At a recent business networking event that I attended, I had the opportunity to be a firsthand witness to a “power networker” named Dave. Dave was a networking machine and he worked the room like no one I’ve ever seen, passing out business cards left and right.
Dave was amazing. In fact, he was the talk of the room.
Problem was that none of the “talk” was flattering. In fact, it was exactly the opposite. In just under an hour, Dave had managed to become the most annoying person in the room.
Don’t forget to check out our post on the outlook of content marketing in 2014.
Are You Annoying Your Prospects?
Do you think that anyone who received one of Dave’s cards would ever call him? Do you think that in the short conversations that Dave had with each person that he devoted any time to attempting to understand the problems or challenges faced by the person he was talking to?
Hardly. Dave was only interested in one thing: passing out as many cards as possible. After all, sales is just a numbers game, right?
Today, the way to successfully attract clients is not to interrupt them with your sales messages. The way to attract clients today is to create content that is actually useful.
In his book Youtility, Jay Baer completely hit the nail on the head. Smart marketing is about HELP not HYPE.
Your Best Prospects Are Invisible
According to the Corporate Executive Board (CEB), almost 60% of the buyer journey is complete before prospects contact potential vendors.
In the “old days” we would begin our buyer’s journey by reaching out and talking to a real person. We did this because we wanted to learn more about the company and create a bond of some kind.
When was the last time you reached out and talked to a live person at the very beginning of your research process? In my case, it’s been a very long time! The days of one-to-one communications early in the buyer’s journey are OVER.
Nowadays, the buyer’s journey starts off with online research and by the time you or I talk to a prospect, 60% of their homework is done. Customers are smart and they are stealthy. They are rigorously evaluating us without our even knowing they exist. IF we pass their sniff test, ONLY THEN do we stand a chance of actually speaking with them.
Content is Mission Critical
Content Marketing is the process of creating content that our prospects actually want or need. If you aren’t publishing high quality, helpful content, your competitors are probably eating your lunch.
To be successful with content, you must think carefully about the customer buying cycle and then create content to meet the needs of people in each phase.
- The first phase has the largest number of potential buyers so you should begin with content that drives interest and awareness. We’ll call this top of the funnel content.
- The next phase is the middle of the funnel. Here you want to focus on increasing engagement as well as answering questions about what you sell and how much it is.
- The final phase is the bottom of the funnel. This is the place where you want to getting into the nitty gritty of all the frequently asked questions that are aligned with the buying process.
Attracting Buyers with Content
Content marketing has one purpose: attracting buyers.
Unlike paid advertising, where you are attempting to interrupt buyers from whatever they are doing (so they will pay attention to you), the goal of content marketing is to attract buyers who are already searching for solutions to the problems they have.
Does’t that seem like a much smarter idea?
To succeed with content marketing, you have to shift your mindset from “how can we sell them” to “how can we help them”. People are tired of being sold and if that is your approach (like Dave), they will avoid you. However, if you focus on providing help, not only will people trust you more, but they will also help you to spread the word on their social networks.
Here at Bright Ideas, we walk our talk and provide a steady stream of the most helpful content that we possibly can. On this site there are hundreds of blog posts and interviews that are jam packed with content that is genuinely helpful.
How do I know it’s helpful? Because I get at least one email or tweet a day (from people I’ve never heard of) thanking me for creating content that is so helpful. My audience also regularly buys our products and services, so I can assure that being “helpful” definitely pays the bills.
Don’t just take my word for it though. According to BtoB Magazine, “Content Marketing” is one of the top priorities for marketing in 2014.
Check out the total number of searches for “content marketing”. From January of 2001 through to today, the trend has been steadily increasing.
Still not convinced? Here’s a bunch more statistics:
• 93% of B2B Marketers are using content marketing (Content Marketing Institute / Marketing Profs Study)
• 42% of B2B marketers rate their content marketing efforts as effective (Content Marketing Institute / Marketing Profs Study)
• Only 44% of B2B Marketers have a documented content strategy (Content Marketing Institute / Marketing Profs Study)
• 73% of B2B Marketers have someone in charge of content marketing strategy. (Content Marketing Institute / Marketing Profs Study)
Here are some relevant interviews you may also want to check out:
- How to Increase Lead Conversion, Work Less, and Automate More: An Interview with Jay Baer
- Lead Generation Secrets from an Agency That Generated 5,500 Leads in 12 Months
- How to Develop a Content Marketing Strategy with Joe Pulizzi, Founder of the Content Marketing Institute
Here are some additional articles I’ve written on this topic:
- How Content Marketing and Marketing Automation Led to a $5,000 Retainer Client
- The Bright Ideas Traffic Report: Amazing Results From Effective Content Promotion
- How Content Marketing Has Forever Changed How to Attract Clients and How You Can Take Advantage of This Shift
How to Get Started With Content Marketing
Getting started with content marketing is actually very easy to do.
Step 1: Find out what your customers are interested in learning more about.
To do this, I strongly suggest that you invest some time to actually call your customers and ask them. There is no substitute for first hand research like this.
If you are too lazy to call people, then I’d suggest sending out a survey and using plenty of open ended questions. Multiple choice is OK, but what you really want is to hear the answers in your customer’s own words so that you can use these phrases for keyword research.
Now that you have some idea of key phrases that your customers are using, make a list of them and start to use tools like Google trends and the Google keyword tool to gain insight into the trends and search volume for these key phrases. The data you uncover from doing this will help you to determine which topics you should write about.
If you are just starting out and don’t yet have any customers, use Google to find some discussion forums for the topic you are researching and take note of the questions people are asking. For questions that you see showing up over and over, go write a blog post that answers that question. Now you have a page you can tell people in the forums about and that will drive traffic to your site.
Step 2: Create content to provide helpful advice and answers to the questions your prospects are asking
Now that you have a list of questions, write a blog post that answers each question. It doesn’t have to be a long post and you don’t need to be a world-class writer. You need only be HELPFUL.
If you are brand new to writing, I’d suggest you look at other blogs in your niche and see which posts of theirs have received the most comments and social shares. Use these posts as a guide to helping you to create an effective post.
Generally speaking a good post will go something like this:
- Overview of the problem (this is why you should read this)
- Overview of the solution
- Proof that the solution works (your proof or proof supplied by others)
- Call to action (what your reader should do next)
Want to Learn More?
As you might guess, there are plenty of addition details, tips, tricks, and hacks to becoming a successful content marketer and to help you discover them, I have written a book that will take you from zero to a steady stream of new customers-all from content marketing. Plus, so that you can get an even bigger bang for your content marketing buck, I have devoted two chapters to how you can add something called marketing automation in with your content marketing.
You can learn more about the book and download a free chapter here.
Have questions? Please use the comment form below.