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Content Marketing – The Sales Technique Without Selling

There is more to marketing than simply advertising your product. Now more than ever, people want to be informed of their choices and to avoid making impulsive decisions. Find out how Content Marketing has adapted to this by choosing the inbound rather than outbound path.

No doubt, like the rest of us, you are sick of ads popping up all over your desktop monitor on every website you visit. Especially when they blank out a piece of text you have started reading. And yet is your latest internet ad campaign doing exactly the same to others? Perhaps it’s time to look at a better form of marketing.

E-commerce and internet marketing are not one and the same. E-commerce involves the sale of goods or services electronically, such as over the internet. Internet marketing involves using the internet to promote or advertise a business, its products or services using quality informational content to achieve required results.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, “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.” In plain speak, content marketing is all about inbound marketing. It is the ability to use that valuable relevant content, with no sales techniques and no sales talk, in such a manner that it attracts, rather than drives, traffic to your website.

Since the early 21st century, large internet companies have seen significant improvements in ROI when changing from outbound marketing techniques to inbound, content marketing. But it’s not just the big players who are benefiting. On a properly optimised website, content marketing is fast becoming the most valuable tool for the small, local niche business.

Did you know that the latest (2016) government figures state the UK’s bricks-and-mortar business sector is made up of over 5.5 million small-to-medium-sized enterprises (0-249 employees), that account for 99% of all business generated and almost 50% of GDP? That’s a lot of businesses that could be seeing increased turnover via greater numbers of clients through the door. So how do you get them there?

Let’s go back a few years, before the advent of the internet. You have a small garden/ironmongery business on one of your town’s estates. A customer enters and begins to look at your hedge trimmers. One is heavy duty, suitable for trimming everything up to mature conifer hedges, and sells at £99. The other is lighter, suitable for small garden shrubs and sells for £60. He doesn’t have a conifer hedge, so you suggest the cheaper model will meet his requirements. Have you lost £39? No, in most instances you will have gained a valuable regular customer through your honesty, who will return again and again, spending much more than the ‘lost’ £39.

The same basic principles will work equally well on your website or blog. Maybe an informational piece on the best time to trim various hedges and shrubs, which trimmer you prefer to use and why. Or perhaps a comparison piece about two or three hedge trimmers, stating their pros and cons, and which model is most suitable for which job. Your call to action could be: ‘For technical specifications and product availability, please call us on xxxxxx.’ No sales talk or sales techniques used anywhere, just good quality relevant informational content which allows the consumer to make the final decision.

As a manufacturing company, relevant company information, managerial changes, improved manufacturing processes, or new product lines might pull in other interested parties. Information, information, information, that would draw existing and prospective clients to your website.

There is not a business website or affiliate marketing blog that wouldn’t benefit from relevant inbound marketing. Whether B2B or B2C, in manufacturing, wholesaling, retailing, construction, hospitality or other service sectors, the opportunities are there for everyone to grab a slice of the action.

Content marketing will not work on its own. It has to be the focal point of a properly optimised website. It needs to include relevant keywords to grab the attention of the big search engines. It needs to be regularly updated, or refreshed with new articles. Effective use of social media platforms to target your particular audience is required. Developing high-quality backlinks from higher authorities, suppliers, partners or high-profile clients will all help raise your brand awareness and increase traffic. It needs to be optimised for local searches and smartphone friendly. But, at the end of the day, it is good quality, relevant and informational content which will attract prospective clients and customers in the first place, and keep them coming back.

Can I sell without selling in all types of media?

All types of media are being increasingly used in modern-day content marketing. Although text remains at the forefront, infographics and video are becoming increasingly popular, as are podcasts, e-books, blogs and self-published books. All, though, have one thing in common. They inform, advise and provide solutions. No sales talk and no hidden sales techniques.

Blogs are ideal platforms for content marketing strategies, with greater numbers of website managers and marketers adding them to existing sites and including them in the construction of new sites.

When we talk about content marketing, we should really talk about content and marketing. We’ve pretty much covered the content, pieces of high-quality valuable text which are relevant to your products or services.

It is the marketing of all this relevant content which will ultimately define how successful your inbound content marketing strategy will be. In every internet marketing article, the phrase ‘know your audience’ will be hiding away somewhere. Yet, it is the singularly most important aspect of a successful content marketing campaign. Once you’ve defined your audience, B2B or B2C, the next step is knowing where to find them.

With the variety of internet tools available today, the internet marketer can analyse the success of content marketing strategies far more accurately than was possible in the days of print advertising. Back in the day, one had little hope of knowing how successful or otherwise an advertising campaign in the local press was.

Nowadays, everything from the best keywords to visitor numbers, from source of visitors to bounce rates, click-throughs and key performance indicators can all be monitored and analysed to determine the effectiveness and ROI of your latest content marketing campaign.

With big players such as Microsoft, Cisco Systems, P&G and other multi-nationals, as well as millions of small businesses the world over using inbound content marketing techniques, there must be something in it, right?

Still not convinced how effective content marketing can be? Although we don’t advocate setting aside the size of the budget required, take a look at the Lego film. Over one and a half hours of unashamed content marketing which helped lift Lego to the top of the world’s toy manufacturing list. And you thought it was just a film to take the kids to see.

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