Regardless of the nature of your business, you may have heard the words “content marketing” or “relationship-based marketing” in recent years. They have become buzzwords lately. For 28 years I have helped businesses market themselves with editorial content and I know the method to be tried and true—not a fad. Back then we called it newsletter marketing, today we might also call it Internet, e-mail or social media marketing. Regardless of what you label it, today’s marketing comes down to the idea that content is king.
Marketing has always been about relationships and for today’s marketers, the single best way to maintain relationships with clients and prospects is with content marketing. The rules of traditional advertising have changed. The people you work with and want to work with are skeptical of most marketing—they’re not looking to be sold. They’re looking for practical solutions to their problems.
By providing valuable content, you can be there to meet their needs and build relationships. Whether it’s a blog, eNewsletter, printed newsletter or social media, a content marketing strategy can build powerful relationships and generate results.
Here are four tips to make your content marketing work for you:
1. It’s about them, NOT you.
The focus of traditional advertising is often “me, me, me,” but the truth is that your clients care much less about you than they do about what you can do for them. That’s what makes content marketing so powerful. An accountant, for example, can blog about new changes to tax laws or focus a newsletter on end-of-year tax planning. A dentist can develop content related to the latest breakthroughs in treatment options and provide links to this with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media.
By informing your audience, you’ll demonstrate that you are the expert they should trust, not the one simply trying to sell them.
2. Lead with value.
Remember that it’s about them and your content marketing will best meet the needs of your readers. Ask yourself, will my clients, patients or partners care about this? Why will this matter to them? These questions will help you keep the focus on information they will value. And they’ll remember you for it.
3. Keep at it.
Sometimes if they don’t see instant results, businesses can become discouraged with their content marketing strategy. While you often won’t know the full long-range impact of your blogs, newsletters or social media posts, remember that quality content is doing something very powerful: It consistently reinforces the idea that you’re the expert. It also keeps you top of mind with your audience.
Be consistent and you will see results.
4. Measure results.
Although you won’t know the full impact of your content marketing strategy, you must still monitor and measure results.
If you’re blogging, your blog will need to be monitored to ensure that comments and questions are addressed. You should also track subscribers to RSS feeds, if you provide them. Analytics into the types of articles people are reading on your blog will be especially helpful for you when determining future content. (Remember, it’s about them!)
Newsletters, especially eNewsletters, are very easy to monitor and often come with comprehensive reader reports, such as articles clicked, articles forwarded, the names of subscribers who open newsletters, and other useful data. You’ll know the topics of greatest interest to your readers, and you’ll know how many readers are clicking back to your Website.
Social media, of course, is quite measurable, because you can see the shares, comments and new followers. Comments and feedback received through these tools can be very telling.
Beyond these, measure the impact of your content marketing strategy for other positive“bumps.” If a newsletter includes a special offer, note the number of people who opt in. If the blog announces a new service, track the inbound inquiries you receive. By measuring these activities, you’ll have an even better understanding of your content marketing success.
Your clients and prospects represent a relationship gold mine. The best way to mine those treasures is to provide them with meaningful content that demonstrates that you’re the expert they should trust.
Steve Klinghoffer, with his wife, Lori, founded WPI Communications, Inc., in 1984. He helps professionals market their practices through a wide range of editorial-based tools such as client and patient newsletters, referral-generating newslettersand Web site content. Over the past 28 years, Steve has worked with thousands of physicians, dentists, physical therapists, accountants, attorneys, financial planners and other professionals to help them build their practices.