Three Things Your Content Marketing Should Include So You Won’t be Annoying
When it comes to content marketing, random communication isn’t just ineffective, it can be annoying. Don’t be annoying. Be interesting. Be relevant. Be remarkable, etc., etc., etc…
Back when I was in real estate (a lifetime ago), I was in my office complaining about how another agent “stole” a client from me. Another agent in my office – who unbeknownst to him served as my mentor – after hearing me bitch and moan about this other agent calmly asked, “are you done complaining?” As I begrudgingly nodded yes he calmly said, “People don’t STEAL your clients, you LOSE them”. It was a lesson I didn’t learn until I left real estate and now am trying to teach our clients.
The “noise” we live with on a daily basis can be overwhelming. We deal with it as an inbound marketing agency and I am sure you deal with it as someone who is trying to stay in touch and in front of clients, customers, and prospects. The struggle is real when it comes to being heard so I wanted to share three things your marketing, especially your email marketing should contain so it gets the attention of your audience.
Note: I am writing this with the assumption that you have a library of content and systems in place that can allow you to do this easily and automatically. Can you accomplish this without those things, of course. When I get to these things, I’ll point them out and give you alternatives.
The formal definition of empathy is “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.”
Nothing is more annoying that someone who says they want to help you do this or that, but yet they don’t have the foggiest idea (or at least they don’t show it) what their audience is going through. Think of the best service experience you’ve ever gotten. Did that person make you feel like they understood you? That they “got you”?
Whether they did it on purpose or not, they were able empathize with you on some level and put you at ease. Maybe you didn’t purchase from them that day or ever, but you wouldn’t have a problem referring someone to them because of your experience.
This is why with our clients, if someone fills out a form, we have it set to where that person get an immediate response letting them know their information has been received and someone will be contacting them soon. Why? Because no one wants to think that when they fill out the form online their information is just floating out there. They want to make sure that it has been received by the person they sent it to – it’s that simple. That’s one way we help our clients to show empathy.
Note: Most of our clients are on a marketing automation platform that we use called Sharpspring. If you are not on a marketing automation platform most email marketing services like MailChimp and Constant Contact have simple auto-responders that can let people know that you’ve received their information and even put together simple email campaigns.
Another more intricate way to show empathy is to chart or show the exact Buyer’s Journey that your clients and prospects go through. If you can show your client or prospect that you clearly understand what they went through to get to you then you will instantly be able to build trust. How do you do this? Try these things:
- Write out a complete Buyer’s Journey for a potential prospect. This includes where they might be searching, questions they may have, how they actually purchase your product or service.
- Interview your best clients. Some people are naturally empathetic, others not so much. Sometimes you will need to ask your clients exactly what they were thinking or feeling when they decided to buy from you or hire you.
- Use the language of your audience. There is a huge desire for us as an agency to sound smart to our prospects and clients but what happens is that we end up alienating those people that we want to attract. If it’s language your competition uses, then it’s probably language that you don’t want to use.
“Timing is everything” is a concept that is used in everything from sport to romantic comedies. How important is it for you? There are a lot of variables that determine how important timing is – one of those is price. The higher the price point the more important. You don’t care if you get the bill before your food at McDonalds or Starbucks. But if you are at a restaurant where there aren’t prices on the menu and the food is higher than it is wide, and your waiter brings you the check before the food, there’s going to be an issue.
Why? Because usually the higher the price the more trust is involved. And trust is fragile thing. It can be ruined by something in the buying process that happens too early (like the bill) and can be galvanized by something in the buying process that happens just at the right time (like answering a question BEFORE it’s asked).
We talked in the previous section about the Buyer’s Journey. It doesn’t matter if you’re buying a house, a car, or hiring a marketing agency. Everyone goes through a Buyer’s Journey and in that there are steps that have a cadence to them and if you can get that timing correct. For our best clients there is a certain point in their Buyer’s Journey where they are either not happy with their current marketing agency, or they’re searching for a way to attract their perfect client. If they’re anything like us they’ve waded through bad clients and that’s never fun. No matter what industry you’re in.
