Although it has been around for a while, the purpose of content marketing still seems to elude many entrepreneurs. One of the prevailing myths is that it is simply consumer messaging—a means of communicating with a wider audience. Whilst this has merit, it does not tell the whole story.
The point of content marketing is to compel your audience to take some kind of action. It is a premeditated, strategic endeavor that seeks to engage people. If your content is not boosting conversions, it’s not working. Your aim should be to increase loyalty, solve consumer problems and create a growing sense of community. If all you’re doing is talking about how great your company is, you’re sure to put people off. All this does is display ego—a quality that potential clients avoid.
Nowadays, consumers want content that ‘adds’ to their life—perhaps it’s advice, information, research, or a heartwarming story. But, if you hope to inspire people to take action, and buy your product, service, or course, you have to humanize your content.
An example of ‘content with a purpose’ comes from the Clients & Community Facebook group, which has taken a unique approach to grow its successful coaching business. The team behind the group is adamant that one’s ultimate success depends on being able to generate fresh leads every day.
Co-founders of Clients & Community Landon Stewart and Chris J Stapleton say: “We believe firmly in the idea of paid-for advertising to supercharge content marketing. Organic strategies can work but are very, very time-consuming. You could spend your time more efficiently, doing other things such as writing compelling content, speaking to customers, or developing your products.”
Paid-for advertising ensures you have a steady stream of new people reading your content. These new additions are the ones most likely to ask questions, show interest and enthuse the other members of the group. As they investigate and comment, in an effort to get up to speed, they add, in Stewart’s experience, an energy that is often lacking in more static groups.
However, to create this dynamic, when ‘newbies’ first discover your company, they must encounter content that aims to build a relationship. The old adage, “People buy from people”, couldn't be more true in this scenario. Clients & Community’s team points out they don't just add random content for the sake of having it. Everything they do is aimed at slowly “shifting the beliefs and the hearts of prospects, inching them closer to a buying decision.”
One useful strategy is to turn objections into a ‘value post’. That is, discuss the objection and demonstrate how you can overcome it. Stewart remarks: “The outcome of this strategy has been when we are engaged in a sales call, many of the objections have already been dealt with. The result is a higher conversion rate and less friction at the onboarding stage. Our results indicate we average about double the industry rate of conversions.”
If some content is good, more is better. Right? Well, not quite. Many aspiring content marketers go to extremes and actually produce too much content. By adding more and more content, they dilute the impact of what they're trying to achieve. Instead of posting each day, multiple times, a counter-intuitive approach is to only post a few times a week.
“We only spend two hours a week on content, but those two hours are wholly intentional,” says Stapleton. “Our aim is to actually engage people in conversations. Many well-meaning content marketers bombard people with information, trying to convince them, beat them down, or just brainwash them. We want to get people to interact with us.”
Initiating conversations, where clients feel valued and engaged, removes the sense of being hurried or coerced. It’s client-led. If someone raises their hand to express interest, they’re taking the initiative. When you pick up the conversation trail, you’re simply moving someone closer to using your product or service. This approach is much more likely to result in a ‘sale’ than browbeating a lead into submission.
Ultimately, it’s important to look carefully at the kind of people you want to attract from the outset. What type of person will enjoy talking to you about your particular offering? Facebook, for example, lets you drill down to your specific avatar or demographic. The best way to weed out unproductive interactions is to clearly imagine and describe your ‘ideal persona’. All of us have a type that we ‘click’ with. If you aim for nothing, you’ll hit nothing. It’s not only about aiming for a certain type of individual but about understanding their needs, concerns, and aspirations.
Instead of driving ahead with a certain type of content, or putting out a certain type of messaging, if your customer base is giving you feedback that there’s a disconnect, it's a sign of trouble.
“People are the lifeblood of your business,” says Stewart. “A lot of entrepreneurs make the mistake of thinking they know what’s best, but we can only ‘know best’ by listening carefully to the people.