Content marketing is an often mis-used and misunderstood way to build trust, rapport and profitable relationships with customers. Your website copy and information articles, blog posts and twitter updates, all contribute towards your marketing strategy to increase exposure of your business, and if you do it right, should ultimately increase sales.
If you’re just starting out, it can take a little while to work out what works well so I’m sharing my experiences to give you a head start on how to use content to promote your business.
I have had clients in the past who have expressed an interest in getting involved in Twitter, or facebook, or article marketing, but don’t really know what it is they want to say to potential customers.
In the past I have found that:
- The clients who write useful content that engages the reader are the ones who have experienced the most success form their strategy.
- Businesses that use the internet to bombard people with their offers and sales information find this doesn’t work as well.
Done well, content marketing builds up trust, awareness and exposure for your business. Producing reams of articles about how great your business is and “buy now!” demands without offering any other valuable content will build up the wrong kind of exposure and won’t translate into trust or authority. Done poorly it can have the opposite effect and drive potential customers away.
Today, people are looking for referrals, for word of mouth recommendations and businesses that they feel they can trust. Your relationship with potential customers is very valuable, and has to be nurtured so take a little time to think about how you want to use content to increase awareness of your business.
If you’re itching to hop online and start engaging, it’s worth reading these brief hints and tips before you start typing:
Don’t plaster your offer in every single piece of content
Just as we ignore junk mail through our front door, most internet users have a blind spot to overtly promotional content pieces.
In the same way no-one would buy a newspaper which only contained advertisements, people browsing the internet are not looking for endless adverts. We use the internet today to exchange ideas, connect with others, find out information, look for products and search for entertainment.
The most effective way for content marketing to work is to produce articles which are engaging, interesting and make customers want to find out more about your business.
So what do you write about?
What are current and potential customers interested in?
Just as your service solves a consumer problem, your content should seek to answer the questions people may have about your particular field.
For example, if you offer cookery lessons, your customers might also be interested in simple cooking tips or dinner party menu advice for example. If you offer a website design company, your customers may be interested in design tips to improve their homepage, or in how different colours can trigger different responses to viewers.
Providing valuable information engages your audience and importantly shows your target market that you are an authority when it comes to providing your service.
Offer valuable content
Quality AND quantity are important here. If you’re fast at typing, it’s easy to knock together an article and publish it in haste online. Whilst it’s important to contribute your content regularly to spread the message of your business, it won’t do you any good to churn out low quality content for the sake of getting up the number of articles you’ve published.
You’re trying to build trust with potential customers, and show that you are an authority in your field. By regularly producing high quality content in your field of expertise you will begin to stand out above the chatter when people talk online about your business or service.
Contribute content to various sources regularly
Finding the places where your content is going to have the greatest effect in terms of sales and building customer relationships is going to take a little time and effort. Regular contribution to a number of different sites that appeal to your customers will increase exposure of your business, and the improve chance of making those valuable connections with your customers.
Always direct people back to your website
Chances are your website is where you take enquiries, as well as sales so getting people to visit your site is very important to your business. Every piece of content you produce should have your web address, or a direct link that people can click through to get there. Make it as easy as possible for people to find your website. Remember to include your web address on any social media profiles you may have, as well as on your email signature!
Don’t forget the purpose of your content marketing plan
Writing content about your business can be addictive. Once you start receiving blog comments, twitter followers and favourable feedback, you can begin to feel very popular. It’s a great experience, but don’t lose sight of your content marketing goal which is to build up a base of happy customers who want to buy your products or service.
Make sure your content is relevant to your business and doesn’t drift too much into the personal realms of what you had for breakfast that morning. Keep producing valuable content, and place it in front of potential customers, and your content will continue to work to generate an interest in your business.
Now get writing and good luck!
Note from Julie: If you have any questions about how important content maketing is, click here to read the Content Marketing Spending Survey from Junta42. As we move forward into the next decade Content Marketing and Social Media Marketing are going to take greater and greater priority as the way for building relationships and sales with customers
About the Author: Amy Harrison. After training as a screenwriter, Amy moved into the world of online business and since 2004 has worked on small to large enterprises both here in the UK and Canada. Amy left her job in online business development in 2008 to go it alone and now offers a copywriting and project management service. www.harrisonamy.com