Content drives the internet and we know that people don’t want “content”; they want compelling stories. Anyone can be an awesome writer or publisher but the quality of the content is actually in the story being told. It is an approach that involves creating, distributing, and exchanging information in order to attract, retain, and engage with your target audience.
The advantage we have today is that we know what people are searching for and watching on the internet because there is a mountain of analytics and behaviors that we can track.
The goal of content marketing has not changed. It’s sole purpose is to grow long term sales by building relationships with people. Whether you have an existing content marketing strategy or just getting started, following the 3 R’s of content marketing (Relative, Resources, and Relationships) will help your audience see you as honest, trustworthy, and a difference maker in today’s world.
Step 1: Make it relevantJohn Deere produced a simple newsletter called The Furrow back in 1895 as a way to target farmers. The publication still exists today but back then it started as a form of content marketing. This publication contained helpful articles and drawings about different farming techniques while also displaying ads for new farming machinery. There was even a section in the newsletter for the women readers that featured products just for them.
This is just one simple example how John Deere created, distributed, and exchanged information in order to attract and engage with a specific audience that they were targeting. They didn’t just write the publication for fun, they did so with a long term goal of driving sales.
In a recent survey conducted by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), 91% of B2B marketers in North America use content as part of their current strategy.
Step 2: Use your resources strategically
Education through content, product demonstrations, and advertising has always been a great way to connect with consumers. It helps you establish credibility and gain trust. However, with our portable technology today, decisions are made more quickly while some people are crippled by being inundated with too much information, not all of it being trustworthy.
Content is king if it is real, relevant, and makes an impact that gets you the results you are looking for. Many of the demographic lists that you can buy are a waste because it is based on a form that a person filled out rather than what they are actually doing. A common objection, especially with industrial manufacturers who only do business with other businesses, is how do I make my B2B content attractive? It’s not easy, but nothing is impossible. When done right, however, it has the power to make a dramatic impact on your business and community.
Local business owners have the same worry. The only way to succeed in business in small towns, for example my hometown Salem, Ohio, today is by adopting current digital marketing strategies and tactics. BEING DIFFERENT! I recently wrote about how you don’t need a big budget to start content marketing and I go into detail what it actually is, how it may already exist in your business today, and how you can make it better. The truth is that marketing has been going on for centuries. Even though you can’t reinvent the wheel, you can improve on it.
Step 3: Build genuine relationships with your customers
I know that buying the list seems like it’s the quickest way to fish for new customers in a short time because the reports are based on surveys but there are enough ways to go after your real target audience that can be sustained long term. Think it about it. Wouldn’t you rather have a consistent sales process versus feast or famine or what some call “seasonal” customers?
How to Apply the 3 R’s of Content Marketing
Keep it simple and don’t over think it. Perfection will leave you broke unless if you take massive imperfect action. The following 3 steps will help you build long-lasting relationships with your target audience when incorporated into your overall content marketing strategy.
1. Information should be honest, cutting edge, and visionary
2. Determine how to promote the info and what kind of metrics you would use. Such as analytics or people within your business to track. (i.e. How did you hear about us?)
3. Establish and gain trust from your customers. It should not smell, look, or feel like a sales pitch because the minute it does, you will lose your customers.
I think one of the biggest cultural shifts we have to contend with in starting a content marketing campaign is not focusing on us or our company. Rather, as business owners we need to broadcast messages that provide solutions for a person who has a problem and is actively looking for a solution and not a sales pitch.
Hey, thanks for the great info but now what?
Start by helping people get unstuck in the digital world and plan out a strategy on paper and on purpose. Use the following 4 questions to help get you started:
1. What are your ultimate goals?
2. Are you selling something?
3. Do you need visitors to fill out a form on a page or call you?
4. Who is your target audience?