How we create Content Marketing campaigns that transform sales
Millions of business people are talking about content marketing. Yes, millions.
There are currently 22.7m results for the search result "Content marketing books" on Google. The need to understand content marketing has become mainstream.
Yet, out of these millions - the majority still don’t know what it is.
And they really want to produce results with a content marketing strategy.
That won’t happen without teaching yourself what to look for first. Then you can concentrate on how to apply it.
TrainingMontage will tell you exactly what it takes to create a content marketing strategy - this is how we do it.
Why are businesses looking into content marketing?
Content marketing when done well will convert more traffic into sales.
We want to help you to understand content marketing better so that you can make an informed decision about how to deliver your strategy.
An introduction to content marketing
There are 4 parts to content marketing:
Wait. You are probably asking.
“How does content marketing differ from my current marketing efforts?”.
The short answer is that it’s the consistency of publishing content that is relevant to your audience. Even better, it starts to build your own audience for you.
Why do you want to consistently produce content instead of writing just a single piece and hoping for the best?
It's all about education first, selling comes later
When someone is considering a product that will cost their business a significant amount of money, they will be ‘hungry for information’ about it.
They understand that you want to sell their services to them, and if you ‘sell’ to them too early they are not going to feel confident about their decision.
If they lack confidence in their decision, they are very unlikely to buy.
Giving a visitor the confidence to buy is far more likely to turn them into a customer.
By providing answers to the questions that you know your customers have, they are going to trust you to be the person to deliver the service.
Imagine a time when you were buying a product where you had to take your time to consider all of your options. It may have been a laptop, a TV or a car. When you were still considering, you were searching for information:
- Expert insight
You were willing to do whatever you could do to help yourself and avoid being the person that picks the laptop that works nothing like you expected right?
As said in our copywriting guide section here- who wants to be the person who buys the car that most people know has bad fuel economy?
That’s why being the teacher matters so much more than being a salesman right now. Satisfying potential customers ‘hunger for information’ will create more trust - and that creates more sales for your business.
What happens when you do content marketing well?
Yes, we know it will create more sales. It brings your business a new found confidence too.
Instead of publishing content once and hoping that it finds an audience, you publish more content and build an audience that wants to read it.
That’s where the ‘more sales’ comes from.
You will have a plan that will build you more leads and crucially, it will create more trust with your new audience.
And yes - that does mean more sales.
What happens when you do content marketing occasionally?
That’s not really a strategy that we could relate to - well, not with results that matter.
Think about it. If you don’t follow through with the 4 principles consistently, you won’t get consistent results.
Even worse, you won’t get the building up of your audience and you are not going to win their trust.
Trust is everything when it comes to giving your prospects the confidence to buy.
This is a way that countless businesses do content marketing. Try it now and again. Maybe this time it will work. It is foolish.
Consistency of content creates results
What do we mean by consistency? Just two elements:
- Quality content, consistently
- A reliable quantity of content
Take them away and you are back to the “occasional content marketing strategy” that doesn’t produce the results that you want.
Consistency also means that you have consistent relevance to the audience you want to educate.
That consistency that we have seen time and time again produce transformative results, comes from promoting several pieces of content.
One piece of content versus several: The data
There is an old and often quoted sales tip that says:
Seasoned business professionals may not know the numbers but they will know the principle rings true.
Following up is an incredibly important technique that most successful salespeople have in their arsenal.
You need it with your content.
Imagine sending one email to your impressive list you’ve built up for four years. Worse still, imagine sending them one email per campaign you start.
Just one. It’s not enough. Certainly not to get the results you want.
If you were to send five emails, we would see a dramatic increase in the conversions to sales.
A fit and proper content marketing strategy wants to get to the fifth contact (or touchpoint as we say) and beyond to make more impact.
Mixing media to bypass filters
TrainingMontage isn’t referring to spam filters, firewalls or similar algorithms that prevent contact from outside sources.
We are talking about our own attention filters.
This is important because we have all experienced that moment where we are reading, but we aren’t really talking it in.
When you are being marketed to by someone that you don’t know, like or trust yet - that filter is likely to be higher.
“So, let’s just pack it all up and forget about doing any marketing. The filters are too damn high.”
Thankfully, any reaction like that is not bounded in reality.
Just one way of making our content marketing campaigns more effective is mixing the media we promote.
A prospect you are in contact with may value an eBook PDF way more than a long email. Or the other way round. That’s what TrainingMontage finds out.
Mixing it up is a part of a quality content marketing strategy. But beware, it isn’t going to cover up poor quality content.
