Understanding what your customers want means putting yourself in their shoes, knowing their problems and offering solutions. Working to first educate your audience goes a long way toward positioning the sell.
“When you freely give your audience something so valuable that they’d be willing to pay for it, you build trust — which, ultimately, is your most powerful selling tool,” according to Marketo’s “Definitive Guide to Engaging Content Marketing”.
Here are five tips for content marketing when your company’s product or service is intangible, complex or just downright boring.
1. Don’t talk about your product.
Companies might think they have to talk about their products and services in their content marketing — they don’t.
“They need to focus on the problems that buyers have. They need to focus on the challenges that their customers have. They need to focus on the problems that their products and services can solve. Nobody your cares about your stupid, boring products,” Scott said. “And that’s why content marketers fail, because they insist on focusing on those stupid, boring products. But there’s so many more things that you can do if you can clearly articulate what the challenges are of the people who have the problem that your boring products solve,” said David Meerman Scott, Marketing and Sales Strategist and author of “The New Rules of Marketing & PR” and “Newsjacking”.
2. Identify your target audience’s needs and pain points.
Your message must be consistent not only with your brand, but also must attract the type of customer you want to reach. Buyer personas are basically profiles of the type of customer you want to do business with based on research. When you have that profile hammered out, it’s much easier to develop content and messaging to that personal profile.
“Whether you are driving content marketing for a product that has sweeping appeal or creating content to promote a product that targets a unique niche, the goals are the same. You need to create a campaign that appeals to your target audience. There are some products that are ideal for social media platforms and others that are a perfect fit for very technical and specialized blogs. The key to any content marketing initiative is to first clearly identify the target audience and recognize the best ways to reach that specialized audience. Know your audience, and drive your content to them in the ways in which they most want to engage with your content,” Marie Alonso, Content Strategist, Digital PR & Media Relations Specialist at Miles Technologies.
3. Apply those customer’s needs to your content marketing efforts.
Once you have identified what your customer is seeking and the problems they’re trying to solve, that goes a long way toward narrowing your focus and message.
“I think that every other competitor is going to be talking about their products or services, but if you instead are focused on the buyers, then you’re going to stand out accordingly. So I think it’s a natural result of the approach that I recommend is that by definition you’re going to stand out because everyone else is going to be doing the old school approach, which is, talk about yourself — be egotistical talk about the products and services that you sell,” Meerman said.
Calls-to-action are biggest missed opportunity to understand the audience and provide value. As Paul Cheney clearly states in his Marketing Experiments blog post: “A call-to-action should be an act of customer service.”
Although figuring out how to improve poor CTAs might be challenging, the pay off is tremendous with simple tweaks can make huge differences with click-through rates.
4. Provide value.
The hard-sell approach is not going to work with content marketing. Being useful by listening to your customer, engaging with them and providing value to them will help companies gain footing and reach with the targeted audience.
“I think you should be helpful. You should engage people. You should understand who your buyers are and understand what challenges they have and engage accordingly. The last thing you want to do is pitch your products. It’s not going to work. You’re going to be fail, you’re going to be frustrated. You’re going to have 35 followers on Twitter, and it’s just not going to work,” Meerman said.
5. Content marketing is only as good as the effort put into it.
The cliche garbage in, garbage out also holds true with content marketing. Alonso said any content marketing and brand publishing campaign is only as successful as its creators level of creativity and commitment.
“A company that sells tires, a business that sells corporate calendars and a popular bakery can have the same degree of social media success — it takes creativity. Social campaigns can include photo contests, games, live events, podcasts, hashtag engagement and, of course, blog posts that reflect the attitudes, interests and trends that connect with a given audience. While it may be easier to have fun with certain more mass appeal products, there really is no limit to what a creative social media and overall brand publishing campaign can achieve — even for a boring product,” she said.
Alonso pointed out how General Electric is engaging its audience with posts that talk about technology, trends, innovation, science on multiple platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn.
She said Clorox recently announced its drive for building its brand by driving innovation in media strategy, investment and measurement — all with a focus on social media and digital marketing. She asked: “How about the BIC company, you might think lighters are limiting — boring?”
“Take a look at www.mybiclighter.com and see some of the fun, vivid and visual campaigns and promotions BIC is fueling, not to mention clever social media. A company, even a seemingly boring business in a dry market with arguably dull products can be a content marketing player with the right balance of brand storytelling, customer engagement and cross-platform creativity. Hey, not every company can be an Oreo or a Starbucks, or even a GoPro, when it comes to clever content sharing — but every company has the opportunity to create its own content marketing attitude,” she said.