The first step in selling your products or services online is to stop selling them.
You read it right. Put your sales pitches on hold, settle your selling techniques in your back pocket and back burner the tactics you know about to close the deal.
In order to get people to trust and follow you, you need to add education based marketing to your repertoire and give people something useful.
The first step in educating people is to establish yourself as an expert and deliver useful, “actually-wanna-read-this- content to them”. The best way to do this is through a content marketing strategy.
With all the hype around content marketing, the question remains: is content really king?
In reality, content is King, Queen, President, CEO, COO, Czar… you get the picture.
Having a content marketing strategy that compliments your brand, product, organization or company is the key to successfully retaining customers and drawing in new customers or members and make a profit with your blog.
With that in mind, here are the three basic principles to a content marketing strategy that can effectively educate your audience and turn them into buyers without even knowing it.
- Think it through before you start. It’s easy to start with selling. Educating requires finesse.
With any new marketing strategy, you don’t want to just jump in head first without an idea of who you want to reach, what those people want to read or how you will continue past the first couple posts to keep your readers engaged.
This is great time to set up a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis to get yourself started and then develop an editorial calendar from there to ensure you have at least three months of ideas to create content to keep your audience engaged.
Look at the end goal and then identify the topics your audience needs to know about in order to see the value in buying your product. This is where the 3 E’s (Empathy, EDUCATION, and empowerment) come in to your strategy to gain people’s trust through content.
2. Follow through. This is perhaps the most obvious and the most disregarded step by bloggers and marketers alike.
Many content strategies have what is called the honeymoon phase. A strong push at the beginning and then a large drop off leaving your readers on the edge of a cliff. The harder part comes with finding the time and coming up with ideas to continue to produce content weeks and months after the initial kick-off.
A good way to fix this is issue to make an editorial calendar and pre-write many posts at a time, and then schedule them to be published automatically. We cover how to do that in the post “Set it and Forget it: How Scheduling Blogs in WordPress can be your Lifeline”
- Determine your vehicles. Where do people go to learn? This is different depending the audience.This is where you need to actually decide how to disseminate the information you create to the people you want to reach. Vehicles can include a blog, newsletter (print or electronic), email communication, social media channels, or a website. Facebook is one of the most popular sites to promote your blog and there are many strategies to promote content on Facebook. Email marketing and list building are crucial to a successful content marketing strategy to get the right educational materials in front of your target audience.
While many companies use more than one of these, it’s extremely important that you aren’t bombarding your audience with the same content too many times. With that said, good content goes viral. When your content goes viral, you are reaching more people with your education materials and prospecting for more potential buyers.
When creating content you don’t always have to focus on Google either– quality content is what’s important here. Here’s a few tips on how to create quality content. And don’t worry if you have frequent brain freezes, we have some tricks to overcome that as well.
As you start to bring content marketing into your existing marketing strategy, keep in mind that what you write is a reflection of your brand and can significantly influence people one way or another for good or for bad, so write carefully! You don’t want to oversell and you don’t want to put people off so they don’t take the information they just learned from you and spend their money elsewhere.
What type of education applies to your product or service? What do you think the best way to communicate your education pieces to your audience would be? How will you stop selling and start educating.