Can you think of a time when a random person stood an extra five seconds to keep a door held open for you just so you didn’t have to open it yourself? Why did they do that? And how did you feel about that?
Did they even gain anything from it? Didn’t they just waste their time and effort?
The true question to think about is this: would you have done the same for them in the first place? And would you be even more likely to do it after they had done it specially for you beforehand?
Now opening a door is hardly a life saver, but what about a time when a friend took you to the airport and wouldn’t even take money from you for the petrol. Wouldn’t you want to know someone like that?
What about someone who gives you great, practical advice which then helped you to really solve your problems or achieve something? Wouldn’t you want someone like that in your life?
What if you were the customer of a business who actually cared more about fulfilling your needs than making money off you? A business which actually communicated with you personally; a business with a personality.
Using content marketing, many businesses now try to do just that.
Traditional marketing strategies such as TV ads try to impose themselves on us and rub their products in our faces and stuff them down our throats. They interrupt us in the middle of watching a film, right in the middle of the action, just as we are on the edge of our seats.
It’s sneaky and audaciously blunt at the same time. If you are like most people, you’ll probably pick up your phone and hang it right over the screen and focus all your attention on whatever app you’re currently into. You literally block out the TV ad.
The same goes for radio: you just change the station or completely mute the volume because all radio stations have sneakily decided to advertise at exactly the same time.
What’s fantastic about content marketing is that it’s given to you gift wrapped, and you choose whether you want to open it up or put it aside.
Content marketing comes in many forms
Blogs, videos, info graphics, pictures, slides etc. And the immediate goal is to entertain, educate and encourage. You decide whether or not you want to look at it, watch it or read it.
Most importantly, you discover the content yourself; it’s not thrown at you like a hot potato.
The question is: does this make content marketing sneaky advertising in disguise? Is content marketing a way of sneaking in through the back door? Is it like a cheerful salesman who will ‘happily’ spend the whole day with you before he makes his sales pitch?
Well, entrepreneurs may be motivated by one of or both of two things: money and innovation.
For the entrepreneurs who start up a business with the dream of bathing in money will use content marketing as a worm on a hook. Their customers are fish, literally cash-or-card fish. These are also the type who will likely burn out eventually, because content marketing is hard work which involves time, effort and passion. Patience is the solid foundation of content marketing in business, and frustration is a wrecking ball ready to knock everything down.
The other entrepreneurs are motivated by innovation, making the world a better place and improving the lives of people. These are the kind who will spend hours upon hours on reaching out to their audiences, replying to every email and comment, personally. Their product will be designed and produced to fit customers’ needs and their content will be regularly updated and adapted to fulfil their customers’ cravings.
Know your audience
To make sure your content is for your audience and not at your audience, firstly you need to know your audience and keep the content relevant.
Communicate with your audience using social media platforms and try to make each reply personal to the correspondent – do not copy and paste all your thank you messages!
Build a community by writing a blog which engages their interests, and always be willing to take recommendations from your audience for future topics.
Give away all your advice: don’t hold anything back for an e-book for sale; you might gain some quick cash short term but you’ll lose out long term – remember, it was the tortoise – not the hare – who won the race.
If your content contains golden nuggets, your audience will be more likely to share it, awarding you with real valuable marketing.
Secondly, beware of self-reference. Talking about yourself and your company too much will only repel. Repetitive self-reference will not stimulate engagement. When you meet someone at a party, it’s nice when they show signs that they want to know something about you rather than talking about themselves all the time.
If you do have an agenda to promote your brand or product, keep to a 1:7 ratio. And don’t do it every time you write a blog post!
Successful content marketing means always being ready and willing to hold the door open with a smile, and if your smile is with genuine passion, your cheek muscles will never ache. Your brand will mean more to your audience than their monetized transaction will mean to you. Your audience will be grateful and express their gratitude with their loyalty, their customer loyalty.