Content marketing is a pain. Isn’t it?
Everyday, week or month some hungry content beast requires feeding. Sometimes this content is simply words, other times it’s a video, images, music or all of the above combined.
Because content fuels everything we do it needs to be done constantly. And consistently. Content wouldn’t matter if it wasn’t so integral to all our interactions with each other.
Why do you create content?
The Content Marketing Institute says “content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Done well, you create content to answer the questions your audience wants answered. Content satisfies the need for information. You use content to stimulate further questions and invite your prospect closer to you. Content is like a lubricant that eases the way to more productive, frictionless exchanges.
The real reason you create content though is to build trust. Because trust has to be earned and deserved, content helps on both counts, especially in professional services. Professional services are built on relationships.
All healthy relationships are founded on trust.
Trust helps you develop an affinity with the person you’re doing business with.
When trust is missing, there is no relationship.
Studies have shown that trust matters most when conflict is present. It’s in the trying times that trust has to be in place.
David Maister writes in The Trusted Advisor: “the act of retaining a professional requires you to put your affairs in someone else’s hands”. He says it requires an act of faith in the client. It’s this act that requires confidence and anything that you can do to make your client feel supported and confident in you is worth doing. That’s why content plays a role, a supporting role, as it can’t make up for poor relationship management skills.
Show don’t tell.
Content gives people the evidence they need to figure out if you’re trustworthy. You can’t tell them you are - you have to show them. Your audience is the one who decides. You can only make your position known through your content, after that it’s up to them. That’s why it’s important to lead with the sort of content you want to be known for. Use your content to enhance your brand and tell your story, that is, your personal, product or business story. Your content is also a vehicle to share what you believe and communicate your values. So long as what you say about your business matches your behaviours then that’s the start of a trusting relationship.
Content builds the trust to help you move your client along the customer ladder from prospect to evangelist.
When thinking about your content marketing you can earn trust by:
- Being generous with your knowledge
- Providing helpful information that supports your service even if you don’t offer that service
- Demonstrating you understand your client’s situation
You need to show that your intent is to help your client. When they win, you win too.
Is there an end in sight?
Content mustn’t be seen as an end. It’s a means to an end. It’s part of the journey we need to go through to establish a relationship with others. ‘Others’ might be internal, your employees, or they might be external, your clients, suppliers and other stakeholders. When you can’t be face to face with someone you need your content to do the heavy lifting. Your content is a part of your marketing arsenal. It’s ongoing just like any good relationship.
In the same way you build a relationship with someone, you can apply the same steps to build a relationship with your content.
The key steps are:
- keep to a routine – be known for your consistency
- be reliable – people like to know you can be counted upon
- mean what you say
- be truthful in your dealings
- be open about your feelings without oversharing
- act true to your values
So if you think it’s a curse to have to produce content for all your various distribution networks and communications channels, think again. It’s actually an opportunity to enhance your real world dealings with others.