You’ve been hearing “Content is King!” for years, but what does that mean? How can content, and content marketing, help you grow your business? Does it apply to B2B, or only to consumer products?
Content marketing is effective in all industries. When you master the strategies of content marketing, you draw new customers to you, instead of having to interrupt customers demanding a sale. People want to see what you have to say, they’re interested in your content, and they’re likely to share it with others — which expands your reach.
Understanding content marketing and how it can make a difference in your business can dramatically impact your bottom line. Here’s what you need to know.
Content Marketing is an Inbound Strategy
There are two kinds of marketing, inbound and outbound. Outbound marketing is when you put your marketing in front of consumers, interrupting something they were doing. Popups, TV advertisements, and sometimes social media ads are outbound marketing.
Content marketing, however, is inbound. It’s designed to build a desire in the prospect to interact with you, causing them to seek you out instead of the other way around. You create a relationship based on providing high-quality, useful information and become their source of choice when they’re ready to make a purchase decision.
The reason content marketing so powerful is that it takes advantage of the truth that “Everyone wants to buy, but no one wants to be sold.” By providing helpful content and becoming a trusted authority, you invite prospects to buy from you instead of trying to sell them with interruptive ads.
The great news is that content marketing works in every arena, from SaaS to B2B products.
Start by Providing Value
As an inbound strategy, content marketing is based on providing value to the prospect before you ask for the sale. This can be done in a variety of ways.
Consider creating blog posts about topics related to your industry, and optimizing them with keywords that prospects search when they are curious about that subject. You can also create white papers, case studies, videos, infographics, and a variety of other content.
The key is to share useful information so that your brand becomes a trusted voice in the industry. This could be achieved by constantly providing your writer with useful feedback that lets him understand better what your audience cares about and your brand’s message (check out this guide by GC on how to brief your B2B content, marketing writers). You want to be the go-to source when a potential customer has a question or curiosity about your products and services.
Share Your Content Widely
If a tree falls in a forest and no one’s around to hear it, does it even matter if it makes a sound?
If no one sees your high-quality content, your effort won’t bring in the leads you’re looking for. Once you’ve created it, share it far and wide. Don’t forget to add a call-to-action leading them to engage with you more!
You can share on social media, optimize your content using search engine optimization (SEO) so it ranks well on Google, and guest post on blogs with related content. You can even promote your content with eye-catching ads inviting prospects to learn more about your industry.
Use Content Upgrades to Build Engagement
Once someone sees your original content, you want them to take the next step and agree to engage with you more. This might mean joining your email list, signing up for a Facebook group, or joining your community in another way.
To encourage them to do so, you’ll need content upgrades, which are also known as lead magnets. These should solve an immediate need that your prospect has and be short enough to be actionable but long enough to be valuable.
Don’t feel like you have to get it right immediately — test different upgrade options to see what performs best. You may want to attach a specific upgrade invitation to one blog post and a different one to another. By testing, you can refine your offers until they convert at a high level.
Once someone has opted in, you have a new lead! It’s time to nurture the lead and convert it into a sale.
Nurture Your Leads
A lot of companies make the mistake of asking for the sale too quickly. It’s a common error because asking for a purchase immediately is the foundation of outbound marketing. However, with content marketing, you need to take a little time to educate your customer until the purchase is a no-brainer.
Think of it like dating. When someone agrees to a first date, you don’t immediately propose marriage. Instead, you build the relationship and help them get to know you — and like you — before you ask for something more. This is especially important in B2B sales when decision-makers take more time to purchase, and prices are higher.
You can nurture leads in a variety of ways. While email marketing is still effective, it’s best if it’s not your only method. Email inboxes are fuller than ever, and using a variety of marketing methods will help you stay top-of-mind.
Once you’ve built the relationship, you can begin to ask for sales by offering promotions, discounts, and special deals.
Don’t Stop After the Sale
One mistake many companies make after working so hard to get a new customer is that they stop working with the customer once a sale is made. Don’t do that! Getting an existing customer to make additional purchases is much easier than building a new relationship, and repeat customers are very profitable.
Additionally, loyal customers can become advocates that help your content marketing spread further than your network. By encouraging this word-of-mouth advertising, you’ll not only gain new customers, but you’ll also strengthen your bond with existing ones.
Over time, content marketing builds a strong and loyal customer base that sees you as a go-to authority in your industry. It’s one of the most powerful and effective forms of marketing – which is why “Content is King!”