Your job as a marketer is to make it easy for your buyers to buy from you. But making it easy for them may be hard for you, unless you can execute an effective content marketing strategy.
Content marketing is the art of understanding exactly what buyers need to know and delivering it to them in a relevant and compelling way. This extends way beyond product information into the realm of best practices, case studies, success stories, and more.
Why? All the rules have changed. You will need to relearn the marketing game with a brand new marketing mindset. Those that can adapt will flourish. Those that don’t…well… think of the fate of the dinosaurs.
Buyer behavior has changed dramatically in the past decade. Your buyers are busy on the internet becoming more knowledgeable about everything they want to buy. They aren’t wandering around aimlessly hoping to be influenced by marketing messages that arrive out of the blue. And they are not sitting around waiting to hear from you. They have no time to waste–and resent the onslaught of unwanted advertising messages. In short, buyers don’t want to be sold. They want to make up their own minds based on their own information gathering.
Understanding the New Breed of Buyer is Essential
The new buyers are almost immune to what marketing guru, Seth Godin, calls ‘interruption marketing.’ Unfortunately most marketers have been trained to interrupt prospects with bold headlines, flashy graphics, and minimal text. Think billboards, and you get the idea. But it hasn’t been much different in TV, radio, and print magazine advertising. Your job was to hype your product while your prospect was thinking of something else. In an era of 3 TV networks, top 40 radio, and authoritative trade magazines as monopoly information providers, interruption marketing worked more often than not. Today, buyers have too many media choices and too little time to peruse them. Moreover, they no longer sit passively waiting for vendors to contact them.
Buyers today make their own informed decisions about what they want to buy and whom they want to buy from. Technology advancements, particularly the pervasive use of the Internet as a buying tool, have put the buyer in control. They can learn most of what they need to know about a company and its products before they ever contact vendors they will consider. By the time they are ready to talk to you, they will be armed with information about your company, its people, and its products. Whether you are selling Mazdas or machine tools, traditional marketing approaches just don’t work very well anymore.
This is actually great news if you take an enlightened approach to these newly empowered buyers. The even better news is that your company is empowered, too–thanks to seamless and integrated technology that enables you to talk with consumers in more and different ways than had ever been possible.
Benefit from this new buyer behavior by executing an effective content marketing strategy
You know that prospective buyers will have done serious homework before they contact you. This presents a great opportunity.
Educate them about your industry, about possible solution choices, about best practices, and about the right questions to ask. Do this before they ever call you or walk through your front door. In this way, you have already begun a relationship that that will make it easier for them to buy. That’s what content marketing is all about.
By delivering content that is vital and relevant to your target market you will begin to take on an important role in their lives.
How do you deliver great online content that will attract and retain loyal customers?
That’s easy. Simply start thinking like a publisher.
What does it mean to think like a publisher?
When you boil it down, publishing is simple to explain:
· First, define a critical group of buyers
· Second, determine what information they really need and how they want to receive it
· Third, deliver that critical info to that core group of buyers in the way they want it
· Fourth, make sure that your content is both relevant and compelling
· Fifth, continually measure how well you’re doing and adjust as you go
For a publisher, success means selling lots of ads. For a marketer who begins to think like a publisher, success means attracting and retaining lots of customers.
Making Welding Cool–Now That’s Content Marketing!
A wonderful example of content marketing comes from a surprising source: Miller Electric in Appleton, Wisconsin. In business since 1929, Miller is a relatively small welding equipment manufacturer. They understand that their customers are fanatics about welding and welding products. Therefore, rather than create a classic, brochure-style, product feature-laden website, they have done something amazing: They have made welding cool.
How? They think and act like a publisher.
Their website, www.millerwelds.com provides customers and prospects with a rich, relevant, and fun experience by providing mini-sites devoted to welding applications and interests such as racing, manufacturing, and construction. They have made themselves the go-to site for welding information. In so doing, they became a company with whom you would love to do business. They also provide lots of ways to reach out to their prospects regularly through eNewsletters and RSS Feeds.
Best of all, once Miller has drawn prospects in with content, they make it very easy to take the next step and to buy their products.
The Most Dangerous Content Marketing Mistake
There is a potential downside to the shift in buyer behavior and the Internet revolution. Buyers will no longer tolerate self-serving product promotion. You must provide them with compelling and relevant content that will leave them smarter, better informed, and more willing to do business with you. Do it right and you will create a growing loyal customer base. Do it wrong and you will alienate prospects who may shut you out forever.
That might sound alarmist, but it’s a danger that’s all too real. Communicating with your customers and prospects is a right and a responsibility. If you deliver valuable and relevant information regularly to customers, they will love you. If you are disrespectful by sending messages that benefit just you, the marketer, individual buyers will ignore you–and worse, they may generate negative word of mouth that spreads across the net.
The Content Marketing Bottom-line:
Compelling online content begins an ongoing dialogue with your best buyers from the very first moment they land on your website. If you deliver great stuff, you’ll get permission to capture critical data (name, company, & email address) and then to connect with your target buyers regularly. Regular interaction with your best clients will enable you to provide the product and service solutions that they really need. By caring first about your buyers’ information needs, you can then count on a growing stream of devoted customers. And like Miller Electric, you may create a whole new generation of brand fanatics who buy from you again and again and again.