You might have noticed the big shift, or certainly the proliferation, of discussions about the effectiveness of content marketing as a sales tool. If you aren’t sure what exactly “content marketing” is, here’s a definition that I think explains it well;
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content (information) to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
What is meant by “Content”
What “content” actually consists of, can vary considerably. It might be a PDF report or whitepaper, it might be a video, a how-to article, an e-book, a blog post, a webinar or social media post or any form of communication that distributes valuable information to a group of prospective clients.
The key ingredients for successful content marketing are relevance and usefulness to the audience that is being targeted. In short, your content looks and feels like editorial as opposed to advertising.
Traditional marketing is becoming less and less effective for building sales
One thing is certain, traditional marketing methods like press advertising and tele-sales are becoming less effective for the companies that use these methods to build new business.
The second thing that’s certain is that there has never been more “marketing” and all of us, including your prospective clients are bombarded with pitches, or in their eyes, interruptions, every day, both in their work and personal lives.
Advertisement fatigue, often leads to scepticism and inertia and this is even picked-up by children. My youngest daughter, when six years old, commented;
Dad, those people are always having a sale!
My daughter said this in response to seeing a TV ad for a well known furniture company as it came onto our screen. The alternative approach;
Instead of pitching your products or services, you are providing truly relevant and useful content to your prospects and customers to help them solve their issues. Content Marketing Institute
Content marketing’s golden rule: produce once but get multiple use from your effort
From now on, anything that you write, film or record should be viewed as having the potential for double or multiple use and in fact, you are probably using this approach already. As an example, let’s say that you produce a post for your blog.
The post will be published on your website. Once posted, it’s probably then promoted through your social media channels to promote the fact that your article is online and available to be read.
That’s a double-use. You have produced an item that is now on your website and you have used the same item as a valid topic for social media promotion. You have achieved double marketing value from one item of content.
What else could you do to obtain further promotional value from that post?
When the subject matter of your latest blog post was chosen, was this selected because it formed part of a planned series of information releases around a topic that is of real interest or concern to your core target market?
You are much more likely to build engagement with all of your content if there is a theme within each item that resonates with your target audience. That theme can help position your business as a thought-leader in the area in which you operate so, with that thought in mind, here are some other things that you could do with a single post.
- Improve search for your website
Before the post was added to your blog, was it checked to ensure it was optimised for the search terms or words most associated with what your business does? If you included images in your post, did you add Alt text? (images are also picked-up in searches).
Your blog is in place because you want it to attract the people who will most benefit from your product or service. Ensuring that your site is most likely to appear when a potential client enters a phrase in a web search related to what your company does is really important.
Marketing in this way provides not only “double-use” of your blog post, it increases the value of your website as a component within your sales generating toolkit.
- Conduct email marketing
Write an email that is related to the subject matter of your blog post. Refer to the post in your email and include a link. Send your email to current clients, past or dormant clients and prospective clients. Tailor the introduction to your email for each group.
- Solicit testimonials that support the expertise highlighted in your post
To obtain additional bang from your post, consider sending a copy of your draft post to one or more past clients before publication.
The clients should be people who have experienced in a positive way, how your company handled the problem or issue covered by your post. Ask them for a testimonial that describes and supports how well your company performed. Include the testimonials in your post if possible with links to the homepages of your clients.
Once your post is published, ask your satisfied clients to “Like” and re-Tweet the story. In your email marketing (point 2) include one or more of the testimonials in your copy. This will reinforce the credibility of your message.
- Expand coverage of your post using Twitter
Are there businesses on Twitter in allied fields to yours that could be interested in retweeting your posts to their followers? Start following them if you don’t already. Contact them, start retweeting and liking the content that they produce on subjects that are allied to your field. Each time you post on your site and tweet to your own followers about your new post, there will be much stronger possibility of retweets from companies that also reach some or many of the people that you would like to reach too and this will extend the readership of your posts and the awareness of your business.
- Offer your post to your trade media
If your post provides genuine editorial content, there is a possibility that one or more trade press journals, online, print of both, may carry your article. Given that you want your article to be read by people within companies that buy from yours, the journals that you target will probably be different to those read by you and your colleagues. Build a list with contacts of the journals that your clients read. Contact the editors of those magazines and see if your article or a tweaked version could be something that they would be interested in publishing.
- Upload Your Post To Article Publishing Websites
Sites like ezinearticles.com and articlealley.com are platforms that publish articles on a huge variety of subjects. For B2B related subjects, ezinearticles is probably the strongest site. If you make this part of your checklist every time you post a new item to your own site, you will also build a following on the article sites mentioned above. You may have to tweak your article slightly for ezinearticles so that it is “original” content. Guidelines can be found on each site.
- Offer your post to your trade association
If your company is a member of a trade association, check to see if they publish content on their site. Many do. Offer your post and future ones as items that they can include in their blog or within the content section of their website.
- Offer your post to your trade show organiser
The marketing team within the organising company of your next trade show are always looking for genuine, useful and informative content that they can include within their own marketing campaign for the upcoming event and this content can take many forms as described in “15 Steps To Effective Trade Show Participation.”
Even if your first post is not carried by the show team, you can use it to help position your business as a thought-leader in the minds of your organiser and they may come back to you on another occasion to discuss a seminar speaking slot, participation in a webinar or some other activity that builds profile and credibility for your business.
Content marketing: the importance of providing real value
I mentioned earlier in this article that the golden rule of content marketing is to get multiple use from every piece of content that you create. The other part of that rule is, that whatever you produce, it must offer genuine value; genuine knowledge or real and effective teaching to the person receiving your content. If it doesn’t, it isn’t really going to be effective. You have to show that your business really does know a subject, the issues and problems arising and how to deal with them effectively in a way that brings long-lasting benefit.
Look at every post, webinar, white paper that you or your company produce in this way, and you will start to obtain much greater promotional value and impact from every item that you create.