Marketing professionals, are farmers or hunters? Farmers nurture their leads and hunters go after the quick sale. I believe that we need to be fishermen. We fish for leads, and the bait we use is content.
Content Marketing is “creating and sharing informative content to find prospects and convert them into customers”
Examples of “bait” are: white papers, e-books, research guides, checklists, infographics, videos, podcasts, case studies, blog posts, articles, website content, microsites, newsletters, etc.
Today’s buyers are not waiting for your call; they are actively researching and educating themselves. The main place they look for this education is online. By the time they contact you they are generally much more educated and further along in the sales process than they used to be. These are the clients who will close deals faster.
Why I Like Content Marketing
I used to send direct mail pieces to specific target audiences. Even an excellent piece that prompted the person to take action would only be seen by a limited group and probably be thrown in the trash the next day.
Compare that to a well written blog article. The content is out there working for me, attracting new prospects, day after day. It has the potential to be seen by a much larger audience than I originally intended, finding prospects for me in places I hadn’t considered. It is still working for me in the background, long after I have moved on to other projects.
Another benefit is cost. According to a 2012 Hubspot report, inbound marketing costs 61% less per lead than traditional, outbound marketing. It requires an investment of time, skill, and patience but the actual dollar cost is low.
What to Write?
Your goal is to create unique, engaging, quality information that people want to read: educational content – not promotional, not salesy, and please don’t bore your audience. There is so much content out there, you need to grab attention and hold it.
What can you say that will make people think: “This sounds just like my business issue,” “This really makes sense,” “This is a company I want to work with.”
Think you have nothing interesting to say? I don’t believe it. We all work with interesting clients and provide creative solutions to their business challenges.
What are you good at? What do you cover with new prospects repeatedly? What trends are impacting your business? What did you tell a customer recently that made them say, “Wow”? What advice would you give to your brother if he was in the market for ERP or CRM software?
Writing is a skill; develop it, hire it, or outsource it to a professional. Ask others in your company to submit ideas. Approach them with a recorder, ask a question, and just let them talk. Interview others in your industry or partner with them to provide content for you.
Write the way you speak. Inject personality. Kill the jargon and acronyms. Use fewer words to make your point. And proofread; it does still matter. That is what will make people want to read your content.
Don’t Have Time?
Ok, I get that. Not everyone can instantly churn out quality content. I write approximately 3 blog articles a month and larger pieces of content once per quarter. The people who can do it every day are rock stars. But for those of us who aren’t there yet, my advice is: “Cornerstone Content”. Create at least one piece of timeless, quality content that you can use repeatedly.
Several years ago we created a white paper called “30 Questions Every CFO Must Ask About the Cost of Accounting Software”. I use this as an offer at www.calszone.com/30questions over and over again; the information does not go out of date. The more I promote it, the more traffic I send to that landing page, the more SEO value it has. Since we started promoting this white paper we have had thousands of downloads. And it continues to work for us.
Don’t Forget the Hook.
A fisherman would never throw his bait into the water without a hook.
The hook is your call to action – something that gets your reader to connect with your company: visiting your website, signing up for your email list, attending an event, giving you a call.
What should your call to action be? Well, what is your goal? Make it specific; not just “I want to attract people to my website”. How about, “I want people to give me their email address for my e-newsletter”. The content you create will include this as a call to action. My basic call to action is to have prospects fill out a Quick Quote request or sign up for my newsletter.
“Does It Really Work?”
I am a believer. I have worked with CAL Business Solutions, a Connecticut based Microsoft Dynamics GP partner, since 2006. Like many partners, we work with a limited marketing budget. In the past we focused our efforts on traditional outbound marketing. But in 2009 we made the decision to invest our energy into Search Engine Optimization and group blogging. CAL has seen dramatic results. We have tracked a 285% increase in the number of leads generated from our website and a 59% increase in closed deals from those website leads. Now we focus almost exclusively on SEO and content marketing. Our “lead machine” is running smoothly and consistently.
A technical consultant at CAL saw that our website ranked #1 in Google search results for a coveted phrase relating to Microsoft Dynamics GP 2013. A small company in Connecticut is showing up before everyone else including Microsoft! She asked, “How did you do that?” (Sometimes I think the techs wonder what we non-billable resources do all day). It’s not magic and it is not something we can pay for. It’s the result of hard work, patience, and focus on our content marketing strategy.
So next time someone asks, just tell them you’ve gone fishing!
Originally published in The Partner Channel Magazine in 2012.
By Anya Ciecierski, Collaboration Works Marketing