Content Marketing & Small Business Part 1


Content Marketing & Small Business

Small businesses are shut out of big media

How did content marketing become such a big deal in the 21st century? It can all be traced back to how last century’s outbound marketing invaded people’s lives too much and didn’t do enough for small business. Outbound marketing is usually interruptive in the form of visual or audio advertising. The main problem with outbound marketing was that you had to do a lot of it to make any kind of impact.

Budget Constraints

Small businesses simply do not have the budgets to gamble with expensive advertising thatContent Marketing Budgets may not work. Television, radio and newspaper advertising each require repetition to be effective. But to gain visibility and brand awareness through this type of mass media, it can take several months of advertising to see results, which may not be the best return on investment. Big companies can afford saturating their markets with continuous advertising that can run several thousand dollars per month, but small companies cannot afford constant advertising.

Limited Message

Another problem with traditional media marketing was that it only gave you small snippets of information about the product. It was impossible to learn much about a product just from a newspaper ad or radio commercial. Part of the problem was that the advertiser was only given so much time or space to deliver a message. Last century’s marketing messages encompassed vague slogans designed to be one size fits all solutions.

One of the biggest weaknesses of traditional media advertising was that the target market was not always clear. You could spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on reaching big markets, but there was no guarantee that the advertising would generate sales. The broadcast industries blurred the picture further by using questionable ratings research as evidence that people pay attention to commercials. The fact is that media advertising can work, but does not always work.

Internet Expansion

The internet opened doors for marketers who were trying to get away from last century’s marketing approach that was expensive and invasive. In many cases, advertising was full of exaggeration. A more consumer-friendly approach has developed on the internet that allows marketers and consumers to connect when it’s right for both of them.

Instead of interrupting content with commercials, content marketing provides the information people are already searching for, presented in a digestible way.By designing a series of online messages through blogs and articles, you can educate customers about products much faster than in the past. You can even get some customers to speed up their purchases.

Content marketing avoids hard sell language and concentrates on giving readers the most important product information and then funnels toward web pages devoted to deeper details. By creating thorough web pages about products, pages are indexed by search engines, which can potentially equate to vast amounts of free advertising.

Alternatives to Mainstream Media

The rise of content marketing may not have happened if small business had not been shut out of mainstream media. Expensive advertising led to big business having a heavy presence on local television, newspapers and radio as small companies were overshadowed. Thanks to Google’s AdWords pay per click program small businesses finally found low cost ways to reach their target markets.Google and other search engines have also contributed to customers finding the businesses they are looking for faster.

Take the lead in content marketing by building a website full of content that people are searching for. If you build a small business site full of unique information that cannot be found elsewhere, it’s possible for search engines to create your core market and for content marketing to nurture your market.

Ian Conklin is the President of OTR Web Solutions a web development company building marketing websites since 2000, with offices in Canada, USA, Europe and South America.

Ian Conklin - President OTR Web

OTR Web is a Certified Partner with HubSpot and Google.

For all your Inbound Marketing and Website requirements

Contact OTR Web.


SMB Branding and Social Media


SMB Branding and Social Media

In the 21st century small business branding is most effectively achieved using a variety of online tools, particularly social media. Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest are popular social media networks where you will likely reach the most followers, but you may also want to explore social networks that specialize in your industry. Independent musicians, for example, will find ReverbNation very useful when combining it with Facebook. If you want to simplify social media and narrow your focus on one platform, then Facebook is definitely a winning choice.

Building a Base

Social networks are excellent for building a base of online followers. Platforms like Facebook allow you to create a public business profile page and invite people with similar SMB Brandinginterests to become friends. You can build an audience of thousands of people who will see your daily posts. With Facebook you have the option of who gets to view your posts and who can respond. It’s up to you if you want to deliver one way messages about your business and industry or if you want to allow feedback from your friends.

