The promise of Web 2.0, aka the social web, was that we were going to connect with people unlike ever before. We certainly have done this on a personal level through tools like Facebook and the likes. But as businesses, many of us are still struggling to figure out how to tap into the power of the Internet and leverage it to generate more business.
For years we’ve seen businesses find countless ways to push their products to us online but this model is experiencing a major shift. People are turned off by traditional advertising so much so they have learned to tune it out. People would much rather learn and be educated before they buy anything rather than be fed the next sales pitch. That’s why content marketing has become the most effective way to generate quality sales leads on-line today and will be for the foreseeable future.
“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.” Copyblogger
The concept is simple. Persuade users to subscribe to your content and share it with others. These repeated actions, over time will generate a large and loyal audience for your brand. People want value. If you’re sharing valuable content with them, they will continue to follow you and read your content. Shareable content is your goal because it has a long term impact and becomes your online equity. It’s an investment in your reputation and can serve as the foundation to your online marketing efforts.
If you post something of value and people share it with their friends and colleagues, that is referral marketing in it’s purest form. Referrals play a huge role in how we all make our buying decisions because it is based on inherit trust. If I trust you, and you trust C, then I will likely trust C as well. The concept of referrals is quite common and known to us in the real world. But as a marketing tactic, it is linear and not scalable. Making connections takes time and presence. Coffee meetings, attending business events, company luncheons… we can only develop one meaningful relationship at a time. Don’t get me wrong, in-person networking is still worthwhile, but if you want to grow your business at a faster pace it may not be sufficient.
The beauty about the online world, is that the model is exponential and scalable. Through content marketing, you can reach way more people than ever before and you can deepen those relationships on a mass scale. As humans, we pick up so many little things in our communications. Our brains are constantly analyzing and assessing. Not only do we do that in person, but we do that when we read someone’s blog, their social media posts, the website copy, and especially when we watch their videos. Our audience is always judging and determining if they like us or not, and if they trust us or not. Through content, we indirectly share our personality, values, and mannerisms and in turn, we allow our audience to get to know us, like us, and even trust us enough to want to do business with us. Content marketing is social networking for your business.
Marketing is all about relationships and relationships are all about trust.
Remember this: Nobody does what you do, the way you do it. So get clear on what you’re good at and start writing. Build up your network and share your knowledge and your experiences through online content. Don’t worry about writing perfect content. It’s better to write imperfectly but with an authentic voice, than to not write at all.
Beyond building a loyal following of recurring customers, the wonderful side effects of content marketing are that (a) Google loves websites that steadily generate new and unique content, and (b) you get to remain top-of-mind with all your followers. What have you got to lose?
If you’d like to learn more, sign up for our Content Marketing 101 presentation on May 28, 2015!
Jayson Peltzer is an information expert that understands the limitless and dynamic power of the web. He founded and manages U7 Solutions, a website development firm that specializes in content marketing websites and custom business website software.