It took awhile for the real estate and home finance industries to warm up to online marketing. By the time most mortgage lenders had started to buy banner ads on trade publication websites, most other industries were already exploring interactive web pages. Today, those companies are deploying apps, writing games for their prospects and sponsoring podcasts that are pulling in millions of listeners. But our own industry isn’t doing so poorly. Companies here have embraced online marketing and now are ready to take the next step: content marketing.
Content marketing is about providing the kinds of information your prospects are seeking, adding value to a growing relationship and demonstrating your expertise. And it works. If you’re not already convinced of this, consider the following from Small Business Trends:
A small business blog is one of the most-used and effective content marketing tools at your disposal. Simply put, if you’re not blogging, you’re leaving money on the table. Here’s some stats for you:
- Marketers that use blogs get 67 percent more leads than those who don’t.
- 81 percent of U.S. online consumers trust information and advice from blogs.
- Companies that blog have 97 percent more inbound links.
The article goes on to list 10 reasons you should be taking your business blog more seriously, but that may be putting the cart before the horse a bit. First, let’s talk about your overall approach to content marketing, of which your blog is just one important part.
At its core, content marketing is about being a part of the important conversations your prospects are having, particularly about problems that you can solve with your products and services. That requires you to know what problems your prospects are having, what your company can do about them and where these conversations are taking place. A good plan will include launching your own corporate blog where you can start some of these conversations, in the knowledge that the search engines will deliver up prospects who are asking the questions you are answering.
Here is how we walk through the process of establishing a content marketing strategy:
Step 1: Think about what your prospects need to know in order to be more successful. Don’t limit this to information that relates in some way to your offerings. Put yourself firmly into the position of those you hope to serve and think about the questions that are keeping them up at night. The more things you can come up with, the more likely you’ll position yourself to be the kind of partner your prospects will want to have.
Step 2: Find good sources of this information. Hopefully, many of these will be subject matter experts within your own company, but even if they aren’t, your prospects still need this information and you’ll win big by providing it.
Step 3: Looking at steps 1 and 2 above, identify all of the questions your prospects have that can be answered by your own team. List out these topics and put them on a calendar and you have created your editorial calendar, a core component of your content marketing strategy.
Step 4: Find out where all of the conversations are happening that impact your prospects and relate to the issues you uncovered in step 1. Find out how to get involved in these conversations, sharing the information from your editorial calendar. These conversations are taking place all over the web and it can be a bit of work finding them all, but if you hope to be included in them, to earn your seat at the table, so to speak, you have to seek them out.
Naturally, there are many more details to consider and we’ll discuss them in future posts. But doing this work will put your future content marketing efforts on a solid foundation.