When the first iPhone was released in 2007, it was clear that it was something brand new and innovative, but it was hard to imagine back then that a single piece of consumer technology would end up causing such a dramatic change in people’s habits over the next decade.
One of the industries that has had to adjust the most to the rise of the digital age is the advertising and marketing industry. And you don’t even have to work in that industry to feel it. If you’re a small business owner, you have probably had to think about marketing as you’ve grown your business, and it simply doesn’t work the way it used to. Strategies and techniques that were effective even as recently as five years ago are all but obsolete now.
Marketing is a known cost of business, and at Modmacro, we’re keenly aware of the fact that you have a limited amount of marketing dollars to work with. With this in mind, it’s always our goal to make sure your budget is being used only on the tactics that will have the biggest impact. That’s why content marketing is such a huge piece of what we do.
If you’ve heard of us before, you’re probably aware that we specialize in working with small Temecula Valley service companies (and we do!), but we also work with all different kinds of companies all across the country. Each has its own individualized marketing needs, but the common thread in our approach to all of them is content marketing.
Content marketing can take many forms, and depending on the size of your company, your marketing budget, the kinds of customers you’re trying to reach, and even the type of company you have, certain techniques will be more effective than others. We’ve identified five “levels” of content marketing, starting from the very basics, all the way up to in-depth projects that require significant time and a significant budget to implement.
Content Marketing at a 30,000-ft. Glance
First of all, what the heck is content marketing? Unless your business happens to be a digital marketing company, you probably haven’t heard this term a whole lot. According to the Content Marketing Institute, “Content marketing is the strategic marketing approach of creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience—with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
If we break that definition down, there are two main points. First, there is the concept of marketing through content creation. Instead of presenting potential customers with ads and shouting your company’s name into the void, content marketing challenges you to provide potential customers with information that will be meaningful to them. In other words, you’re presenting them with a topic that’s already relevant to them, and the more someone sees that your company is giving them exactly the kind of information they’re interested in, the more likely they are to build a connection with you.
Secondly, the purpose of content marketing is to convert people into paying customers. This is true with traditional advertising, too—if a person in Temecula is looking for plumbing services, and they see a billboard advertising a Temecula plumber, they might take note of the number and give that plumber a call. But that’s a specific kind of customer who is looking for that service right now.
More often than not, people are not in immediate need of a plumber (hopefully!), but wouldn’t you want your plumbing company to be the first one they call when they do? Content marketing enables you to build that relationship ahead of time, so you’re converting people into customers before they even need you. What’s more—content marketing also promotes loyalty with the customers you already have.
So, how do we begin?
Level One: Strategic Messaging Through Website Copy and Social Media Posts
If the idea of content marketing sounds a little intimidating, fear not! There’s a good chance you’ve already been doing some without realizing it, and even if not, it’s not too hard to start. For example, the copy on your website and the posts you generate for social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter—that’s all original content. If it’s created in a purposeful way (and that’s where a content marketing expert like Modmacro comes in), that’s content marketing!
For an example of how these short bursts of content can be a huge asset to your company’s marketing strategy, take a look at one of our clients, Knockout Pest Control & Termite. They are a Temecula pest control company, and while you may not initially think of pest control as an industry that would reach customers through content creation, Knockout will convince you otherwise.
First take a look at their website. At a quick glance, you see all the obvious things you would expect from a local service company. Their phone number and a contact form are both prominent, along with a statement that they offer free inspections. But you don’t have to look far to see that their website is also full of helpful information for consumers.
The main purpose is to educate consumers on the various services Knockout offers, but even if visitors to their website don’t become customers right away for whatever reason, they will leave Knockout’s website with a wealth of information about various pests (along with photos to help identify them) and the different methods used to control each. Through the content on their website, Knockout has clearly presented themselves as the experts to call if any Temecula residents find themselves with a pest problem.
Creating website content is a bit of an art, and it’s one that Modmacro specializes in. Believe it or not, most other web design companies require you to write your own website copy, but knowing how important the content on your website can be in converting visitors to customers, Modmacro has staffed copy-writing specialists as a part of our team. They work closely with you as your website is designed to make sure the copy on your site clearly and effectively communicates what your business has to offer to consumers.
Next, here’s Knockout’s Facebook page. That’s a Facebook page just about anybody would find interesting, especially if they had pest control on their minds. That’s what’s so effective about content marketing. There’s no question that Knockout is promoting their company through their Facebook posts. Of course they are. But they’re doing it in a way that is actually enjoyable and applicable to consumers. People may be fed up with ads, but they can’t get enough interesting content.
One thing you’ll notice about Knockout’s Facebook page is that all of the articles mentioned on it link to Knockout’s own blog (rather than to other websites talking about pests or pest control). That’s no accident, and it brings us to Level Two.
