By Lynn Manternach/Consulting

Your marketing and branding goals are big but your budget isn’t. It’s a challenge many marketers face. And that’s why so many small businesses are enthusiastically embracing the benefits of content marketing.

Content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without directly selling. Instead of pitching your products and services, you’re delivering relevant and helpful information. That content is designed to attract, acquire and engage a clearly defined target audience. The idea behind this powerful strategy is that if you deliver consistent and ongoing valuable information to consumers, they will ultimately reward you with their business and loyalty.

Content marketing is an especially powerful tool for small businesses with big goals and small budgets. That’s because content marketing isn’t driven by budget, it’s driven by focus and consistency.

You don’t have to be on every platform. While it can be incredibly effective to have a great webinar series, amazing blog, outstanding video program and cutting edge digital magazine, you don’t have to invest at that level to enjoy success. You can focus and work toward dominating one platform.

Perhaps for your company, it makes sense to create an engaging and informational blog. It could be a colorful print newsletter that recipients look forward to reading each month. Or maybe it’s a series of YouTube videos that demonstrate and educate in a way that’s both helpful and fun.

Good content marketing makes a person stop, read, think and behave differently. It has to be relevant and valuable content, not just content.

Your content marketing program is a powerful way to clearly and consistently communicate your brand, and help consumers understand why they should choose to do business with your company. It’s a chance to engage, inform and entertain. And you can do it without a huge advertising and marketing budget.

Content marketing works best when you target a very specific group of people with a very specific story. The more targeted the niche you choose, the more likely you are to be successful. Your goal is to find a way to stand out and be relevant. Don’t just do more of what everyone else is doing. Find a way to tell a slightly different story, take a slightly different approach.

Focus is really important when it comes to content marketing. Lots of marketers are generating content. Lots and lots of content, in fact. Unfortunately, many of them are cranking out content without a strategy.

If you’re a marketer with big goals and a small budget, you’re definitely going to need a strategy. It doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, simple is best. Give some thought to how your content marketing efforts can integrate with the rest of your marketing plan. Look at the platforms you use for marketing now, and think about the kind of content your customers and prospects will find useful and interesting. Think about your brand voice and tone, and be relentlessly consistent.

Focus and consistency will help you cut through the marketing clutter and connect with your customers and prospects. Small but deliberate steps will move you in the right direction, and will help you connect with customers and prospects in ways that matter to them.

Lynn Manternach is brand arsonist and president at MindFire Communications Inc. in Cedar Rapids and Le Claire.