Content marketing is very different from other forms of marketing. With the nature of the internet, you can distribute your messages to thousands of people, with a single click of a button at no cost! It is pretty powerful and the reason why content marketing works, is because it is not all about selling. Unlike other methods that SHOUT Sell, Sell, Sell, producing a piece of content for your customers is more of 'soft' way of addressing them and getting your messages across.
Push vs Pull
Traditional sales and marketing tactics were mainly focused on pushing a message, pushing a meeting, pushing a contact. Content marketing is focused on the pull. It is about getting yourself distributed, so that when you customers come looking for what you have, they find you. Content marketing is about attracting customers, not clubbing them over the head and dragging them back to your cave.
Something to consider is that content may be the very first encounter between the prospective customer and your business. It is right at the very top of the Sales and Marketing Funnel. This is where the magic has to happen, so to speak. You need to interest readers enough to pull them further down the funnel.
So how can you employ Content Marketing to grow your small business and generate sales?
In this article we will attempt to answer your questions and unravel the mysteries of content marketing.
What kind of content do I send/create?
We like to take the approach that follows the pareto 80/20 rule, where 80% of our content is informative, and only 20% about our products and the sale. Your messages should always be customer focused, rather than sale oriented. Think about what the client should or would like to know before they purchase your product, if they are to buy your offering (i.e. plant seeds) what else could they possibly be interested in (gardening, the great outdoors etc.), maybe you can share some interesting insights from your industry. You should always strive to provide messages that are both helpful and informative. Something that prospects would like to read, and hopefully share.
How do I know what my customer would like to hear/read about?
If you know who your customers are well enough, you will have no trouble identifying topics that will appeal to them, failing that speak to them, or run a survey. A good database could come in handy here. If you have compiled information of who your clients are, their needs, wants and preferences you can not only create interesting content, but you can take it a step further and send them personalized and tailored messages that would fit with their interests.
How would that help me sell my product?
We have mentioned a few times that content marketing is not about selling, then how are you going to shift your product and make money? Well, the key here is the after effect:
- If your content is enlightening and informative, people visiting your website, blog or receiving your newsletters would feel compelled to reach out for your other content. If they read one of your blog posts and they like it, they are likely to read some of your other posts too.
- Social sharing. What happens when you read an article or a post that is interesting? You share it. If you produce content that is engaging for customers, they will share it with their friends and family. Your readers will ultimately turn into your brand ambassadors. Content shared through trusted peers is so much more likely to be read and your business will be perceived as more trustworthy.
- Remember how we said before that 80% of your writing should be informative? Well the remaining 20% is your call-to-action. With the help of some clever wording you can easily navigate leads through the sales funnel and encourage a sale. Always put yourself in the customer's shoes and ask yourself 'What's in for me? What will I gain from reading this content?'
- In addition, fresh new content that is regularly being uploaded to your website or blog will have a positive impact on your Google search rankings. And who wouldn't want to climb up a couple of spaces on that search page?
- Reciprocity. Have you heard of the theory that we feel a subconscious obligation to give when we receive? Give your customers something for free (some interesting and insightful content for instance) and they will give something back (their name and email address, or even their custom). Be the first one to give.
- So, you can see for yourself that Content marketing promises a lot: customer engagement, customer satisfaction and consequently, a sale. However be prepared that this will be an ongoing process. A single newsletter or a single blog post will not result in customers rushing through your doors straight away. You will need to put in the time, creating intriguing content and surely your hard work will pay off.
What do you think fellow content enthusiasts? Leave us a comment below - we'd be interested to hear your ideas and your experiences with content marketing.