How do you sell your product or service?
Traditionally, you engage a prospect through some form of communication channel---phone, mail, email, or social media, for example. You may describe your product/service and offer it right then and there. You may also add in a special promotion, freebie, or discount to entice your prospects to buy. Eventually, you close the deal and gain a satisfied customer (hopefully, if all goes well). This is called outbound marketing, and it’s the traditional way of selling and marketing.
There’s nothing wrong with outbound marketing. But what if there’s a marketing strategy where the customer actually comes to you? Well, you’re in luck! This is called inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing is all about creating experiences that generate inbound leads for your business. How can you do this? By providing your viewers with relevant, helpful, and engaging content that addresses their needs.
Inbound marketing is a much more efficient and cost-effective way to market your business. By building credibility and increase brand awareness, you can have leads come knocking on your door instead of the other way around. How can you get started? The key to inbound marketing is content marketing.
Content marketing is a kind of marketing strategy that focuses on composing, publishing, and distributing valuable content for a specific audience. As a business, you can use content to:
- generate and attract leads
- convert leads to customers
- increase your customer base
- retain customer and brand loyalty
- expand credibility and brand awareness
- provide valuable information to your site’s viewers
- create and engage with an online community of prospects and customers
According to Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is more than just providing sales, marketing, and financial benefits to your business. At its core, the purpose of content marketing is “to attract and retain customers by consistently creating and curating relevant and valuable content with the intention of changing or enhancing the consumer behavior. It is an ongoing process that is best integrated into your overall marketing strategy. And it focuses on owning media, not renting it.”
What kind of content are we referring to? The first things that may come to mind would be text and images. But content is much more than that. There are many types of content that can be used for content marketing:
The classic core of content marketing. Blogs help “humanize” your business; you can share personal thoughts, social endeavors, and even fun events happening in your company. On the more practical side, you can share tips, reviews, and insights related to your industry. Interesting and engaging blog articles bring viewers to your business where they may be converted to clients.
Like television, videos are warm media, which means that they appeal to the human senses of vision and hearing. With such senses engaged and activated, it’s no wonder why videos can easily connect with your target audience, according to William Craig of Web FX. With the advent of video-intensive channels such as YouTube, Vimeo, and Facebook as well as the advancement of mobile technology, it is believed that video consumption will increase 100% annually.
Vertical or horizontal graphics that show illustrations, charts, graphs, images, and other information that help a reader visualize an idea, a description, or a process. Done correctly, it can explain a thought, idea, or process more easily than just reading the same thing through plain text.
These are items on your website that readers can download for free. Common items include downloadable e-books, “how to” content, and other downloadable forms that provide value to your audience. By offering valuable information to your viewers for free, you can simply ask for their contact information in return. You can then build your lead list from these contacts and generate a pool of qualified leads to whom you can market your products and services.
In-depth reports that explain a problem or need that your customers may be experiencing and offers a solution. The content provided in white papers are often informational, persuasive, and authoritative. White papers, such as these downloadable PDFs in Kine 320, help establish thought leadership and credibility, educate audiences on certain topics, create business cases, persuade customers, or even attract journalists and investors.
A standalone web page that a viewer lands on after he or she clicks an online marketing call-to-action. It is often a dedicated page specifically created to encourage visitors to complete a marketing goal.
Another great content marketing strategy is to create a landing page as a form of resource for viewers. Because your content marketing landing page contains important information that viewers can use, your site will gain a massive amount of visits. An example would be this informative web page about SEO by Moz, which have garnered millions of views up to present! A percentage of those visitors would have surely checked out other services offered by Moz.
Digital audio streams or downloads that can be described as on-demand internet radio talks. It is a portmanteau of “pod” (derived from iPod devices) and “broadcast.” You can listen to streaming or downloaded podcasts whenever and wherever you are.
Podcasts are very versatile. They can be informative, fun, and entertaining. You can also use them as a marketing tool. With podcasts, you can provide information about your products and services, offer advice, and more. Life and business coach Ryan James Miller, for example, interviews entrepreneurs in his Exsellence Mindset podcasts, attracting sales executives and would-be businessmen to his website.
When it comes to content marketing, the strategy you choose can sometimes alter the model of your business. A classic example of this would be Red Bull, a company that sells energy drinks. As part of their strategy, they began publishing videos and sponsoring events involving mountain biking, snowboarding, skateboarding, cliff diving, F1 racing, and other extreme sports.
The success was so impressive that the company established Red Bull Media House, a multi-platform media company that produces premium audio-visual products centering on sports.
(Photo credit: Red Bull)
It is important to understand that content marketing does not directly involve sales. Rather, it aims to nurture rapport, relationship, and trust with your audience so that they become loyal customers and brand ambassadors. Your content must be centered on identifying, anticipating, and meeting the needs of your target market, not simply focusing on increasing the bottom line. By providing your tribe with high value content that they connect with and find useful, they will in turn be more loyal and dedicated to your brand and even become willing to share your content with others, for free! Think of it this way: you must give something valuable (i.e., useful, valuable, and engaging content) to get something valuable (i.e., brand loyalty, repeat customer purchases, etc.).
Finally, you must also think of content marketing as part of an ongoing process, similar to a weekly sales meeting or monthly budget report. This means new content must be added regularly so you can continue to meet your reader’s demands for fresh/new content AND so that Google and the other search engines continue to crawl your website on a regular basis (this also helps increase your SEO!).
High-quality and useful content is a highly effective way to drive business growth. With a great content marketing strategy, you can optimize the use of your content to achieve your business goals.