“Traditional marketing talks at people. Content marketing talks with them.”
~Doug Kessler, Creative Director and Co-Founder at Velocity Partners
Most entrepreneurs have embraced the concept of content marketing and its necessity in growing their business. If you market online you are familiar, at least on a basic level, with blogging and social media and how you can use them to market your product or service. We all know the days of high pressure sales tactics have faded away. Content marketing has taken its place at the front of the class. But is that all there is? Do you stop at churning out quality content? In 2016 we need to add another level: Relationship marketing develops and nurtures a conversation.
Content marketing is talking with your audience but relationship marketing takes it to a deeper, more meaningful level. In fact, the trend today is not the newest social media network, it’s relationship-building and community-building. Your direct success is dependent on the relationships you make with others. You could have a killer blog, high quality content, and lots of traffic but the rapport you have with your target audience is all about engaging in a conversation with them. People that have chosen you as a source of information should be held in the highest regard. Once they have a great experience with you, they will be more likely to share you with others, bringing more traffic to your site and more potential customers.
So what do you do to build relationships? Concentrate on actively pulling in your community, not passively waiting for them to engage. This is called inbound marketing. It involves attracting people to your product or service based on a common interest or desire to learn more. Inbound marketing is a form of two-way communication. The customer interacts with the business in a dialog. They post on the company's Facebook wall, comment on business blogs, or take part in contests. When they participate, they become invested and engaged. People want to be in control of the information they get and this makes them more receptive to your message.
Another way to nurture your relationship with your audience is through user generated content (UGC). User-generated content (UGC) is defined as "any form of content such as blogs, wikis, discussion forums, posts, chats, tweets, podcasts, digital images, video, audio files, advertisements and other forms of media that was created by users of an online system or service, often made available via social media websites". [Wikipedia] When your audience creates comments or shares it is a powerful reference to others. One study from Website Magazine found that 68 percent of millennials trust peer reviews.
Are you ready to start building relationships with your audience, using inbound marketing and tap into the power of user generated content? Try these tips.
· Encourage your audience to share a review about your brand across social media.
· Ask for the share occasionally. (Not every post – that looks needy!)
· Get the conversation started. At the end of your blog or social media posts, ask your reader what they think, what their experience is, or if they have any tips to add.
· Run a contest. It can be as simple as telling us what you think of us and share with your friends. The top five people with the most shares wins a _________________. (Fill in the blank with a fabulous prize.)
· Share, share, share. The more you give, the more you will receive. If this seems a little backwards, you’re wrong. On the internet, it’s all about how much valuable information you can give away. Once people see that you are a reliable source of consistent, knowledgeable content, they will genuinely want to know more and learn more from you. Many “customers for life” are created this way.
· Write FOR your audience. What problems do they have that you can solve? What do they want to hear about? If you keep this in mind each time you will never have a problem reaching those you want to help and in turn, getting them to buy from you over and over again.
Relationship building doesn’t stop with your potential customer, though. Interacting with your colleagues on a regular basis is also a great way to build your business. Mastermind groups and live events let you connect with people who are on the same journey. Valuable business partnerships and joint ventures are created by communicating with those around you. These are people you can count on to share ideas with, create products, and provide bigger and better services that will take your business to the next level.
There is a Facebook group or community for just about any interest. Find a group that your peers would be likely to frequent and start up a conversation. Be sure to read and follow the rules of the group. Many only allow self-promotion on days set aside for it. Actually get into the discussion, find out what your peers are doing that works and what doesn’t. Share your experience and help others when you can.
Attend live events. You will meet and learn from some of the experts in your niche. Some of the most successful businesses owe it all to the JV (joint venture) partnerships created during these events. On another note, meeting new people, hearing about their successes and failures, and establishing relationships are some of the most beneficial things you can do for your self-growth and the growth of your business.
In a sense our lives and the success we experience depends on the people with whom we know and associate. Building solid relationships with the people you come in to contact with can launch your business to places you never dreamed. You will also be creating lifelong friendships that will be worth more than any amount of money. The key is to be yourself, and let your unique personality shine through to those you want to reach.