GUEST POST from Shep Hyken
Content marketing is a sound strategy. Using email, texting, and social media, companies, and brands are taking advantage of an effective way to connect with customers. Most companies use content to deliver value-added information that gets customers excited about what they sell. That makes sense, but it’s limiting. Think beyond marketing and sales. You don’t just want people to buy your products and services. You want them to experience your company. Beyond what you sell, you want customers to know who you are, what you stand for, and more. A good content strategy helps make that happen.
Perhaps a better way to describe content marketing in this context is to rename it content experience. So, with that in mind, here are seven ways to create an experience that uses content beyond a sales pitch:
1. Get Customers Excited
This is ultimately what you want your customers to experience—excitement for your brand. Share the latest and greatest, and maybe even a sneak preview of what’s to come. Make them feel like they made the right decision to give you their contact information. Get them excited about you—and motivated to want to buy from you and evangelize your brand.
2. Educate the Customer
You might think this is about teaching the customer about your products and services, but there is more. For example, let’s say you sell sports shoes. Look beyond shoes and educate your customers about anything related to your industry. An intelligent customer makes better—and often easier—buying decisions.
3. Highlight Success Stories
Customers want a successful experience with your products, so why not share how other customers have experienced success? Showcase these examples. Turn them into case studies that customers can use to duplicate success. Let your customers tell their stories.
4. Let Customers Showcase the Best Way to Use Your Products
If you’re going to highlight success stories, consider letting your customers do the talking. In effect, these are third-party testimonials and endorsements that are worth far more than traditional paid advertising.
5. Create a Customer Support Forum Run by Customers
Create a place where customers can answer questions posed by other customers. Consumers who have problems or questions love to learn from their peers. By the way, you will want to moderate the responses and be there to comment, add information, and thank customers for their help.
6. Create Meaningful Conversations That Go Beyond What You Sell
Your content experience strategy shouldn’t be one-way. Don’t just post something (a short article, video, white paper, etc.) and walk away. Start a conversation. Ask questions that get your customers to respond and share their opinions, which will ideally lead to other customers chiming in with their thoughts. Then respond to these answers. This type of engagement can bond you with your customers.
7. Stand for Something That Creates a Bond with Your People
There are companies that are admired for their “give-back” strategies. These companies are often charitable. Or they have such a strong belief in a cause that they make it part of their publicly stated mission. It could be sustainability, diversity, and inclusion, or any other cause, charity, or important issue that might excite customers and resonate with them so much that it takes the relationship to something beyond a typical transaction of trading money for a product or service.
Content marketing becomes an experience when you go beyond sales and marketing and make it about the customer. If the content you share creates value for your customers, makes customers feel connected to you and your brand, or makes your customers smarter, you’ve crossed over from sales and marketing to the level of experience. Make your content strategy an experience.
Image Credit: Shep Hyken
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