“Content” is a broad term that can be used for anything from articles to reports, blog posts, white papers and case studies that offer useful information to prospects and customers for free. Content educates, informs and solves problems (usually with your company’s product or service.)
The Content Marketing Institute defines it as “a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience.” Educating the customer is the objective for content marketing, leading to an eventual sale.
Your customer needs to know why your product, service or company is better or different than your competitor, or the one they usually do business with. If you’re the same price, but have better customer service, point that out. Tell them why they should give you a try. Prospects want to know they can pick up the phone at any time and ask a question without being put on hold for 30 minutes, or that the person on the other end knows about the product/service and can answer that question without hearing, “um, I dunno. . .let me put you on hold and ask my supervisor. . . . ”
Traditional advertising just isn’t as effective as it used to be, particularly with B2B marketing. To locate qualified leads that will turn into customers, readily available white papers, case studies and special reports may be just what you need to talk to your customers without a “hard sell.”
Remember: people don’t like to be “sold.” That’s true of B2B customers just like B2C. With content marketing, there is no hard sell. You feature a product or service, talk about it, interview a successful user, explain how their problem was solved, how their life improved, as well as other features and benefits. Again, no “hard sell” here, just a conversation about how and why.
How many times have you asked for or searched for “more information?” While printed literature still exists, it takes time to arrive. Ready-to-download free content is a much faster way to get your message to your customers—and it doesn’t involve paper and postage once it’s published.
If you’re still wondering why you should consider content marketing, think about this:
- Content marketing pushes online businesses. Your prospects are looking for information for your service. Unlike a product they’re already familiar with, most are not ready to buy right away, but are “looking into it.” But a need is established, even if it’s just a thought crossing their minds. They’re already interested, and will be looking for the best choice for their needs. So content marketing starts the conversation with a form of inbound marketing. Ask for a minimal amount of information—name, email address—and let them read it at their convenience. You now have a lead for your email (“drip”) marketing campaign. Add that to your CRM.
- Content that’s searchable and easily found by Google, Bing and other engines will put your company at the top of the search results—right where they can see you. Make sure they click on your link with an invitation for free useful information they need now.
- Content drives traffic to your website from search engines. What do they need to know before calling you? If you know what questions your prospects are asking, put that together in something they can download and read quickly—and likely share with their friends and/or coworkers who are interested as well.
- Content tells a story and establishes your company as a credible authority. People remember stories the best—and a client’s experience with your company’s product or service is the best kind, isn’t it? If a prospect has visited your site, received a few emails from you, or downloaded and read your content, they will see you as a source and an authority. You’re also building credibility along with your brand awareness. They will think of you first when the time comes for someone to look for or purchase a product or service.
In order to be successful with content marketing, you must know and understand your audience. Why do your customers like your product or service? What problem(s) does it solve? What benefit does it provide them? What does it do better than your competitor’s? Why do your customers become repeat customers—or why do they leave? What would they say about your company when asked? Answers to these questions (and more) will guide you through your content creation process.
The word “free” doesn’t hurt, either.
Social media is your next distribution channel: adding “share” buttons right on your website will help pass around your content to more interested parties. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are obvious choices, but Google+ and others like it can help too. You can reach prospects who are thinking about your product or service, or you can catch their interest with it. You’ll know people are paying attention when you get a message that someone has favored one of your tweets. Social media helps build your brand awareness, but it’s not a primary marketing tool.
Of course, don’t stop at just one. Different clients will have a different story to tell about your company’s product or service, how it helped, how life is better because of it. So interview more and create content for the different markets you serve.
Don’t forget the blog posts. Blogging about what’s new, what’s coming soon, what your company is working on, or better yet, what customers are asking for (or even complaining about) are great topics for blog posts.
Keeping track of who’s interested, who’s downloading, and who’s calling to ask questions is what a good CRM is for. . .if yours isn’t up to it, or doesn’t give you more than basic functions, it’s time to look for a new one. A good place to start is to do a search for CRM, look at their landing pages, then download some of their free content. Read blogs. Get one or two of their white papers, case studies or reports. Review a few and see which CRM systems will help you keep track of customer inquiries, emails, and other contacts easily. Can you integrate it into your Outlook or other email system? Will it work better than a spreadsheet on a shared folder? Content from CRM companies can explain the functionalities of each system and help you decide which one is right for your company’s needs.
Now do you see why you need content?
Contact me to discuss your content marketing needs.