Content Marketing – Getting it Right

content marketingCompanies in all industries and of all sizes are searching for innovative ways to increase leads. In recent years, content marketing has become a popular way to break through the barriers consumers have erected to ward off intrusive marketing and promotions.  With the banner “Content is King” waving proudly, companies are investing in:

  • eBooks
  • White papers
  • Webinars
  • Workshops
  • Events

All of these tactics can be very effective at increasing leads and ultimately driving sales, however, many companies are missing a critical component to content marketing — the process. They spend so much time, money and effort pulling together the perfect content to inspire, inform, educate and activate, but when it’s all done, they forget that content marketing is a process not a project.

 

Know When and How to Follow Up

Developing leads that turn into paying customers takes more than a great webinar or a fancy ebook. The “right” follow-up is essential. I’ve watched dozens of webinars, downloaded countless white papers and ebooks, and attended my share of workshops and events. After all that exposure I am still amazed by how few companies actually follow up. Of those that do follow up, very few (if any) follow up in an effective manner. They forget to research their audience or they just get lazy and use old school sales tactics. For example, after downloading information you might receive an email or voice mail from a sales person saying something like:

“Hi. I see you downloaded our white paper on XYZ. I’d like to set up a time this week to talk to you about our XYZ and how it can help you improve your bottom line. Call me at X so we can set up a time to meet.”

This type of follow up is just another form of interruption marketing hiding behind the mask of content marketing.  Although you may have gained “permission” to contact the leads when they sign in, sign up or attended, it doesn’t mean they want you knocking at their door the next day asking for the sale. As the well-known marketer and author Seth Godin puts it:

“Permission is like dating. You don’t start by asking for the sale at first impression. You earn the right, over time, bit by bit.”

Patience, research and strategic thinking are required to move your leads through the process from casually interested to engaged and engaged to buyers. Today’s customer is saying, “If I’m ready to buy I’ll be in touch. If I’m not, you had better know how to keep me interested so you’re there when I’m ready.”

 

What’s the Process

So how does this process work? Like a great marketing campaign you need to plan your interactions before they happen and know your customer, or in this case, potential customer.

Step One: Be sure your content is compelling enough that people want to sign up, attend or download.

Step Two: Get the word out about your event, webinar, white paper, etc.

Step Three: Ask for permission to contact your leads AND let them know what to expect. If you’re signing them up for a newsletter, tell them and “sell” them on the benefits. Don’t assume they want to hear from you or are ready to buy just because they asked for information.

Step Four: Follow up in a manner that is appropriate for your audience. For most businesses this means more giving, not jumping in like hungry dogs. Providing content in the right way, at the right time and to the right prospect earns you the right to weave in a sales or promotional message. This makes you accessible when your customer is ready, not when you’re ready.

 

 

Don’t Dress Up Spam as Content Marketing

We’ve all seen it, companies that conduct or sponsor content marketing (webinars, events, white papers, etc.) for the purpose of collecting as many leads as possible. The content may have little or nothing to do with what the company actually sells. The audience may not be remotely interested in the company’s products or services, but as long as they have a pulse, they are considered a lead. A potential sale. This type of content marketing does not benefit you, is unlikely to increase sales and is really just a fancy form of spam.

I recently received an email from a corporate data storage company. Curious to know where and how they got my email, I started investigating and realized they had “sponsored” a webinar on the topic of social media a few months ago. Does this give them permission to email me? Technically…yes, BUT, is this email any better than the hundreds of spam emails I receive in my junk mail? Absolutely not. My question to you would be, “do you want your company to be thought of as a ‘spam’ company?” My thought — not a good way to gain trust, respect or customers.

 

When done right content marketing can help you increase leads which can result in sales. Just keep in mind these handy tips.

5 Dos and Don’t of Content Marketing

  • DO map out your process before you launch your webinar, upload your white paper or arrange the event.
  • DON’T jump to the sales pitch immediately after offering your content (unless this truly fits your audience).
  • DON’T sponsor content that is unrelated to your business and expect to get quality leads in return.
  • DO follow up after delivering content in a manner that fits your audience.
  • DO try content marketing and test the results.

 

 

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About Karin Khuhro

Karin Khuhro is a Digital Marketing Strategist, Speaker and Copywriter. As the owner of Strategy E-ssentials she works with other savvy marketers, digital specialists and business leaders to bring knowledge, know-how and solutions to small and medium sized businesses. Connect with Karin on Google+ or Linkedin.