Studies are showing that more and more B2B and B2C companies are utilizing content marketing. Meaning they are blogging and generating blog articles that they hope will turn more people on to their brands and increase their sales and revenues.
It’s smart, but according to an infographic that Nicole Karlis on Scripted Blog, the frustration around content marketing is mounting. But, I have some solutions that will help alleviate that frustration so be sure to read the whole article because there is help on the way!
In the following infographic that Nicole shared, 86% of B2B companies are using content marketing but the following statistics are staggering:
- 21% of marketers think they are successful at measuring the ROI of their content marketing strategies.
- 48% of marketers don’t have a documented content marketing strategy.
- 62% of marketers think their organizations content marketing efforts are ineffective…
Why is it that content marketers are feeling the tension and struggle of content marketing and what are some things businesses can do to increase their exposure and sales in a three to six month period?
Three Practical Ideas To Help Any Business Be Better At Content Marketing and Earn More Customers
1. Know thy Business, Problems You Solve and Who You Solve Them For
For regular readers of my blog, you know I talk a lot about the need to lay the foundation of your business. Marketing is the most foundational part of your business because without it you will never earn enough sales of your products or services and there will be no need for a business.
Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of business owners are not really business owners.
What do I mean by that?
Well, you likely started a business for one or a combination of three reasons:
- It’s a lifelong dream or passion.
- You were good at a skill or trade and felt you could do it better than the person you worked for and could make more money.
- You have been out of work for a while due to a layoff or you were let go and it seems like the only way to get your finances back where you want them.
As Michael Gerber in his popular book series on “EMyth” explains, most business owners essentially give themselves “JOBS” in their own companies because their skill set is what they know how to do. They are not really trained or equipped to be business owners.
I add to that by teaching my clients that you were trained to do a job as an employee. But as a business owner you must learn what you don’t know. All successful businesses manage the five areas of a business or their business struggles:
- Customer Service
Starting and growing a successful business requires a lot of different skills and sometimes it’s required all at the same time.
It’s easy to do your “job” but it’s hard to learn how to transition and think like a business owner instead of an employee.
So what does this have to do with content marketing?
You have probably not had anyone teach or challenge you on how to think like your consumers. They don’t care much about anything other than:
- How much does it cost?
- Can you do the job right or does your product meet my need?
The job of your content marketing is not to sell them. Yet, that’s what the overwhelming majority of businesses are trying to do in their content marketing. The job of your marketing is to learn how to identify with your target audience, do just that, and then allow the process of sales to start.
As I explained in this video, marketing and sales are not the same things.
In the most generic sense, marketing is building competency and trust and sales is simply the process of giving people the opportunity to buy from you. I encourage you to click the link and learn more (it will open in another tab).
Your marketing has to establish the following:
- You know what business you’re “really” in – meaning you understand how the public views your company and they feel favorable towards the brand.
- You know what problems you “really” solve – meaning you understand your products and services and what role they meet in people’s lives and how you can help them either solve a problem they have or fulfill a need or want in their lives or businesses.
- Who you “specifically” solve the problems or meet the needs for – When you write a content marketing piece (blog article or social media engagement) you are not writing to everyone. You write to one problem or issue and to one person.
- Understand how your products or services are a part of “a” solution without selling in your content marketing – That is a true skill and talent that must be learned. Even the most experienced marketers struggle in this area.
Content marketing will be hard if you don’t lay the proper foundation. I find that most businesses struggle because they just jump right in. You cannot lay out a content marketing plan, strategies, goals and objectives without knowing your business first!
Unfortunately, 90% or more of the businesses I talk with on a weekly basis cannot tell me what business they are in concisely and quickly. They can only tell me what products or services they offer.
That’s a recipe for both offline and online failure.
Just think about it for a moment. When you think of the following companies what do you think of?
- Saks Fifth Avenue
- Southwest Airlines
- Whole Foods
The great companies know their purpose, what business they are really in, and they understand why they exist and what they are fighting for.
2. Content Marketing is Education and Being a Resource, Not Selling
Remember what I said about the difference between marketing and sales? In the generic sense, marketing is building competency and trust and sales is simply the process of giving people the opportunity to buy from you.
If that’s the case, then content marketing is educating and informing people how you can help them solve a problem, make a difference in their lives and / or improve the quality of their lives or businesses. A simple way to say this is; IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU! It’s about them!!!!!!
In order for that to happen you have to know:
- Who are you?
- Why do you do what you do?
- How do you make a difference for them?
- How do your products or services help solve their problems or make their lives better from their perspective?
- How does all of the information above relate to your audience and why should they buy from you over your competition?
In marketing, people are many times coming to us because they plan to buy. If that is the case many times, then we have to give them the answer as to “why” thought should by from us instead of our competitors. Content marketing when done well is one way to answer to their “why”.
The key to great content marketing is to know thyself and thy prospects and customers.
A great study in a company not getting it right is JCPenney’s.
Just recently their leadership chose to operate under the assumption that customers were tired of being inundated with coupons, promotions and sales, and just wanted good, fair prices.
They started a campaign using the premise “Enough is enough!” They stated that they weren’t going to stand for their customers to be slammed with crazy promotions. They wrote as if they spoke for every one of their customers to say “Down with this sort of thing!”
And then JCPenney immediately saw sales drop 20%. It’s kind of obvious why isn’t it? They essentially insulted their customers.
It turns out that JCPenney’s customers LIKED the inundation of coupons, sales, etc. They liked the promotions and the feeling of grabbing a special; it, in turn, made them feel special.
