Find out what content marketing is and what types would work best for your service business.
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The following excerpt is from Robert W. Bly’s book The Digital Marketing Handbook. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | IndieBound
Content marketing should definitely be one of the arrows in your services marketing quiver. Content marketing has become a major component of the marketing world. According to a study conducted by the Content Marketing Institute, 88 percent of marketers have added content marketing to their plans this year. But, what exactly is content marketing, and how can you use it to market your services online?
Content marketing is a type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online material such as videos, blogs, articles and social media posts. It differs from other types of marketing, such as direct response and brand marketing, in that it doesn’t explicitly promote a brand but is intended instead to stimulate interest in a product or service by creating helpful, informative content designed to highlight your expertise and solve a problem.
This content can include blog articles, social media posts, white papers, case studies, videos, infographics and more.
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Why is content marketing so effective for selling services online? Because content marketing:
- Tells a story. In content marketing, telling is selling. In this case, you’re telling your brand’s story in an authentic, not overly sales-y way that answers your target audience’s questions and demonstrates to them that you and your service are the answer to their prayers.
- Builds your expert reputation. As people respond positively to your content marketing pieces, trust in you and your brand grows. Over time, people begin to see you as an expert in your field or specialty. You become a valuable resource, and a significant number of your followers will become your clients.
- Creates engagement. Timely, relevant pieces that interest and engage your readers are the main ingredients of content marketing. When someone responds to a question you posed on Twitter, replies to your blog post or answers an emailed question, the prospective customer has made the decision to reach out to you. This gives you the opportunity to deepen your relationship with them and ultimately, hopefully, get the sale.
Let’s look at some ways you can use content marketing on your website to grow your service business.
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Content that solves a problem
Content marketing requires a softer touch than other forms of marketing. You can still sell, but your message needs to be more helpful than sales-y. Why do people request your service?
Because they have a problem that only you can solve. You’re not a provider of X, Y or Z service; you’re a problem solver.
What if you offer a resume-writing service, for example? What problem do you solve? You’re not just selling resumes. You’re selling a brand-new life for someone who wants to move up in the world or transition into a new career. Their problem is, they’re tired of being passed over for jobs for which they’d be a perfect fit. Their problem is, they need more money to survive.
Think about the problems you solve with the services you’re offering, and craft content that does just that. This shows prospects that you’re the best person for the job. Ideally, you want prospects to think, “If he gives away this much great information for free, imagine what I’d get if I paid him.”
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Content marketing is viral marketing
Content marketing is, in large part, about sharing. Create helpful, interesting and informative content that your viewers will want to share with their friends. Well-written blog posts, insightful infographics and how-to videos that solve a problem your website visitors have is a great way to encourage sharing behavior. Ask your visitors to share the content with their friends, and make it easy to do so by including share buttons for sites like Facebook and Twitter. In this way, your marketing messages get much wider distribution beyond their original audience.
Content is more than just the written word
People share valuable content with friends and colleagues even more readily than they do product or service information. So content is a very viral type of marketing and gets passed along more often than pure sales messages.
Not all content has to be an article, book or blog post. If you have the means and the technical know-how, you can also create how-to videos, host a podcast, conduct a webinar or create infographics that highlight your expertise.
Posting regular, dynamic content like this will not only make your website “sticky” by encouraging return visits, but it will be shareable and highly popular. In fact, visual content is 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content, according to social media management firm Buffer. And infographics are actively shared by users on social media.
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