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For today’s installment in our content marketing series, we’re going to take a look at three very different brands doing content marketing in unique and interesting ways. And while these are well-developed brands with a fair amount of capital (human and financial) behind their efforts, the techniques they employ are absolutely accessible by small businesses as well. Let’s dive right in.

1. Saveur Magazine
Of all the types of content you could create, video certainly has the potential to go viral very quickly, and with very little added effort on you part. The key is to create something that will answer a question that a lot of people might have on their minds. Saveur does exactly that with their SAVEUR Basics video series. While there are probably a number of expert chefs consuming the magazine and website, the majority are more the aspirational set. People who cook frequently and want to be able to expand their skills so they can be more like the pros. Enter this series of just a handful of tutorials that are brief, helpful, and beautifully shot. I find these incredibly useful and really make me value Saveur as a brand. And judging from the YouTube details, over 1 million other people feel the same way.

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In our recent introduction to content marketing, we talked about the established and ever-growing trend of publishing content as a means of drawing more potential customers to your front door – virtual or physical.

Marketing has taken a sharp left turn in recent years away from the old broadcasting style of communication and toward more customer-focused tactics. This provides big benefits from both a human and a search engine optimization standpoint for your business – especially if you’re on a budget. You might not be able to afford a TV or radio spot to get your name out there, but you can probably afford to start a blog and a set up a few social media profiles.

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If you’ve spent any time on this and other blogs related to small business marketing, you’ve probably run across the term “content marketing” more than a few times. And while content marketing as a strategy is quickly gaining popularity in the industry, some people are still not quite sure what it means. In a series we’re starting today, we’ll see if we can help with that.

Content Marketing Institute (yes, that really exists), offers the following definition:

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Today’s article comes from Laura Kranz, Acquisition Marketing Coordinator at Webs.

While most small business owners have heard the term Affiliate Marketing before, many are unsure exactly what it entails and if it’s a viable option for their small business. Today we’ll look at how it works, give an overview of terms, and help you decide if it’s right for your business.

How affiliate marketing works:
There are three major components of affiliate marketing: Advertiser, Affiliate Network and Publisher:

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Word-of-mouth marketing is great for every type of business, but it truly is the life blood of small businesses. Not only is traditional advertising more expensive, small business owners and entrepreneurs operate with the understood advantage of being able to offer personalized service the way big brands simply can’t. In a crowded market, this assumption helps small businesses compete, and it makes people more likely to recommend a business they’ve tried to a friend.

But how do you encourage word-of-mouth marketing? Coming right out and asking every one of your clients to send their friends your way feels awkward — as well it should, since that how it makes your clients feel too. These requests should be individualized, because there are a lot of variables to consider: What if they didn’t actually have a great experience with you? What if they’re not the type of person to talk about things they’ve bought with friends? What if they would have recommended you on their own, but now they feel like it was your idea and no longer feel compelled? Murky waters, to be sure.

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If you don’t have the budget for glossy magazine advertising or high-profile online ad placement, you might still be able to achieve the results you’re looking for (without spending big bucks) through industry newsletters and listservs.

Think about your target market for a minute. Who are they? Where do they get their news? What groups might they be a part of? What communications are they already receiving that you might piggyback on? There are three big advantages to advertising and partnerships of this kind:

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If you’re looking for a way to access your local community in an unconventional, less promotional way, event sponsorship is a great option. Not only does it get more eyeballs on your company name and logo, it can also be a really effective brand-building tool.

Discussing a Levi’s sponsorship of the GranFondo bike event, marketing expert Greg Fisher says, “Participants are having an exceptional experience…and your brand is right there. People recognize and remember that your brand helped them have their best day of the year [on their bike].” Basically, it’s all about helping people associate your brand with a positive experience they had.

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If you’re looking for a great way to expose your local community to your small business, one way to go is to leverage the fame of a local celebrity. It doesn’t take a marketing genius to know that people place a higher value on the opinion of a celebrity than they do on the rest of us regular people. Wheaties doesn’t pay athletes millions for endorsements just for fun, after all. But since you (I’m guessing) don’t have Wheaties money to spend on celebrity endorsements, you’ll have to get a little craftier and maybe think a little smaller.

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As we continue with our discussion of ways to leverage your local community for your small business, we would be remiss not to talk about local clubs and organizations.

There are a number of benefits to joining local organizations. First, it’s a great way to network with other business owners who you might be able to partner with in the future. Also, your business might offer a product or service that an individual in the organization would be interested in. Or maybe you are looking to learn from people who have gone before you and benefit from their knowledge on things like local laws and ordinances, vendors they’ve used, opportunities you might not have heard about, etc. Finally, when you attend functions and are a part of a group, the other members feel a sense of loyalty and genuinely want to help your business succeed through referrals.

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Admittedly, the marketing strategy of offering a rewards program is nothing new. But as with the success or failure of many tactics, it’s all in the execution.  You will likely get some benefit from a generic ‘refer a friend’ or ‘spend more, save more’ type of program, but to really maximize your rewards program ROI, think about offering something that really resonates with your target market and reinforces your brand’s role in their life.

Take, for example, Sweetgreen restaurants. They will be our case study today not only because everyone in the Webs office is loving that they just opened a franchise across the street, but mostly because Sweetgreen started out as a small business, possibly much like your own.

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