Content marketing is one the eminent developments at the moment. But, what is content marketing and if you own a small business, how can you benefit from it?

While content marketing has been a marketing buzzword just for a few years, it really contains approximately twenty different ways to market products and services that are known to almost all knowledgeable Internet marketers.

According to the latest Business-to-Business Small Business Content Marketing information packages, put together by the Content Marketing Institute, the utmost provider of content marketing related figures, the most used content marketing mechanism, is the use of social media such as LinkedIn, Google+

Even though social media itself includes multiple services, small business owners seem to like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. The second most common content marketing tool is placing news clips on the company’s website. Other methods, typically used by more than fifty percent of small businesses, include eNewsletters (or email newsletters), blogs, case studies, videos, stories on other websites, white papers and webcasts.

Do these tools work? Absolutely! Only 2% of all small businesses intend to reduce their budget for content marketing, whereas as much as 57% of companies plan on increasing their content marketing investment.

Articles could be the most controversial marketing tool

Most small businesses believe in the power of articles – whether they are posted on the company’s own website or third party websites. However, in spite of their popularity, most small companies are not clear of the sales value of those news stories.

I believe this is because articles are a misunderstood marketing tool. Small businesses that work with a online marketing firm to place sponsored articles to other websites, typically tend to make the mistake of being way too self-promotional. Maybe this is because most small business entrepreneurs can sometimes be proud of their achievements or maybe third party marketing companies believe that they will have to use a promotional tone. The end result is an article that may be read because of an appealing headline, but that does not deliver potential clients to the company’s website, may not generate highly qualified leads, and therefore, will not fuel sales.

If you do not agree with this assumption, just visit press release distribution companies’ websites such as PR Log and their newsroom. I am certain that you might consider three quarters of press releases surprisingly self-promotional, awash with material that journalists would regard as terrible.

The other generally used marketing method is to place articles on the company’s own website. This can be highly valuable if your business already has an existing following… people who visit your website for news.

But, if your intention is to boost your sales, this tool may not produce great results either. If the news report has been licensed from a content marketing company and already published someplace else, search engines, such as Yahoo, will think of it as just a duplicate. As the material is not unique content, it will not build up your company’s keyword ranking that greatly.

If optimizing your site and driving potential leads to it was that easy, everyone would just include outbound links to existing stories on their web site and laugh all the way to the bank!

What if you could come to be a media magnate like Ted Turner at once?

Recent research reports show that people consider traditional ads pushy, so articles can be a very effective content marketing method. This is why a handful of companies specialize in building news sites for small and medium sized companies. It is as if you owned your own newspaper or trade journal! Think about the amount of new sales you could generate!

The content marketing company with a strong background in journalism and media designs a separate news site for you and then writes news articles and shoots videos that are placed on the site. The end result appears to be like an neutral news site, even though its exclusive goal is to influence its readers to contact the company, the exclusive sponsor of the news site. Articles may have a call for action with a link to the company’s website, or any other contact information the company may like.

As articles are unique content, search engines like them. And, as fresh material is publicized on a daily basis, the news site’s ranking improves – not just among your primary keywords, but using a multitude of long-tail keyword combinations. As the number of visitors increases, you can collect more highly qualified leads which you can then translate into business.

How much does this cost? Less than if you tried accomplishing it in-house. However here is the challenge. Many small businesses still believe they can grow their operations and produce terrific results by doing content marketing on the side, in spite of the fact that the news site outsourcing process is easy and affordable. 39% outsource some part of content production but only 3% of small business owners utilize outsourced content exclusively. 65% of large businesses depend on experts and outsource their content design.