Leveraging digital communication to build your business requires a new kind of marketing. Identifying a need that your product or service can fill and then selling that product or service remains the ultimate goal of marketing. However, the content and process of marketing in the digital age has changed significantly.
Good marketing is now more accurately described as “un-marketing.” Content marketing allows you to engage a prospect or customer by freely sharing helpful content before they make a purchase. That is the big shift. In the past, if you wanted solutions, you bought them from companies whose advertisements or sales people had reached you. Today, when there is free expertise to be found everywhere on the Internet, many successful marketers claim that they now give away as much as 80% of the knowledge they have and make their money on the remaining 20%.
The essence of content marketing is sharing valuable content with your prospects and customers wherever they are. Where are your customers today? They’re on the Internet and social networks. In order to engage them, that’s exactly where you need to be. People buy from people they like and trust, and in our global economy, you have to set yourself apart from every business on the Internet. Content marketing is the best way to do that.
Engagement + Authenticity = Credibility
You must engage your customers with interesting, helpful, sharable content. The successful marketing perspective has shifted from, “what can I sell you?” to “how can I help you?” You earn the trust of your prospects by sharing ideas and solutions that they can immediately use without buying anything from you. This is how you establish your credibility as a product or solution provider and begin a relationship with your audience. Marketing has shifted from generating transactions to building relationships.
Sharing leads to relationships. Relationships lead to trust. Trust leads to sales.
You are in competition with everyone, so having a quality product or service is a basic requirement. Then you distinguish yourself from your competitors through a content sharing program. The content marketing vehicles that are most commonly used are websites, blogs, newsletters, webinars, videos, eBooks, white papers, case studies, surveys, special reports, podcasts, and social engagement on commercial sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+. The key to success in using these vehicles to engage your customers is to be authentic and approachable. Your customers want to know that you truly understand their needs and have their best interests at heart. And, they can tell the real thing from the manufactured.
You can use some or all of these vehicles to spread the word about what your company has on offer. Good content distributed using SEO best practice will yield relationships with your audience. Once you establish your credibility as a solution provider, your prospects will turn into buyers and influencers because they now trust you. Earning your customer’s trust will deliver long-term rewards.