Content Marketing: A Tool To Grow Your Business

John: Hey everybody. Welcome back to The Life is Digital Podcast. I’m here with our Chief Strategist, Jon Parks. Jon, how are you doing this morning?

Jon: Hey John, I’m doing great. Another fantastic day. It feels fantastic outside, but got a lot going on work-wise, so it’s always good to hop to it.

John: Well, for sure. I think week on week. Things are always changing and developing and especially in the digital space where there’s changes happening all the time, to platforms, to the way that we communicate with each other and with customers and with business owners online.

I thought something that might be cool for our show is that maybe we could incorporate a cool, interesting fact or change that we might be aware if it comes across our desk, but maybe the audience could find some real value in as we’re one kicking off the show. So do you have anything for us to share this morning around something like that?

Jon: Oh, absolutely, yeah. There’s a lot of things that have been radically changing and quickly here in the digital space. It’s just more than we can keep our fingers on each day. But something that just came across my feet this morning, I was just talking about Google My Business and if you’re not familiar with this platform, GMB is a tool that Google makes available, really to help you understand the larger footprint of your business online. So, this is gonna be things like, yes, some data about your website, but also its performance in search, phone calls that you may be driving, map directions, when we can actually start getting out again, reviews lots of that kind of information. And, what people may not be aware of is that during this COVID-19 stay-at-home order, Google actually put reviews on hiatus. They just turned them off for a period of time, meaning that no one could leave new reviews.

Well, they brought that out of quarantine so to speak. So they’re re-introducing that once again, so we’re gonna start to see some of that data coming back to life. But the thing that was really interesting, the data set that I was looking at this morning, was just talking about how drastically different Google My Business is being used by searchers. So it looks at different things that people are typing into the search box, what it is that they’re actually looking for.

So, you think of a restaurant. Before, it might have been trying to get reservations or getting driving directions or those kinds of things. Now, it’s, “take out near me”, right? So, just kind of a change in behavior that has come about with this time of the Stay-At-Home order. So, we’re seeing some differences in behavioral usage, but here’s what that really means for marketers. And, we have to pay attention to this with our clients, right? We need to be looking at that data, but we also need to be thinking about how do we incorporate this tool and the data it’s giving to us into the direction that we’re trying to drive the enterprise. So, we look at that data set and then we think about what do we need to change? What do we need to do differently? So, that might mean that maybe we need some new content areas within the site. Obviously, we would want to create those just to be able to address some of those questions. Maybe business hours are now a really critical item. We want to make sure the business hours are constantly updated.

Google My Business has an area called posts that are available. They’re short little blurbs that can go out. They show in the search results. Good for about a seven-day period. These are great for communicating very time sensitive things. They don’t have to stay up all seven days. You can take it down.

But, it’s a great tool to be able to use. So I think what we’re seeing is as we come out of this stay-at-home order time, a tool like Google My Business is gonna become even more important for us as marketers and helping businesses to really shift and steer the footprint where we’d like for it to go.

John: Well, that… That’s an absolutely great point. And I think as the digital landscape shifts to meet the demand now of individuals… I’ll give an example. I spoke to my mother and she was saying, I’ve kind of discovered that ordering groceries online. Yeah, she wants to be able to get out of the house, but she was like, “You know what? Being able to order the groceries online, I might not actually switch from doing that or if I wanna go drive, I can go ahead and order them and get curbside pick-up at some grocery stores now locally.” So, these types of behavioral changes that we’re seeing that have kind of been forced because of this current climate, I don’t necessarily see a lot of these things disappearing over night as soon as we obviously come out of this and get back to normal life in our economy and society.

But, you brought up a great point about content, and I think that maybe that’s a great topic for us to discuss today and because I missed it at the beginning, remember to subscribe and check out the links in the comments below for other episodes. Because this is important when we’re talking about content is the idea of creating evergreen content, nurturing your funnel, and growing your audience is extremely important for yes, marketers, but for business owners. I’ve always given the example of, let’s say you own a local business or a small local business that has a brick and mortar front, right? If you sell shoes or you sell clothing or something like that.