Level Two: Creating a Blog for Your Website
For a small business, creating a blog is one of the most valuable things you can do. It’s not always the kind of thing business owners think of, but from a content marketing perspective, it’s where your efforts start to snowball. Again, looking at the example of Knockout Pest Control & Termite, they’re getting so much more bang for their buck because the insightful and interesting articles they’re promoting on their Facebook page are articles they created and that are on their own website. It’s so much more powerful to be able to draw customers to something that’s yours than it would be to link off to someone else’s article about the same topic.
Remember that the goals of content marketing are two-fold: Create interesting and relevant content, and convert people into paying customers. What better way to engage potential customers than by drawing them to interesting, relevant content that also happens to be on your own website where all of your contact information is but a click away?
And creating a compelling blog is rewarding in its own right. Consider M. Grisafe Architects, a full service commercial and residential architecture firm in Long Beach. Their blog has been such a consistently well-written and helpful resource for their clients, it has even won multiple awards over the years from prestigious international competitions.
Topics on their blog range from news about the company itself (like this post announcing their new website launch), to information about specific projects they’ve worked on (like this post about a home their firm remodeled), to more general information about architecture and home design (like this post about how some spaces “feel right,” while others don’t, and why). Whether you’re currently in the market for an architect in Long Beach, or you’re just interested in the subject, the blog on the M. Grisafe Architects website has something for you.
A big concern for small business owners when we start talking about blogging is that they won’t have enough time to devote to it. After all, it’s critically important to always keep a blog fresh and up-to-date, and it takes time and effort to generate topics and write about them in a meaningful way that not only draws customers in, but that also connects the topic back to your company. As a business owner, you’re probably lacking for extra time because you’re spending all of your time running your business.
And you should be! At Modmacro, it is never our goal to create extra work for you. That’s why we have an in-house team that handles content creation for our clients. We work with you to generate ideas that will be pertinent to your customers and that will clearly communicate your company’s message, and then we do all the writing so you don’t have to.
That’s the advantage of partnering with a comprehensive digital marketing company like Modmacro. Not only can we take the task of writing and maintaining a blog off your plate, but we can carefully curate that content and make sure it’s coordinated with all other digital marketing efforts we’re doing on your behalf. It becomes a well-rounded plan that keeps building on itself as more content is added over time.
Going back to the M. Grisafe Architects blog, there’s one more key piece you’ll notice if you scroll through the posts. The expertise displayed on their blog has been so strong, other reputable associations and publications have reached out to owner Mark Grisafe to get his input on various topics. For example, Realtor.com has been reaching out to him to seek his insight on various pieces they have been writing (read about the most recent one here). Similarly, the Content Marketing Institute linked to the M. Grisafe Architects blog and used it as an example of the gold standard for how to effectively communicate with potential customers (read more about that here).
When you start lending your input to other publications and websites, especially if you’re creating whole pieces of content (such as guest posts on other blogs and articles in industry publications, for example), you are moving into Level Three.
Level Three: Getting Your Content onto Other Platforms
As your blog enhances the impact of your social media content, you’ll soon find that it’s time to grow beyond the reach of your current circle. Sure, social media can reach some new potential customers, but in order to really widen the pool, you have to get your company’s name out there in a bigger, more public way. A great way to do that is to get your content onto a platform that has a wider reach than your own, and if not a wider reach, then at least a different reach.
For M. Grisafe Architects, the opportunity to provide regular input for Realtor.com articles has been huge because it puts their name in front of a national audience. Not only will people read those articles and learn about M. Grisafe Architects for the first time, but they will also get a feeling for the level of expertise the firm has and how they work with their clients.
And that is just one example of leveraging someone else’s platform with your own content. There are many ways to do this successfully. Another way is by guest posting on another business’s blog or by writing articles for publications. At Modmacro, we have close ties with Businessing Magazine, an award-winning digital publication for small business owners. As such, many of our clients over the years have written articles that have been published by Businessing, which has been a great asset. By writing an article for the magazine, business owners can get their names out there while also creating compelling content that not only draws new customers in, but that also strengthens trust and loyalty with the customers they already have.
If this is sounding like a lot, don’t be discouraged. Just like with starting a blog, you may feel like you don’t have time to be pitching articles to publications and seeking out relationships with other businesses, organizations, and websites. This is another advantage to working with a digital marketing company like Modmacro. We do our research so we know where these kinds of outreach opportunities are. Whether the best step forward is to write an article for Businessing Magazine or reach out to a large website like Realtor.com, we do the legwork of creating the content and making sure it reaches the right destination.
The great thing about getting into this level of content marketing is that it builds off the previous two. If you get an article published in Businessing Magazine, for example, you can write a blog announcing it and linking to it, and you can create Facebook and Twitter posts that link to it as well.
Each level builds on the next to create a powerful and comprehensive marketing package. And when you have a digital marketing partner like Modmacro on your side, we’re at the helm of it all, so we can coordinate all of the messages to make sure we’re communicating exactly what potential customers need to hear about your company.
