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Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day.
Teach him to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime.
….and if you’re good enough, you may also sell him some fishing rods, lines, sinkers, baits, reels, and even a power boat (or luxury yacht)…
Marketing is NOT just Selling
The point I want to make is this: marketing is no longer just about selling. It is no longer about being the cheapest, fastest, loudest, or flashiest. Neither is it about being everywhere, on every screen, 24 by 7.
No, the new world of marketing – or content marketing rather – is about showing how its done.
It is about educating your customers and helping them to become better at what they do. (Maybe even being a badass user!)
It is about providing useful information with little or no strings attached.
It is about maintaining that relationship even AFTER the sales is done.
Heck, it is also about providing immense value even without a single dollar being exchanged.
In short, marketing is about teaching.
The Value of FREE
With information tending towards free, and Google becoming the number one price versus value analysis tool, you need to find ways and means to get your name synonymous with product X or service Y.
While a memorable brand name may help (only for a little bit), it is the regular provision of good quality content that captures Google’s fancy.
Now wait a minute.
Isn’t it silly to give stuff away for FREE? Wouldn’t people take advantage of your kindness?
After all, you’ve worked extremely hard to develop the coolest products in the universe, offer them at irresistible prices, and hire the sweetest and slickest promoters to sell them.
Win Customer Trust through Content Marketing
Well, look at it this way. Who would you rather buy from?
a) A company which will do whatever it takes to get you to buy by blowing its own horn and offering all kinds of incentives, only to ignore you once the deal is done?
b) A company sincere about meeting your needs, educating you on how you can achieve the best utility from their product, and lavishing you with the best service after the deal is done?
I think the answer is quite obvious. And this is where the value of content marketing comes in.
The irony is this. While the big boys like Coca Cola, Amazon, and Nike have learned the importance of content marketing, it is the smaller mom and pop outfits which need it even more.
With limited marketing budgets and ad spend, the only way these guys can differentiate themselves is to educate their customers, be extremely helpful, and be available to assist them wherever possible.
Offer Utility and Win Customer Relationships
In a world where social media lowers the barriers to entry, every small business can create their own digital real estate offering information, advice, assistance and “101s” (fishing, knitting, rocket making, etc…) to their customers.
By providing great content, you can build interest-based communities of like-minded fans and members.
And maybe…. just maybe…. a couple (or hundreds) of them would swing their spending dollars in your favour.
The next time you think about launching a marketing campaign, consider developing a Wiki or an FAQ instead.
Provide as much information as possible about your product and service. Be so helpful and service oriented that it will be difficult for potential customers to say no to you.
Ways You Can Teach to Market
Here are some ways in which you can help to make your user a better version of himself or herself, while building trust, likability and affection for your brand:
- Start a blog. Yes, one like this one here. Focus on a few specific topics—the narrower your niches, the better your riches!
- Use keyword tools to find the right topics to teach on. (You can find some of them here.)
- Create a content calendar and be consistent. Establish a publishing schedule that you can keep up with.
- Record short videos of yourself offering a “How To” or “Tip of the Week”. Publish and share on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube.
- Engage with others on various social media communities and platforms. Give them advice. Help those who ask for recommendations.
- Provide mini courses either via an email newsletter (sign up for mine here) or a series of videos. Or you can organise weekly Zoom webinars. Make it gated—get your fans or followers to register for it so that you can reach them later.
- Build a learning community and invest in offering them value. Here’s a comprehensive guide to doing so.
- Most importantly, be available to help (and if you don’t know the answer—find out and get back to them.)
Remember, it isn’t all about the sale but the relationship which matters.
As a long-time content and social media marketer, I’ve always believed in the power of giving good gifts. And the best gift you can offer to your followers and fans is the gift of your knowledge, your experience, your mistakes, and your habits.
Have you been regularly teaching your communities? If not, why not use today as a starting point?