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One theme that emerged at BIA/Kelsey’s recent SMB Digital Marketing conference was the emergence of content marketing for local merchants. This was kicked off in a session by Jed Williams and popped up a few more times.

As a retrospective on some of those themes and a look at their future implications, my Street Fight column this month unpacks it further. As a bonus, I even found a way to incorporate Twerking, speaking of trend analysis.

The column came out yesterday and an excerpt is after the jump, with the full article available here.  We’ll continue to keep a close eye on this topic (but likely not Twerking).

In the pantheon of buzzwords overtaking pitch decks and CMO-speak, “content marketing” is the new darling. The term has legitimate grounding to be fair, but like “long tail” and “web 2.0″ in days past, its overuse precedes it.

Content marketing also isn’t anything new — it’s been done for years, albeit under the ethically challenged “advertorial” rubric among other flavors. Now it’s new, improved, and hitched to en vogue terms like “native.” It’s also gained new steam and identity in the age of mobile and social. Facebook, in particular, can be credited with minting native and content marketing into prominence with the recently affirmed Sponsored Stories.

But what about local? Perhaps there’s no better fodder for “stories” than the character, experiences and milestones of a local business. That indeed seems less contrived than the Nikes and Pepsis of the world.

Capturing that content in monetizable ways is analogous to what players across the local space have been doing for years in various flavors. That includes MerchantCircle, Angie’s List, Closely, Patch, Yelp, PagePart, and many more. Foursquare has recently taken a different angle in local content marketing with its Promoted Updates and Promoted Specials. These are crafted in the mold of Facebook’s Sponsored Stories but with a local twist.

Then there are SMB opportunities to capture and distribute marketable “content” through Twitter, Facebook or even blog posts (i.e. “how to fix a sink”). The problem, as it often goes with SMBs, is that they don’t have the time.

That’s where companies like HubSpot and Signpost, as well as some of the above players come in. Here, an opportunity awaits if content marketing can be personalized, yet automated enough to preserve margin among low-spending SMBs. This can involve curating third party content and creating shorter-form content that can be shared easily. The need especially exists when the above “time starved” SMB challenge is joined by “content starved”.

“I don’t want to read an article from my dry cleaner about the science of cleaning cottons,” said Closely CEO Perry Evans at the recent SMB Digital Marketing Conference.

Read the rest.

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