By Jess Lander
Dear Small Business Owner, Entrepreneur, or Author,
Listen to what I am about to tell you and listen very closely: Any marketing professional will tell you, “Content is King.” That it is the key to marketing your business, retaining old customers, clients or followers, attracting new ones, and ultimately, making money off your products or services.
However, here at William Ballard Enterprise, LLC, we know that there is a fatal flaw in that statement or viewpoint, and can really be the very thing that will bring your business crumbling down.
The legendary Seth Godin is known for once stating, “Content marketing is the only marketing left.”
And he’s right -- to a certain degree.
What you need to understand is that content marketing is only the butter, it is not the bread. Content marketing in context is what is widely viewed as the present and future of marketing. So drop whatever else you’re doing and listen up.
The Content Marketing Institute defines Content Marketing as such:
"Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action."
Hopefully we have your attention at profitable.
The world is so saturated with advertisements that consumers are completely numb to it. They’re naturally skeptical and no longer trust that something is the best in the world just because a commercial said it is. Instead, they’re searching for something that’s interesting, fresh, authentic and actually useful. They want to educate themselves before they buy, and this is so that they are certain that they have made the best decision possible.
In order for content marketing to work, your content needs to reflect these three things or you are toast:
And there’s one thing it shouldn’t be: salesy.
Doesn't marketing have to do with selling? How can you call something " [insert marketing strategy here] marketing", if their is no selling involved? Those are very legitimate questions to ask, and we are glad you did.
You see, Seth Godin coined the term “permission marketing” versus “interruptive marketing" in his book, "Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers" (AFF). I think you can identify which is which.
What you have to understand is that content marketing is more about educating and informing than it is about selling. You’re not going to push people on your products or spam them. Instead, you’re going to slowly educate them on your business or industry, and foster your relationship with them. Over time, they will be more likely to make an educated decision all on their own, and ultimately come to trust you.
But here is where we get to the point: Content is not king, it is only queen. Context is king!
You see, there is a lot of "content" out there online and off, but they fail to fulfill their purpose, and that is to connect with their readers. This is where "contexts" comes into play.
Let me put it to you like this: It is one thing to publish content, it is something completely different to publish content that relates and connects with the context or situation that you readers are dealing with. This is what we mean by "bread and butter". Content is the butter, but context is the bread. And it it is the bread that holds the true substance in the message you are trying to convey.
To clear this concept up even further, check out this article that our CEO and Founder, William Ballard, wrote for Lean-Labs: Guide to Matching Content With The Buyers' Journey
Now, there are several types of content that you can create when implementing a content marketing strategy in your business. But the key is to fill every bit of content you publish full of context so that you make a true connection with your readers every time.
You should utilize many at once to keep things fresh, give your readers variety and appeal to different audiences, interests and needs.
Some examples of content types are:
But before you create your quality, valuable content, which is full of context, you should have some goals in mind so that it’s purpose-driven. You don’t want to spend time on something and send it out into the world to hear crickets. Before you write a blog post for instance, you should think about what you want it to accomplish.
Different types of content will achieve different content marketing goals. There are many goals to consider throughout the content marketing life-cycle, but here are three of the main goals you should focus on.
1) Increase Awareness
There are likely a lot of people in the world that would be interested in your business, but have no idea who you are. Strategic and shareable content can bring those people to you—and get them talking about you. Make sure you’re active and engaging on social media, update your blog regularly and guest blog for other influencers in your industry in order to get your name out there.
Did you know that search engines reward content marketers who post consistent and valuable content? Optimize your blog for SEO, post frequently and you’ll start seeing new traffic to your site in no time.
You might also consider investing some money into social media and Google advertising (Google AdWords) at this stage to help leverage your content and get more eye-balls on the context of your message.
2) Acquire New Customers
Now that people know who you are, how do you get them to become a paying customer? One of the best ways to do this is to collect new customer leads. Simply create a valuable piece of content (a lead magnet) and give it away in exchange for email addresses. Once someone is in your system, you can continue to market to them until they’re ready to click “Buy.”
The key word here is valuable. It may be free, but these days, people get a lot of emails. They will think twice before subjecting themselves to more of it, so your offer needs to be irresistible. Then once they get there, it better be useful and what they were expecting. Otherwise, it won’t be long before they hit “unsubscribe” and you’ve lost them all together, and probably forever.
Focus on creating lead generation content that is full of context and specific, unique (i.e. they can’t just Google it), and that educates and solves for a common problem in your industry. Lead generation content is usually more robust than a blog post and more likely to be something that you spent a good deal of time creating, such as a case study, guide or whitepaper.
This is also a good time to use digital tools like AdWords to re-target the people that have been on your blog with additional content that might interest them.
As you continue to communicate with these potential customers, offer them a discount, free trial or a product comparison sheet to persuade them towards conversion.
3) Retain Current Customers
These people already know you, trust you and have given you their business, but how do you keep them coming back for more? Make sure they know you appreciate their business and don’t let them forget about you.
Send out a free monthly newsletter full of valuable engaging content, and offer them exclusive rewards as a thank you for being part of your inner circle, like a discount or referral bonus when you’re launching a new product. And ALWAYS say thank you. It’ll go a long way.
As you know, the best results in business, or life, don’t come easy. Content marketing is not a one-off; it’s an ongoing process that never ends--but it works!
I’m not going to sugar coat it. Content marketing will take time. It will take effort. It will take money. You might even consider hiring an experienced freelance content marketer or writer to save time and produce optimal results. Either way, if you’re serious about growing your business, it’s time to implement content marketing into your overall marketing strategy.
After all, it’s the only marketing left.
(Copyright 2016 William Ballard Enterprise, LLC. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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Certified Content Marketing Specialist -- Jess Lander
Jess is a Freelance Writer and Certified Content Marketing Specialist. She joined the Content Creation Department and Top of The Funnel Content Marketing Team here at William Ballard Enterprise, LLC early June 2016.
She tried the 9 to 5 life, but realized real quick that it wasn't the life for her. She is a major asset to our Content Creation Department and brings many cherished and appreciated gifts and talents to the table (The Writer's Round Table, that is...).
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