Guest blog by Bob Hanson, president, Quantum Leap Marketing
You have probably noticed an abundance of articles, tweets, blogs and posts on content marketing. Why are marketing experts talking up this strategy?
What is Content Marketing?
We used to call content marketing two-step direct marketing, or multi-step marketing. Savvy small business marketers have used this strategy for decades, but it is now imperative and can be more effective than ever.
In short, content marketing means taking a piece of content, and using in it as part of your marketing. Now, it could be any form of content such as a blog, free report, survey, Tweet, webinar, or website, and it could be promoted through one of many channels like social media, email or web marketing.
Why Content Marketing Now?
Consider the following concepts:
- The average person in the United States sees more than 5,000 ads per day. Media consumption, especially online and social media, continues to rise for the average American to more than 693 minutes per day by some estimates.
- The rise of the Social Economy means your prospects with money are more in charge of the buying process than ever. Before, they chose what company/person to buy from. Now, in addition, they are choosing what information to consume, when to do research, who to talk to, how you should and should not communicate with them, and when to get started.
- The term Permission Marketing does not apply only to email marketing. Prospects are the ones making the decision to opt-in to communications with prospective and current vendors alike.
- Our recent survey of small business executives and marketers revealed they are calling on more marketing tactics than ever before, and they need a workable, coherent strategy to leverage all of these channels to get leads from their marketing efforts.
How Can You Slice Swiftly Through The Clutter?
So how do small businesses break through the noise, get noticed ahead of larger competitors, and cost-effectively generate and nurture sales leads from their marketing tactics?As an illustration of how to effectively execute a Content Marketing strategy, let’s look at two small businesses: a service firm and a product company.
A financial services practice in action - The firm offers retirement planning services to area residents. It creates a Free Report and Webinar on Retirement Planning and calls on both of those both to generate and enrich leads. It markets its 60-minute, no-obligation Retirement Consultation both to existing leads and through referrals.
The firm promotes the Free Report through various channels such as Social Media, Email, Direct Mail, Referrals, Individual Networking, third-party Media Sites, and through Website Marketing.
A computer products company's multi-pronged approach - the company provides software which does compliance audits for small businesses. It offers and updates a written checklist with top questions to ask to identify if you are in compliance.
The company attends trade shows quarterly to collect leads (partly by offering the checklist as a giveaway) and does monthly educational webinars on the challenges small businesses face in gaining and maintaining compliance.
Here are 5 tips any small business can call on to leverage a content marketing strategy for 2013 and beyond:
- Focus on trends and problems, not just solutions. Prospects are 3 times more likely to move away from problems than move towards a solution. Tap into what gets attention and sales by highlighting your expertise on the problem that you solve in your content and marketing.
- Repurpose Content in Different Forms and Media. Small businesses have limited content budgets, so be sure to leverage good content by marketing it through multiple channels and placing it in different media. For example, if you hire an outside expert to write a free report on your behalf, consider hosting and recording a webinar with them as the speaker on this same topic. That gives you 3 forms of media rather than just one.
- Get your prospect’s attention through snappy headlines. One headline can out-pull another by 500% or more. Prospects have limited attention for your promotion or ad so the idea is to stop them in their tracks to grab interest through your headline -- your “ad for an ad.”
- Nurture and educate leads with the 3 content pillars – something written, an event, and an personalized sample through a meeting or trial. For example, small business marketers may consider attracting leads to their list with a Free Report, getting prospects to request a trial through a seminar or webinar, and converting them to a customer through an appointment.
- Think multi-media, multi-step follow-up. Today’s Marketing Automation and CRM Systems allow you to set-up a follow-up sequence and automate it totally if you like. Popular sequences include initial lead nurture, meeting request, and sales conversion campaigns.