How often do you communicate with your prospective clients?
I ask this, because some of you may be missing out on an incredible shift, in the way we as small business owners connect with our marketplace.
Before permission-based marketing became popular, business owners needed to be careful not to bombard their prospective clients with too many communications. Back then, marketers called us because they had our number on a list they bought. They emailed us, because they had our email address on a so called opt-in list they bought. In most cases, these intrusions were unwelcome and were all about what THEY as the marketer, could get from US.
Today, things have changed. Whilst some businesses still push their marketing on us, the majority do not. These days, business owners are learning that you build a database of people who want information from you. You don’t buy lists of people who don’t know you and send them material they never asked you for!
Some of the most savvy small business owners today, use content marketing to educate their prospective clients and engage them. For example, they write regular, valuable blog posts, which offer useful information that will be of direct interest to their ideal profile of client. This information is then search engine optimized and shared across social networks, by people who find it useful. The people who find it useful are, of course, those ideal prospects it was written for. Then, when these people need someone with your expertise or products, you become massively more likely to get their inquiry and business, than some guy they find in a directory.
It works beautifully.
So, today’s informed small business owners are transitioning; from pestering the people on the lists they bought, to attracting inquiries by regularly showcasing their expertise.
When handled correctly, this can be an amazingly powerful form of marketing. It’s also a fraction of the cost of advertising and mailings etc, and the results can be amazing. The tiny blog post I wrote last Wednesday, which generated around £90,000 worth of inquiries in 1 day, is an example. It took minutes to write, cost nothing to publish and was read by thousands of prospective clients.
Today, it’s all about producing regular, valuable content
The primary challenge with content marketing is content. Great, regularly published content to be exact. Previously, business owners needed to be careful not to put too much information in front of prospective clients, today we have the exact opposite situation! Today, the most successful small business content marketers, publish information for their prospective clients many times each week; some do this daily.
By the way, 1 of the 3 blog posts I published yesterday is all about how to write regular, valuable content. If you’ve ever wondered how I produce my material, take a look.
If you want to join the new school of small business marketing, it requires some new skills and a mindset change. The mindset change is easy enough. It’s the shift from pushing sales messages to sharing ideas or education. It’s about remembering that whilst people LOVE to buy things, they HATE to be sold to.
The skills required are easy enough to learn, but they take time to master. The expensive, less effective pursuit marketing of yesterday required that you wrote, or paid someone to write, some sales letters or emails. These were then sent to your “list”. Most small businesses only used them irregularly, usually when they were worried about their sales figures. You may have been one of the brave few, who would pick up the phone and cold call a bunch of busy strangers. Again, it was something that small businesses tended to do irregularly.
Content marketing, which includes; blogging, newsletter marketing, article marketing, video blogging, tutorial marketing etc, requires regular content. You need to show up and you need to show up often! It’s not like using “a sales letter” and doing a mail shot when sales are down – It’s a whole new ball game.
Take Jim’s marketing blog as an example. People come here every day, because they know the site is regularly updated (around 5 times a week.) If I updated it just once a week, fewer people would visit. This means fewer people would see the content, which means fewer people would share the content, which would result in a very small readership that grew very slowly. People only check back to blogs regularly, when they believe there will be something new for them to read.
For every legitimate opportunity, there is a price to pay
Your business has the potential now, to reach as many targeted, prospective clients as you could ever need – And for pennies. As with every great, genuine opportunity, there is planning and work required if you want to see the results. For example:
- It’s a long term investment. Yes, that post of mine last week did amazing things, but there was two and a half years of blogging behind it. Similarly, if you want to build an email marketing list, you will need to work at it too. This all takes time.
- You will need to produce regular content. As I mentioned yesterday on Internet Marketing Jam, this can be as easy or difficult as you want to make it. You will need to start seeing yourself as a content creator or writer. If you have a mental blog that tells you that you are not creative, you either need to get to work on removing it or consider paying a copywriter.
- You will need to put some time aside for writing. I write early in the morning, before my family wake up. This suits me as I am an early bird and it has zero impact on my day. I spend around 25 minutes writing a post.
- You will need to invest in some business quality blog hosting or some business quality email provision (or both.) I just blog.
- You really should invest in a professional looking theme for your blog. I use, and am an affiliate of, the Headway WordPress Theme. It’s what all my blogs are designed with, including this one and I love it.
- You may also want to invest in some professional blog coaching. I have heard great things about Michael Martine. I have no association with Michael whatsoever, but people tell me he really knows his stuff. A good blog coach can save you a lot of time, effort and money. Michael’s reputation is very good.
As well as those suggestions, I have started a blog dedicated exclusively to content marketing online, which I strongly recommend you check out and subscribe too.
We live in an age of unparalleled opportunity. A small business today, with the correct content marketing strategy, can achieve the kind of reach and influence formerly only associated with huge brands with equally huge advertising budgets.
These truly are exciting times to be in business.
Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!