Written by Megan Fox | firstname.lastname@example.org
Picture this: you’ve just landed in Oz and are stumbling along the yellow brick road. You’ve come to a fork in the road and must choose to go right or left. Which path will you choose? One way leads to a dark forest where there seems to be something on all fours lurking in the distance, and the other way is lined with ripe apple trees. Your choice seems pretty simple, right?
I know this may be a far stretch — but when it comes to marketing your business, a lot of business owners want to take the easy way out. They’ll build their own website, maybe write a blog every other month, shoot a video with their IPhone, build a Facebook page they update occasionally and rely heavily on newspaper ads and billboards.
What they don’t realize is that although taking the less traveled road may seem daunting, what lies at the end of that path is ten times greater than what is in store for them at the end of the more easily navigable path.
If Dorothy would have given up at her first crossroad when she met the Scarecrow, sure she may not have had apples thrown at her, a lion attack her, monkeys carry her away or been locked away in the Wicked Witch of the West’s castle, but she never would have met her greatest companions or made it back to her family in Kansas.
Shortcuts should not be taken when you are marketing your business. You need to invest the proper time and energy into your tactics so you can become the thought leader in your industry.
Follow our content development process (our yellow brick road per say) that will generate your business more leads and convert more paying customers…just watch out for the witch's fireballs along the way!
Brainstorming and Researching
First things first: what are your competitors doing? You’re going to need to be doing everything that your competitors are already doing and more if you want to surpass them. What does their website look like? Are they blogging? Do they offer free marketing materials for potential customers? What social channels are they using? Are they actively engaging with those social channels? Do they have online reviews?
Secondly: what are the industry leaders doing? You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Take notes from the experts. What kind of material do they offer on their website for potential customers? Do they host free workshops or seminars? Do they run contests and giveaways? Are they utilizing customer testimonials?
Come up with action items that you can start implementing now. The ones that get the most traction for our clients are listed below.
eBooks, Whitepapers and Checklists…Oh My!
Considering you already have a responsive, mobile friendly website (if you don’t, that’s an entirely different blog), you need to be capturing your potential customers’ information so you can keep in contact with them.
By offering valuable content that is going to show a potential customer HOW you can help them, they are going to be more likely to give you their name and email address. The more valuable they think a piece of content is, the more info they’ll be willing to give you (phone number, etc.).
What kind of content can you offer? Easy.
These marketing materials need to be on their own landing page with an embedded form that will capture the potential customers’ info. Once they hit submit on that form, they will get an email with their piece of content, and you will have their name and email address.
This is called Inbound Marketing. No more cold calls or interruptive ads. Once someone gives you their contact information, they’re essentially giving you permission to contact them. You know they’re interested. Now you just need to close the deal by nurturing them.
Blogging is especially important for several reasons. Blogs add indexed pages to your website, help you rank on Google, show you as an authority figure and help you answer commonly asked questions.
When you blog, you should start with the most commonly asked questions you get as a business owner. For example, if you work in health care, some good blog topics may be:
- How to Perform a Self-Breast Exam
- What is the Difference Between Sunscreen and Sunblock?
- What are the Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
- When Do I Need a Colonoscopy?
- When Should I Seek Medical Attention for Back Pain?
Not only can you categorize your blogs so potential customers can easily find answers to their questions, you can optimize each blog you write, which will help you rank organically in search engines.
Google looks for relevant, reliable and recent content. If you start blogging regularly, that puts you at an advantage to be seen over your competitors.
Email campaigns are still highly effective when done correctly. Once you collect a database of contacts, you don’t want to send mass emails every day. Chances are that will result in a high unsubscribe rate.
Instead, you want to segment your contact by your marketing funnels. Sticking to a health care example, if you are a physical therapist, your potential funnels could be:
- Back Pain
- Shoulder Pain
- Knee Pain
- Neck Pain (Check out Dynamic Physical Therapy's site to see how this looks)
You would break your contacts up so you can send them tailored content. You can send them blogs that have been recently published, customer testimonials, updates about upcoming events, contest information, recent pictures of completed projects if you are in the construction industry (finished homes, expanded basements, porch additions, etc.). The list goes on.
The idea is to nurture your potential customers with — you guessed it — valuable content, until they’re ready to make the jump to a paying customer.
This will mean strategically detailing out email drip campaigns that don’t make you seem desperate but will still put your face at the front of your potential customer’s mind.
