Building influence in your industry sector amplifies your marketing efforts. Having influence can impact the attitude of people to your brand and potentially change their purchasing behaviour.
One of the most effective ways of building influence is through the use of content marketing. We believe that it is one of the most powerful tools that any business should have in their arsenal.
It can achieve many things if done right. It can position your business as an industry leader and provide sales leads, but interestingly it can also be used for building influence.
In the current ever-changing and connected marketplace, providing useful content that makes your business a go-to resource is an effective way of providing a positive customer engagement.
Providing value is the way for building influence.
Through positive engagement, businesses can build relationships and subsequent influence. At a practical level, having influence will help a) people to buy into the brand, b) to differentiate themselves from competitors and c) to get the team to buy into a founders vision. How do you build this influence? – by providing people with some type of benefit. The recipients have to appreciate the benefit / value provided or they won’t be influenced.
Think about the people who have influenced you in the past. It may have been your parents, a teacher, a sports coach, a work colleague or even a friend. Whoever it was – you probably valued them greatly. Doing so makes them an influence in your life.
Therefore, our point is that content marketing can be a powerful tool to help build influence by providing benefits to your target market. If you can solve a problem or just answer a question, without asking for anything in return, they are more likely to favour you if deciding to purchase a service you supply.
Let’s face it – people are really only interested in what your business can do for them. So they will be interested in your brand if it engages them by making their life easier somehow. It’s not about you – it’s about them.
People are hungry for relevant and reliable information.
Admittedly, nobody is going to put up their hand and say “influence me” but they do want the availability of good information so that they can make quick decisions. This can be for personal or business reasons.
The problem is that there is a tsunami of information being made available online and offline every day. As a result, it is becoming extremely hard for many people to sort the relevant and reliable information from the time wasters. Good content marketing can help them with this dilemma.
We will look at content marketing in a little more detail. Customers want information to help them take the ‘next step’ in a decision process and businesses want it to help build their customer base. Let us say you have decided to assist both parties by providing information. Before you start doing so we would recommend you have a look at our four general principals which you need to commit to:
- Decide to use content marketing as a strategy (see below)
- Consider how you will develop content that will be relevant to your audience
- Agree on a consistent style and delivery schedule
- How will you facilitate your team in providing good, quick and real content
We have found that if you create content based on your own experience, recipients can empathise more and will view it as being more valuable to them. For instance, the driver of the content of this post arose from a client meeting from last week.
They have decided to pay more attention to their online presence and to commence building thought leadership in their industry. Accordingly, we have embarked on a plan of activity to achieve that objective. In doing so, we thought we might share our thought process with you.
Effective content marketers build a plan of activity.
I guess the hardest part of starting off is putting together a content marketing plan. Here are 7 elements we recommend that you consider:
- Curate a list of your current content – website, blogs, social media, brochures, newsletters.
- Determine where your target audience is – what are they listening to / talking about (e.g. google analytics).
- Align your communication for consistency – tone, keywords, interest, educational, engaging, of value.
- Choose appropriate channels and tools – social media, video, audio, images, presentations, software (e.g. Hootsuite to help with time management).
- Plan around specific events – industry events, public events, seasonality, PR/advertising campaigns etc.
- Place your plan in an actual calendar – one, three, six or twelve months, whatever suits.
- If you don’t have the time, get help* – you will be planning, creating, editing, curating, distributing, measuring etc.
* If you do decide to get external help, look for evidence of, i) previous work samples, ii) who influences them, iii) SEO / SEM knowledge and iv) how much they expect to be paid.
Tips and Timesavers.
I think we can agree that no matter how fantastic your product or service is – if nobody knows about them, your business will not survive. Marketing is an essential part of business growth and using a content strategy is a relatively cheap way of gaining a foothold in your chosen market. Quite often these markets are dominated by large companies so not having to compete on budget, levels the playing field somewhat.
There are many ways of over complicating content marketing, but the concept is relatively straight forward.
Create and curate good and reliable content, promote it in the right places and thereby offer value to your audience.
As alluded to above, undertaking a content marketing strategy has to be a conscious decision by you / your management team. Let’s look at five steps you might take to build your strategy into one that will get you noticed:
- Firstly, ask yourself why do it in the first place? Consider your overall goal – is it to provide a specific solution to customers, to reinforce a brand positioning, to generate sales leads, activate a sponsorship etc.
- Secondly, determine (with your colleagues / external survey) what type of content your audience wants to receive – how to videos, tips via a blog, infographics, ebooks etc.
- The third step is to decide where the content will feature i.e. paid, owned or earned media. Your allocated budget will determine to which extent these channels are used for distribution. Either way there should be a mix of these elements.
- The penultimate step is to decide who will run your content marketing efforts. As mentioned above, if you don’t have the resources (i.e. a dedicated person / team) get help. Agreeing responsibilities, up-front, will help determine your capacity to create and distribute your content.
- The final step is to consider how you will measure success. There are many tracking tools out there that can provide you with mountains of data. Choose the one that provides real insights into how you’re doing and how you can improve.
So why are more businesses making content marketing an integral part of their marketing strategy? We touched on it earlier in this post. We believe that it is because if you want to build influence with your audience, you need to be providing as much value as possible.
This is why content that offers a distinct benefit that makes your customer’s life easier, will earn you the right to influence them. However your content must be relevant if it is to provide value. How can it do that?
It should answer a question that is being asked by your audience. At least it should be content that tells the reader how to solve a problem. Perhaps you could give your audience information that may be hard to get elsewhere. Or alternatively, you might provide content that makes your audience think about a topic differently
Whatever style you decide upon, if you want to persuade someone to take a particular action, you must find a way to benefit them. If you provide relevant value, you will grow your influence.
Content marketing is a way of making your brand useful to an end-user beyond what your product or service offers. ….O’C&K
“We hope you have enjoyed our marketing tips and timesavers blog” – Aidan & Jim.
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