Maybe having an article on your blog that talks about how to shine your shoes, or how to keep sensitive articles of clothing. Something like that or how to refresh your wardrobe. These are value adds that people can associate with your company that will get you traction online, but help you really to grow that funnel. How important is it for a business to think about, “Yes We kind of got a sales funnel in place. We know where people are coming.” How do you really grow and nurture that?

Jon: Oh gosh, well it’s ridiculously important time.

I don’t think we can overstate the importance of creating these great kinds of content. Think of it this way. If you go fishing, you throw a fishing line out there, you got a hook and you got to have some baits on that hook. That’s trying to simply entice that fish to come and check out what you’ve got, right? Okay, so we’re kinda going fishing. When we’re marketing, we’re out there and we’re looking for people now. Maybe, that’s really where the analogy starts to break down, but the idea is that we do want to dangle some things out there that are enticing to people, really, that helps answer their questions. We don’t ever want to do a bait and switch on them, right? We want to make sure we are giving them things that are valuable, so that content that lives at the top of the funnel for us are gonna be things that are just simply answering questions – questions that people have. You gave the example of how to shine your shoes. Maybe you have never done that before, right? Like I grew up doing that, but maybe other people didn’t, right, so maybe you’re just not familiar with how to do that but you’ve heard that’s a great way to take care of your shoes and get them to last even longer. Well, if you or the business is in the position of being able to teach someone as a consumer how to do that. Not only are you getting more reps in front of them, you’re getting your name in front of them a little more often, right? But, you’re also providing something of value, and that content becomes something that sticks with that consumer, that buyer, for a longer period of time so that they learn how to shine their shoes but then they see the link on the page that says, I could buy this shoe shining kit or I could buy these shoes from you, right?

Well, now I’ve got consideration. That’s right there in the middle of the traditional marketing funnel, right?

We want to move from awareness to consideration and then ultimately down to decision. So, content plays a critical role at the top of that funnel. Now, in saying that, this is where it gets difficult. It is not easy to create content. You might think… “Oh, I’m just going to go and write blog post.” I’ve written a lot of blog post. So, after a while it does get a little easier with a few more reps, but it is hard to do in the beginning. I’ve worked with many a client who says, “No problem, we’ll write all the blog posts. That’s great.” And, they get about 30 minutes in and then they think “I’ve written everything that I know; I don’t know what else to write”

And that’s where it gets really difficult. So, we got to look to some other tools. We got to have some other processes to really be able to pull it off, because you actually do know a lot more… You just haven’t really thought about it from the position of the searcher and what it is that they need.

John: Well, for sure, and I think that’s our job as marketers to help our clients tell great stories. When I think about overall what I do every day I’m working with clients to help them better tell their stories. And, the primary channel that we’ve chosen mostly is online, the online portals of where people are consuming information.

But thinking about it in that holistic perspective, telling that story could be like, you’ve said, how to preserve the things that you purchased at a store or value adds to the community. I think a great example you gave about business hours or take-out links. That is still telling a story, right? You’re just helping your customer understand better how to interact with you. So at every stage, and at every level, instead of seeing these things that we have to do online as a checklist, I think if we re-frame that to thinking about how to help our customers and tell our stories better, we’re in a much better position to have that funnel naturally grow by people coming into what we consider that ecosystem of knowledge, right? And, that’s where you really start, and we’ll probably talk about this at some point, but creating brand ambassadors and people that really are champions of such a great company, because of great customer experience.

So, what are maybe some three key areas or quick things that people could take away that are applicable in creating content? I know you mentioned blogs, and posts from Google My Business. Are there some top things that, hey, if they just wanted to get out of the box today, these are the three areas or a couple of things that they should do to start producing some content.

Jon: Absolutely. The easiest and the fastest thing to. Pull out a piece of paper. Pull out a notepad on your laptop, on your phone, whatever it is that you prefer, and just write down things that you know about your business that you think customers might find interesting. Because, as I said earlier, you probably know a lot more than you really realize but you just need a process to be able to work through. If you could just set a goal to write down five things that you could talk about – things that you know from your own business from, your perspective and don’t make it too self-serving. Make it a teaching component. Tell them the things that they may find interesting about your products or about your services or about your business. If you get five topics right there, you’ve got five blog post to get started with.

