Content Marketing can nurture relationships very effectively if you have a strategy and a clear methodology in what you publish and where you publish it!
Many people (including myself!) talk of the use of story telling in content marketing so I like to practice what I preach so here’s a short story demonstrating how content marketing can be done and why it’s such an important piece of your overall marketing strategy…
I’d like you to think about the first time you went out on a date with someone you really liked…
For the sake of the story, lets imagine firstly you are a man (sorry ladies, it’s just a quick story!) and secondly you have never met before your date but some mutual friends put you in contact.
So you meet up in a bar and get chatting. Things are going well and the conversation (and wine) is flowing and it’s all going swimmingly well.
In fact it’s going so well, that you decide there is no time like the present.
Life is about decisions and now is a time you have to make a huge decision as everything seems to be so right that you can’t let the moment pass….
So you immediately go down on bended knee and you hold the ladies hand as you gaze into her eyes as you ask her those famous words…
“Will you marry me?!”
You can just imagine the resulting scenario after this question! The woman is totally freaked out and wants to get out of there as fast as she can… Of course I am not saying this has never happened and the subsequent relationship turned into a lifetime love affair! But I’m not a betting man but surely the odds on this happening are incalculable!
OK, story over and let’s apply this principle in the business world!
If you are treating your prospects in the same manner then of course those people are going to have the same reaction as your date.
If you are trying to close deals on the first “date” then of course you are going to risk making your prospects running a mile. You not only risk losing them after that first date but potentially for ever more as in most cases, there are so many options in business so if you frighten off your prospects then there is so much alternative choice they are gone forever!
Relationships are similar in many ways whether they are looking for friendships, love or of course business relationships. If you are too pushy you can risk ruining the relationship when if you are patient, you work on it and it develops naturally, it can be a connection that lasts a lifetime.
The foundation of all relationship is trust and this doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a slow process that takes time and effort.
You have to spend some time with your potential customer before you can expect them to truly know you and to trust you enough to buy your product.
This is how content marketing becomes a vital tool in the nurturing element of marketing..
Let’s be honest, the vast majority of small to medium sized businesses are stuck in the old world of “push” or “outbound” marketing. Of course I am not say all outbound marketing doesn’t work as of course it can. But if you are truly honest I am sure there are many readers of this post who find that it’s an uphill battle as your customers get smarter, and as more competitors inch their way into your market driving up advertising costs.
Now, this post is about implementing a process and activity called content marketing as a tool for what is called “pull” or “inbound” marketing.”
This is primarily the practice of attracting your customer’s attention through the sharing of information, tips, ideas and knowledge that is value lead and not just sales messages. It’s about building trust in you and your brand. It’s also a powerful way to develop a stronger relationship with your current customers and prospects.
Of course, most important thing of all, it brings more people into the top of your sales funnel, and has a high potential impact on growing your sales revenue.
Content marketing can be performed in any communication channel you have.
I’d like to point out that content marketing is hardly a new idea. Marketers have been producing content for decades and it’s only the communication channels that have developed.
The first key step in content marketing is to develop highly valuable, unique content that your audience will enjoy and most importantly, share with others. This content can come in the form of blogposts (like this one!), articles, videos, whitepapers, reports, interviews, podcasts, images, and infographics and more.
Once you have created a portfolio of content you can use your social media channels to distribute it to your various audiences. Content can be posted on your website as well as to your social media pages. Another effective method of reaching other audiences is to guest post on other blogs and content sites.
Here are a few strategies for utilising content marketing:
1) Educate your customer
We are all expert researchers now, thanks to Google (oh and a few other search engines too… but we all know Google is the Big Daddy of search!). Our potential consumers are much more savvy than ever before because of the endless amounts of information on almost any subject you can think of on the Internet.
*Correction… on ANY subject! The most obscure subject, product or service… it’s all out there!
So the opportunity here is to be the “go to” person, brand or business for your potential customer to visit in any way, offline or online, because you create a regular stream of valuable information that becomes a resource for them. Don’t let them Google your subject and lose them to an unlimited number of alternatives. Dominate your key search terms and help make it easy for them.
Turn your blog, website and social media pages into a large resource for your current and potential customers.
Provide them with valuable information related to your products and services without selling it to them. This is a time-consuming but critical element and you must be consistent in developing content.
Regardless of your product or service, become a thought leader in your space by providing educational value to the audience. They will love you for it and be more likely to engage your services.
2) Try to Engage
Obviously quality over quantity wins in most cases including content marketing. Don’t churn out any old rubbish just to tick your to-do list for your blog update! Try and provide your audience with relevant, amusing, helpful and relevant information. Show your personality and your opinion. Sterile, dull content is not going to ger you “likes” and “shares” which are vital if you are going to spread the word!
An engaged and entertained reader will become more likely to become a fan and inevitably a customer. The more consistent you are with regular, high quality content the more likely you are to grow your client list.
It’s also important to tell stories.
Obviously I started this post off with a simple if not slightly silly story but almost all of us have been on dates and we can relate to relationships going well… or of course badly!
If you create simple stories that people can relate to it’s a great way of explaining ideas and subjects so people just get it! Try and harness emotions of all types… well lets maybe try and avoid anger and rage as they are not ideal in many marketplaces… unless you specialise in something like Anger Management!!
We all have different types of memories and there is usually some type of relevant story in whatever you are writing about if you are passionate about something. People connect and relate with stories and they are more likely to remember you and the point you are trying to make.
3) Make sure you know your “stuff”
Obvious I know but please try and make your content correct, relevant and up to date. Have a consistent strategy that is joined up and people quickly see where you are going, what your strategy is and how your information and knowledge is of benefit to them, either to use first hand or to give them trust that you know what you are talking about!
Sounds obvious but I’ve seen content that is a big fail on this point!
Do your research and ensure that your content is both accurate and concise.
Lastly, make sure how you optimise not just each post or page on your website and blog, but your whole site, so that what you work on is found by your target audience. If you need to take some advice from an SEO expert then do it, or even just do some keyword research so you focus on keywords that you can rank for and also have enough potential people looking for your type of content and knowledge.
I recommend you don’t just focus on one term, but longer tail keywords and phrases. For example, you may be a lawyer specialising in divorce. I’m sure the phrase “divorce lawyer” is highly competitive and hard to rank for. But something like “divorce lawyer in Watford” would be easier. You can drill down further still with something like “family divorce lawyer in Watford”
Now this is a subject that I could go into a huge amount of detail… the important thing is having a simple strategy, be consistent and keep going!
Like all marketing matters… if you can’t do it for whatever reason, then hire someone or outsource it! If you aren’t creating content to ensure you are found online and you are engaging your prospects and your customers… then your competitors probably will be!
Talk to us of you need help!