How small businesses can create quality content on a limited budget

Brands are creating content more than ever before. Consumer expectations are also at an all-time high, and they’re bombarded with so much content everyday that it’s becoming harder for marketers to cut through the noise. This presents a major challenge for small-business owners, who don’t have the time or money to invest in large promotions, and often feel like they lack the know-how to produce effective content.

The good news is there are a handful of best practices that small businesses can follow to create quality content that speaks to their brand and ethos, without breaking the bank.

Know your audience

In order to be successful and develop long term relationships, businesses need to understand who their customers are, who their competitors are and why they’re doing what they’re doing before they start.

Understanding what your customers like will also help to guide the content you develop. Put yourself in their shoes and look at your business from their point of view. Why do your customers need you? How important is my product or service to my customers? Take notice of where you’re seeing the highest likes and engagement on existing content, or simply ask them what they think.

Show, don’t tell

If you want your audience to stop scrolling and pay attention to your content, leverage high-quality, striking visuals that are on-brand and on-message. Customers prefer content with quality visuals over lengthy text — for example, Facebook posts with images see more than double engagement than those without.

You can accomplish most of this by visually defining your brand. Choose brand fonts and colours that are different from your competition and use quality images that resonate with your customers and their needs or field of work. Once you’ve defined your creative variables, be sure to apply them consistently across all your marketing channels.

Consistency is the foundation of brand recall. It’s how you develop real connections with your customers by ensuring they can easily recognise your brand.

Doritos recently launched an ad campaign which doesn’t include its logo or brand name. However, its previous consistent use of the iconic triangle shape in marketing content has clearly established brand recall. Meaning that Doritos was able to drop its logo as the shape of the product itself is recognisable enough to consumers.

Creative tools

There are many creative tools small businesses can leverage to connect with customers and create quality content that scales on a budget. Like any power tool, when in the hands of a skilled practitioner, the output is stunning. That said, the average small business owner doesn’t always have the time to learn. So where do you start?

  • Sourcing quality visual content: Stock images, footage, vectors, illustrations and templates can save you time and help make your content look more polished and professional. There are a lot of high quality stock content resources available at your fingertips, without breaking the bank.
  • Utilise free tools: Tools like Shutterstock Editor, freemium or trial versions of popular editing tools, and even pre-installed apps like QuickTime, iMovie, and Photo Preview have tonnes of features and functions for growing businesses. These can help you quickly and easily design any holiday campaign or promotional materials.

Creating and maintaining a consistent brand isn’t as simple as it used to be. However, content remains a crucial part of the marketing mix and how customers connect with brands. By clearly defining the characteristics of your audience, visually defining your brand and finding the creative tools that work for you, your marketing and creating quality content on a limited budget is doable — and can make or break a business.

Grant Munro, Senior Vice President, Shutterstock Custom

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