This could look like:
- Email #1: Day 1
- Email #2: Three days later
- Email #3: Three more days later
- Email #4: A week after that
- Email #5: Every week after until they become a customer
Setting up the emails will take time initially, but if you use an automated email platform to send them out, the bulk of the work will be done upfront, and you can sit back and watch open and click through rates.
In today’s world, people are very visually driven. You’re going to want to have at least one video to show potential customers who you are and what you do. We call this an image film.
This film will introduce you, tell everyone what you can offer them, how you can help them, why you want to help them, etc. It paints your story.
Videos can grab peoples' attention in ways text cannot. It’s a best practice to use both. Videos can emotionally resonate with people. Watching a video and seeing who you are can help gain potential customers' trust.
You need to consider having the film(s) professionally produced. You’re going to have better lighting, better editing, better sound and a better overall product. You want to come across as professional as you can. Plus, getting it professionally produced, you’re going to be working with expert script writers and storytellers. They’re going to help craft your story in a way that you wouldn’t have even thought of.
If it’s in your budget, you should consider filming multiple videos. In addition to your image film, you can have funnel films (like the example above, a film for back pain, knee pain and neck pain). You can also have customer testimonial films. Using real customers who detail how your company helped them can have a lot of impact on a potential customer.
Your company needs to be active on social media channels. You don’t need to have a presence on every channel, but pick two or three that get the most engagement for your type of company. Do some research, and see where your competitors and industry thought leaders are spending their time.
We believe that if your company doesn’t have any other social channel, you need to at least be on Facebook. Facebook allows you to have conversations with potential and current customers, which is extremely important. Replying to comments and messages, answering questions — this proves you care. You can showcase picture albums, company information such as mission statement, points of contact, office hours and more. You can create events, offers and utilize Facebook LIVE.
Facebook advertising is also one of the most cost efficient ways to promote your content. You can promote your blogs, videos and downloads for as little as $15. You can also target extremely precise groups of people who represent your target personas. You can create different campaigns, run A/B tests and reach different people every time an ad is promoted.
Other recommended social channels to use, depending on your industry, include:
If you are a visual company, like a home builder or apparel company, Instagram or Pinterest is a great platform to showcase your pictures. You can post exteriors, interiors, special features like fireplaces and walk in closets and models wearing your clothes. LinkedIn is an excellent tool for B2B companies, and Twitter is great for building a community and updating your customers.
Decide which ones will best work for you, and get started!
Implementation: Content Calendar
This is a very important step. Without a content calendar, you are going to be posting random content at random times. Content calendars are a great way to solidify consistency.
At IAM, we create content calendars for three months at a time. That way we always know what is coming down the pipeline.
When creating content, you want to do some research (there’s always research to be done) to see what best posting practices are for that social channel. For Facebook, it’s a best practice to post at least once a day. For Twitter, it’s a best practice to tweet 15 times a day because of the short lifespan of a tweet.
Create a calendar that represents each day of the week, and list out what you will be posting each day. We like to keep posting consistent and post videos every Friday, blogs every or every other Wednesday, etc.
You’re going to want to auto populate your postings to make it less time consuming. It will be a lot of work in the beginning, but if you start Monday and auto publish every post for the week that day, you will be able to sit back and keep an eye on engagement the rest of the week. We recommend Meet Edgar.
Content calendars need to be strategic. For example, if you work in healthcare, take advantage of the various health awareness months and post related content around those topics (February-heart, April-alcohol awareness, May-skin cancer, etc.).
Regardless of your industry, every month you are going to have certain goals. Post content that is going to help you reach those goals. If you have an event coming up at the end of a month, like a home show or back pain seminar, make sure to post blogs and videos detailing that event weeks in advance.
InnerAction Media | Marketing Agency | Morgantown | Pittsburgh DMA
I know this may seem daunting. Dorothy’s journey on the yellow brick road wasn’t easy, but she met friends that helped her along the way. If you want someone to talk to or consult with on what marketing practices you should be implementing to close more customers, we would love to be your scarecrow (haha).
Today, marketing is not as much about selling as it is educating potential customers of yours. That is why we believe 100% that content is the backbone of effective marketing strategies.
Each company is unique, with their own challenges that demand different business and marketing solutions. There is no one-size-fits-all marketing solution, so we treat each discovery process with fresh ears, sharp eyes and open minds.
If you need help developing your content process, give us a call: (304) 241-4959
Want our content development process for the road? Download our infographic here.