By Jim Mandeville
One of my businesses has been dying a slow death. I own an outdoor advertising agency. We specialize in advertising in places such as billboards, malls, movie theaters, gas pumps, and indoor. It’s no secret that the other traditional advertising platforms, newspapers, magazines, radio, and television are having a rough time as well.
Why is traditional media advertising struggling?
There has been a shift in consumer behavior. Exposed to thousands of advertising messages every day, we’ve all become pretty immune to all these messages. No longer can advertisers rely solely on traditional interruption marketing techniques and simply put their messages in front of our faces wherever we may be and expect us to respond. The leading companies and the most effective marketers have been using content marketing to break through the ad clutter and position themselves at the top of their industries. A huge plus for those of us with small businesses is that a successful content marketing program requires very little money. It does require a bit of work, creativity, and thought, however.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is generally defined as the process of providing valuable and relevant information to prospects and clients. This information can be in the form of:
I’ve personally downloaded dozens of whitepapers and subscribed to countless e-newsletters. I also read at least 8-10 blogs each day looking for information. A few hours of each day is spent looking for relevant and valuable information that I can use for my business or for my clients. And guess what? When I need to buy a product or service, which companies do you think I turn to first? That’s right, the companies that have been educating and informing me with great content all along. I consider them almost as business partners! As long as they continue to provide me the content I need, I will keep coming back to them. It’s a win all the way around.
Providing this relevant and valuable content positions a company as a trusted thought leader, positioning them to eventually transition from providing information to providing goods and services. Something important to note – this transition cannot be forced. Consumers like to buy on their own timelines and terms. They do not like the traditional and typical high-pressure sales tactics, and they will quickly tune out any company that takes this approach. With content marketing, you are simply seeding information to your prospects or clients. Most of the time you won’t even know who is consuming and using your content. If you’ve done an excellent job providing relevant and valuable content, eventually you’ll know who used it, because they’ll now be buying from you!
Which carpet cleaning company would you be more likely to hire?
- The company with a yellow pages ad and a website telling you how good they are, how long they’ve been in business, their products, and services, the best rates in town, etc.
- The company who’s website features somehow to clean your own carpet videos, maybe some useful articles and information on carpet and home cleaning, general cleaning tips and tricks, a list of things to look for in a carpet cleaning company, some real client testimonials, maybe a dirtiest carpet contest, links out to other related sites, etc.
All things being equal, the second company will likely attract much more business with their approach. What this company has done is provided valuable and relevant content in a no pressure, non-sales format. They are putting information out there and letting their prospects use and consume it on their terms. Consumers want to be educated and informed. They want to do their research and make their buying decisions on their own. Consumers have very little trust in the traditional “buy me” marketing messages anymore.
How will your business adapt and embrace content marketing?
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Jim Mandeville – After serving two tours of duty in the US Air Force, Jim worked his way up the corporate ladder. Eventually becoming a Director for a Fortune 100 company in the Northeast, Jim was left largely unfulfilled. Fortunately, as the recession intensified, Jim was let go from his corporate job. Sensing a golden opportunity, Jim and his wife sold off everything and relocated to Charlotte North Carolina for a new start. Jim bought an outdoor advertising franchise and got right to work. As the recession continued, Jim saw a need in the marketplace and acted quickly to capitalize. Jim is now the majority partner in B2B Guidebook, a direct mail and internet-based marketing program for small businesses. The business was successful far quicker than anyone expected, and Jim and his partners have decided to offer the opportunity as a franchise.
Jim lives in Charlotte North Carolina with his wife and two small children. He enjoys family time, reading, being outdoors, entrepreneurism, and Carolina Panthers football.