Relevance. How do you show your customers that your product or service is relevant to their lives?
Genuiness. How do you reach out to them personally, even when you have so many?
Consider content marketing. It’s a buzz word that’s all the craze in the marketing world. Content marketing is a philosophy, a strategy that goes beyond the traditional “Sell! Sell! Sell!” advertising. When you use content marketing as part of your online marketing strategy, it puts your business on the digital map—and keeps it there with solid tactics:
- Updated content. What is the question that everyone asks when they stop in? Give them the answer 24/7 by posting the answer online. How is your product or service relevant to their life? Post content that gives them information and shows them how it works in their life. This is your chance to give your customer service beyond a phone call, beyond your business hours. With our virtual world, this is how you can support them when they need it. Use visuals to catch their attention, and interactive content to appeal to visual learners. In addition, search engines (which judge your content when they rank the top search results) look for the latest and greatest content with on any given topic.
- Social media marketing. Your customers are online every day, checking in with their friends. Why not give them information (or a smile) as they are browsing? Become a resource for them without them having to work to get it. This is also your opportunity to get your content out into the digital world, and get visitors to your company website.
- Genuine marketing messages. Does that website content sound like it’s written by a robot? Could be. Write your content for your audience, and personalize that content for email messages to your customer.
We can hear you asking, “why does my business need content marketing?” Well, you have customers don’t you? Customers who have questions outside of your business hours. Customers who can find your business online if you use content marketing. Customers who find your website through top search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo. Content marketing is a customer-centric marketing strategy that benefits your company in two main ways:
- Customer service. Updated content is available as a resource for your customers, even beyond your business hours. Studies have shown that customers expect online customer service, even through social media.
- Search engine optimization. Search engines tend to like what customers like: updated content with information that everyone reads.
If content marketing sounds out of your league, or you don’t have time for it, outsource to a marketing company that has content marketing experts. Ask your network of fellow business owners for local companies that achieve results. Put your marketing in their hands, be the perfect client (if you need advice on that, check out our Outsourcing do’s and don’ts post) and watch the results as your business shows up on the digital map.
Don’t be afraid to let go of the marketing bicycle, but know the do’s and don’ts along the way.
We’ve said it before, there’s no shame or blame when you outsource your content marketing. To the contrary, outsourcing shows that your company wants to achieve results. It shows you as a business owner are aware of the strengths and weaknesses of your business so you can allocate your resources to the projects you excel at.
There are some real benefits of outsourcing (like results and using the experts), but you also have to be realistic and give supportive input to your marketing experts. So follow these do’s and don’ts that get you the best value for your marketing dollar, and achieve optimum results with your marketing partner:
- Don’t just forget about your online marketing. Contribute. Set up regular calls with the company to give them input on relevant topics, frequently asked questions you hear and information about what your goals are. Send them new specials and coupons so they can create content in line with your marketing materials and strategy.
- Do tell them what makes your company unique. What makes your company stand out? What does your company excel at?
- Do give them existing marketing materials. You want all your marketing materials to be seamless—with the same tone and voice. Give them something to work off of so they can create content that doesn’t sound like it’s outsourced. Your company’s online presence is not an online, it should sound and look like it fits with what you’ve already produced.
- Don’t micromanage. Give them direction, information to work off of, revisions and approval.
- Do trust their advice. One of the main reasons for outsourcing is that you giving your business marketing to the experts—the people who breathe and live online marketing. The experts who stay up to date on the latest technologies and stay up-to-date on what works and doesn’t work. Remember, the digital world evolves and changes, and what used to work might not work tomorrow. You’ve trusted them to get the best results, now let them do it.
- Don’t jump on every bandwagon. There’s always a fad or a new craze in the online realm, but that doesn’t mean that fad or new social media site is right for you company or you need to pressure the professionals to follow it. Trust their advice.
- Don’t think that more is always better. If you’re outsourcing, let the professionals put your money into the social media sites that fit your brand and industry. Your company doesn’t need to have a million different social media sites. Choose social media sites that fit your brand, and you have the resources to update regularly.
- Do stay in touch with what they do. Don’t just walk away. Watch what they do and find out what they’re hearing from your customers online.
- Don’t expect unreasonable results. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is online marketing. It takes time and effort to build up an audience. An online presence does not get miracles. Don’t expect them.
- Do tell your customers to check your blog and social media sites. Even with all the advances in technology, word of mouth is still the best way to draw customers and potential customers to your blog and social media sites. Spread the word casually. “Thanks for coming in. Make sure you stay up-to-date on store specials by liking our Facebook page.”
- Do promise and follow through. You can’t have one without the other. If you promise to add a blog or update a social media site in addition to their posts, or you want them to use certain information for their next post, send it to them when you promise.
- Don’t think you’re their only true love. The best marketing companies are in demand. You are not their only client, so don’t be a diva about their time. Remember, they are working on deadline and have other clients they work for. At the same time, do ask for a reasonable amount of time to touch base with them each month.
You may need to find the right balance with your marketing company, but finding the perfect formula yields results—and sales—for both of you.
They’re the latest trend, and everyone seems to have one, but why?
If you have more questions than answers about blogs as a marketing tool, and you’re hesitant about adding another ‘to do’ to your long list, consider the benefits behind setting up a blog for your business.
- For your customers. Think of your blog as another service that you offer to your customers. By posting relevant information and tips, you can answer their questions 24/7 when they need it. Posting informational blog posts also shows that your business has the industry expertise to take care of prospective customers’ problems and provide products and services with knowledgeable, customer friendly assistance.
- Increase web traffic. Top search engines gauge your website’s validity and the strength of your pages based on the content of your website pages. By posting regular blog posts, you are showing search engines that your content is updated, valid and relevant—three criteria they use to rank websites for search engine users. It’s search engine optimization (if you don’t know why that’s a good thing, check out the statistics in our previous blog post).
But before you jump in to blogging, make sure you understand what a good blog post that achieves the above results is. A good blog post should be:
- Relevant to your customers’ lives. It should not be your musings about the universe, or ramblings that pertain only to you. If you need topics that are relevant to your customers, use their feedback from your interactions with them. What are their frequently asked questions? What do they want to know about your products and services? Are there misunderstandings or “I didn’t know that!” bits of facts that you can address?
- Professional. You can use humor in your posts, but don’t cross the line. Your business blog post is for your business. Even if you push it out to your friends, remember that along the line someone outside your circle is going to read the post and judge your business by it.
- Regular. You can’t go into your blog with an “I’ll get around to that” attitude. Having an outdated blog is almost worse than no blog. It’s a black eye to your business. If you know you won’t have time for posting, outsource your blog to a knowledgeable marketing company. Ask other business owners for marketing companies they would recommend. Once you’ve selected a company that achieves results through blogging, feed their professional writer topics and update them about changes in your business strategy. Your company image looks professional and relevant, and that’s good for your business.
- Industry specific. Many a business owner has posted information NOT specific to their business without giving any thought to the people visiting their website. It’s okay to link your product or service to current events or a hot topic that everyone’s talking about. But make sure it’s relevant to your industry. If someone is visiting your website, they are interested in your industry, product or service. They want information, not ramblings.
One last note of caution: blogging for your business is not for the faint of heart. If you can’t commit to creating GOOD posts for your business, you’re wasting your time. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t host a blog, it means you should contact the professionals and let them make your business look good. There’s no shame or blame in outsourcing, just a great deal of satisfaction as they make your business look good—and increase your website traffic.