I hear from many people that they don’t use inbound marketing tactics like social media or content marketing because they don’t feel like they’ve seen results from them. Now, what I and every other online marketer in the world knows is that today, content is king. We don’t just talk about it as a way to get companies to invest in marketing. We talk about it because we know it works, if it’s done correctly and if you understand what content marketing is supposed to be doing for you.
If your content isn’t generating leads, then this post is for you!
- You treat it out like outbound marketing or direct sales.
There is generally two types of marketing: inbound and outbound. Inbound focuses on leads coming to you through the use of content. Outbound is about pushing your message out. Inbound is blogging, social media, email marketing, podcasts. Outbound is advertising, cold calling, networking, direct messaging.
In my opinion, marketing strategies will have a mix of both. It’s important to recognize the need for each one. If you are strapped for cash and need clients like yesterday, outbound is the methodology for you. But it’s important to remember that only focusing on outbound will generally lead to inconsistent sales cycles. What happens is you are strapped for cash so you hustle your brains out at every networking event and following up on every lead. You end up signing a bunch of clients but then you’re so swamped with work that you don’t have time to network and follow up with every lead. Which means once those contracts end, you’ll be in a similar place.
Outbound is usually a more direct path to sales but inbound will help you bring in clients on a more consistent basis. So don’t think writing a blog or posting on social media is going to translate to a sale. Instead recognize that content is going to be your long term strategy. A blog you write today could attract a potential client in six months. Someone could read your blog while you’re sleeping, sign up for your newsletter and end up signing on in a few weeks. If your social media and blogging does translate directly to sales, that’s ok. It doesn’t mean its not working. Get rid of that expectation. Recognize the long-term potential of your content.
2. You don’t tailor your content
You have to understand your customers and tailor your content to them. Whether you call them buyer personas or customer profiles, you should have an idea of your ideal customers and create content for them. Don’t create content around you. I see that happen all of the time (and have been guilty of it myself). You are thinking about what you know or what you think is interesting or what you want to hear without thinking about if it’s important to your clients or what they want to learn. Use their language and solve their problems. That’s how you create compelling content
3. You don’t have content for every stage of the customer’s journey.
Buyers are usually in one of the three stages: awareness, consideration and decision. In awareness, your customers know they are having a problem or need help. They might not be ready to invest in help or if they should prioritize this struggle or what type of help they need.
Then customers move into consideration, which is when the customer recognizes they need support and are ready to find it. This is when they are actively searching for different solutions to their problem.
Then they move into the decision stage where they have narrowed down their solutions, are taking sales calls or negotiating fees.
You want to understand that you should have content for every step of the journey. Don’t only create blogs or posts that are just about your product or services because customers in the awareness stage won’t connect with it. Additionally don’t go too far in the other direction and create content that provides value and information but doesn’t connect back to your own solutions. Because you will only be catering to those in the awareness and consideration stage without making it to those who are in the decision.
As you learn more about your customer and their journeys, you can build your content on top of one another. For example, if you are an accountant who caters to small business owners, you could write a few blogs about managing money as a small business. This is something your target market will be interested in, even if they aren’t ready to invest in an accountant. Then at the end of one of the blogs, you could offer a free resource of “A Daily, Weekly and Monthly Financial Checklist” because your client has learned that in order to manage their money, they need to make it into a regular activity. This content will address your customer in the awareness stage and help them go from visitors to leads.
In the sales funnel after you’ve gotten their email address, you could offer tips on hiring and working with an accountant. After all, if they are managing their money and recognizing how much time and energy it will take, they might be realizing they need help. This content is when your customer is in the consideration stage.
Finally you may want to offer a consultation or a free assessment for when your buyer has made it to the decision stage.
All of this can be built into your blogs and email funnels so that it’s automated and your content will be tailored to your customer’s journey.
4. Your content isn’t valuable.
At this point you might realize that creating great content goes more than just posting every day or writing a blog every week. It involves research, strategizing and a plan. You want to post really high quality, valuable content in order to attract followers and convert them to leads. It’s just not enough to post miscellaneous photos every day. You need to make sure everything you create is of value.
Strong content and a great strategy doesn’t happen overnight. It might not automatically bring your customers but if you commit to it, create strategically, stay consistent and continue to create value, you will absolutely be able to ease the feast-or-famine cycle and actually see leads from your content.