Your ABOUT page and landing pages are not enough to convey your brand message.
(Because, there you talk about yourself and your offerings. But, visitors are looking for what’s in it for them. You know that.)
If you want to connect with your audience and create a deeper impact, which later leads to bigger sales, you need to build a community around your brand.
If you want to build a community, the most important thing you need is regular communication. For that to happen, you need to create a good amount of quality content on your website. On a regular basis.
A lot of businesses have realized this, and are going for CONTENT MARKETING. They are making it big by building their own community.
Content marketing is not just the most affordable marketing strategy. But it’s also the long-lasting one for your brand. If done correctly.
Advertisements benefit you as long as you’re running and paying for them. But the content that you put on your website will serve your purpose for a long term. (Forever, provided you keep them fresh.)
And the older it gets, the better it gets. (It gets into the search engine veins and more visitors and comments…)
Today, I’m going to tell you about a 4-step content marketing strategy that can bring you most returns.
Before that, I’m giving you the basics of what content marketing is and how it benefits you.
If you don’t want to read the basics, you can directly scroll down to the 4-step content marketing strategy.
So, let’s begin:
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is publishing content to help your customer get better knowledge of your products and services.
This is an indirect form of marketing.
When we say content marketing, 80% of your content aims at adding value to your reader. And the remaining 20% will focus on your product/service.
For example, consider you have a SaaS product on money management. When you publish content on your website, 80% of it will tell about how managing money is crucial for long-term benefits. In the 20%, you’ll talk about how your software is going to help do that.
With the 80% of informative content, you build trust with your potential customers. And the 20% will do the actual selling.
Now, let’s discuss the types of content marketing.
Types of content marketing
You can create digital marketing content in many ways. They are:
- Blog posts
- Video Content
- Social Media Content
If you are starting out, which one do you begin with?
If you ask me, I would prefer to begin with a blog or text-based content. And that content should be long-form too.
Because, once you have (a lot of) text content ready, you can always turn them into infographics, podcasts, and videos. You can tailor them for social media as well.
Text-based content is good for your site’s SEO. And you can enrich that blog content anytime using infographics, audio, and video.
Is content marketing better than advertising?
If your question is to put content marketing against advertising, I would recommend that you place them side by side.
Because both serve different purposes.
With advertising, you announce new launches, create brand awareness or make sales. (Advertising does a lot of other things, which we discuss another time.)
But advertising is not a two-way communication channel. Also, you will get a tiny space (print) or a few seconds (audio-visual) to communicate your message.
Whereas in content marketing, there’s no limit to space or time. Because the content will be on your own platform (website) or social media pages. There, you can post content of any length. Or of any number.
Here you can create a brand awareness campaign at a deeper level.
And you need to advertise through popular channels (TV, print and radio) to reach your target.
With content marketing, you try to achieve what you cannot do in advertising. Some of the best benefits of content marketing are:
- Unlike advertisements, your content remains forever on your website. Once the content is made available, customers can always go back to them.
- With content marketing, you go beyond advertising’s time and space limitations and expand your message by giving detailed information on your products and services.
- You can optimize your content for SEO. Users searching for information on search engines like Google can always find your content.
- You can educate your customers with your content and build a reputation for yourself.
- You can appeal to customers’ emotions with success stories and customer feedback.
- Placing CTAs (Call To Action) is better on digital content, compared to traditional media platforms, such as TV, radio and print.
- You cannot depend on Public Relations (PR) because media houses don’t publish your MESSAGE. They are trained to only retain NEWS and cut out everything else from your press releases.
So, content marketing doesn’t replace advertising. But it boosts your advertising by providing a larger canvas for your brand message.
And here are some of the best benefits of content marketing, which tell you why it is crucial for your business:
- With content marketing, you can build your own brand personality. With advertising, it takes a lot of money to create such campaigns. But with the time and space limitations, it may not always go well.
- Customers come in search of you – through search engines and social media.
- You provide a space for your customers to directly interact with you. And you’ll get valuable feedback on your own platform.
Now, let’s get into the 4 steps of creating content marketing for your business.
4-step content marketing strategy
- Telling stories that build your image
- Creating double-edged empathy
- Become the primary resource
- Creating the `Maya Angelou effect’
1. Telling stories that build your image
Stories are how you make a long-lasting impression in the minds of your customers. Even if they forget your product or service, they remember your story – and thereby, your brand.
