When thinking through your content marketing strategy, it’s easy to too closely marry “Point A” with “Point Z” when executing your content marketing tactics.
In other words, yes, we always want our marketing efforts to accomplish our business goals, but not every piece of content can be looking to hit the sale.
In fact, businesses who jump to Point Z too quickly often are perceived as “spammy” or out of touch with their customers’ real needs.
The fact is, our customers are smarter and more savvy than ever. With 83% of consumers researching products online before buying, the importance of thinking beyond (or in this case, “in front of”) the sale with content marketing is essential.
I (and other smart people) call these points in between “adding value.”
Yes, you want sales, and yes, you want to make sure your marketing efforts affect your bottom line, but if even brands like Coca Cola are embracing content marketing as one of their big marketing pushes for the next decade, a solid commitment to adding value to your customers along the way to a sale is imperative.
But how can you add value? Don’t worry friends, I’ve got you covered. Here are three ways to add value through your content marketing efforts.
1. Educate and Assist
Many businesses assume that there are some things they just can’t share on the Web for fear of someone stealing their secrets.
But as one noted content marketer says, “Just because you have a recipe, doesn’t make you a chef.”
Your customers aren’t looking to DIY a janky version of your product at home. In fact, most of them just want to know what they’re getting into when purchasing from your company, or even WHY they would need to purchase…or even if you really know what you’re talking about when it comes to the area of their life where they need to use your product.
FAQ’s on your website are a perfect place to start, but regular blog posts, white papers, ebooks, podcasts, videos and Social Media posts can also be effective pieces of content to add educational value to your customer’s lives and assist them in completing the next item on their checklist. (Remember Bumble and Bumble?)
For example, if you are in the business of selling plumbing supplies, a great way to add value is to provide customers with detailed, downloadable plumbing how-to articles.
It takes time to write these articles and perfect them…but for customers who are searching for a company that is truly different and cares about their needs, they’ll embrace the education.
Plus, it’s a perfect opportunity to show how your plumbing products fit nicely into the very process you’re teaching your future customers. (PS–We work with one of our happy clients on this very tactic, to great success).
2. Share and Enhance
The old playground rules still apply…it’s nice to share with your friends. Fortunately in the digital age, sharing doesn’t have to be costly. In fact, sharing can be an easy and seamlessly integrated tactic into your overall content marketing plan.
For example, one of our clients regularly shares “insider information” and historical tidbits about their company through Facebook posts and pictures to their wildly enthusiastic Social fan base.
Another shares video stories of the individuals they help through the services they provide.
And yet another shares information on Twitter and LinkedIn produced by others in their niche as a way to show that they have their finger on the pulse of, and can adapt to, the most up-to-the-minute, freshest changes in the industry.
While we of course are sure that each of these pieces of content serve the greater end of meeting each client’s unique business goals, every post, tweet and article serves to add value to the customer throughout the buying process.
3. Entertain, Fascinate, and Bring on the Warm-Fuzzies
To me, the following video is one of the best value-adds I’ve ever seen. In fact, I didn’t know until the very end of the video that it was produced and sponsored by a rather large international corporation. Go on and take a look:
Now go ahead and dry your eyes and grab some tissues. I’ll wait.
The thing I loved about this video is that it is simply entertaining. It’s fascinating and brings on the warm-fuzzies. And while there is the tiniest call to action at the end to visit T-Mobile’s YouTube channel, the main point of the video isn’t to get a customer to sign up for a new carrier plan.
The main point is to simply leave an impression on the customer that “we are a company who does kind things in a big way to put a smile on people’s faces.”
Now, whether that smile stays once they hit customer service is unknown (I’m a Verizon customer who has been fiercely loyal ever since a particularly wonderful experience with them in 2007…seriously!), but there is no denying that there was value conveyed here…to the tune of 12.8 million hits and counting.
The bottom line is, content that is valuable and adds something to your customer’s life is much more likely to be shared, remembered and internalized. And with customers smarter than ever, and much more resistant to traditional sales and marketing tactics, that value is invaluable to your business.
What questions do you have about adding value through content? Give me a shout in the comments below!