After our long introduction to content marketing basics, we now need to go into the details about the four content marketing principles of:
Starting with research
Research is the first step and without it, you could be going off-course by the time you get to the production phase..
It’s incredibly important to do research well. You are looking to connect and persuade potential visitors to become your customers.
If you put yourself in a position where you don’t know your potential customers well enough, you are not going to make a persuasive impact.
Type of person your business needs to understand
We are referring to your “typical customer”.
They will tend to have a certain size of business, in terms of employees and turnover.
Their tendencies will include the industry experts that they respect and most importantly, what type of content that they enjoy.
You have interacted with these type of customers before and you have won their business before.
As part of a winning content marketing strategy, you need to articulate who this person is and aim to persuade them with content.
Typical industry myths, proverbs and memes
In most industries, business leaders will share their proverbs that hold true with their employees and respected peers.
There are of course myths too that get shared around, some that business leaders may well believe in. More likely, they expose these myths and lift the lid on them. This gives the benefit of being able to use that insight to sell to their potential customers.
Having an idea of what the industry talks about and denounces is incredibly powerful information. It helps to bring you into the community and display that you understand it - rather than hope saying that you do will provide the right result.
Memes are another factor that helps members of an industry get along and share information. Sometimes these can be about important business behaviours that the industry has come to an agreement on as being “good".
And sometimes, they can just be plain old funny observations of what happens within the industry.
Understanding these memes is another powerful factor that will make your content marketing production more likely to connect.
What are memes? A tiny history lesson
Meme was a phrase coined by Professor Richard Dawkins in his book “The Selfish Gene” first published in 1976.
Here he is an Oxford dictionary explained version of it:
So, Richard Dawkins was talking about behaviour that’s passed on by people. That’s how TrainingMontage take it anyway.
Now, memes means something different now.
When you hear meme today, it’s far more likely to about photos than scientific theory.
It’s a photo that has words added to it for humorous effect and is rapidly shared.
When we say memes about industries - we mean in behaviour and social sharing.
The language of the community
There is a catalogue of certain words that people within a community tend to use.
When a guitar player picks up a vintage guitar and loves it, they’ll say it “plays like butter”.
When a surfer catches a huge wave in the sea and it goes well, you may hear “such a rad ride”. Well, at least they did in the 60s.
There are universal ones that crossover like management speak. We all know “blue sky thinking”, “get all your ducks in a row” and a personal hate “touch base offline”.
For every inspirational man manager there is a David Brent in waiting.
The language of an industry is something you need to know. Well enough to pass as “getting it”. Otherwise, you’ll run the risk of being the uncool uncle trying to be “down with the kids”.
As part of your research, the language of the community needs to be taken seriously so you can have the best chance of being persuasive with them.
Consider the publications they read
There will be localised and national industry news that people from your chosen audience read regularly.
It involves blogs, articles and opinion pieces from respected experts who are in they industry too.
You should know which sites and publications that have their attention. It will give you an insight into the writing they like to see.
Know the headlines that they love
Headlines are where 80% of your time should be spent on your content. TrainingMontage is obsessed with getting headlines right. If you want to know more directly about writing headlines, go to our copywriting guide here.
When you are researching headlines, you will be looking for patterns in the type of headlines used and the words that are repeated.
How to research successful headlines
There are great tools out there that will help you to research which content is really hitting the mark with your chosen audience.
The one that deserves your attention is BuzzSumo. Here's their site here.
Check out what Buzzsumo will show you for your chosen search - it gives you the social shares of a piece of content.
That means you can start to find the kind of headlines that create the biggest reaction in your potential customers industry.
If there are huge numbers of people sharing this content, you can bet that they trust it.
The strategy: Research governs it
Education first, always - you sell later.
When your potential customer is considering to use your service, they will be 'hungry for information'. They need to make the right decision because it’s important that the money they commit is well spent.
A further reason they will keep wanting to learn before they commit to saying ‘Yes’ is because who wants to be the decision maker who made a costly mistake?
Your prospect wants to avoid this at all costs because they will have to explain their decision failed. It could be to their boss or to an investor. Either way, just imagine being in that situation.
No one wants to have to go through that.
You want to give them the confidence to buy and to trust you. Of course, it puts you in pole position to get them to say ‘Yes’.
Numerous pieces of content matter - A lot
One of the principles we have mentioned numerous times is create many pieces of quality content.
We’ve also mentioned “know, like and trust” often. That is with good reason.
A big thank you to Bob Burg there. It may not be an original principle he made but he has most certainly popularised it.
Know, like and trust plays into the hands of content marketing, plus it marries up with sales.
This is why we keep driving home the power of multiple pieces of content and how it increases sales exponentially.
