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I’ve been involved with content marketing for several years now and it’s really made a huge difference in my business. Even though I love being around people, I’ve never been especially fond of picking up the phone to do follow up. Now I find myself answering the phone much more than actually dialing it myself, which makes me quite happy. Also, when I get calls from people marketing to me, it’s not only time consuming, but sometimes annoying.
Several years ago I was a Chamber of Commerce junkie. At the time I was in a sales position, doing something completely different than I am now. I would go to all the mixers, was an ambassador chair, served on the board for a while, participated in all the events, etc. As a people person it was fun for me, but when I looked at my profit vs expenses from the connections I met at the Chamber, it was not close to being impressive. Sure I got customers, but the output was way more than the input.
As a member of the Chamber, I was often encouraged to pay for print advertising for my business with the promise that I’d get a ton of leads. This was for directories, ads, catalogs, and even bowling alley scorecards. I put out alright and got zilch in return. I kept telling myself to never do it again, but I made that mistake several times. One slick tongued rascal was actually a 90 year old woman who was a super sales person for that darn bowling alley.
At a couple leads groups I belonged to, I remember spending the 1 ½+ hours for breakfast or lunch and being told I had to give out a certain amount of referrals each month or be fined 25 cents. I usually asked the Swedish massage lady in the group to come over to my house, because, hey, that was enjoyable. I once used a handy man in a group I had joined and he was so horrendous, that after botching up a simple painting job, I couldn’t even look at him again at our weekly meeting. Sometimes it’s hard coming up with referrals if you either don’t know the right people or some of the members are a little below par.
This is not to say that being a member of a Chamber, a leads group, or any other type of networking organization is a bad thing. Not at all. You NEED face to face contact with people in your business. It’s also a great way to be social, which, when I look back, is mainly what I used it for. I happen to belong to a large global networking group whose mission is to network cooperatively. I have gotten a lot of customers from that.
Even now, as I work primarily online, I go to an occasional meetup or networking event, because I don’t want to be holed up in my house all day. There is always the possibility that you will meet a perfect contact. I’m just being a little smarter as far as how much I’m spending on it goes for the amount of actual results.
I’ve found that using content marketing as a strategy in my business has become one of the most powerful and most AFFORDABLE ways to market myself. It’s amazing to me that more business owners and entrepreneurs don’t use it as a way to advertize themselves and make connections with others they would never meet in real life. Instead, they are still getting sucked into spending money on methods that don’t work as well as they used to.
The other day, I saw a couple phone books sitting on my driveway. I took them inside, but I’ll probably use them to prop something up, rather than actually use them for what they were intended for. I’ve seen how much the phone company charges for listings. Ouch!
I don’t think a lot of traditional business people even realize that content marketing is an option for them. It’s not usually talked about much in local business networking situations. With the economy still slow, it makes sense to not only cut your marketing overhead, but make it more effective as well. You can only earn so much when you limit your business to the number of people you come in contact with in real life, because you only have so many hours in the day.
Here are 5 reasons you may want to consider using content marketing as a business strategy:
- When you write valuable content on a regular basis it keeps marketing for you even when you sleep. Even though you don’t want to write SALES pitches, because that would turn people off, there are always people searching for information that may include what you have to offer every hour of the day. The more valuable your content, the more people respond.
- Content marketing organically and technically draws people to you and your website. The more pages you add to your site via blog posts and links, the more chance others will find your site in the search engines. If you choose your keywords wisely to find your ideal audience, you will get more traffic which will eventually equal sales conversions.
- Content marketing includes more than what you actually put on your business site. It’s an entire strategy based on what you write about in social media, your profiles, articles, Facebook and Google + pages, guest posts, email newsletters, videos, podcasts, press releases and blog posts. Choose content marketing paths that make the most sense for your particular business and drive those paths to land on your website and/or landing pages. All of this costs you very little if you deliver the content yourself, or you can outsource it to someone else.
- Content marketing is effective for just about any type of business owner because it increases your visibility and helps you stand apart. If you are a plumber who is regularly writing helpful plumbing tips for people in your local area, you will begin to come up in searches that are localized. As I had mentioned, the phone book is now getting door stop status. People looking for a plumber will either look online for one or use a referral from someone they trust. Online testimonials, videos, reviews, etc. on your site will give you more credibility.
- You can’t control what someone puts on Yelp, but you can definitely control what goes on your site. Turn around negative reviews via your content and online customer service by answering questions, responding to comments, and interacting socially.
How to get started with content marketing:
You need to create a plan to systemize your content and how it will flow from the sites you are writing on to your conversion pages. Don’t do this haphazardly.
- Make sure you are taking advantage of your blogsite as the hub for all the spokes in your content marketing wheel.
- With your plan in place, put writing at least some content on the top of your to do list every day.
- Don’t find excuses to talk yourself out of it. Just do it.