You can build marketing lists from social media and track who your top followers are. Attracting thousands of followers gives you the opportunity to not only deliver your message instantly to people, it gives you better insight on the tastes of your target market than can be gained from typical market research. Each day you can learn a lot how your followers feel about other products and activities beyond what you have to offer. This in depth information can inspire you to provide creative new solutions that may not be met by current market conditions.

Sharing News and Views

As a social media participant, you are able to post a variety of information about your brand. You even have the flexibility of going beyond your brand and sharing wider information that appeals to your market. You can post news stories or songs that associate with your brand. It’s a way of expanding your dialogue with followers beyond the predictable jargon of your industry. Social media is powerful for small business branding because it lets you be your own journalist instead of waiting for the media to tell your story. You can also provide links to your website and blogs that can go into much more detail.

Facebook allows you to express your brand with your own videos, audio and photos in a seamless way. YouTube is also considered a social network because it allows people to subscribe to your channel and post comments. At one time online video was complex and expensive, but YouTube has made it simple. You can host your videos on YouTube for free then link to them on Facebook, your website and other online resources.

Social Interaction

Facebook’s “like” button has become important in many ways to small business branding. Every time someone likes your profile or post it is perceived as an online vote. These votes can add up to big numbers and attract more attention, which can fuel more likes. You can also bond with others by liking their posts. If you’re the only one who likes an individual’s post, they will probably remember your positive gesture.

One way to create a chain reaction of new followers is to visit the profiles of friends and comment on their posts. When people respond to your comments it can inspire them to add you as a friend or vice versa. Social media will be most effective for small business branding if you avoid random friends and streamline your list to focus on loyal followers.

Take the lead in Social Media – Download the OTR Web eBook

Ian ConklinIan Conklin is the President of OTR Web Solutions a web development company building marketing websites since 2000 with offices in Canada, USA, Europe and South America. OTR Web is a Value Added Partner with HubSpot.

For all your Inbound Marketing and Website requirements Contact OTR Web.


What Is a Brand


What is a Brand?

A brand is an emotional image that combines with a logo and identity to convey a product line or business. Branding is a process shaped by the combination of your company’s communication and your market’s perception of your company. Successful branding involves getting your logo, messages and marketing materials in front of eyeballs using memorable campaigns that will stay in people’s heads. While mass marketing can be a costly gamble, developing your brand through building trust with an online community and sharing valuable insights has become essential.


A logo is a brand element. Colorful logos help attract attention, but for small businesses, expenses on print can be lowered using less than four colors. Adding a fourth color is fine if your budget allows, but complex gradients can be a distraction. Sometimes the most memorable logos are ones that use simple font as seen in the Google logo. The most important thing about a logo is that it can be easily read and understood whether it is big or small. Many popular websites feature small logos in the upper left corner. A logo over a white background is universal and easily read, whereas fancy logos over dark backgrounds are not always easy to read.


Catchy slogans and positioning statements are meant to sum up your business in a memorable way, kind of like the chorus or main hook of a hit song that stays in your mind. At one time melodic jingles were an important part of branding until they became overdone. Even if you decide not to have a slogan attached to your logo, you should still figure out a mission statement that can be summed up in five words or less. In the 1990s Apple was reborn with billboards everywhere displaying the Apple logo alongside the words “think different.” The campaign worked since it appealed to the company’s core market, which is computer users with artistic sensibilities such as graphic artists and musicians.


Developing your brand requires standing out, so it must be different from the competition. If your brand just blends in with the noise of multiple media messages it

customer service

Not the best way to differentiate your brand!

may get lost in the shuffle. Your brand needs to be associated with a unique and rewarding consumer experience. You need to establish a niche in which only your brand can be considered the top authority. Use your imagination and brainstorming techniques with colleagues to creatively describe your unique market position. From this process you can develop a list of keywords that will tell search engines and online users about your identity.


