Attracting prospects to help them become aware of your company is not about trying to “sell” anything, but rather to let prospects know that you exist as a possible solution to their needs, and to draw them to your website. This is the Customer Consideration phase at the top of your sales funnel.
One of the most effective ways to attract prospects is with content marketing, communicating with potential customers in ways that establish you as an industry expert. Using blog posts, how-to pieces, newsletters, and opinion articles on industry trends can demonstrate your expertise and establish credibility with potential customers.
I recommend starting simple, with a regularly scheduled blog series.
Blogs are written posts that appear on your website and related sites, that provide thoughtful, helpful ideas to the people you want to reach. They don’t have to be long, but they should be compelling and offer ideas that your audience might not be aware of.
You (or an eager employee) might write a few hundred words about the impact of color in direct mail campaigns, how special die cuts enhance the reading experience, the creative use of fonts, and the remarkable powers of variable inkjet printing in customizing addresses, text, and graphics. You could write success stories about your customers, discuss developments in your audience’s specific industries, or even print trends that positively impact your customers’ marketing efforts.
Where do you get ideas to write about? Well, take advantage of the ideas from thINK Forum, Canon Solutions America, and printing associations and journals. Try to find information of the “Did you know?” variety that you feel will really grab your readers’ attention. And don’t put all the burden on yourself. Make marketing a part of employee meetings, and solicit ideas and author volunteers to help push your blog campaign along.
Of course, content that’s delivered sporadically will not be memorable, nor build your reputation as a credible and helpful resource. So, create an editorial calendar to track upcoming blog topics by date. You might also want to have sections that generate related ideas, or the things you can repurpose. The most essential elements of your content marketing calendar will probably include dates for upcoming posts, the topics, the employee who is responsible for handling distribution and promotion, and the status of each blog as it moves through your publishing cycle. Include a metric column so that you can go back and measure what content is performing best for you. For example, you might measure visits to each of your web pages, the time spent on reading a blog, and click-throughs for further information. If you link your blogs to a regular newsletter subscription, you can collect email addresses for further, more aggressive outreach.
Of course, content marketing can include more ambitious items, including video demonstrations, white papers, e-books, case studies, and the like. For now, a regular blog series can be a simple and effective way to begin addressing prospective customers at the top of the sales funnel, and get them interested in learning more about you and your services.
Christopher Hosford is editor at large for Target Marketing. Former editor-in-chief of Nielsen’s Sales & Marketing Management magazine, he’s covered all aspects of sales, marketing, and cutting-edge marketing technologies.