The truth is nobody wants to buy your product. People want to be educated, informed, entertained, inspired and supported. Content marketing enables you to demonstrate leadership and win the trust of their audience. People are more likely to buy from brands and businesses that they trust. Revenue is a by-product of trust
It doesn’t matter if your business is online or offline, content marketing is a viable channel for driving growth and boosting sales.
Content marketing pushes your brand further into the minds of your target audience through the creation of original, authentic and engaging content. That’s what good content marketing does for any business.
The only difference is, the way you choose to execute the content marketing strategy differs for online businesses and offline ones.
Here are 7 things you should know about content marketing for an offline business:
1. Content marketing is about leveraging storytelling to build a relationship
Content marketing has been around long before the term content marketing became a trendy catch phrase. Heck, it’s been around even before a lot of us understood what the internet was.
Anyone who grew up in 90s will remember 7Up’s Fido Dido TV and newspaper campaigns. A fictional, hip character went on funny adventures and he somehow eventually got to solve his problems with a bottle of ice chilled 7Up. In hindsight, the story makes little sense, but we ate it up those days. That emotional connection drove a lot of people to become 7Up loyals.
That’s just one out of the hundreds of offline businesses which thrived based on TV and newspaper content marketing campaigns.
Today, increased internet penetration means everyone and their uncle is on the internet and spends a huge chunk of their daily hours consuming digital content off it. If anything, content marketing has simply shifted and diversified across all the forms of media – traditional and new – that we have today.
Blogs and social media platforms are convenient mediums for businesses to run their content campaigns, just as businesses ran such campaigns on traditional TVs in the past.
2. Content marketing helps you address user’s important questions
Most local businesses think that online marketing means creating social media accounts and regularly sending out promotional updates. Such businesses are akin to a person relocating his business to another country because his friend did so or getting a medical checkup because his friend got one.
Content marketing is basically self promotion while simultaneously adding value. Great content marketing is adding tremendous value while “subconsciously” self promoting. The pros who get content marketing are able to sell their businesses online without being obvious they are pushing an agenda. And by the time the reader/prospective customer realises the agenda, he’s already sold on what they’re selling.
One of the ways they do this is by sharing incredibly valuable and insightful blog posts. Most of these blog posts are responses to customer’s direct questions and problems, as well as anticipated issues the customers will have. They also consistently engage with their followers, talking about their interests and topical issues.
If your business is in a technical industry, for example fintech, you’re in luck. There’s a plethora of fear due to inadequate knowledge about financial services. A startup can provide incredible value by being explicit and exhaustive about processes, forecasts and happenings around the industry and how they would affect their customers.
Imagine there’s a new regulatory policy, you could create a series of posts about the effects of that policy. Explain how it will affect people and the financial landscape, and offer timely advice. By doing this, you position yourself as thought leader, you gain trust and place your business into the decision making cycle of the customer.
3. Use different content types that capture the essence of your offline business
While insightful blog contents, are good enough, in some niches you’ll need videos to effectively explain your concepts and provide context.
In fact, the more inaccessible your startup’s big idea and industry is to the layman, the more you have to explore other forms of content i.e. explainer and demo videos, infographics, webinars and podcasts etc.
The good news is that data is getting more and more affordable by the day in Africa and more people are watching video content online.
4. Great content comes from market research and insight
If you want to create stellar content that generates traffic, then start by understanding your audience. Most people use Google keyword planner to research keywords. Other options include Ubersuggest or Keywordtool.io to drill down for specifics and accuracy.
You could also check popular sites and forums where your customers are likely to visit regularly and check the conversations they are having around your industry. This does two things: (1) It helps you become familiar with the buzzwords and terms they use: (2) You get to know the kind of problems your target audience are having based on the questions they ask.
Additionally, you can also plug in your industry keywords into Buzzsumo and find the most popular content in your niche. These should give you an idea of the kind of content getting good hits on the web. Your creativity should kick in from there.
If your industry doesn’t have interesting content creation opportunities (rare but it’s possible) embrace divergent thinking. Look for associative themes and concepts while threading the human interest angle.
5. Let your online footprint become a resource for local information
Aside from crafting content around your products, your audience will likely also like local information about their cities. Curating relevant local information is a great way to attract leads.
Remember to tap into the human angle. Content ideas can revolve around how a specific group of people use your product, how people react to such people, and so on. These kinds of content are sticky and share worthy, bringing you substantial amounts of traffic.
A good place to research local content demand is Ahrefs content explorer. You can find the popular content pieces for specific keywords and craft an improved version of the content.
You can also plug geo-modified keywords from your niche (e.g. web design in Kenya) in Google Keyword Planner and extract their traffic volumes. It’s a good way to gauge demand.
6. Embrace Guest Blogging
If you’re just starting out on the content marketing front, then don’t publish content on your own blog. Your blog is still a little fish in a rather vast ocean. Rather look for local blogs or publications with high domain authority and guest post your content there. They will help your website’s SEO and bring direct referral traffic.
7. Share your customer success stories online
Using particular case studies from previous or current customers, you can create incredible content which also double as testimonials. This will touch upon the pain points of your target audience and establish your credibility.
If you’re a new business, you can reach out to an organization with a need and solve it for them pro bono with the only caveat being, they agree to be subjects of your case study.
8. Offer special discounts online
You can offer coupons to your customers that can be redeemed at your offline store. Include a simple condition – that they spread the word about your blog, website or social media accounts with their own networks. Of course, you have to make the sharing process as easy as possible, as simple as “one click” to share.
That’s a good way to increase turnout and forge better relationships.
In conclusion, content marketing is a time tested strategy for growing businesses. Brick and mortar offline businesses can leverage the power and reach of social media and a blog to address the concerns of their customers and build a loyal audience. And that’s what good marketing accomplishes at the end of the day