After being in business for over nine years and working largely for small to medium enterprises, I know the two biggest challenges we’re all facing are these:
- Finding new clients.
- Retaining the clients we already have.
These two things take time and time is not something many of us have in spades right?
- What if there was something you could do that was easily executable, infinitely repeatable and took less than 15 minutes per day?
- What if that thing allowed you to build better relationships with both potential clients and existing clients?
- What if that thing allowed you to establish yourself as an authority in your field and enabled you to attract more of the right client?
Would you be interested?
I hope you’d be interested!
And if you’re reading this, then you know that ‘thing’ is called ‘Content Marketing’.
What IS ‘Content Marketing’ exactly? I like Copyblogger Media’s definition the best:
“Content Marketing means creating and sharing valuable free content to attract and convert prospects into customers, and customers into repeat buyers. The type of content you share is closely related to what you sell; in other words, you’re educating people so that they know, like, and trust you enough to do business with you.”
Let’s unpack that shall we? Starting with …
What is ‘content’?
In the context of this post, content is information. Really high quality, useful information, created in such a way that makes it easy to share.
Content can take the form of:
- Blog posts
- White papers
- YouTube videos
- Online tutorials
To name just a few. The ways in which information can be packaged up for sharing is limited only by your imagination
But … you want me to give away my knowledge for free?
If you were paying attention to the Copyblogger definition you might have noticed this bit and balked at it:
“ … creating and sharing valuable free content”
Why would you share your valuable knowledge for free when people are paying you for it right now?
Here’s an important distinction you need to get your head around:
When people use your services currently, they’re not paying for your knowledge. They’re paying you to apply your knowledge to their specific situation.
(It’s the difference between reading everything you can find on the web about ‘things you can do to improve your business’s cash flow’ versus having a bookkeeper come into your business, audit your systems and processes, and provide advice based on what they’ve found.)
As we all know, it’s a big jump for someone to go from not knowing you at all to paying you to apply your knowledge to their specific situation. This is where content marketing comes into its own. It bridges that gap.
It’s also very hard for people to distinguish between professionals in the same field. Content marketing allows you to stick your head up above the pack.
When you share your knowledge with people for free, it creates goodwill. It also allows people to get a feel for what kind of person you are, how you operate and what specific knowledge you might have. And it means when they have a need for that specific knowledge, they’re going to come to you because they feel like they already ‘know’ you.
So this is how content marketing helps me to attract and convert prospects into customers?
Yep. But I know it helps to see a real life example of this in action so here goes:
For years I’ve been following some lawyers who are active on social media and always post really good articles on their blog around commonly confusing legal issues relating to small business.
- Because their blog posts are easy to process, I know they’re good at communicating complex topics at a level I can understand.
- Because their blog posts are written in their ‘voice’ (as opposed to legal speak) and show their personalities, I could also see they are very genuine and caring people.
Their blog also demonstrates their specific knowledge related to businesses operating in the online world. So when we had need of a lawyer to assist with an issue relating to our operations as an online business, out of all the lawyers we know (and we know many), who do you think we called? Their content marketing efforts (across social media and their blog posts) gave us absolute confidence they were the right people to help with that particular situation.
In a similar fashion, we’ve had many clients choose Swish Design over other website designers and brand consultants because our blog and efforts on social media have shown we’re real people who know what they’re talking about and would be nice to work with.
But what about turning existing customers into repeat buyers?
Let’s say there’s a client who’s done one job with you. And you’d love to remind them you exist so you can do more work for them.
Content marketing is amazing for this. It gives you a reason to keep in touch with people in a genuine and helpful fashion. Instead of dropping them a random email saying ‘heyyyyyy, don’t forget about us ok?’, you’re able to say ‘hey, here’s a really useful piece of information you might find interesting’.
Three more big benefits
1. Google loves content marketing (particularly blogging)
When you built your website, there was probably one thing front of your mind: how do I get to page one of Google? Well here’s a big benefit of content marketing (specifically blogging); it helps you get that precious page one ranking, but in a very organic way.
Given Google’s mission is to provide the most relevant information for a given topic when people search:
- If your website is providing really great, highly useful information, Google will like you.
- If your website is being updated frequently thus making all the information published there very up-to-date and highly relevant, Google will like you.
Content marketing allows you to keep Google happy, and might reduce the need for you to spend money on SEO. Content marketing is SEO that will never be penalised by algorithm updates (unlike many other SEO practices out there!).
2. Content marketing gives you great authority
Would it be helpful to you to be recognised as an expert in your field? Would you like to be invited to speak on the radio or at conferences about your area of expertise? Would you like to be invited to show off your expertise in a magazine column or newspaper article?
Because of my own content marketing efforts over the years, I’ve experienced all of the above and more. I won’t pretend it happened overnight, but small, consistent efforts over time have added up to some very big things for me personally. And those benefits have flowed on to my business.
3. Content marketing helps you tell your business story better
Here’s the thing about humans – we like stories. Information presented in story format is easier for us to both process … and also to share with others. This ‘sharing’ thing should be of particular interest to all business owners because the best clients we have come from referrals.
Content marketing done right has a narrative thread wound through it. That narrative thread is your business story – what you’re about. Given your brand is ‘what people say about you when you’re not in the room’, imagine then how powerful a content marketing strategy with a strong narrative thread woven through it is. It means that people don’t have to think too hard about what to say about you to others – all the content you put out into the world (via social media, blogging, podcasting, whitepapers etc) gives them the words to use.
Best of all, you’re in control of the words they’re using.
To wrap up
I know what you’re thinking right now. You’re thinking ‘Yes, I’m sold on the benefits of this content marketing thing. But I’m pretty sure I don’t have the time to do it.’
What if I told you that only need 15 minutes a day?
What if I told you I had a step-by-step process that literally anyone can execute?
Well you do.
And I do.
Starting in March, I will be sharing that process here on the blog. For free. You can come back and visit then … or you can sign up here to get those posts sent straight to your inbox. (I’d do the latter … much easier right?!)
Till then – if you have any questions about content marketing and how it might be able to help your business, leave them in the comments below. I will get back to you with an answer quick smart!