You can push those out over a week, a month, whatever it is that you want to do. That’s a really good way to get started. Now, some people may come back and say, “Yeah but I don’t like to write” or “I don’t know how long it needs to be.” Don’t worry about it, right?

Get started. The biggest obstacle to this is just simply getting started. You’re going to write it and it’ll be too short in the beginning, or it’ll be too long or it might not be worded as well, but you’re going to learn from that and you’re going to refine it. So, I think that’s probably the first thing that I would look at it. Another suggestion that I would give is look at your audience and what it is that they consume. Do they primarily like to read content? Do they like to watch videos. Do they like to listen to Podcasts. Do they just want downloadable digital asset like a white paper or something like that?

And you may not necessarily know the answer to that question, but you probably know your audience well enough that you can make some guesses. But hey, you also have customers, and frankly you can ask them, just say, “Hey, tell me how you learned about our industry.” Take one of those trusted customers and just ask them those questions. Do a call like this and just talk with them if you’re able. But, tease that information out. They’re gonna give you some great insights to help you understand, because what I think you’re going to find out of that is that video is actually, a winner. Most people like to consume video. It’s an easy, medium. It’s kind of passive. I can sit, I can watch, I can do it whenever I want. It can be as long or as short as I like for it to be, but that’s a really good way to get out of the box and get something going well.

John: That makes absolute sense. And thank you, John, for sharing those things. I think, maybe next week, I’d like to continue this conversation about content because I think there’s more to kind of unpack here with storytelling – the different mediums we can use. Like you said, even doing some workshops with your customers to find out what’s important to them. What is something they like for you to share as the business owner expert in your area? What’s something that they find interesting? Maybe it’s just the state of the industry. They wanted to know where that was because that’s important to them. So I think maybe next week, I’d like to continue this conversation on content because that’s really at the heart of everything we do. Without great content, we can’t tell great stories and we can’t deliver that on the proper channels, and we can’t ultimately grow that audience in that network for our customers.

So, Jon, maybe just one final thought today to leave the audience with as we wrap up.

Jon: Yeah, and I think it’s something that you just said. You are an expert in your own space. Some people get a little uncomfortable with that as a title or a moniker. You kind of think… Well, I know I’ve felt this before. I know people that know way, way more about the things that I do, right? So they’re the real experts but, you know, somebody gave me a piece of advice one time and said, “You only have to know 1% more than someone else, to be ahead of them,” right?

And that 1% can be very valuable to what they need, right? So to them, you are an expert, right?

We might use that word a little too generously, but it’s important here to keep in mind. You know things, you have insights. You have perspective and many of you have experience. And that experience is what can pay great dividends not only for your business, but for others. They want to hear from you. So, as you said, if it’s a state of the industry, if it’s a perspective about a trend, right? People want to hear about that. They want to hear that, they want to take that, they wanna do something with it. So, don’t be afraid to share with them.

John: That’s excellent, Jon. I think experience is invaluable. I think that’s the one thing for us as marketers, we’re constantly building that brain trust of experience to make better decisions. Sometimes we have to make decisions where we don’t have a lot of experience in that and we’re testing, and we’re being judicious with things that we help our clients market. But, experience is invaluable. So that’s a great point for us to close today.

Thanks everybody for tuning into Life is Digital podcast. Jon and I will be back next week. Like I said, we’re going to unpack a little bit more about content. I think this is a great conversation – story-telling, mediums, message. And, we’re working on getting some of our first guests as well. Stay tune for that because we might have some surprise guest visitors in the next couple of weeks.

Jon: I think it’s important to share real quick. Hang on, sorry, to cut you off but if you’re enjoying this, man, we want you to spread the word. Tell everybody, tell them about this conversation because we like this conversation. John and I have fun out here. This is great, but we want to be able to help you, too. So to spread the word, there and let others know about this podcast.

John: Absolutely. Go ahead and subscribe in the comment section below. Share this with your friends and family and give us feedback too, right? We’d like to get what your thoughts are, maybe eventually we can even share some of that feedback on our show. Thank you so much, Jon, I appreciate your time each week. It’s always a pleasure. It’s always enjoyable. And we’ll be back next week. Same time. Same channel, Talk soon, Jon. Thanks a lot.

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