Level Four: Beyond Online Content—E-books, Press Releases, and White Papers
Once your company has a solid content marketing foundation built, you can start doing some extra things that can really boost your reach and deepen your connections with customers. Keep in mind that this next level is a significant step up because it requires specific expertise and is a much higher time commitment on behalf of the professionals that will be helping you out.
And you will need professional help for these things. After all, anyone can write a Facebook post, a blog, or even an article to pitch to another publication. Of course, it may not be the wisest use of your time to do it without the help of a company that specializes in content marketing, but it is possible. Whereas, unless you have formatted e-books before or learned the language and formatting of press releases and white papers, you will have a significant learning curve ahead of you if you want to dive into this level of content marketing without assistance. In other words, unless you are a professional publisher, PR representative, or digital marketing expert (or have someone on your staff who is), don’t go into these waters alone! When you’re ready, though, and when you have the right assistance, any or all of these things can be extremely powerful.
An e-book is a fantastic way to connect with potential customers on a deeper level and allow them to spend time with your company without having to even get on a phone call. Consider this recent award-winning e-book from AV Programming Associates (AVPA): Home Entertainment and Control at the Tip of Your Finger. It walks readers through a day-in-the-life of a family of four who are living in a fully automated smart home. It highlights the various features of the home (all of which AVPA is able to provide to customers) and explains how those features assist each family member in their busy lives. As a reader, you’ll want the Groves’s home to be your home, and if you’re looking to make some upgrades to your current living situation, you’ll be likely to reach out to AVPA!
Press releases are much shorter than e-books (often a single page), but they go out via wire services and can be picked up by hundreds of outlets. They are a fantastic way to reach a large audience very quickly. If you have a big announcement or a brand new service you’re offering, a press release is the perfect way to get the word out.
White papers are a different animal altogether. They are usually lengthy and they go deep into research in order to present a full picture of a product or service. They can be highly technical and challenging to prepare, but they show the reader the depth of your expertise. They build trust and demonstrate that you are absolutely the authority in that particular area.
Level Five: A Professionally Published Full-Length Book
The pinnacle of content marketing is writing a full-length book and having it published by a professional publishing company. A book is certainly the largest chunk of content you would write on a particular topic, and for that reason, it’s also your best opportunity for the deepest connection with potential (and current) customers.
For readers, books are a way to “spend time” with a particular author. And as a small business owner, you don’t have time to sit down with every single potential customer and have a lengthy conversation. By writing a book, you’re giving every customer who reads it that conversation they may never get to have with you in person. It’s the next best thing, and it’s extremely effective.
Like with e-books, press releases, and white papers, you wouldn’t want to go wading into those waters alone. The publishing process is highly involved, and as a business owner, you should be focused on running your business, not staying up night after night trying to untangle the intricacies of Amazon and how print-on-demand works. Leave that to a professional publisher.
Fortunately, at Modmacro, we have a relationship with a publisher that specializes in working with small business owners from start to finish, and they take on as much of the work as they need to in order to ensure the business owner’s job isn’t significantly disrupted. In other words, if you’re not an enthusiastic writer, you can still have a book. Many publishers conduct taped interviews and are able to write on behalf of the business owner (ghostwriting).
To see some examples, Modmacro has published three full-length books: Kill the Noise (2015), Startup (2016), and Simple Business Advice (2017). All three were professionally published with high-quality cover design and International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs), and they are all available through major retailers like Amazon and iBooks.
As a bonus, every time we have released a book, we’ve been able to put together an entire content marketing package around it. The book itself provides our company an enormous opportunity to connect with customers, but the time both leading up to and following the release ends up being a unique kind of marketing event that gets everyone excited about all the things we’re doing. A full-length book is a big deal, and trust us when we say that customers and colleagues in the industry see us differently now that we’ve published three.
Traditional Marketing Is a Thing of the Past
Think about your company’s current marketing efforts and take an honest inventory of what’s working and what isn’t. What strategies have been paying off in the last several years? If you’re doing any content marketing at all—even if it’s at what we would consider Level One or Level Two—those are probably the strategies where you’re seeing the biggest return.
If you’re not doing any content marketing at all or if you’re interested in learning how adding more of it to your current plan could help you grow your business in a big way, contact us at Modmacro. We are extremely passionate about this topic, and we truly believe it is the path to future success. The digital age (particularly the smartphone age) has set consumers onto a course where they are constantly hungry for information, and they cannot be bothered by ads and obvious marketing schemes.
Instead, they want connection, and they want to be shown content that is relevant to their lives. They want a deeper understanding of a business they give their money to. In a way, they’re more discerning that ever before.
Are you ready to give content marketing a try? We’d love to have the chance to talk with you about your company and discuss how content marketing can give you the boost you need to stay competitive. We hope to hear from you soon!