Last year I was working with a business coach and he questioned the value of my putting time into updating my business blog. In his experience, there is little return on investment for content marketing published via a blog. He’s not wrong – there are so many examples of blogs that are dead ends. Usually the information lacks depth, the posts are old, and the authors have not proven their expertise. These examples of content marketing offer little to either the author or the customer.
On the other hand, I’ve found there is great value in content marketing. I grow and sell heirloom tomato plants and the content that I distribute on Facebook, Instagram, emails, or on my website generates valuable interactions with my customers. It gives me an opportunity to demonstrate my knowledge about growing heirloom tomatoes and an opportunity to let them know that I care about their success in the garden. I also teach a class on entrepreneurship for government employees and that blog gets more traffic than I expected and has generated a lot of interest in the course. What is the difference? Content quality is the difference. There is a lot of junk information out there in the internet. We’re swimming in it. But when you come across a blog or website that is truly generous with information and the information provides value to your life, it can feel like coming across a treasure chest.
I recently started to listen to a podcast called The Contracting Officer Podcast. It is chock full of incredible information each week that I can’t get anywhere else. After listening to the podcast for a few months, I decided to subscribe to the website and get access to webinars and other content that they offer. Shortly after I joined, I was contacted by one of the podcast hosts who wanted to schedule a time to talk about their services. Because I felt so warmly about their content, I agreed to the sales pitch and am considering using their services. Because of the quality of their free offering, I gladly signed up for their paid services even though I know it is a customer funnel and that their goal is to get me to commit to increasing levels of service. But I’m OK with that because they provide value to my business.
So that really is the content marketing goal for any marketer of professional services – offer quality content that provides value to a customer. This builds trust between the brand and the customer. While they consume the free content, give them information about how they can go deeper into the content. And continue to build the relationship from a place of helping, just as you would build an in-person relationship with a potential customer. My resolution to continue to use content marketing as a marketing tool was strengthened by this week’s reading and discussion.