What Is Content Marketing? (+ 12 Examples To Inspire You)
47% percent of buyers view 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales representative.
Now I know you don't have a sales team, but the point is that people make purchasing decisions based on content. And when I say “purchasing decisions”, in this context, I mean people making the choice whether or not to become your client.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is a marketing strategy used to attract, engage, and retain an audience by creating and sharing content such as articles, videos and podcasts. Content marketing both establishes your expertise in your niche, as well as promoting brand awareness.
The idea is to offer value in exchange for an email address – and from there, you can suck them into your business vortex and never let them go (basically).
The consistent use of content marketing establishes and nurtures relationships with your prospective and existing clients. When your audience thinks of you as a partner that is interested in their success and a valuable source of advice, they’re more likely to choose you when it’s time to hire a contractor. This blog is going to talk about free content – we're not talking about monetising your podcast or your online course or your blog at this point.
The strategy behind content marketing
The strategy of using content marketing is to:
- educate your target market, both generally about your industry as well as what you do specifically
- boost conversions (from potential client to client)
- build a relationship
- showcase your product suite
In my YouTube video below, I show you a visual walk-through of 12 great examples of content marketing.
There’s three stages of every sales funnel:
How to use content at the awareness stage
In this first stage of the sales process, your content should focus on the top concerns of your audience. Think about their pain points, challenges, and questions . Awareness content should be educational, and not focused on sales at all.
- A caterer could write a blog post about how to plan a menu for a summer BBQ
- A boutique tour operator could create a short video about “3 Trips To Take in Spring”
- An interior designer could write an eBook called “Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Interior Designer”
How to use content at the consideration stage
Content at the consideration stage should offer a hybrid of education and marketing content. You want to tell your audience about what features or functions to look for and how your features address their needs.
- A virtual assistant could create a checklist called “8 Ways to Delegate To A New Virtual Assistant”
- A landscaper could write a blog post called “The Biggest Mistakes Most People Make When They Hire a Landscape Designer”
- A life coach could offer a downloadable eBook on "How to Create Habits That Stick" that explains why most of us have trouble actually sticking to habits and should hire a coach to help us...
How to use content at the conversion stage
Now, you want to focus on sales by driving home why you’re the best choice rather than just how great your services or products are. The central message here should be your expertise, knowledge, and the differentiating benefits.
- A business coach could release a research report showing that businesses that engage in strategic planning experience higher growth (and then detail her strategic planning sessions)
- A videographer could create a showreel that showcase the variety of his work – as well as testimonials from clients saying how great he is to work with
While eventually I would recommend having pieces of content at every stage of the sales funnel, start by just picking one and creating that first – most likely at the awareness stage to begin with.
What makes content marketing effective?
Good content marketing:
- provides value
- targets the prospect at different stages of the sales funnel
- demonstrates your brand and vibe
- is timely and engaging
Basically, every entreprenuer, solopreneur, freelancer – whatever you call yourself – will benefit from some level of content marketing.
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