We all know the life of many sales people. It’s one cold call after another. It’s a constant slog to get new prospects interested and then to keep in contact with them.
But there is another way.
Print companies should use content marketing
What is content marketing? It is a way of keeping in contact with customers by giving them useful information. Information that will interest them. This can be done by newsletters, mailers, blogs or e-mail to prospects and customers.
Print companies that use content as a way of keeping in touch create constant relationships with their prospects. The prospects buy in to the information that is sent to them and this engages them with the printer. Because they are engaged they are more likely to buy when the time is right. So printers who use content to keep in touch have more control over their sales pipelines. They are more likely to achieve the sales that they need.
Many printers don’t use content as a way of keeping in touch. They have to work a lot harder to achieve their sales targets. They have less control over their sales pipelines. This is because they don’t use this easy way to engage with prospects. They have ignored an easy way to create a relationship with their prospects.
However, to create these relationships you need to carry out content marketing in the correct way. Here are the three rules that every print company should remember.
Remember the reasons why you are content marketing
Many print companies start off their content marketing with the best of intentions. However, as time goes on, there is an increasing pressure to get on with day to day sales. Staff concentrate more and more on cold calls. Content marketing gets left behind.But many companies find that, as they do less content marketing, sales become harder. There are a number of reasons for this.Firstly, content marketing keeps your company in the mind of the customer on a regular basis. Remember that the customer may not be ready to buy when you contact them.
Useful content means that the prospect is constantly reminded of your presence. So when they are finally ready to buy, you are in their mind.
How many times have you spoken to a customer, to find out that they have just placed work with a competitor? Many customers will place work with the company that is uppermost in their mind at the time. Content marketing means that the prospect will not forget you.
Content marketing is also a great way for you to show a prospect that you understand their sector. And to show that you understand the business challenges that they face. It’s a great way for you to show how you are the right company to solve these challenges for the prospect.
However, content marketing only achieves this if you remember rule two.
Provide useful content to your audience
The quickest way to ensure a customer does not engage with your content is to give them lots of technical information. Most prospects are not interested in your presses or your processes. You need to make sure that your content focusses on their businesses and how using print will help them.
Firstly, you need to make sure that the content is focussed on a target audience. Many printers spend their time trying to sell to anybody they can. However, if content marketing is carried out in this way it will be less engaging. It is much more effective if you are speaking to a very focused audience.
Next, you should focus on your audience’s problems. Have you noticed how people love to complain? Nothing gets an audience engaged more quickly than talking about their problems. If you have chosen a target audience, you will be much more likely to be talking about problems that are relevant to them.
Remember that their problems may not be directly print related. However, you should be able to provide services that help your customers solve these problems.
You also need to prove that you can solve these problems. A very useful strategy in contact marketing is to provide case studies.
A case study:
• Helps the audience see how a solution works in real life
• Gives credibility to the solutions you provide
• Gives credibility to you
• Gives a prospect hard facts on which to base a buying decision
Case studies can be a very useful way to create good content for your audience. Of course, case studies are unique to you as well. It is content that can’t be copied by anyone else without mentioning your company.
However, you can’t just provide a single case study. You need to organise your content marketing carefully.
Make sure you have a content marketing action plan
The first part of your action plan is to make sure that you have people to send your content to. You need to start building a list of prospects and customers. These people must be opted-in. In other words, they must have agreed to receive your content. You cannot just send material to anyone you wish.
Your sales people should always ask customers and prospects if they would be interested in receiving regular, useful information. You can also have a sign-up form on your website. It helps if people receive a free gift when they sign up to the list – maybe a white paper, or some extra service with their next print job.
It is also important that you decide how you will create your content. This is the number one issue that most printers raise with me when we talk about content marketing.
Remember that you don’t have to create the content. Customers and prospects may value you distributing other peoples’ content just as much. (Remember to always acknowledge the original author and link back to their site). I often mail my contacts with articles that I think they will find useful. And I make sure that I take the time to tell them why they are useful.
You may wish to consider asking a professional to write your content for you. There is a cost involved, but a good writer will create content that really works for your readers. For instance, this article is written to appeal to four different reading styles. (And, yes, please do contact me if you would like to discuss outsourcing your content!)
Finally, you need to plan what topics you are going to cover. You also need to create a publication timetable. It is very important that you are regular and consistent in your communications.
This may all seem like a lot of work.
Doesn’t content marketing take up too much time?
Compare the number of customer touches that you can make with content marketing rather than calling. You’ll quickly come to the conclusion that content marketing is an efficient way to make customer touches.
Content marketing doesn’t replace the phone. But it does enable you to achieve much more than if you just use the phone.
Here’s how content marketing worked for one print company
This company sent out a number of targetted mailings to a very specific market sector. Each of the mailings had content that was useful to their prospects. As the mailings continued, the company found that prospects were contacting them. It was the prospects who initiated the discussions. The company was able to turn a number of these enquiries into good business.
If you want to achieve the same results, you need to start taking some first steps straight away.
Here are three action points to start your own content marketing campaign
1) Start building a list
2) Decide what topics you are going to write about
3) Create a publishing schedule
Soon you’ll find that cold calls are less necessary
I don’t promise that you need never cold call again. But you’ll find a good stream of new business from your content marketing. And you’ll find that your customers are more loyal.
Content marketing really does reduce the nee to cold call. In fact, I no longer make any cold calls at all.