To get the opportunity to have more contact with your potential customers, we need to know not only who they are - we need to know their details.
How do you get their contact details
As part of a content marketing strategy, there needs to be defined tactic for getting contact information from prospects.
Here is a list of ways you can get data like email:
- Long form articles
- Book Reviews
- Case study
Whether you have the means to do them all are what you should be working out within your strategy.
Long form articles
Long form copy of 1000 words or even 2000 words or more are excellent content for those who are 'hungry for information'.
In the article, there will be multiple opportunities for your prospect to give you their email and name with subscription boxes.
You will find there are different ways of pulling it off - here is socialtriggers.com about where to place your email subscription boxes
A seminar that takes place online and is another way of connecting your prospects and teaching them about your services.
It can be used as a way to escalate a prospect to give you more contact information. Or, you can use getting their contact details as a barrier to entry to get into the webinar.
The way this works the best is that you create a page where you are giving away an eBook. If you create a barrier to the eBook it has to be of remarkable quality and truly help your prospects to solve their issues.
For example, if you created “an ultimate guide on how to laser cut wood for wedding invitations” - it would need to express in terms of a step-by-step guide how to make a wedding invitation from wood.
You will lose trust and faith with your prospect if you offer a free eBook full of information that allude to solving issues - rather than displaying actionable solutions.
Don’t get caught out on creating a barrier to give less information than you promise.
Very simply, you could take an article that you have written and film one of your trusted team members reading it to camera.
Why would you do this? It’s useful because it will cut-through the filters of people who don’t wish to read information and gain attention from those that prefer to watch videos.
Videos do not have to be expensive but production does have to be at a certain level. Audio has to be clear and video should at least look professional.
Infographics take a set of data and visualise it as a graphic such as bar charts and turn it into a compelling narrative.
This media is one of the hottest form of content marketing because it’s so easy to share and for visitors to understand the information it presents.
Now, there are some incredible infographics out there. The ones that are get 55,000 shares and more on social media - plus they get placed into elite publications like INC.com or The Times.
Editors love them, people love to share them and prospects who are 'hungry for information' love them too.
Sadly, that does mean that there are some poor ones too. You could say that some of them just aren’t infographics. A list of numbers and no citations of your sources are going to get less than impressive results.
If you have data and want to create a story about it for your content marketing plan - there are a range of fantastic free tools that can help you here at Creative Bloq
Remember - get data that is well cited and makes sense, create a compelling narrative and then put that into making an incredible infographic.
Book reviews will work well for businesses that have a recognised spokesperson or leader that is happy to share their opinions publicly.
Now you might be thinking of reading 50 Shades of Grey and telling your potential customers that you didn’t think it was realistic - maybe that’s best for Amazon.
Coming back to the language of community and the publications they respect, there will also be books that are getting talked about.
How about you read one and published a review about the book? They’d love to save time and learn the best parts of an industry book.
When it comes to testing out who you are and what you do, case studies put your expertise on the line.
You can offer a case study on a page that is a buying one - for example one of your specific services. You can offer it with a barrier that they give you their email address.
A case study is a staple of a content marketing campaign where you have demonstrable results that will help persuade your prospect to a ‘Yes’.
Interviews can be done in written form, audio or video. The more important issue is who exactly to interview.
Getting an industry expert who your typical prospect wants to hear from will help to place your business as an authority within the industry.
Matt Aguilera, co-founder of TrainingMontage interviewed 81 influential leaders from the North West for a business news portal and it caused a huge ripple in the community - here’s one of Brother MD Phil Jones.
The best part about this strategy is that it has a long life in it’s own right and you can guarantee that it will be shared by them on social media too.
It will make your presence legitimate in that industry and importantly, you will be giving instead of taking.
That’s a big factor in getting prospects to know, like and then trust you.
Producing content: How to do it consistently
Now that you have your research done and you’ve settled on a strategy, it’s time to produce the content.
Now you know that producing it consistently to a high standard is going to greatly affect your results.
Producing a content calendar and going through mountains of ideas is a firm step in the right direction.
You’ll be pleased to know that there are shortcuts to make sure that you are not always facing writers block when it comes to your content marketing strategy.
Here's a content idea generator for use in emergencies.
Here are ways to make sure that you always have the best chance of consistently producing content.
Formula for great posts
If you take our tip of using BuzzSumo to research headlines, then you will see just how well list articles perform.
The best part about certain type of list articles is that you just need to go and curate the content then bring it together.
If you are a corporate cleaning service, you may want to do an article like:
The article could draw from your own experience and others that you have found.
How-to articles that help people are one of the most shared types of content.
