To effectively market your products and services, you cannot rely exclusively on marketing your products and services. You need to also market your specialized knowledge to demonstrate to prospects and customers that you are the expert in your field.
People do not choose to do business with you just because you have the right product at the right price. They choose to do business with you because of your specialized knowledge about the applications and best practices for the product. To be successful in the 21st century, you need to lead with this specialized knowledge in your marketing.
In other words, you need to become a content marketer.
Content marketing is the creation and distribution of relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire and engage clearly defined target audiences, with the goal of driving action. Content marketing needs to serve as the cornerstone of your online marketing strategy. Create educational items that are considered interesting and useful by your target audience, and turn your website into a resource center.
While this is a time-intensive endeavor, the benefits will far outweigh the cost. Your content marketing backbone should consist of:
- Blog Posts – Blog posts are insightful and timely Web content that highlight important news, observations and other useful content. Readers of your posts are encouraged to share their comments, allowing for a two-way dialogue. Blog posts offer a great opportunity to keep your website current and relevant through short 250- to 500-word posts.
- Articles – By creating 500- to 1,000-word educational articles that demonstrate a best practice, you can showcase your expertise and demonstrate to your customers that you understand their needs.
- Whitepapers – Whitepapers are topical, educational reports or guides that are oriented toward a particular industry challenge, opportunity or best practice. Generally, whitepapers are five to 15 pages in length and allow you to demonstrate thought leadership on issues that are important to your customers.
- E-books – E-books are like whitepapers on steroids. They are lengthier than whitepapers, generally ranging from 55 to 100 pages in length, and present complex information in a compelling and entertaining way.
- Videos – If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million. Use online video to demonstrate a product, illustrate a best practice, allow customers to see your company behind the scenes, etc. Online videos do not have to be professionally produced – an inexpensive digital camera will work well. The key is to film content your customers will find useful and actionable.
- Presentations – PowerPoint or similar software can be used to create educational presentations oriented toward a particular challenge, opportunity or best practice. Presentations can be five to 50 pages in length, whatever it takes to make your point.
- Webinars – A webinar is a seminar that is conducted over the Web that participants can easily view from their office or home live or on-demand. Most webinars include a visual slide presentation, as well as an audio broadcast that is accessed either over the computer or phone. Webinars should range from 30 to 90 minutes with some time allocated to questions and answers.
I know what you’re thinking: “Bob, you’re out of your mind! There is no possible way for me to create this much content. I’m too busy running my business.” I hear this all the time when I present this concept. The good news is that it’s not that difficult.
First, you don’t need to create the content yourself. You can find many talented and reasonably priced writers on Elance or Guru to help you out. Second, you can produce many content items easily by embracing the concept of repurposing. If you can come up with one good idea that your customers will find valuable, you can create five content types based on that idea. And, if you come up with one good idea per month, at the end of a year, you will have 60 valuable content items in your content marketing arsenal.
Bob DeStefano is a B-to-B online marketing strategist and professional speaker with more than 18 years of experience helping distributors and manufacturers leverage online marketing to produce bottom-line results. DeStefano is the endorsed online marketing consultant for many industrial trade associations and a faculty member of the University of Industrial Distribution.