There’s a new-ish movement in the marketing world. For the last decade or so, savvy businesses – especially those selling expertise, advice and non-commodity type products have turned away from old school advertising and promotion to creating content that sells without being “sales-y.”
So what is content?
Here’s a definition, from the people who ought to know, the Content Marketing Institute: “Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
Depending on your business, content could be almost anything: a simple checklist, a series of articles, whitepapers, reports, your company blog, podcasts, webinars… It’s anything created for the purpose of providing valuable information to your client.
Why content marketing is so effective for professionals and firms
Content marketing lets you communicate regularly with your prospects and clients without overtly selling. Instead of buying ads in publications (which are ignored by your prospect) or cold calling to set up appointments (which are avoided by your prospect), you create and publish information that prospects welcome and look forward to. Heck, sometimes they even seek out your content.
It’s pull marketing, not push marketing. Prospects are drawn to you, rather than you pushing your firm brochures and sales meetings at them.
Your KLT factor
Let’s face it, as professional service firms and consultants, you are “selling the invisible.” One of the most important considerations in the client’s selection process is the know, like and trust factor. Your client needs to feel that they know you, they have feel that they’d enjoy working with you and that you’d do a good job for them. Using content helps prospective clients get to know you, your expertise, your style and the unique value you provide, without your physical presence.
Content is your marketing workhorse
One of the best features of content marketing is how it helps you leverage your marketing and sales efforts. Instead of making sales calls and meeting with prospects one-on-one, your content reaches tens, hundreds or thousands of people. Content works for you, 24-7-365.
Content in action
Wondering if content can really pack the marketing wallop you need for your business? Here’s a true story:
A mid-sized regional engineering firm learned about a new freeway interchange design. Looking for a way to stand out in an increasingly commoditized industry, the firm’s marketing director wrote an explanatory article about the new interchange design. Instead of promoting the company’s design engineers, the article explained the new interchange concept, how it worked, and the situations for which it was best suited. No selling at all.
What happened next? In a few months, news of this novel freeway design hit the media. People began searching the web, looking for information and experts on this new type of interchange. The firm’s article hit the #1 position on Google. They received calls from interested clients from all over the world. Reporters for major newspapers quoted their staff members in news stories. Because this firm wrote the most informative article on the interchange design, they were widely viewed as the experts on that topic. Ka-ching.
This week think about your business from your client’s perspective. What kind of information would help them to understand your industry and the service you provide? How could you help them to learn what they need to know to make the best decisions?