Most women I’ve met who are starting up their own business have similar concerns about marketing. They just don’t feel comfortable standing on a soap box shouting “me me me!”, which is a common conception about marketing, harking back to the days of flashy adverts and pushy sales people piling on the pressure until you wither and agree to buy their product.
Fortunately, marketing techniques have evolved since then, and more subtle methods have evolved which can result in sales for your business and can be used by even the most introverted and humble amongst us.
One of these methods is:
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is sharing information as a way to attract and engage your customer base and to make people aware of the value in your business service or product. Rather than garish adverts and bold promises, content marketing works by offering people useful information related to your service or product. Producing high quality content establishes you as an authority in your chosen market niche as well as building trust and loyalty amongst your customer base. The objective of content marketing is that potential customers will return to your site for further information about your service, and will be more likely to buy a product from you rather than buying from an unknown brand.
There are many excellent sites out there that use content marketing to reach their customers. One that is relevant to me as a copywriter is CopyBlogger. At first glance, this site is an information site about the issues and topics of how to market your copywriting business. It has interesting, up to date articles and an archive of information that would take you more than a cup of tea and a packet of hob nobs to get through. In addition to information however, the site also sells products, and when I was looking for a product within this field of expertise it was a no brainer that I would trust a site I had been visiting for months and one that had already given me reams of valuable, free information.
Why is content marketing great news for those who feel uncomfortable with marketing themselves?
It’s not about shouting the loudest
Marketing is all about communication, but now, more than ever it’s about:
This means engaging with your target market, not just selling to them.
With the growth of the internet, customers are more empowered with information. It’s no longer about which company can buy the most expensive advertising space, or has the slickest advertising agencies, the power lies in listening to what your customer base is interested in and providing them with valuable content about this.
For example, if your business sells life coaching sessions, you could produce a range of articles online about the benefits of life-coaching, the different areas in your life that can be improved by life coaching, or perhaps some short snappy articles which include useful exercises that people can take away with them and try out for themselves. Forget pushy sales letters, and think valuable articles that will be of interest to your potential customers. This information acts as a trailer to the main feature; give potential customers enough information to interest them and prove you are an authority in your field and when they are ready to buy, your brand will be in the forefront of their mind. Content marketing does take time, patience and passion, but by building it into your daily business routine you will be investing time in a cost effective marketing method that has substance and longevity. Even those on a small budget can compete for business with the bigger brands out there this way.
Why is content marketing effective for your business today?
The way people shop has changed
These days, people research more than before, think about how you would look for a product or service, you might ask a friend for a referral, or do some research online to see what people are saying about the products you are considering. Information is power and to beat the competition, establishing your authority in your chosen niche is more important than ever. Having useful content published on the Internet for people to find when they search for your product, your business will seem credible, trustworthy and authoritative. You are building a relationship with your potential customer from the word go.
Content Marketing is flexible
One of the great aspects of content marketing is that there are many different ways you can use it to promote your brand and business in ways that suit you. You can keep a blog on your site, provide twitter updates, update your facebook page or simply submit articles to websites. You can provide as much or as little content as you want, but producing relevant and informative content on a regular basis will increase the chances of being found by your target customer base.
But how do you push your business service without feeling pushy?
The objective of your business is to sell or promote your product or service, and publishing content alone isn’t enough – you have to know where to publish it for maximum effect. This is the real beauty of a good content marketing strategy. The basic process of successful content marketing includes:
Finding your market
A sure fire way to make you feel good about yourself when marketing your business or service is to find people who want what you’re offering. There are some great tools online that help you find people who might be interested in your product or service. Google offers a free tool of being able to search through blogs online for keywords, so if your business sells bespoke suits for women for example, you can find out if anyone is writing a blog about this, or if anyone is mentioning this particular product on other blogs. With a little research you can soon find out where people talking about your product or service “hang out” online
It is through these different sites, forums and blogs that you need to reach them, not as a pushy sales person…but by…
…listening to the conversation
The brilliant part of content marketing online today is that it’s not a one way street; it’s not just about letting your market know about your service, it’s about listening to their needs and questions. Once you have identified a few websites or blogs with similar audiences to your market, you can spend some time regularly visiting to find out what is going on.
Even if it’s only 15 minutes a day it will give you an idea of what people are saying right now about your industry and it won’t be long before you want to:
Join in the conversation
Whatever your business or service, if there are people talking about it online, you can join in the conversation. Content marketing is all about sharing information to build up a relationship with your target market so that you eventually have a loyal audience interested in subscribing to your service or buying your product. Get involved in discussions online, comment on blogs that are written about your industry, post articles on guest blogs and relevant sites to prove to your target market that you are an authority in your field. Not only will the credibility of your brand increase, but you are increasing the exposure of your business online to targeted markets as well as making it easier for people to find you and your business when searching for your particular product or service.
Just Scratching the surface
There are a number of ways you can use content to market your business and in the next series of articles I will be looking more specifically at different methods and mediums you can use to get your business message out there to a targeted market in a way that won’t make your skin crawl!
About the Author: Amy Harrison. After training as a screenwriter, Amy moved into the world of online business and since 2004 has worked on small to large enterprises both here in the UK and Canada. Amy left her job in online business development in 2008 to go it alone and now offers a copywriting and project management service. Amy will be offering practical hints and tips about maintaining and promoting your business website in our series of articles: “Web Therapy”. We hope you enjoy it and look forward to hearing about your own website experiences! www.harrisonamy.com