Nobody picks up the phone anymore. Even BFF’s tend to prefer a text, an online message or, if time allows, an in-person catch-up. Imagine then how difficult it is if you intend to call someone who doesn’t know who you are, and hasn’t had any kind of personal introduction?
Dead air. People’s time is too precious to waste with cold pitches without context. People do, however, Google to solve problems. They turn to search engines and social networks to find no strings attached solutions to their challenges. Enter content marketing, which shows up to help those people just in the nick of time.
Offer the right content at the right time and you increase the chances that a prospect becomes a lead.
It’s not about you
Many organisations start their foray into content marketing by creating content about themselves. Trust me, people don’t care. Apply everything you know about your target customers (personas, buyer journey maps, segmentation), and honestly determine: what do they want most?
Content marketer Jay Baer coined the term YOUtility to express this critical focus on helping, not selling (first). As Jay says: “Sell something, and you make a customer. Help someone, and you make a customer for life.”
Help takes different forms. As I’ve written before, you can add wisdom, utility or levity. You can curate a list of useful resources. You can create content that makes people laugh or takes them out of their daily grind. You can inspire them by sharing stories of incredible people that you believe they’d like to be.
If your prospective customers are new starters in their industry, how can you help them learn new skills and increase their knowledge? Prove that you have their interests at heart, in a way that naturally connects with your brand or organisational identity.
If your business sells construction equipment, you could offer free, expert and awesomely helpful content about safety, or create a digital comic about life on-site that gives construction pros a knowing, two-minute chuckle each week.
Show you understand the people you hope to build a relationship with before you move to the transactional.
Help people help themselves
Hubspot’s Brian Halligan believes that 90% of the sales funnel has swung to marketing. “It’s self-service, ” he says, “and you need to be able to be very, very helpful to see to the top of your funnel.”
Today’s prospect would rather do their own homework and solve their own problems – providing it can be done quickly and affordably. How can your content make it easier for people to help themselves?
What about a tutorial that walks them through solving their biggest overall pain point (whether it’s got to do with your product or not)? Make it consumable within a couple of minutes and you’re on a winner.
In addition to creating content that supports the business case for your product or service, why not create a template or how-to guide on creating a compelling business case? Think laterally and offer a life-boat.
Moz is a B2B company that gets generosity marketing.
The SEO and SaaS business invests vast resources to create free and incredibly helpful content to help people do better marketing. They support their generous content with other accessible touch points such as events and community meet-ups.
Director of Growth Marketing at Moz, Andy Nelson, says self-service is a competitive edge: “When we ask customers what drew them to Moz, we often hear stories about how they learned the industry through our content and community and trust our expertise.
“If our first interaction with someone was asking them to buy our product, it’s far more likely that we’d be treated like a commodity and judged solely based on our feature set and pricing.”
Generosity isn’t patronising (unless you’re pretending)
When you’re trying to grow a business, it can seem trite to talk about inspiring stories or selfless acts of assistance. Yet the reality is, that’s how trust is earned, and the permission for a conversation is ultimately won.
Ideas and behaviours travel at the speed of light in the connected age. As Eddie Yoon penned for HBR: “If Twitter is the TMZ for corporate behaviour — good and bad — might generosity be the only viable choice in a digitally connected world?”
Already nailing generosity marketing? Take it next level with owned communities.
Though truly useful content, shared selflessly can pay big dividends, this approach is most successful when sharing is institutionalised culturally throughout an organisation. If helpfulness is an act, customers notice, and you have a shot at the holy grail of business – indispensability.
Discover how advocate marketing can help you reach new audiences and build trust.