As marketers and small business owners, we all know our company story is a big deal. Your company’s story will tell your audience and potential clients who you are, what to expect working with you, and the overall vibes of your company’s environment. This is why content marketing for small businesses is so important. One question: are you writing content addressing the right “why”?

There’s more to storytelling for your small business than just getting the story out there with the assumption that the “why” people want to know is why they should be interested in you. In this post, we’ll go over key concepts of content marketing for small businesses and get you to answer the right questions.

Why does what you do matter?

TBH creative golden circle illustration

Often, small businesses make the mistake of thinking their website needs to tell their audience who they are, what they do, and why you should hire them for the job.

It’s easy to get caught up thinking that the “why” people want to know is why you’re a good fit for them. That’s not exactly true, though.

Sure, your audience wants to know what sets you apart from competitors. Like if you’re rated the #1 conversion rate company or have other awards in a different niche like healthcare marketing.

But the main “why” that they’re looking to be answered is, why does what you do matter? People aren’t trying to buy what you do. They have plenty of options. They’re buying “why” you do it.

The next mistake in answering “why” that content marketing for small businesses can do, is answering the question too generic or not having an answer at all.

Why do you do what you do? To help people? Help them what? The “why” is tied closely to your company’s mission.

Your “why” is the reason your business exists, and it goes beyond wanting to make money. You saw a problem and created a solution. Now tell your audience what that is.

Why, how, what

Have you ever heard of the Golden Circle in marketing? Similar to the ideology of the golden rule, these rules are what we follow when it comes to content marketing for small businesses.


Start with “why”

Let’s get started with the why. We’ve already touched base on the importance of the “why,” but let’s dive in a bit more.

A common mistake businesses use when it comes to content marketing for small businesses are they start with “what.” When really, they need to start with “why.”

As we’ve discussed, “why” is the core belief of the business. It’s why the business exists. This is what individuals are looking for first, which is how it gets mixed up, starting with “what.”

In Simon Sinek’s famous Ted Talk on the Golden Circle, he shares an example from Apple.

Apple starts with “why.” But—imagine if they started with what they do instead. They make technologies that are user-friendly, beautifully designed, and easy to use. Would you buy their products just with that information? The odds are you wouldn’t. Apple isn’t telling you why you can trust them, just that they have good products.

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Now, instead of Apple, consider if TBH Creative started with “what.”

What is TBH Creative? TBH Creative is a marketing agency. There are hundreds of agencies that provide similar services to what we do. Regardless of if they do them worse or better, the options are there.

Imagine you saw a social media post from us that read:

“We develop marketing assets and enterprise websites for small businesses, nonprofits, and healthcare organizations.”

You’re likely to scroll right past this snoozy message, aren’t you?

It’s vague and doesn’t tell you much of anything. Sure, it gives you some specifics on our services, but it doesn’t even hint at why we’re in the business of doing what we do.

Imagine, instead, that you see a post that says this:

“Expect more from your marketing partner.
At TBH Creative, we believe in:

  • Doing what we say we’re going to do
  • Providing clear details to our clients
  • Meeting deadlines

“We work with each client to achieve big goals—together.”

With this description of our “how” and “what,” we communicate who we are and our core values by including reasons to choose our Indianapolis digital marketing agency over the competition. The message covers what sets us apart (and what to expect when a client needs services like content marketing for small businesses).


Next, consider your “how”

Thinking about “how” comes after “why.” Your “how” should explain what your business does to achieve its mission.

At TBH Creative, our “why” is all about our core beliefs that you have a partner when you work with us, not a vendor who just gets the job done without entirely investing in the work’s success.

So, “how” do we back that up? We involve our client stakeholders during every critical step of a project with precise scoping, regular status reports, check-in meetings, approvals, and more.

When clients share feedback, we act like partners and listen. We don’t just say “no” when we think something won’t work.

We value our client partnerships enough to always provide our expertise to ensure they get work that will help them get the best ROI for their marketing investment. And, once our collaboration is done, we don’t just disappear.

When you think about your small business’s “how,” you should also think about your “why” and what you do to back that up. Once you know your company’s “how,” all marketing content you create should implement those examples.

How to use your “how” in marketing messaging

Avoid spelling it out for your audience (e.g., don’t say things like, “We are the best because of points A and B”). Instead, use examples that back your “how” in ways that flow naturally.

For example, at TBH Creative, we incorporate our “why” into the copy on our website’s portfolio landing page. We include the “how” on individual pages with examples of client work.

primex website


Finally, think about your “what”

We’ve finally made it to the “what,” which is like with your small business content marketing is focused on. The “what” focuses on what your company does, its products, services, etc.

While this part of content marketing for small businesses seems self-explanatory, it’s essential to consider how your offerings correspond to the way “why” and “how” define your brand. Keep in mind: What about your products or services bolsters your company’s purpose?

Regardless of “what” you are selling, your products or services must relate to your small business’s primary vision and motivation (e.g., a company like Tesla, which produces electric cars, has its why as “making the world less dependent on fossil fuels”). However, if they started selling a product that isn’t electric, it could quickly become a red flag for their brand.

FAQs about content marketing for small businesses

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Why do small businesses need content marketing?

It can help small businesses become highly visible to their target audience. Writing, publishing, and distributing content regularly builds credibility, authority, and trust before trying to sell anything to the target audience.

What are the five essential elements of a content marketing strategy?

An effective Content Marketing strategy should have these five core elements to be successful:

  • audience personas
  • brand positioning
  • owned media value proposition
  • business case
  • action plan

Is content marketing effective?

Around 74% of companies found that content marketing increased lead generation in quality and quantity (Curata, 2017). Businesses with a content marketing strategy achieved 27.1% higher win rates and 18.1% higher quota attainment than those without a content strategy (CSO Insights, 2019).

Using the Golden Circle

Now that you understand the Golden Circle and how to best implement it into content marketing for your small business, it’s time to reflect on your “why,” “how,” and “what.”

Take a step back and think about when you first started your business:

  • What motivated you?
  • How do your personal values, interests, and belief lead you to this business?

The beauty of the Golden Circle is its simplicity. It’s something every business owner, big or small, can apply to their business.

The first step towards successful content marketing for small businesses starts with the Golden Circle. Grab a piece of paper, draw the diagram, talk with your team, and answer the right questions for your brand.

Take the next step

TBH Creative can help guide you in your content marketing journey. We’ve got you covered with tips on improving your website storytelling and knowing when your content is production ready.