Remember a time when a sales representative imposed pushy sales tactics on you. It probably felt like you got forced into a sales pitch that you desperately want to leave. Conversely, have you ever been pleasantly surprised by a sales representative who gave you time to shop on your own, was available when you had questions, and provided you with extra knowledge you didn’t even considered? Who would you rather buy from?
If you select the latter scenario, you are on board with the idea of content marketing. Instead of high-pressured sales without much substance, the use of content marketing demonstrates why potential customers would want to buy from you.
Why is there a need for Content Marketing?
of customers go through the sales process before engaging a sales representativeSource: CEB
The buying process has drastically changed with the popularity of the Internet. Previously, companies controlled the information people had access to. As people started to create their own content online (through blogs, social media, forums, and peer review websites) and can easily get information (from laptops, tablets, and mobile phones), they took back control of the buying process.
People conduct research on their own before contacting companies for more information. As a result, corporations needed to connect with potential customers in more meaningful ways. One of the ways to engage them is through content marketing.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing focuses on creating resourceful information and sharing it with the world to attract, connect, and win customers.
There are two components to content marketing:
Content + Distribution = Content Marketing
Information presented in a way that potential customers find compelling and valuable.
Articles/ Blog Posts
In order to create engaging content, you need a good understand of your ideal customer and what would interest them to spend time reading, watching, or listening to your content.
Places to share the content that eventually lead potential customers to learn more about your company.
Producing great content is only the first part of the equation. Sharing the content plays an equally important role.
Why is Content Marketing Important for Businesses?
1) Attract Potential Customers
Bait: Flower = Content
Target: Bee = Potential Customer
Instead of cold calling or spamming people to see if they are interested in your products/services, your focus is to attract potential customers. Just like bees are naturally attracted to flowers, provide valuable resources to prospects so they are drawn to learn more about what your company has to offer.
2) Improve Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
The purpose of a search engine (Google, Yahoo, Bing) is to make sure search results are the most relevant information users are looking for. Consequently, search engines love quality content and rank them higher in organic search results. If a potential customer is searching for an answer to a question and your content is relevant, it will have a higher probability of appearing on earlier pages of search results. Potential customers are more likely to read your content and visit your website.
3) Build Trust by Demonstrating Your Expertise
Win the hearts of potential customers by establishing real connections with them. By providing value with helpful content on a regular basis, you earn their attention and gain their trust. It connects a company to potential customers on a personal level. Instead of telling people you are an expert in this field, demonstrate it with content. It builds credibility and your company becomes a trusted source of information in your industry.
4) Get Rewarded
Potential customers are more likely to remember your company if you have been consistently helpful to them. Since it typically takes some time to close a sale, give them a reason to keep visiting your website by attracting them with new content regularly. When customers are ready to purchase, they will remember how helpful you have been and would be more likely to purchase from you.
How Do I Get Started on Content Marketing?
Focus on Quality Content
With popularity of content marketing on the rise, many companies are making their way to create their own content. When writing for our own company sometimes it is easy to focus on talking too much about ourselves (corporate news, product/service offerings). Content that adds no value is perceived as spam. As a result, content should be more focused on topics potential customers would find interested in learning more.
Sources of Inspiration
It is difficult to come up with content on your own. A good way to get inspiration is to talk to the people within your company, especially the sales team. They are the first line of contact with potential customers and they are exposed to common questions that are asked on a regular basis. Are there recurring questions your sales team is getting that can be answered in an article? It can be written as a content piece that your sales representatives can use as a sales tool. Your sales team will surely thank you when they don’t have to answer the same questions over and over again. They can present the material to potential customers who will see value in what you created.
Doesn’t Require a Big Budget
What is great about content marketing is that it puts small businesses and larger corporations on a level playing field. It doesn’t cost a lot of money to implement content marketing compared to traditional marketing efforts (advertising, trade shows). With hard work and dedication, you can craft valuable content that garner attention and get people coming back for more.
Connect with Existing Customers
Content marketing is not just great at attracting potential customers but it is also helpful in maintaining strong relationships with existing customers. Research has shown that it is five to 25 times more expensive acquiring a new customer than retaining an existing one (Source: Harvard Business Review). Content marketing engages potential and existing customers to build a loyal fan base for your company that pays off in the long run.
Are you currently using content marketing? Is it effective for you? Please feel free to leave a comment.