How to Harness the Power of Content Marketing to Sell your Business before your Products
Fun Fact: Content Marketing can be dated back to 4200 B.C with cave drawings depicting how best to defend yourself against beasts.
Full Disclosure: I am an MBA student who stumbled into an Inbound Information Technology course and for the last four weeks I have been consuming the inbound marketing methodology by the pound! I have zero background in marketing but a Ph.D. in consuming.
This blog will focus on Content Marketing in general and the power of telling your business story in particular.
What is Content Marketing?
Content Marketing is the art of communicating with your prospects without having to sell them anything. It is an essential tool in your companies Inbound Marketing Plan and should be given serious thought within your company if you want to harness its power to build trust and brand awareness.
Why would I want to spend time creating helpful content that doesn’t sell my product directly to my prospective clients?
You are a real estate company and I am your prospective client. How would you recruit me and sell your services to me? 80% of my last real estate agents clientele came from referrals from past clients. That means only 20% or 1 of every 5 clients came as a result of their marketing efforts. What were those marketing efforts? Direct mailers containing their head shot delivered door to door in prospective neighborhoods; likely to people that were nowhere near ready to sell their home. Taking a million shots in the dark may gain you a client or two every year but it certainly seems like an inefficient marketing strategy to me. Let’s now try to get into the head of your prospective clients, using myself as the target.
Before just about any purchase I make, I take time to consult the incredible wealth of knowledge the internet provides. Currently, I am selling my house. Daily, since this process began, I have consulted google to research topics such as “How to best market my house on social media?”, “How do I know if my home is listed in the relevant range for my neighborhood?”, “How to prepare for a Home Inspection?”, and “What is Orangeburg piping and how much does it cost to replace it?” Each one of these searches presents the content provider, you, an opportunity to sell yourself to me. To build a story around your brand and invite me to take part in it.
If you are able to create content that helps consumers find answers to the millions of life’s questions, you can capitalize on an opportunity to give your company a personality and make it standout among the masses using the unique voice of a helpful subject matter expert.
According to HubSpot, the average adult spends 20 Hours per week consuming digital media. Meet them where they are.
How can your company benefit from Content Marketing?
According to HubSpot, a leading inbound marketing software platform that helps companies attract visitors, convert leads, and close customers, only 35% of B2B and 37% of B2C companies report that they have a documented content strategy. Hopefully by the end of this blog you will recognize the benefits as well as some tips for developing your own content marketing strategy in order to position your company in the top half of its industry.
Now that you know a little something about benefits of Content Marketing from a consumer’s point of view, let’s get into some Content Generation best practices so you can begin telling the story of your business and capture the attention of your audience.
1. Know your buyer.
HubSpot refers to this as your Buyer Persona. A solid persona would represent your company’s ideal client. It’s based on actual customers or, if your company is just getting off the ground, the target consumer that would best be served by your company and your products. When writing content such as a blog post, always keep this buyer at the center of your story. Strive to relate to them on a personal level. Use the same type of language they use, answer questions they would ask.
Example: You are a real estate agent. One of your many buyer personas could be the first time home seller. Let’s give him a name to add to the personality development. Seller Sam is married and has two small children. He and his wife are finally ready to sell their starter home as their family grows and they need more space and function out of their home. He and his wife both work and their children are about to begin formal schooling. Their children’s education is very important to them. They are a young family and put high priority on convenience to shopping and activities.
2. Brainstorm Content Ideas.
Content should be created specifically for each stage of the buyer’s journey. Awareness, Consideration, and Decision.
When developing your content ideas, you should consider your buyer persona as they approach and explore each stage of their buying journey. Develop a list of questions you would have if you were in their shoes. Develop content to answer those questions. Build trust. Then, when appropriate, sell your consumer your products.
Can you imagine what types of questions Seller Sam may have during his awareness state prior to listing his home for sale? How about something like “What are the top public school districts in Metro Detroit?” You could write a blog or author an eBook that complies a comprehensive list of the top public school districts in your marketing area. Within your blog or eBook, you can subtlety display your company branding without ever selling your services directly to Seller Sam.
If you are successful, you will have created a piece of compelling content that engages Seller Sam and puts your branding in the forefront of his mind.
3. Write a compelling story.
Simply compiling a list of the best school districts in Metro Detroit will hardly get you remembered after the initial read through, after all, there are probably 15 such lists currently competing for Seller Sam’s attention. You have to engage Seller Sam. Tell him a story.
How about conducting some field research on your own. All good stories contain three elements: Characters, Conflict, and Resolution. After finding the top school districts in your area, make a phone call or set up an interview with the Teachers, Superintendents, or head of the PTA. Title your content with something thought provoking like “Beyond the Rankings: A comprehensive guide to the best local school districts”, or “What exactly makes for a successful school district: Confessions of Local Teachers”.
Include interview questions like “As a teacher, what specifically do you think sets Birmingham Public Schools apart from the rest”. Not only would this be an interesting article, it positions your Real Estate Firm as a company that is willing to go above and beyond to get to the bottom of your client’s hopes, fears, desires, and dreams. You have created trust that is impossible with a direct mailer containing your head shot. You have engaged your clients on a personal level.
4. Include a Call-to-Action.
On each of your many pieces of content you create, you should be including an offer that helps encourage your buyer to progress with you further down the path of their buying journey. Recall the eBook idea we discussed above, now would be the time to promote it.
At the end of your blog post, invite Seller Sam to learn more about selling his first home by downloading your eBook. In order to download the eBook, Sam will be required to provide you information on a form. A filed out form turns your wonderer into a prospect. Aside from that, the information provided will help you further develop your buyer personas and provide your marketing team some comprehensive data to analyze how effective your Content Strategy is.
5. Promote your amazing content.
Though a topic onto itself, and the subject of the next blog post, content promotion is almost as important as its creation. What good is creating engaging and memorable pieces of content if you fail to get it in front of Seller Sam? HubSpot gives a fantastic course on Search Engine Optimization, the use of keywords to get your content recognized by search engines, and strategy to use social media and email marketing to help spread the word. Developing a multi-pronged attack is necessary to get Seller Sam to find and engage with your content.
6. Develop a Strategy.
Content Marketing involves a lot of trial and error. Creating content is only half the battle to a solid Content Marketing Strategy. You’ll need to clearly define your goals and identify specific metrics to measure that your content strategy is meeting those goals. You should be consistent and be ok with a piece of content falling flat. Keep at it, eventually you will hone your skills and be able to leverage the incredible power of Content Marketing in today’s fast paced digital world.
This blog just scratched the surface. If you are ready to take your company to the next level with Inbound Marketing and Content Creation, please consider taking a deep dive into the subject using the many free educational offerings from HubSpot such as the Certification in Content Marketing course that I used to help compile this blog. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
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