Think about these scenarios:
Ngaire runs a landscaping business. She wants a few more clients in your area. So around 6pm one Friday, when you are the middle of cooking tea, her cold-call company calls you to see if you’d like to talk to her about landscaping your garden. Now you have been thinking about hiring someone to sort out the feral gorse at the bottom of the garden, but do you want to continue the conversation with the agent while the kids beat each other up in the lounge, and the dinner threatens to set off the fire-alarm? Yeah, nah.
Later on that evening though you return to the problem with the triffids in the garden, and you hope on the phone and google landscaping services in Porirua — after all the ads, you see a result: How to Tame Your Backyard When You Hate Gardening — intrigued, you click on it and find a useful piece about gardening for the non-gardener. At the end of the article there is a box which says — Still need help? Call or email us — we are Porirua-based landscapers who’d love to help. It’s 11pm — so you fill in the form indicating you’re interesting in their services and could they call you tomorrow between 1–3pm.
So Ngaire calls the next afternoon — the lead is already qualified (you have a problem that needs her expertise), they have learnt something from the article (they understand why a Ngaire’s expertise is value). And the article may have been months or years old — but it just generated another lead with no additional cost to the business.
Content Marketing v. Traditional Marketing
It took me a long time to start my own business. At many levels it made perfect sense to run my own business, rather than work for someone else (I have an issue with authority, OK!). What held me back was quite simple — I didn’t want to sell anyone anything! I was terrified of being seen as a “salesperson” (nope no idea why — maybe I should figure that out one day).
At the time I thought I was the only business owner who feared selling — then I figured out I was in the majority — though maybe just more paranoid than most.
To get people to buy from you, particularly in a services industry, one of the key ways is to connect to them and to get them to trust you.
How do you do that? You give them something they want — share your expertise.
I always had lots of opinions though, and I have some things I have lots of expertise on — like most services companies I had a passion for what I was good at. So I started blogging about 10 years ago (so long ago that Facebook was a just a thing for American college kids looking for a date). Blogging was easy — blogging wasn’t selling — blogging was sharing my expertise.
And before long I discovered something astounding: I could write a detailed post on how to do something — and people would still want me to do it for them! I couldn’t believe it. When I want to learn something new and specific e.g. how to travel around the southern Thai islands, I research the solution, and then I go and do it for myself. Many people aren’t that confident, that’s why travel agents still exist.
No one needs a third party to book a flight for them, book some accommodation, and find out when and where ferries leave from. Even though I’ve never wanted to be a travel agent, I had people contacting me wanting to book! (Instead, I sold them my books on travel — but you get the idea). In other words, I was selling to people when I didn’t intend to!
So What Exactly is Content Marketing, Do I have to Blog?
Blogging can be a part of content marketing. It’s probably the cheapest and easiest place to start. But effectively there are 6 steps to content marketing.
- Determining WHAT you want to promote your business for. What is your content strategy? Understanding which customers you want to attract will give you an idea about problems you solve for them and which terms they search for online. That in turn will lead to keyword phrases to target.
- Develop content focused on the the keywords from Step 1. Writing articles or blogging is where many start, but video or images might work for your customers. You need to find content that you are both comfortable producing and which also works for your clients.
- Develop and publish the content, preferably on your own website.
- Promote your content on social media and other channels. Sending visitors to your content on your website will also help search engines to rank your website’s article near the top of the search results. This is the secret for long-term content marketing success.
- Ideally you want customers to come from third party sites back to your website. There they can contact you and join your mailing list. Once you have customers on a mailing list, you have the ability to connect with them further.
- Measure your results: rinse and repeat. A correctly set up website makes it easy to track who is visiting which page, how they found your website and what they did when then arrived.
Why You Need Content Marketing
It Makes Selling to Leads Easier
Content marketing positions you as an expert. Clients buy from experts. So although ranking for your expertise in Google is nice — what’s nicer is that you will get your name out there — which in turn will drive people to your business. And it’s (almost) set and forget.
To get started you only need your own time. And content can be reused, an article can be republished (with care — the devil is the detail), reused, used as a basis for an infographic or a video etc. Depending on your skill set you probably already have all the tools you need if you currently have a website and a phone that takes video.
Good Content Should Be the Basis of All Your Marketing
Running Facebook Ads or Google Adwords — campaigns — you will get better prices for your advertising spend and better conversion if the person who clicks lands on good content.
Content can Deliver Results for Years
I travel (a lot) — sometimes I write about it. Back in 2012 I published a number of posts on travel in southern Thailand. They had titles like “how to get to Koh Lipe”. I put the content up at the time, and pretty much abandoned the blog. The website hasn’t been touched at all for over year. Guess what — I still get visitors every day looking for detailed information on southern Thai islands! If that’s not marketing without effort I don’t what is! (BTW don’t look too hard at the article, its ugly and the whole site needs a revamp — it’s on my to-do list!
Once you have some traction you may want to outsource all or part of the process or you may wish to automate parts of the process. A writer or a virtual assistant can create content, and distribute it. There are tools that also automate all or part of distribution.
It Gains Momentum
Content Marketing: How To Get Started
The hardest thing about content marketing is that its very easy to get overwhelmed — particularly if you read too many articles online. Remember many companies make a lot of money convincing business owners like you that this all too hard and that you should out-source the whole thing to them! I’m not against outsourcing — but you should at least try the process your self so you can understand what you are paying for — it will make you a much more savvy consumer.
Get started with content marketing by thinking about the number one question your customers ask?
Why do they come to you — what’s the biggest problem you solve for them?
Then answer that question in an article on your website, or maybe use video, and/or infographic.
Then link to that article on your favourite social media platform.
Content Marketing Example
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