How content marketing can drive sales

I recently read a book called ?Predatory Thinking? by Dave Trott. If you haven?t read that book already, I recommend it as a ?must read? for your Christmas break. In the book, Dave tells the story of a plumber who visits to make a boiler repair. As it is, the boiler simply needs a few taps with a hammer to get it running again. When the plumber?s asked to present his bill, he declines to charge, asking instead that when the boiler does need replacing, he will be considered to do the pricier replacement job.

As Dave points out, the plumber has acquired himself that most valuable of assets; trust. He knows that because of that trust he?ll be hired to do the higher revenue replacement work.

When you?re planning content marketing campaigns, you need to think like that plumber.

The competition to win attention

In a new study conducted by LinkedIn, 58 per cent of marketers are set to increase their content marketing budgets in 2014 as savvy consumers, in turn, increase their demands for better content. In an attempt to provide the best experiences for their consumers companies, like Red Bull, have innovated with rich content experiences to support brand growth. Given next year?s estimated budget growth and therefore growth in competition, companies of all different sizes, must learn compete on the same playing field.

Build trust in your brand with content marketing

To build trust and credibility, you?ve got to forget pushing products in the face of potential customers, thinking first how to create a genuinely useful content experience. 2014 is the year to make your customer?s live easier and help inform them on how to make the right decisions when it comes to buying.

Develop and strengthen relationships

As valuable as the content may seem (especially when you?re giving it away for free), this information is what will keep a customer nurtured until they?re ready to purchase rather than move on the next piece of content. The real trick to making this work is understanding the needs of a customer around the time they?re considering a purchase.
Take the brand, Swissotel. A luxury hotel brand, Swissotel wanted to attract the interest of the very people most likely to book in one of their hotels. Business travellers. One issue with regular travellers is etiquette. Knowing how much to tip, how greetings might work in different cultures or any other challenge faced by visitor to a new country. To help solve this problem, Swissotel produced a guide to international etiquette.

The item was a huge success, winning thousands of likes, tweets and links for SEO. But perhaps most importantly, the piece assisted many bookings and drove positive net revenue.

Strategy and relevance is critical

If you don?t focus on the audience and the message then there?s little point to your efforts. Content drives sales but only when done well and with a relevant supporting story in place.

Take the global holiday rental start-up example. They?ve begun to publish audience engagement and content experience enrichment tools with their city food guides, knowing that one of the key needs for visitors to their rental properties is to know what they should do next.

We can expect another spurt of growth for content marketing in 2014. With 70 per cent of marketers saying that content marketing has increased their brand awareness; 59 per cent believe it supports sales growth; and 45 per cent saying it has reduced their advertising costs, taking the leap to a really targeted content campaign should be on the top of every marketer?s to-do list.

Richard Baxter is founder of SEOgadget

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