Marketing in the 21st century continues to evolve. We’ve had direct marketing, one-to-one marketing, e-mail marketing (often just known as “spam”!), relationship marketing, nurture marketing, and now content marketing. Of them all, I prefer the last 3, with my particular spin of creating marketing content that nurtures customer relationships.
It’s not such a tall order. With the proliferation of media channels — phones, tablets, TV channels, YouTube, the Internet — customers have become voracious consumers of content. Product reviews are a simple example. Last century, we used to “let our fingers do the walking” through the Yellow Pages. That content has now moved online, and we use our favorite search engine to look for products and services either globally or locally. In addition to finding the right product or service to meet our needs, we also want to know whether it’s the best. Before we make the choice to buy, we see what others have said about the product. I don’t know about you, but I’ve changed my mind, either positively or negatively, after reading product reviews.
Additional content such as how-to videos, product demonstration videos, podcasts, and expert interviews can make or break a sale. Further, they help establish rapport between the customer and the company. If the customer’s impression of the content is positive, not only are they more likely to buy but they are also more likely to be satisfied with that purchase and even recommend it to others. A win/win/win is a customer purchase that leads to that customer writing a helpful review of the product or service.
Content marketing provides answers to customer problems, and demonstrates how your product or service meets the customer’s needs. Sophisticated sales techniques are completely unnecessary when the content you have provided compellingly persuades the prospect that what they are about to buy is the answer to their problem. We might even say that “persuasion” is unnecessary. To persuade, as I teach my students, all you need to do is answer the customer’s questions. The more you achieve a “meeting of the minds” with the customer, the easier it is to make the sale.
Content marketing includes the creation, publication and distribution of any or all of the following:
- cable or online TV content
- community events
- customized magazines
- digital content
- FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
- in-person roadshows
- interactive online events
- manuals or user documentation
- print or online newsletters
- social media content
- websites or microsites
- white papers
The purpose of content marketing is to engage customers by informing and educating them about the industry, market issues, and the company’s products or services.
Good content adds value: to a product, to the customer, and to the company.
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