Content is the big cheese, head honcho and king of the hill. There are other members of the “How to Succeed in Business” royal family, like marketing, which spreads the word about your products or services; and design, which makes everything visually appealing. Customer service deserves a place at court as well.
In the right hands, these royal factors can collectively combine powers to create a positive user experience, whether you’re trying to reach consumers or businesses customers. At the same time, it’s important to not deliberately downplay the role of any of them. Like saying, “We have great posts so don’t need a great-looking site,” “We don’t need to pay for ads,” or, “People love our products, so won’t mind waiting a while for us to fulfill orders,” are dangerous statements. If no one knows about your products or services, their value or how to buy them, you won’t get the orders.
Aidan Huang from Oneextrapixel.com, a digital business blog, said the best content markets itself. This concept is noticeable with social media – the average user will more likely share interesting links with friends or professional networks, rather than ads they like.The level of activity due to a site’s content provides interesting data to the owner, but really appeals most to potential advertisers. If it’s a popular site, advertisers would certainly prefer if their message is surrounded by informative content.
There’s even a term for this content-first sales approach – Buzzfeed owner Johnny Peretti calls it “viral optimization.” While end-users, be they businesses or consumers, may tune out or skip ads, they may notice if a company sponsors a story or quiz. With popular posts, everyone wins – the customer is informed and shares insight with colleagues. The company providing the content gets traffic, and the sponsoring advertiser gets seen. None of it is possible without attention to content.
Buzzfeed’s “listicle” concept isn’t necessarily new, just well executed, and nothing stops other businesses from imitating it. The same is true with creating new social networks – Facebook and Twitter may currently have the largest market shares, but the popularity of specialty networks like Instagram and Pinterest show that people appreciate alternatives.
You don’t even have to set your company’s sights on becoming “the world’s greatest ____ provider,” though that lofty goal is easier due to the Internet's global reach.
You can first shoot for being excellent in your local market. Or, if you don’t market your products to the public, you can at least offer other businesses useful content about your products or expertise. Kapost, a content marketing blog, said managing this concept starts with creating a “sales funnel,” where content initially attracts customers, and your sales team can create points where customers can consider purchasing.
Kapost’s post describes an online boot retailer, which attracts customers searching for one specific style or brand. Then they read descriptions and reviews of it, and consider purchasing. A well-managed sales and service team can help customers with their searches, make recommendations, answer questions, help with purchasing and assist with any post-transaction concerns.
The funnel model can be used for any product or service. If you present your content as the prime draw for your business, whether digital or brick-and-mortar, good sales people can help with up-sells, build rapport and loyalty, create promotions, and encourage future business. A strong outside sales force can build new business and meet prospects, using the same skills that have been used for years.
As a longtime content writer in a daily newspaper marketing department, I’ve seen many advertisers keep returning to demanding content. They typically work with our sales teams to create colorful and memorable online ads and catchy print campaigns, all the while hoping to spend as little money as possible. But the biggest consistent content request is “what I really want is a story about me and my business.”
Our current content landscape is becoming an unusual place, especially as native advertisements, and higher-quality advertorial begins to gain new footholds. It’s a perfect time: good sales professionals who claim they can sell anything will have an opportunity to prove this, and content providers essentially have a blank check to create wonderful things.