Offer expertise and knowledge to help customers--don't just sell to them.
Content marketing seems to be all the rage right now, right? But as it turns out, businesses have been using content to give customer-value for over a hundred years. Here's a great example, if you're a Jell-O fan, in 1904 Jell-O door-to-door salesmen would give out their cookbook for free. Jell-O's sales rose like crazy in just a few years. True story.
At my company, VerticalResponse, we have a content marketing team that produces the lion's share of our content whether it be our blog, webinars, free guides or videos that we produce that help small businesses grow. That's cool, but we also have every member of our marketing team, as well as folks from every part of the company contributing. By making content not just a function of one group, or of just the marketing department, we ensure the entire company is lending their expertise and knowledge to help customers, not just to sell to our customers.
1. The Master of Your Domain
What a great Seinfeld episode! But seriously, you and your staff are the masters at what you do, so you should write about it, post it to your social networks, make a PDF that prospects and customers can download and share it with fellow bloggers.
At VR, our domain expert for email deliverability, Kirill, has a depth of knowledge about the ins and outs of how we get email to the inbox second to none. By sharing a blog about the latest developments, he helps our customers have the most up-to-date information so they can create emails that get delivered to inboxes. A win-win.
2. Great Stories From a Conference
If you have anyone on your staff attend a conference or event for employee development, it should be one of their tasks to write down what they learn and publish it to social media or your blog. There's not a better way to show your customers you're up on the latest and greatest on their behalf.
And, whenever someone on our staff attends a conference (Check out what I've published attending the amazing Inc.com conference) we make sure they write about what they've learned through the filter of a small business owner. We include takeaways that apply to our customers. That way, we pay the big bucks to attend events that they might not have the time or money to, and they reap the benefits through our content.
3. Customer Service is Your Ultimate Content Treasure!
If you've got a ton of calls or emails asking the same types of questions over and over, you can craft a great piece of content that answers the questions quickly! At the end of each week, ask your team members what the top 5 "hot buttons" were from the calls and questions they received. Tabulate and answer them in multiple formats: post a blog, send an email marketing campaign and post it to social networks.
Another bonus? We've found that many of the folks that work here at VerticalResponse have personal blogs and are talented writers. While it might not be in their specific job description to contribute content, we've found many of them have actually asked to write for us. How cool is that? When your company is creating useful content in service of your customers, everyone benefits--your company, your employees, and your customers.
Now that's what I call content for the win! How are you using content for your biz?
JANINE POPICK is the CEO and founder of VerticalResponse (a Deluxe company), a leading provider of self-service email and event marketing, online surveys, social media, and direct mail solutions. The company was ranked No. 2,802 on the 2012 Inc. 5000. @janinepopick