Make no mistake, marketing can be a tough gig these days. It’s a “Don’t call Me, I’ll Google You” world we live in. When consumers have a need, they expect helpful, compelling content to be available to them on their timeline, answering their questions. At best, gimmicky, self-promotional “marketing speak” will be tuned out. At worst, it will smack of dishonesty or cheesiness and damage your brand in the process.
For instance, the Friday after Thanksgiving, we were polishing off turkey sandwiches and watching the big game (the good part, when we were #beatingnebraska) and who should appear at my front door but the Fed Ex guy with a very important envelope. Holy Interruption Marketing, Batman! Hit the mute button. This is a SPECIAL DELIVERY.
Ripping it open, we found a run-of-the-mill promotional letter from our cell phone carrier trumpeting a SPECIAL OFFER for LOYAL CUSTOMERS just like us. It promised a new contract with even more talk time (in addition to the talk time that we currently never use) and pushed us to lease the newest smart phones CHEAP (you know, the one that used to be FREE with every renewal). That was it. Yawn.
This was old style, interruption marketing at its worst. Not only was it not helpful in any way, it wasted my time and just left me feeling vaguely annoyed and duped, like I do when I click on a ridiculous online headline and find just another ad for a product I never wanted. So, into the recycle bin this very expensive promotion went, with all the other junk mail.
So what does good content marketing look like today? First of all, it anticipates my questions and provides me with reliable, helpful information when I’m ready. For instance, just supposing I was looking for a new cell phone plan. I’m probably not going straight to the cell phone store to get “sold” on their latest plan. Instead, I’ll do a little (or a lot) of online research. Good content is this comparison tool I found with a simple Google search of “best cell phone plans 2015”.
Simple, straight forward, and personalized, this website tool from wirefly.com is answering the questions I’m asking. Since I find the tool helpful, I might go on to read their blog. On the blog page, I would find not only information about phones and plans, but also information on the most popular apps available for smart phones, how to keep your cellular device secure, product reviews and how-to blogs. This company understands it needs to establish their expertise, to be helpful, and to educate their potential customers before any sale is going to happen.
And, it’s not just business to consumer (B2C) questions that people are researching. Businesses are using the internet in much the same way. Here’s an example of great content marketing from a business to business (B2B) company, Iron Mountain. This document management and storage company understands that one of the most commonly asked questions businesses are asking is if they should shred or recycle their business documents. So, in anticipation of that query, they already have a blog ready with helpful, non-promotional information to answer that question.
Beyond just the blog post, people who click this link will be taken to a website designed not only to sell document management services, but to educate and inform as well. They’ll find a company that has invested in producing content for potential customers including free eBooks, articles, interviews, tips and newsletters. By producing helpful content, at no obligation or cost, Iron Mountain builds trust and lays the groundwork for a successful business relationship ahead.
Content marketing at this level respects that website visitors are busy people who don’t have time to waste wading through promotional advertising to find the value in your product. It is also rooted in building relationships and becoming a resource for customers.
Creating content that answers the questions your customers are researching online can come in many forms and formats. Download our eBook A Practical Guide to Killer Marketing Content for help developing the kind of content you need.