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The challenges of inbound and content marketing – and the opportunities.

By 16 Dec ’15December 21st, 2015Internet Fluency, Thinks, Uncategorized, Work

I’ve been investing a lot of time recently researching the state of the art of inbound marketing and content marketing – from Hubspot a definition:

“Since 2006, inbound marketing has been the most effective marketing method for doing business online. Instead of the old outbound marketing methods of buying ads, buying email lists, and praying for leads, inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be. By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert, close, and delight over time.”

One of the precepts of inbound marketing is content creation – content that provides compelling, actionable information or engagement (Attract, Convert, Close, Delight) to the customer on the receiving end. This post is about how to approach the challenge – and opportunity – of content creation.

A lot of content marketing comes easily – if you run a cat video blog then it’s fair to say that your content marketing is making sure great cat videos keep flowing out to your viewers. In reality the businesses I work with are more complex than that. They offer serious B2B services like construction or consulting; they sell niche products in competitive spaces like coffee and chocolate; they present challenging missions and serious commitment from their audiences.

Content marketing is built around giving it away – to a certain extent. If you are a law firm it might be providing a blog that keeps up a steady flow of advisory posts – what to do if you are facing bankruptcy, or divorce, or are sued. The challenge is that the answers to these questions are a simple google search away – so your answer better be an improvement on what is already out there so it gets voted up over time by the laws of organic search.

I have a client in the construction industry that needs to raise its profile. I’ve been brainstorming ways that this industry connects with customers and converts them into clients. We’re defining the “personas” of our potential clients – real estate investors, realtors, subcontractors, other builders, end-customers (owners) – and others.

So what is the cat video of construction? I don’t really mean that, but I am figuring out what the content opportunities are for this client. From Hubspot again “Create targeted content that answers prospects’ and customers’ basic questions and needs, then share that content far and wide.” So what does that Realtor, that investor, that potential homeowner have as basic questions and needs?

Realtors – A realtor needs to add value to a transaction by having a qualified roster of referrals – architects, lawyers, permit specialists, and builders that they can pull in to make sure a deal gets consummated. We need to demonstrate to this group that we are a reliable, professional referral candidate. We need to show expertise, availability and intelligence. A good post topic might be “A builder in your back pocket – how to leverage a contractor’s expertise”.

Investors want to make money on their deals. Costs related to construction or renovation present a significant risk factor – a question – to the health of a deal. Investors needs to work with builders to get accurate estimates, understand the variables and the risks involved in a given project, and know in detail how the financial relationship is going to evolve with a project. A good post here might be “10 things you need to know before you break ground”.

That potential Owner – the end customer – is the key player in whether or not a builder gets selected over the competition. That selection might be based on price, experience, portfolio, timeliness, availability and technical expertise. It might also be based simply on impression – the role of human intuition in selecting who we choose to spend time with and invest in. For this persona a good topic title might be “Is your builder a good fit? Make sure you are asking these 5 questions.”

Three potential topics isn’t a campaign – I’m going to need an almost endless flow of these from week to week to keep this campaign moving forward for the client. I’m feeling more confident through my research and even by writing this article that the flow CAN be bountiful. The trick is to stick to the process that I just engaged in above;

  1. Identify the personas of your target markets
  2. Establish for each persona a question and a need
  3. Identify the expertise, assets and information you have to address those questions and needs
  4. Create the content accordingly – written, video, survey – whatever is the best fit

Even cat videos take some work (the above “catvertising” spot is one of my all-time favorite pieces of content). Following these steps isn’t a guarantee that each and every piece of content we make will be a home run – but it definitely primes the pump for me. I’ll be sitting down with my client soon to walk through these steps to generate the flow we need.

Have you tried content marketing in your business? Do you have a blog that is languishing? Try these steps and let me know if you get results.