Great marketing attracts the attention of buyers, and then hopefully engages them with your business in meaningful ways. While this is possible with traditional advertising, it is more readily done with content marketing.
In many ways, content marketing accomplishes what has traditionally been the responsibility of the sales team: Educating buyers about the company’s products and services and how they can help them.
These days, buyers are usually quite knowledgeable about your products and how they stack up against the competition, thanks to social media commentary and other information on the web.
If that information is your marketing content, it will encourage buyers to know, like, and ultimately trust your business, even before you are aware of the digital relationship you have with them. Design your content marketing strategy to leverage that possibility.
The Social Marketing Process ©Jeff Korhan
#1 – Business Knowledge is Attractive
If a prospective buyer does not know about your business, content marketing can help make that vital first connection. By providing answers to the questions they are searching the web for, you instantly make your business attractive.
You know your customers and understand their desires, as well as the challenges they may have with fulfilling them. So, regularly publishing solutions to their most relevant problems encourages them to move forward with your business.
Doubt stops buyers in their tracks, so when I operated the landscape business I founded, we not only addressed the problems our competitors were reluctant to discuss; we also brought up what our customers did not know enough to ask about. Just suggesting that there is more to know is an attractive content marketing tactic.
More than half of what landscape customers pay for is underground, and therefore easily disregarded. This includes the proper foundation for a patio, the vigorous root system of locally-grown plants, and an irrigation system that doesn’t have to be dug up to replace inferior valves that later fail.
Making them more aware of this always proved refreshing. This was before the Internet, so we used white papers and traditional selling practices to communicate this. These days we would use our blog — a content marketing asset that works around the clock to help our customers make more informed buying decisions.
#2 – Helpful Engagement is Likeable
The surest way to get people liking your business is to help them. This engages them to talk favorably about it, and that’s a powerful form of marketing that is also quite memorable.
To do this, consider providing useful information that preferably relates to your business. As one example, a tree care company could provide tips for keeping trees healthy, thereby ensuring the outdoor environment is both beautiful and safe.
Going a step further, it could address other aspects of home or office safety to extend its brand awareness beyond just enjoying the outdoors. Using content to communicate that your business is truly interested in the overall well-being of your customers is a viable practice for being more likeable.
#3 – Trust Leads to Profitable Outcomes
Likability naturally leads to trust, which is a necessary ingredient for converting engagement into sales, especially when you consider that most consumers do not trust businesses until they get to know the people behind them. Trust is the end game of content marketing.
Other than making that first contact with a buyer, the most valuable use of your content is just after the sale is made. This is when they may have unanswered questions about how to best use what they bought.
Instead of asking them to quantify their satisfaction with a survey, anticipate their needs and give them more. Surprise them with content that seems to be personally speaking to them!
In a digital world of abundant fans and followers, smart marketers are learning to use their content to create a feeling of intimacy with their customers.
We may call this practice content marketing, but the truth is content is blurring the lines between traditional sales, marketing, and customer service.
Who do people really trust? — Their friends.
Just being a friend who people know, like, and trust is a valid strategy for growing your business with content.
Jeff Korhan, MBA, is the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business (Wiley 2013), which delivers proven methods for converting social marketing best practices into profitable outcomes. He can be reached at New Media and Small Business Marketing