Content marketing is the “show don’t sell” of promotion, based on communication of useful information and mutual discovery.
For your prospect: Is this service or author’s work right for me?
For you, the service provider or author: Am I targeting the right audience?
I like to think of content marketing as beginning like a party conversation, one that helps create more meaningful relationships.
Content marketing is “show, don’t sell.”
One common beginner content marketing mistake is to assume a “sales pitch” is “content.” This is not only incorrect but can actually be harmful to the content marketing effort.
Here’s what I mean:
Imagine you’re at a friend huge bash of a party and a friend of the host, Georgina, accosts you with, “Hey, I know you have a dog. Did you know I take dog portraits?”
Georgina shoves her card at you, “Give me your information. It’s time for holiday dog photos. I’ll text you tomorrow and follow up. We can set up an appointment.”
Now, Georgina might be the most brilliant pet photographer that ever snapped a pooch but chances are, after that interaction, in the future you’ll be ducking behind the ficus tree to avoid her.
How the conversation should happen
Imagine you’re at the same party, petting the host’s dog Rufus. Georgina approaches you and comments on the delicious hors d’oeuvres as Rufus tries to grab them. You mention your own dog’s fondness for table scraps and Georgina says, “My dog, too. I can manage other people’s dogs when I take their portraits, but…”
Oh? Dog portraits?
“Yes, in fact” — she points — “I took those pictures of Rufus, there. Here’s my card — if you’re planning on taking pictures of your dog for holiday cards, have hints on my website about how to take great pet photos.” Georgina then tells a funny anecdote about her latest client, a French bulldog …
You don’t need a pet portrait but…
… now you have a rapport with Georgina, you’ve seen examples of her work. You go to her website — cute pet portraits! And there’s a picture of Rufus! You sign up for her newsletter, you take her up on that bit of free professional pet photo advice on the website… it’s harder than it looks.
And then your cousin calls and tells you she’s just adopted two pedigree pugs from the same litter and she’s going to try to pimp them out as twin pug clothing models and they need a portfolio…
And you mention Georgina and forward her the latest newsletter …
Content marketing translation
The big bash is the content-marketing universe — at first, it seems overwhelming and amorphous.
But content marketing customer behavior (akin to your obvious fondness for dogs in the party example) sends signals. By interacting and engaging and using hashtags, people reveal their interests, their likes and dislikes.
Social media casts a wide net. In order to get the most out of it, you need to “listen” and interact and learn as well as “put out” your message.
An email lead nurturing campaign creates a relationship where there is meant to be one. This warms potential clients up to your services, warms readers up to your voice. It helps everyone get to know each other (the regular content selection and reader clicks reveal insights) and what you’re offering. The campaign also leads people to…
Your all-important website gives deeper information about product and service offerings — and gives all potential clients “social proof” — examples of work and client testimonials — which (like Georgina’s IRL portrait of Rufus), gives an idea of your pricing and reveals whether vendor and client are a fit.
Regular email newsletters keep your clients or audiences in touch. This includes both you reaching out to them – and you getting insights on the backend to gauge their interest level.
Search-engine optimized blog posts keep the conversation fresh, keeps you “discoverable” by search engines.
A targeted content marketing strategy helps efficiently and effectively create and deploy the above-mentioned tools — social media posts, blog posts, newsletters and lead nurturing sequences are at the tip of the content-berg. Other content delivery methods include video, podcasts — even live events, etc. — each has their own unique capabilities and advantages, which need to be geared to the audiences you want to reach.
A strategy will help turn casual “party conversations” into deeper client and audience relationships.
Do you need a content marketing strategy?
A ContentMeant content marketing strategy can help focus and augment whatever resources you currently have with a plan that will maximize the efficiency of your staff’s or your own efforts.
photo credit: AnnMarie Spinella