Today all consumers are information-empowered. In fact, consumers now develop relationships with content. And to be successful with creating content that builds your business, companies need to be where their customers are and know how to engage them in a meaningful way.
Content marketing is that meaningful way. Content marketing is all about creating and distributing useful and relevant content to attract and convert prospects into customers, and customers into repeat buyers. This means instead of taking the traditional sales approach (which is becoming less effective), you adapt to todays prospect in a way that more resembles courting than it does selling.
Content starts the sales process in a way that doesn’t leave the prospect with the feeling he or she has been sold to.
If you’re interested in marketing your business online (and who isn’t at this point), you will hear about content marketing. It’s everywhere you look, or listen.
Content marketing has become so effective in gaining the attention you need to succeed (because it’s a non-interruption marketing technique) that it is used in all industries and size companies. This includes small businesses, mid size businesses, and even large enterprises. It’s a great way for businesses to deliver independent value before attempting to make the sale.
Why do you need content? I can think of at least four reasons:
- Information affects the buying process. Today customers and end-users don’t want advertising when making purchasing decisions, they want relevant and useful information.
- Content spreads. It’s content that spreads via social networks causing powerful word-of-mouth exposure for all businesses.
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Content is what people desire and seek out via search engines, and it’s useful content that gets rank well in the search results so people can find your business.
- Content works as Marketing. Content is the best way to achieve what advertising is supposed to achieve, but doesn’t do well online and that is develop relationships. Content is not about being sexy or viral. It’s about being educational in order to develop relationships.
Okay, so you’re convinced. But how do you do this? “Be the best answer.” Start understanding and answering your prospects and customers questions on their path from awareness to purchase to advocacy.
Here’s where to begin: The most basic thing a company can do to leverage content to increase awareness and visibility, grow brand loyalty, and improve customer acquisition is to answer prospect and customer questions.
Here are three building blocks for creating content that builds your business:
1. Answer the questions of your prospects – While this includes FAQs, don’t just limit to that. Start storytelling about how your business empathizes with customers and show them how to go from problem to solution with your help. Take some time to do keyword research and listen on social media for greater word-of-mouth activity. Where to find questions?
- Monitor keywords with Hootsuite on social media
- Talk to your sales professionals to discover common objections and questions from real prospects
- Review search engine analytics to find questions that have been used as search queries to deliver visitors to your stage
- Review search queries that have been logged on your internal site search engine for frequent search phrases
- Leverage keyword research tools to find forms of questions using relevant keywords to your business
- Survey LinkedIn interest groups and other communities
Compile questions into topical clusters and leverage for your ongoing content creation plan. Create a feedback loop for questions sourced through social media by posting answers and recognizing publicly those who helped.
2. Answer the questions of your existing customers – Customer acquisition is a lot more expensive than retention, so make sure you’re creating content that will help, inform educate, outrage, inspire and entertain your existing customers. Even if this means providing useful content such as practical ways to get more out of their purchase.
- Survey existing customers to find common questions so you can exceed their expectations
- Talk to your customer service people to discover real common questions asked by real customers
- Review web analytics for the keywords used in search referring traffic to your customer support content, FAQ, knowledge base or support forums
- If you have a forum, customer focused social network accounts or feedback channels, monitor for questions, topics and themes
Customer retention can contribute a significant financial impact on a business, so why not create content to support customer satisfaction? Why not optimize and socialize that content so it’s easy for customers to find and share?
3. Answer the questions of industry media and the public – If you don’t know PR is where credibility becomes visible and can be instrumental for growing awareness, industry authority and even sales. Someone who’s a journalist, radio host, TV host, analyst or a blogger will have different questions than a prospect or an existing customer. Strong opinions, compelling stories and research are often useful for adding expertise to media coverage.
The types of content often created and used by journalists, editors, reporters, analysts and bloggers that could be useful in a newsroom include:
- Company fact sheet
- FAQs about the company
- Management team
- Event calendar
- Press Releases
- Links to corporate content
- Links to corporate social profiles (or a social hub)
- Past media coverage and bylined articles
As you can see creating content that builds your business is possible and manageable when you have help and you’re provided with a well-structured process to follow.This post is a practical guide for building your business with consistent, step-by-step content marketing methods and activities.
Question: What do you think? Would you add or subtract anything?