Did you know that the first ever advert was broadcast on 1 July 1941 in the US? That means that some people have been bombarded with sales ads interrupting their viewing (and lives) for around 77 years. Its safe to say we’re all over it, even myself as a marketer can’t think of anything worse than the batteries of my tv remote dying so I can’t fast-forward through the ads as fast as possible. That pop up box that I’m forced to close so I can read the article I’ve just clicked on puts me in a state of annoyance instantly. Its 2018, and in today's times push tactics, aka ads are doing more harm to your brand and business than you know.
So, as a business owner what does one do now? Cue content marketing. This isn’t a new concept, in fact content marketing has been around since 2012. What is it? The official definition goes like this;
‘A STRATEGIC MARKETING APPROACH FOCUSED ON CREATING AND DISTRIBUTING VALUABLE, RELEVANT, AND CONSISTENT CONTENT TO ATTRACT AND RETAIN A CLEARLY-DEFINED AUDIENCE — AND, ULTIMATELY, TO DRIVE PROFITABLE CUSTOMER ACTION.’
Today’s prospects have a strong appetite for good information, before purchases are made most of us have done a good amount of research on our various options. Prospects want good content that helps them make good decisions. Consumers are less responsive to traditional advertising and old-school sales tactics, and this is true for both B2C and B2B customers. A Roper Survey of business decision makers found that 80% prefer to get information about a prospective purchase from articles instead of advertising. The same survey found that 70% say content makes them feel closer to the sponsoring company and 60% say content helps them make better buying decisions.
The greatest benefit of content marketing for businesses who sell their services is that, over time, it results in people coming to you to ask for your service rather than the other way around. Providing valuable content builds trust and leverage. It positions you as an authority and a trusted adviser in your field. Your advice is a like a billboard for your business, in an era where billboards don’t work because everyone is looking at their phone anyway - and blocking ads while they’re at it.
Most SME businesses shy away from content marketing because they believe that giving away their specialised knowledge will result in them loosing sales, when its the opposite. The bottom line is that general advice can only be so good, and people will always still need your services. There’s two reasons for this:
• Most of the people who consume your content will never act on it or want to do it themselves anyway. They don’t have the time or the confidence, your content simply shows that you’re an expert in the field and they’ll come to you anyway.
• General advice is not enough. Most businesses will have a unique circumstance that they will need you to apply your knowledge to. After providing consistent and helpful content and over time, your business will have built enough trust and authority that a lot of your potential clients will already be proactively coming to you.
Sounds awesome right? Here’s the catch, trust and leverage take time. It’s a long-term game, a slow drip. Just as you wouldn’t ask someone to marry you on a first date, you can’t just ask for business on your very first interaction with a potential client. It takes time to build a sustainable and long-lasting relationship.
It can also be a lot of work. If you don’t have the budget to get a content specialist company to help you with producing the content - it can take a lot of time. This is where most companies give up because they don’t see the instant return on investment. Don’t let this put you off creating a content strategy.
Next week I’ll be publishing an article on how to approach content marketing with some key tips and strategies on getting started, stay tuned!