This post is part of the Content Q&A Series, featuring interviews with top content strategists and bloggers about their work and insights about the industry.
Earlier this year, Elizabeth Ippolito co-founded MatchStick Strategies, a content marketing firm for small businesses.
The company has worked with clients in software production, web hosting, and photography.
The Content Strategist talked to Ippolito about content creation, small business marketing, and using content marketing to reach goals.
The Content Strategist: What kind of content should small businesses be putting out?
Elizabeth Ippolito: Content that is unique to their ideal audience and provides value to their audiences’ daily lives. It should keep them coming back for more. It’s really worth someone’s energy to figure out what channels their audiences are actually interested in.
The key would be to figure out where your audience is hanging out, whether it’s on Facebook, or if they’re more engaged with visual content or they like to read more. It’s about creating content that’s most relevant to them.
TCS: How do you figure that out for your clients?
Ippolito: A lot of what we do in the beginning of our process with clients is start to get to know who their audience is by having them answer questionnaires.
We figure out [the demographic's] ages, their qualities, and what brands they’re loyal to. There is no sure fire formula on how to [discover it]. If clients don’t have information about their audience, we ask them who their ideal audience is.
TCS: How have content marketing and brand publishing affected how small businesses promote themselves?
Ippolito: Everyone has a microphone these days. It’s given small businesses an equal ground to reach clients.
Content marketing doesn’t have to be expensive and in the age of advertising, it depended on how much money you had so you could get in front of your audience. Today, it’s about knowing your audience, providing value to them, and forging a mutually beneficial relationship. It’s helping small businesses in a big way. They couldn’t compete before.
TCS: What is the future of content marketing?
Ippolito: It has evolved as tech and media evolved. I really hope that people continue to value sitting down and reading because it’s important.
The core value in content marketing is providing a value to someone and establishing a relationship. I don’t think that’ll change anytime soon.
TCS: How important is social media in all of this?
Ippolito: Social networks are really important because that’s how the content gets distributed. A company can be remote and still be relevant in different areas just by connections they’re able to make online.
TCS: Is traditional advertising is dying out?
Ippolito: I think it is. Traditional advertising isn’t really factoring into a consumer’s purchasing process anymore. They’re basing decisions off what friends and resources are saying. What we’re trying to do is become that trusted resouce.
TCS: Is content marketing as lucrative as traditional advertising?
Ippolito: It potentially will be. I don’t think that it is right now. There are big advertising agencies that are currently thriving because of their clients that have the traditional mindset. They see that they will get results from something like that. As the younger generation becomes decision makers then content marketing will be what is focused on.
For now, traditional companies will continue to lean on traditional advertising. They’ve been built up over time and have money to spend. New companies will begin building it up with content marketing and it will become lucrative.