Note: With the SharpSpring platform that we use, we are able to deliver a certain contact or prospect a piece of content depending on how they interact with our website. For example, if we have a real estate company in our database and we know that they are on our site, we can set it up to where if they start looking for Real Estate Marketing Solutions, we could send them a content email that talks about how we have helped other real estate agents and teams. If you are not using a marketing automation platform, there are limited things you can do on an automatic basis. If you are ultra familiar with your Buyer’s Journey, then you should be able to accomplish this manually, pending on how detailed your emails and notes are with prospects.
So our focus needs to be able to understand where that person is in their journey. Once we understand that, we know what questions or challenges they will run into at that stage in their Journey. Then we are able to deliver the answers to those questions and solutions to those challenges when they reach that stage – preferably before they reach that stage because then you were able to really help them.
My son Cameron and I went to Target this past weekend and he exclaimed “THIS TARGET IS JUST LIKE THE ONE NEAR OUR HOUSE!”. I agreed and asked him why he thought that was. After some thought, he said it was so people knew where to look for stuff. I said, “Exactly – people like to know where things are and feel comfort in things that are consistent.” It is no different with marketing, especially content and email marketing. If you’re going to boast or position yourself as somebody who is an expert or a leader in their field, then you better be able to produce the kind of content on a consistent basis that your audience wants.
This is no easy feat. In fact, it’s one of the biggest struggles that we have as an agency. It’s not that we don’t understand our clients or prospects, but it’s that we simply do not have the bandwidth at times to consistently produce the kind of content that resonates with our audience.
But if you look at the leaders in any industry, you will find that they consistently produce content that is consumed by their audience, and they consistently communicate with their audience exactly the way they want to be communicated to. If it’s by email then they send them valuable emails that are sure to never be marked as spam. If it’s via social media then you can count on them posting on a consistent basis exactly when their audience is on that platform.
How do you stay consistent with your content and email marketing?
Create a schedule. We call it an editorial calendar. For our clients we try to stay at least three to four weeks ahead of schedule. This means we know exactly what is going to be written, how and where it’s going to be promoted. This gives us enough time to adjust if the messaging needs to be different, but more importantly it allows us to be consistent – it lets us show their audience that they truly do care about them.
Note: Our agency uses a tool called Trello for project management. It’s completely free and what it does is it places our editorial calendars on a screen called a board. There are lists on these boards and within the lists there are cards. You can assign a card to a team member, put a due date on a card and we have found that this is a great way for us to visualize what content is being produced where it is in production and where it is as far as publishing and promotion. We love it – most of the time.
How much content do I create and how often should I send it?
You’re going to hate this answer – it depends. If you’re trying to establish credibility and you know that your client, prospect or customer is at the beginning stages of their Buyer’s Journey, then sending them a consistent stream of high value emails that leads them through their Buyer’s Journey will position you as not only somebody that they trust but somebody they want to work with.
But here’s the true test, how well do you know your audience? Are they an audience that likes to receive an email every week period or is it every month? I am sure that there are different segments of your database. If they’re brand new and are looking for information on a product or service, then they may not mind getting an email once a week for 6 weeks. On the flip side, if they are a valued client and they never hear from you until a listing is about to expire, or a contract needs to be renewed, then it may be time to revisit your email and content marketing.
Empathic. Timely. Consistent. These three things aren’t complicated but what they require of you is to pay attention and put in the time. One of my favorite books of all time is called the Five Languages of Love. In this book it talks about how everyone has their love language. That mentor I mentioned at the beginning of this article also told me that your clients and customers Love Language’s time period is not just time spent with them, but time put in letting them know that you are thinking about them and want the best for them. If you empathize with your clients and prospects; if you deliver them great content at exactly the right time and you’re consistent about it then you should have more clients then you know what to do with. Etc. Etc. Etc.
For shorter reading download our SlideDeck on content marketing below – and be sure to reshare!
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About the Author
Jan Michael Aldea is a jack of all trades finally making good at being well rounded. His background in marketing, consulting, business coaching & training, real estate, fitness, parenthood, marriage, and life makes Michael ill equipped to be in a cubicle, but very equipped to help transform people and companies one (sometimes humorously awkward) step at a time. He is the president and director of business development for Go Left Marketing based out of Charlotte, NC.