All guide types work, it just seems that “how-to” headlines perform excellent when it comes to social sharing.
The idea is to discover the common problems that your prospects have and solve them.
One of the long term benefits of these guides is that they are likely to be advice that can be relied upon for years to come. That makes them evergreen.
People have principles and opinions. Sharing them gives others the chance to understand them better and gives them a chance to ‘like’ them. After all, we want to do business with those we like - wouldn’t it be a good idea to share your opinions?
It doesn’t have to be your opinion on something as intense as government reform or philosophical debate. It could be about upcoming trends in your industry, or more controversially you could lift the lid on industry myths that you have discovered.
Sharing your opinion may cause division for you.
There will be those that feel enlightened and share your opinion - and others, well not so much.
All businesses wishing to implement a content marketing strategy should avoid anything that could be described as “on the fence” or “beige”
For more methods on standing out, give Seth Godin and his Purple Cow philosophy a glance.
Why you need a content calendar
Moving away from the occasional effort means planning, and planning well with strategically correct ideas.
The objective of a content calendar is to make this planning far easier and to help you measure the success of your campaign
If you need an example of how one looks - read this excellent blog by econsultancy.
Fill up your content calendar with content ideas and plan it out as a timed campaign. This will govern all of your production.
Promotion: What you are looking for
Let’s sum it up in three words:
“Traffic, traffic, traffic”
To be fair, there’s another three that matter to get the traffic.
“Relevance, relevance, relevance”
Yes. Traffic beats anything. Eyes on your content matters the most.
If no one relevant sees your content, then it isn’t worth writing.
This is true folks. No views, no point.
The hope of creating a content marketing strategy that educates and sells later needs readers to find it.
This is why promotion matters so much.
Luckily in this marketing economy, you can just go out and buy traffic.
Google is trustworthy
Email marketing: building a list and marketing to it
TrainingMontage builds email lists as a key part of any content marketing campaign.
You may have your own. That’s great news. You are ahead already. Greater news is that you can build on it.
No matter if you are starting from scratch, the reason to build a email list remains the same
You build a list so that you have a constant source of potential customers to market to.
And - they will be relevant to the services that you offer too.
Email is a huge part of content marketing
We set out to get a prospect's email so we have the opportunity to put them in a content marketing campaign that is relevant to them.
Having the opportunity to send them five pieces of content via email means we can help to multiply our sales opportunities.
Social advertising: Your great friend in getting leads
Social media has provided us with a great amount of opportunity when it comes to growing audiences.
Other marketers may talk about driving engagement and getting bigger reach via social media. TrainingMontage concentrates on getting new prospects who will become customers.
The major social networks all have ways of you advertising and they make it easy for you to access their data.
The most used social network has an impressive suite of advertising options and user data to make the most of your content.
Thanks to Facebook being experts in what people's interests are, through their likes and connections, it has huge advertising potential.
Advertising on Facebook to get contact information works, and it works very well. Even better - it’s cheap.
Facebook allows you to advertise and lets you collect emails from visitors too. It’s great for building your email list and also getting your content seen.
Like Facebook, Twitter has more than one form of advertising and can help you get emails from their users.
Advertising by targeting what your prospects follow is great for getting eyes on content too.
The professional network has some great data. The job title, location, company and industry that someone works in.
You can advertise directly to IT managers in the technology sector who work in the Northwest.
It’s niche and well worth paying for.
Taking a piece of content like an eBook and advertising it directly to the prospects it helps is simple genius.
Social sharing: Influencers
Influential social media accounts from your prospects industry will be plentiful.
They could be publications, industry experts or known curators of industry memes.
Getting any of these accounts to read and share your content based on its merit could fast-track you to a huge quantity leads.
You could offer them content that their readers want to read or a cross promotion with a service their audience will like.
Being creative with how you can give them content that they feel compelled to share is the important part. TrainingMontage knows that certain industry figures are willing to publish it for a fee - no judgement from us right now.
Negotiation is almost the key
Get into conversation and do your utmost to get these influencers to like you and then trust you.
When you do, negotiating your position and getting them to deal with you will be far easier - even mutually beneficial
We could have written so much about content marketing, how to create a strategy and how to deliver it.
At some point, we have to stop so that you can take it all in and apply it for yourself.
TrainingMontage has helped corporates and SMEs like recruitment agencies, technology firms, charities and even graphic design agencies find more leads with content marketing.
We are in Stoke. Most famous for being in-between Manchester and Birmingham and Robbie Williams. You are most welcome to join for a brew and an informal chat.
This guide shows you all our methods and what we research to transform the lead generation of businesses online.