Not only does your brand need to stand out in the world of crowded messages, you need to convey why your brand is better than competitors and the value that it brings to your customers. Figure out what your product can do for certain that competing products do not deliver and then create keywords and marketing statements from those concepts. Expand on those keywords and concepts in your communication with customers on your website, blogs, social media pages, newsletters and email.

Market Leadership

Keeping promises that you make in your marketing will help establish your brand as a market leader. Use customer feedback as a tool to refine your brand. A key to market leadership is delivering consistent messages throughout various marketing channels. Nike is the best of its breed because it consistently delivers quality shoes and clothes for athletes. Developing your brand is more than just running short phrases through marketing channels. More than ever before, successful branding now involves sharing resourceful information and inviting people to join your online community.

ian_conklin2Ian Conklin is the President of OTR Web Solutions a web development company building marketing websites since 2000 with offices in Canada, USA, Europe and South America. OTR Web is a Value Added Partner with HubSpot.

For all your Inbound Marketing and Website requirements Contact OTR Web.


Social Media and Your Small Business Brand


Social Media and Your Small Business Brand

At one time prior to the internet revolution, advertising was all about branding combined with a call to action. Successful advertising involved a numbers game relying on huge budgets for reaching mass audiences, then hoping for a return on investment. Today, the internet has transformed advertising into a series of steps that attempt to engage your target consumers through social media for small business, then lead them to more elaborate content that helps them make purchasing decisions.

What is a Brand?

Branding serves three main functions, which are to create product awareness, identify solutions to consumer problems and develop brand affinity or product familiarity. A brand needs widespread exposure through various media in order to generate a returnbranding and marketing on investment. But even before the internet age, in order for a brand to be successful, it needed to make some type of connection with a target market in the pre-internet era, whereas online customer reviews are now becoming the new standard for building a credible, successful brand.

Does a Small Business Have a Brand?

The main problem with television and radio commercials has always been that they depend on repetition, which usually favours big businesses with big budgets. Low budget commercials that do not run often tend to drain budgets, especially for SMBs. A better alternative for smaller companies is to build their brands through social media. But successful branding does not happen simply by creating social media profiles and waiting for customers to post reviews. Your business must first have a developed brand that consumers can identify with. Then you must learn from your customers how well they identify with your brand, so that  you can develop top-of-mind awareness associated with consumer needs.

How Does Social Media Play Into Small and Medium Business Branding?

Despite a lacklustre response to small and medium business social networking on Black Friday 2012, it’s important for you to remember the true purpose behind SMB branding through social media. It’s not really meant to generate transactions. The purpose of social media for any type of business is to engage with your customers and create a memorable experience that stimulates interaction. You can manage and monitor click through rates through other means beyond social media for small business. Social media works best as an escape from sales pressure and a focus on creative networking that cultivates a loyal online community. The goal is to share information.

Does an SMB Need to Blog?

Blogging is a highly effective way of developing brands with an online community. One of the major reasons blogging is important is that it is now favoured by search engines for delivering quality content to online researchers of niche markets. Blogs, unlike social media, represent internet destinations where a call to action points to sales conversions. But the purpose of a blog is still not to push sales. It’s the next step beyond engaging with prospects and customers to offer deeper product information. If the user continues to gain interest, an effective blog will move them through the sales funnel by providing links to product landing pages.

Seems Like a  Lot of Work .. Can I Get Help?

Since engaging with your target market can mean dealing with hundreds of people, you may find social media for small business to be very time consuming and a distraction from developing business strategies and goals. If that’s the case, you should consider hiring an inbound marketing company to handle social media for you. They can develop an understanding of your market then create online campaigns using email and coupons to attract traffic to your product landing pages.



Ian Conklin is the President of OTR Web Solutions a web development company building marketing websites since 2000 with offices in Canada, USA, Europe and South America. OTR Web is a Value Added Partner with HubSpot.

For all your Inbound Marketing and Website requirements Contact OTR Web.