Content Marketing done well makes your business to be an attraction business,…
Content. Content marketing. Content generation. Content.
Anyone over hearing the word ‘content’ in the context of marketing and social media? Or maybe you’ve never heard it and you’re wondering what the HELL I’m on about?
Either way, let me explain.
Basically, content marketing is a term that gets bandied about when discussing all things social media marketing, but what the fark does it even mean? And, even more importantly, why is content marketing important for your business?
For service based businesses, content marketing can be summed up pretty simply:
Give your valuable knowledge and know-how away to clients, to encourage them to do business with you in the future.
Say whhhaaaaaaaaat? Give my stuff away for free!? I didn’t spend years learning my shit to give it away. You idiot.
I get it. This type of thinking is completely contrary everything you’ve been told about business. But here’s the thing. It works. And social media is a great platform for doing it.
In fact, not only should you give your knowledge and know-how away for free through your social channels, but it’s even better to give your very best knowledge and know-how away for free.
Put out content. Show people how to do what you do. Teach, help, add value.
Here is a crash course in content marketing for service-based businesses, divided into three parts.
1// WTF is content marketing;
2// Why content marketing is important for your business; and
3// How do I do it (well)?
Let’s start with the fancy definition.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is defined as:
Basically, it’s the exact opposite of the traditional approach to marketing, which centred around telling your customer all about how great you are and not-so-subtly trying to, ahem, persuade (see also: force) them to buy your services.
If that sounds a bit aggressive, that’s because it is.
Traditional marketing has always relied on the push mentality to get a message in front of a target audience. This often has the effect of interrupting that audience (think television ads) with a message that is all about you. Have you ever been to a networking conference or dinner party with guest that do nothing but talk loudly about themselves? Annoying, isn’t it? It’s no different with some forms of traditional marketing.
“But traditional marketing bloody works for me so shut up”, I hear you say.
Yeah, it does – sometimes.
But here’s the thing.
It’s now 2017, and the ability of traditional marketing to force itself onto you is diminishing fast.
When’s the last time you actually watched a TV show in real time with ads? I’m guessing not often.
People fast forward ads these days, and watch shows at their leisure BECAUSE THEY CAN.
What about those annoying pop up ads on website? My guess is that you frantically search for the little ‘x’ to shut them down as quickly as possibly. Ads in magazines? Well, who even BUYS magazines anymore? The list goes on.
People don’t like being interrupted, and these days it’s easier than ever to drown out and ignore any person or company that tries to.
People know the difference between people and businesses who genuinely want to help them and those in it (only) for the money. The quick sell isn’t a sustainable strategy.
Hence the rise and rise of content marketing. Content marketing is all about the customer, not about the business. It’s about providing content that potential clients find interesting and valuable. For service based businesses, that comes in the form of knowledge and information related to your services.
The greatest benefit of content marketing for businesses who sell their services is that, over time, it result in people coming to you to ask for your service rather than the other way around.
Providing valuable content builds trust and leverage. It shows to your potential clients that you’re not just in it for a quick buck. It positions you as an authority and a trusted adviser in your field. It goes hand in hand with social media, with social media providing the platform(s) for amplifying your content out to your potential clients.
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.
Now, here’s the catch.
Trust and leverage take time. It’s a long term game. 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.
Don’t ask someone to marry you on the first date. Just don’t.
Here’s a 10 step plan for succeeding with content marketing:
Sorry, that was a little facetious (big word, I know).
But really, it’s that simple. And that hard.
If you’re a tradie (let’s say in this case a general maintenance plumber), you should be producing content about how to do your own plumbing work. Put out little video demonstrations about common problems and things that you think people can easily fix themselves. Post them on Facebook, or Instagram, or little short snippets on Snapchat. Post live Facebook video of you fixing a common problem at a real clients house.
You might think of this as losing business, and there are surely little common problems you see everyday that you might be able to fix for $70. But by instead educating the masses, you’re gaining authority and trust and that’s the gateway to even bigger business.
If you’re a draftsperson, produce content on how to successfully build your own townhouses. Document the process of meeting with a client, producing drawings, the alteration process and the final product for those who have never been through the process before.
I could go on and on.
Most importantly, don’t be scared that giving away your best advice or your ‘specialised knowledge’ will hurt your business. 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:
This is where the ask finally comes in.
After providing so much helpful content and information consistently over time, your service based business will have built enough trust and authority to ask for the business.
The great news is that by this time, a lot of your potential clients will already be proactively coming to you.
“Right, I know content marketing is important for my business and I’m in!”, I hear you say.
Now, here are a few key considerations especially for service based businesses when putting together a plan of attack for producing content.
In order to know what sort of content to put out, it’s absolutely critical that you know as much as you can about who your clients and customers are as possible.
If you’re not sure where to start but you already have a Facebook page, here’s a hot tip. Click onto your Facebook business page and along the top panel fourth from the left click onto ‘Insights’. Click on ‘people’ on the left hand tab. You’ll see the ages and sex of your Facebook fans, along with where they are from.
Here’s what it looks like:
You’ll also want to think about what they like, where they shop, their average income – get as specific as possible because it will help you know how to focus your content efforts.
Also think about whether you current customers and clients are the ones that are best for your business. Perhaps you want to look at targeting people in a higher income bracket than the ones you currently attract? If so, note that down because it will guide your content and social media strategy.
Once you have an understand of who your potential customers and clients are, you will need to find out which social media platforms are most popular with them. Make sure you are looking at statistics relevant to your area, as they can vary widely between countries.
Here is a great summary of the main platforms for different sexes and demographics in Australia in 2016, thanks to Sensis.
Pick one or two that best suit your potential clients.
In social media, context is everything and not all social media platforms are the same. The type of content that does very well on one platform won’t necessarily work on another.
For that reason it’s really important that once you know which social media platforms your audience hang out on, you tailor your content to suit it. The little nuances and differences in the way you need to present content on different social media platforms make all the difference. Here’s a quick summary of a few of the main social platforms:
In order to really nail your content efforts, you need to play to your strengths (or else consider outsourcing).
What are you good at? If you’re personable, confident and talkative and have no problems in front of a camera, then of course video is going to be the best platform for you. Did you score straight A’s in english? Writing blog posts and how to article is going to be more your thing.
Remember, content creation shouldn’t be hard. If you’re struggling to churn out blog posts because writing isn’t your strength, you’re just going to give up. Play to your strengths.
And remember, it doesn’t always have to be a polished production. Social media rewards authenticity and consistency, so be yourself and work with what you have. If you’re struggling with the idea of creation, think of it as documenting. Document, don’t create. Get 10 things out there by documenting what comes naturally and being yourself, don’t labour and get hung up over one perfect and polished piece of content (source: Gary Vaynerchuk).
You know your business and your service better than anyone. What do people come to you struggling with? What is it that they find difficult? Make a list of 10 things – 100 things! – and produce content about that. One by one, literally tick every topic off your list by producing a piece of content about it.
And that’s it. Content marketing and social media go hand in hand, and for service based businesses it is this marriage that will produce the results you’re looking for and the greatest level of success for your business.
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