With last month’s focus on defining your niche and helping your customers understand your exact value proposition, we are well positioned to communicate that value to the market. But what if no one is listening? As you would expect, most customers are not receptive to a direct sales pitch. We need an approach that brings our customers in without alienating them before they’re even listening.
There are two ways to do this – drumming up audience interest where you are or meeting your audience where they are. The first approach would be mass media marketing and related practices. This creates a problem in the mind of the consumer and shows them how your company can fix it. This is the traditional marketing people think of when they hear “marketing” and it often gets smeared for being unethical.
The second approach is more practical for small businesses and more popular amongst the smart set in marketing today – content marketing.
Before Reading any Further…
…take a moment to download our guide to see how content can benefit your business – you’ll get a whole different perspective reading this article if you do!
Who’s to Say What Content Is?
Content is more than just writing. Content is anything that your company uses to build trust and brand equity with your customers. By providing this value, you simultaneously show that you have expertise and their best interests at heart.
For instance, REI sells outdoor clothing and gear. The company has a series of video tutorials on outdoor adventure activities, such as kayaking and rock climbing. Most of their potential customers are probably not willing to hear about brands of outdoor adventure gear nearly as often as they are willing to watch people having adventures outdoors.
With these sorts of videos, REI builds an audience of customers that they can reach in a way that they can control. The expenditure is on the front end with building up the audience. Once built up, the audience is a tremendous resource for the company.
This is why owning the medium is so important to marketers. In the case of REI, posting on YouTube is great, and it allows them to very easily reach their audience. However, some aspects of the platform are out of their control. If REI spends millions of dollars and thousands of hours building up their brand on YouTube and then if YouTube makes a series of poor management decisions and loses their audience, REI’s ability to reach that audience will suffer from factors out of their control.
There is a push for what we call Hub Marketing, and is a key deliverable during the first step of BIG’s Breakthrough 4-Step Marketing Plan. Find your audience wherever they may be – YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, in person events, tradeshows, wherever – and then bring them back to a medium you own. Once they are in the habit of getting your content from your website, it doesn’t matter if access to the other platforms is restricted or lost.
This is probably why, if you look at REI’s website, they have entire blog sections dedicated to different sports and outdoor activities, a major journal, and videos embedded in their content – the same videos they have on YouTube. Consumers can get REI’s content elsewhere, but it is all right there, easily accessible and organized for them in one spot on their website.
Show Me the Numbers!
The Content Marketing Institute provides some numbers that ought to be fascinating for anyone looking into the topic. Let’s start with some history. In 1984, an era with no shortage of ads, the average person saw 2,000 ads a day. By 2014, that had grown to 5,000 ads a day. Perhaps rather than making that 5001, a different strategy is called for.
Trying to drag your customer to where you are, what the CMI identifies as outbound marketing, is much more expensive. Content marketing tends to generate over three times as many leads while costing 62% less than traditional outbound marketing. Even the simple act of building up a blog is reported to generate 126% more leads for small businesses.
Looking at numbers like these, it’s obvious that content marketing is something worthy of any marketing department’s consideration. You owe it to your organization to find the best opportunities for planting and nurturing leads.
Next week, we will be discussing how organizations can generate ideas for their content. While it seems straightforward – write about what you do – this isn’t always the case. More often than not, simply writing about what interests you rather than asking what interests your audience is just another way of dragging them to you, rather than you coming to them. Instead, we need a way to get inside our customers heads’ and tailor our content to them.