By saying “enough is enough” it just proved they were out of touch and didn’t have a clue. They were not giving their target audience a reason to buy from them. Don’t mistake this, they weren’t going after a new or different audience either. That just makes it even worse.
But, the biggest problem they had is they had built a business based on discounting and then they took it away. They didn’t know what business they were really in and as a result they began to flounder.
JCPenney’s become known for offering products at a cheaper price than their competition via their in-store specials and coupons, and that’s what the audience they garnered wanted. Instead of talking about how they could help their audience, the message ultimately became about the company and their needs. That turned off their customers and they left.
Remember why people buy. It’s either based on:
- Price, or
- Solution and need
Now, contrast that with Fifth Avenue Saks. They clearly know their audience. I was in New York City this last Saturday and we walked through the department store. What an experience!!!!! It was nothing at all like being in a mall store. They cater to every customer, but you pay for it in both the quality of their products and in the service you receive.
Just looking at coats and dresses valued at $5,000. You won’t see that at JCPenney’s, lol… Just walking through the store was an experience. There is a theme… and more importantly an expectation of what you will receive.
When you glance at their website, you can see immediately what they are about:
- An experience
Check out their content… how many websites will show you various ways to wear one piece of attire? In this case it’s lace. Notice it has nothing to do with price, just fulfilling a need or want!
They don’t have to “sell” you, their content marketing is leading you to buy based on the experience they want you to have with them.
JCPenney has done a great job of going back to their roots. But they had to learn a hard lesson in order to get there.
Great content marketing, no matter your business, ought to be designed with your ideal customer in mind and then talk to them.
- What appeals to them?
- What do they want?
- How do they need or want to see it?
- How does the product or service help them or improve their lives?
3. Don’t Rely on Google, Build Relationships and Partnerships with Other Content Marketers and Bloggers
I want to address for each us as small business owners why our content marketing is secondarily failing. It’s because we are putting too much effort in the wrong places in my opinion.
In the title I said don’t rely on Google. DON’T DO IT!
I didn’t say don’t pursue search engine optimization or try to get business from Google. What I’m saying is there is another tactic to consider in order to compliment SEO if that is important to you.
I have learned over the years that those who generally visit a website from a search engine are not likely to be repeat visitors. They are searching for one thing and when they’ve found it they are usually gone.
However, if you lay out your strategies, goals and objectives (another way of saying objectives is a task list of things to do) well and include building relationships you can create massive amounts of new exposure to audiences not searching for you today but may be tomorrow.
Here is what I mean by that.
Why do large companies like Southwest Airlines buy billboards in sports stadiums?
Are you going to buy a ticket during the game? Probably not…
But, their goal in mass marketing is to get you to think about them when you need them. In order for that to happen you have to see them over and over again. When you think of flying, they want you to think of them.
You and I cannot afford a $100 million dollar advertising budget.
But, we can have the same effect through content marketing and blogging when we connect with other influencers who serve the same audience we do and in a different way.
How do you build a relationship with an influential blogger who will share you with their audience?
Do it for them first!
I connect with new bloggers daily who have access to business owners who need help learning how to lay the foundation for their business marketing and messaging so that their content marketing (blogging), social media marketing, search engine marketing and offline marketing will resonate with their audiences.
Every week I connect with people who I value what they share and write on and I share it with my social media audience and more importantly I include them in my blog articles.
Some of those influencers include:
Deborah Tutnauer – Entrepreneur’s Business Coach
Ryan Biddulph – Blogging from Paradise
Adrienne Smith – Relationship Blogging Expert
Donna Merrill – Blogging Expert Coach
Andrew Warner – Business Owner of Several Companies
Sheryl Perry – Keep Up With The Web.com
Enstine Muki – Making Money Online
Mi Muba – Be a Money Blogger
And, never count out the power of your offline contacts to help you meet new people through your blog. In fact, Adrienne Smith has a great article today titled “What Do Offline Relationships Have To Do With Blogging?”
Here is the real point: Don’t rely on a company that has no interest in you or you in them to help propel your marketing.
That happens through relationships and in a short time you can gain access to so many more people interested in what you do by meeting them in places they hang out like:
- Other blogs – engage the blogger and their audience with real meaningful comments (fyi this may also really help your search engine presence for those whom this important). I can’t tell you how many amazing people I’ve met just through blog commenting that have become business friends and referral partners.
- Social Media – Share their articles and tell your audience why their articles are really worth reading. I’ve met a lot of new people and my social media audience and blog readership is growing as a result. You can also meet people in groups or communities.
If you want your content marketing to work, you have to start at the beginning and work your way through the process:
- Know your business and your prospects and customers.
- Write content that solves their problems or meets their needs.
- Connect with influencers online who have access to your audience but they serve them in a different way and start networking and helping one another.
- Don’t wait on Google. Market and promote your articles through high quality blog comments, social media engagement and on forums.
Thank you to Donna Merrill who graciously and of her own will made this video one day after it went live!!!
For some reading this article, you might be a business owner who has given yourself a job in your company and you really don’t understand or are unsure of how to make the necessary changes to improve your marketing which in turn will make sales easier and help you live your dream and fulfill your purpose.
Are you ready for a change? Are you ready to make your marketing work for you?
If so, check out the Begin Here page and learn the secret to great marketing and easier sales!
If you have an idea, thought or question, please engage with me below in the comments. I would love to hear from you!