborate punishments for yourself if you slip up. It’s a game.
  • When your 30 days are up, give yourself a rest before you start a new challenge.

So, what kinds of things can you work on?

You might notice that you can use this kind of challenge to work on literally anything that’s bugging you. Here are some ideas for your content or business:

Choose one of these to study and practice every day for 30 days:

  • More effective headlines
  • Great first sentences
  • Writing dialogue
  • Quick stories
  • Metaphors
  • Translating features into benefits
  • Writing sales copy
  • Brainstorming lists of blog post ideas

Or maybe you’d like to take a consistent action every day for 30 days:

  • Reach out to a new blogger or online publisher.
  • Touch base with someone you haven’t talked with in a while.
  • Spend time describing, in detail, a business process you do all the time, so you can have an assistant take it over.
  • Take a short walk, then immediately sit down and write for 20 minutes.
  • Go through one tutorial on that software you’ve been meaning to learn forever.

I’ve found a lot of power in doing something every day, but if for some reason you really want a free day every week … it’s your game. You set the rules.

How about you?

Ever done a writing challenge or another type of content challenge? Interested in coming up with a challenge of your own?

Great ideas are even better when they’re shared … so let us know about your challenge ideas in the comments!

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