In all the hustle and bustle of content marketing mania, I think there is something very important that is being overshadowed by the overemphasis on performance, results, and tracking ROI. Being able to build real relationships with your content marketing efforts IS the objective in and of itself, wherefore all other tactics and tracking converge and align. If your content isn’t connecting with people, all the other “stuff” that makes content marketing so attractive and successful won’t perform according to expectations.
Content marketing is a customer-centric approach to marketing for a reason. It acknowledges the importance of creating value for an audience, because that helps to establish trust and when there is trust, there is also the higher likelihood that someone will purchase from you. This mindset is very familiar to those of you in the professional services whose entire business relies on healthy client relationships based on a foundation of trust.
For this reason, businesses should be using content marketing with the goal of building relationships, not just increasing transactions.
Here are a few ideas to help illustrate what application of this goal looks like:
Know Who You Want to Build a Relationship With
Without trying to sound like a broken record, who do you want to cultivate a relationship with? Content marketing works, because it tailors content to a specific audience. Specific. This requires that you have a firm understanding of your client base. But beyond an understanding of your entire client base, are there specific individuals in your prospect pipeline you are currently pursuing? Are there people in town that you would love to have as a client? Perfect! Now you’ll be able to craft content with a specific audience in mind.
I met with a new client last week, and I was in awe at how he built his financial business. When he was just starting out, he had a list of names of people he wanted as clients… and he pursued them individually and directly. What he did is exactly what you want your content to do, but on a larger stage.
Solve Their Problem BEFORE Asking for Their Business
The great value of content marketing is that it allows you to deliver solutions to your ideals clients before they are actually paying customers. This is especially beneficial for businesses with a longer sales cycle that requires more time to establish trust and relationship building in order for a client to feel comfortable engaging.
You don’t give everything away, but think about all the questions you’ve gotten from clients and patients over the years. With digital channels at your fingertips, now you can answer those questions on your website, in blog posts, presentations and guides. You are a wonderful resource already and now you have the ability to help answer common questions by your ideal clients where they are looking: online.
By doing this, you are able to attract the attention of your ideal client and are already cultivating a healthy relationship through the content that helped your audience. This is the very beginning of establishing trust and it builds your credibility.
Make It Easy For People To Connect With You
Content marketing doesn’t just want to stop at creating content that identifies and attracts your ideal client. It is working hard to connect people with your business… and you. Therefore, make it super easy for people to reach you. If you are creating content that your audience wants, they will be willing to share their contact information with you…why? Because they trust you.
So go on and make it easy. Their first inclination probably won’t be to come in for a free consultation, so don’t rush it. All relationships take time, so continue to woo your audience. Be sure to include a blog subscription opt-in on every blog post and on your website. Or hide a valuable piece of content like an ebook, presentation, or checklist behind a web form that people will fill out to receive higher value content.
Provide people multiple ways to connect: phone number, email address, social media accounts, web forms, and newsletter and blog subscription sign-ups. Let your audience make themselves known to you.
Make a Personal Connection, Don’t Just Sell
You’ve made it to the critical crossroads of content marketing. You have the contact information of people who have been attracted to your content and your business. Now what? Now you show up in a personal way. At this point, don’t just rely on marketing automation to keep these interested people engaged. Marketing automation should be used to complement and support your relationship-building efforts.
Marketing automation will work to further individualize the content to your audience’s needs and interests based on how you segment your contact list. Marketing automation probably won’t be enough for someone to be willing to sign-up and engage for you to manage their assets, do their taxes, sell their home or represent their legal interests. So why not take some time every week to review your list of contacts and send them a personal message? Introduce yourself. Thank them for their interest. Ask them for their feedback. Let them know that you’re there if they have any questions. Invite them to connect on social media, for a phone call or a cup of coffee. Do what you do best… have a relationship!
Content marketing works to build relationships and positions you as someone and a business that people are interested in having a relationship with. There are many tactics and strategies to grow your business and content marketing is certainly one of them. Just remember, when you are cultivating meaningful relationships, business growth happens. You are in the relationship-business and content marketing is a strategy that works to enhance what you do best.