Why should you spend time creating expert content when there’s so much else going on in your business? It’s a question we get asked a lot here at YEC.
The simplest answer is that publishing valuable, non-promotional content on a consistent basis creates trust, and trust leads to business opportunity. Expert content isn’t about selling -- it’s about educating and informing your audience over time. I recently spoke with John Hall, YEC member and CEO of Influence & Co. (the company that powers our Editorial Concierge service), who distills the benefits of content marketing into a simple formula:
Trust + Top of Mind = Opportunity
“When you gain trust with an audience and then you stay on top of their mind, opportunity happens. It could be a sale, it could be brand advocacy, but ultimately, if those two things are happening, you’re going to benefit.”
Becoming a go-to resource for your audience can mean the difference between getting a keynote speaker gig or being in the audience; between nabbing an important meeting or sending cold emails; and more importantly, between a customer trusting you with their personal information (and eventually, money) -- or going to your competitors instead.
The Benefits of Educating vs. Selling
Content marketing is increasingly important to businesses large and small. Content Marketing Institute’s 2016 annual research surveys of marketers in North America found that 76 percent of B2C respondents’ organizations now use content marketing, compared to 88 percent of B2B marketers’. Both surveys revealed that companies plan to create even more content in 2016.
“Twenty or 30 years ago, you could just do direct selling,” Hall explains. “Now we’re in this era of the informed customer where they know the information is out there -- and your brand has to be one that is getting that information to them and gaining their trust.”
While specific objectives will vary company to company, here are some high-level benefits of this “informed customer” approach, regardless of your industry:
- Trust: Consistently valuable content creates trust: in your brand, your company and your ability to deliver on your promises. And trust leads to opportunity -- with investors, customers, partners and potential hires.
- Engagement: People don’t interact with ads per se. But they do interact with (and share) content that educates, informs and entertains.
- Sales: Expert content that addresses customer pain points or topics of interest can serve as useful collateral for your sales team. And of course, contributing content to other websites can generate inbound leads and referral traffic too.
- Hiring: Top talent isn’t easy to entice -- unless your organization is seen as a trusted leader to prospects who value your culture and authority.
- Culture: Here’s a fun idea from my conversation with Hall: try using your content marketing pieces during onboarding to help new hires get up to speed on your brand’s mission, message and culture.
TIP: For more information about creating and executing a complete strategy, Hall outlines 5 critical factors for content marketing success here.
3 Ways to Get Started
In addition to creating informational content on your website and for marketing channels (e.g. email, social, white papers or research reports), contributing content to other sites and publishers is an important component of any content marketing strategy.
Participating in our brand-building and publishing opportunities is an easy way to get started, allowing you to reach a wider audience and build credibility where it counts.
Here are three ideas to kick off your efforts:
- Answer Expert Panels: By answering several questions each month on topics you know your audience cares about, you’ll position yourself as an expert in a variety of publications, from Mashable to Inc. and The Huffington Post.
- Submit an expert article: While articles do require an investment of time, they are also a unique opportunity for you to build your thought leadership platform in a public venue. Start by identifying topics that align with your organization’s goals -- e.g. generating quality leads, hiring top talent or attracting business development opportunities -- and create expert educational content that helps, instead of sells, your target audience.
- Share a recent accomplishment with our blog editors: If you’re tight on time, this is a great way to get a quick writeup about your company featured on our blog.