You may not have thought about this, but your brand has at least 10 stories, if not a hundred, to share with your customers.
The stories you tell need not be of great success. But a simple act of empathy from your side can draw thousands of people.
The biggest companies like Apple, Microsoft and Amazon talk about their humble beginnings – starting up from garages. And people cannot forget that.
So, you can tell many stories about yourself. You can start with the background to establishing your company, your struggle and the people you met that inspired you.
Even the everyday interactions with customers can be great stories.
One of such stories was of Schlitz Beer.
In the early 1900s, Schlitz Beer was facing fierce competition and it was not even among the top brands.
They asked legendary copywriter Claude Hopkins to help in expanding their market. Hopkins made a tour of the brewery and wrote an ad copy.
Soon after his print ad was published, demand for Schlitz Beer skyrocketed, and the B-list brewer jumped to number one in sales.
What Hopkins did was, he told an INSIDE STORY in the ad. (You can read the ad in the accompanying image.)
Because he told an inside story, it caught the attention of consumers.
But, here’s the catch: Even competing brewers were following the same process of making beer. But, because Schlitz made the inside story public, it hit a jackpot.
There was a time when news media published your stories, formatting them to their time and space slots available. But, the web platform that you own has space for elaborated stories.
And also, who is the best fit to tell your stories to your customers if it’s not you?
2. Creating a double-edged empathy
If you look at the success of any big company or service ever created, there’s great inspiration and incredibly hard work behind it.
And all that hard work that was aimed at creating the solutions for pressing problems people faced. And you too built a startup for the same reason.
Every time you look back, it’s not the growth of the company or the revenue you generated, but it’s the problems that you solved that have really inspired you to keep going.
(Please tell me if it’s not.)
Even when there were huge struggles, your aim at making the lives of other people better has guided you like a beacon to keep moving.
(Back to step 1: If you don’t tell this story, you will not make the customers part of your journey.)
Now it’s time for you to show your customers how or in what way you are working to solve the problems of people. And about your vision for them.
This you can do by writing blogs about who you are, what you are doing and what your vision is.
It works in two ways:
- You show your empathy towards your customers
- Your customers listen to your dreams and feel empathetic about you.
That I call double-edged empathy.
Most of the marketing strategies talk about brands becoming empathetic about the customers.
But, it’s also important that you make your customers empathetic about you and your brand.
If you can make them understand your real motive behind your offerings, you can create an ardent fan following – the fans who not only buy from you but also mouth-propagate your brand and services.
Your content marketing strategy should aim at creating empathy in the heart of your customers. You should design your content to create that impact.
3. Become the primary resource
So far we talked about what your content should be and what impact it should be creating.
Now let’s get down to some specifics about how to make that possible.
a. The primary resource
For every product, there’ll be hundreds of results available online. It may be true for your products as well. But who do you think the users trust more?
A third-party reviewer or the company that’s selling the product?
It’s you. Otherwise, why would they buy from you in the first place?
So, if you’re selling a product, descriptions – features and benefits – are not enough. You’ll have to create content that helps customers in their smooth journey with your product. Details about how to use the product and maintain it. How they can make the most of what they purchased from you.
Make them visit your website whenever they want to know in-depth about your product or when they’re facing some problem with it.
If they have any questions about the product they purchased from you, they should come to you first. You’ll have to become the primary source.
a. Showcase your expertise
Of course, you’re the expert when it comes to your offerings. But you’ll have to make your customer also believe the same. So, how do you do it?
By creating content that has plenty of use cases and the best possible solutions. Always call customers a day or two after they’ve purchased from you. And again after a month. And get feedback. This shows them that you care. Also, this is also a great source of information that you can use for your content. Also for improving the product.
Content marketing helps you do that.
4. Creating the `Maya Angelou effect’
A happy customer is your best salesman.
You may have heard this many times. When a customer is happy with your products and services, he not only comes back for more but also recommends you to his friends and relatives.
And when he comes back for help, you should be available. That’s what your content does for you – the customer service. By providing him with the knowledge and solutions ready on your website.
The more you make him feel that you’re there for him, the more he trusts you. And that will be for life.
Remember what Maya Angelou said:
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Done well, content marketing can create a long-lasting effect in the minds of your customers.