How many ads have you encountered today? In today’s digital age, marketing is everywhere. It seems on every device you own, on every screen you navigate, a promotion is begging for your attention. In fact, most Americans are subjected to between 4,000 and 10,000 ads in a single day.
You’ve likely already consumed a healthy portion of marketing today by the time you started reading this. Ads can be as common as a brand name on a t-shirt, a billboard on you pass on your commute or a jingle on the radio that sticks in your head.
Today’s traditional marketing schemes can also be targeted pop-ups that fill your whole page or a sponsored social media post that seems to read your mind. Ploys for your business are more abundant and individually focused than ever before. In order to stay sane, humans have adapted to handle the stampede of marketing. Considering the thousands of unavoidable ads we come across in daily life, we have learned to block out most of the onslaught. It’s a matter of survival!
Our media-blockers have become powerful. In fact, less than 100 ads make it past our media defense mechanisms each day. For your marketing efforts to be amongst the few to make an impact, your marketing strategy should focus on offering your target customer a creative and engaging piece of content. You want them to seek you out, instead of paying for a way to avoid you.
Content Marketing vs. Traditional Marketing
- Discovered by the consumer and is always accessible.
- Educates potential customers with valuable content.
- Communicates without selling, making for a smarter purchase.
- Focused on solving a pain-point.
- An earned audience - fosters loyal and appreciative customers.
- Flexible - Starts a conversation. If that conversation leads to a new topic or refinement of an old one, you’re free to adjust your content to your liking.
- Potential customers may voluntarily handover personal information for access to more content, giving you permission to market to them.
- An interruptive marketing strategy that seems to “pop-up”.
- Occurs when a consumer is doing something else, like watching TV or listening to the radio.
- A rented audience - ads and promos reach potential customers whenever the marketer decides.
- Static - Only accessible during the marketing campaign. Once it’s posted it cannot be tweaked.
- Spreads information to a vast audience whether they’re interested or not.
- Focused on a single product.
- Asks for an immediate response.
What does it mean for MSPs?
So, as an MSP trying to grow your business through marketing, how are you supposed to break through the noise? Considering about 25% of people use some sort of ad-blocker on their devices, MSPs have to spend their marketing dollars smarter.
Instead of burning through your marketing budget on old-fashioned ploys that are likely blocked, produce content that teaches, rather than sells. In today’s media-literate society, consumers see through the dated facade that advertising can invoke. They want content that helps, rather than promotes. That’s why more and more MSPs are focusing their marketing strategy on content marketing.
By providing an answer to a potential customer’s pain point as initial contact, trust is established immediately. Ninety-six percent of the most profitable content marketers believe their audience sees them as a credible and trustworthy resource.
Earning your customers trust isn’t a one-and-done process. It takes constant effort to reinforce your reputation as an expert in your field. All that hard work can help build your base of lifelong customers, rather than catering to the fleeting one-time customers.
An expert MSP persona is cultivated over time by centering on value, consistency, personal connections, and building a library.
Value - It is important that your content proves your value before you try selling. Show don’t tell.
Consistency - Deliver content regularly over time to come off as a consistent knowledge source and teaching tool. Provide the content that your audience wants when they want it.
Personal connections - If a visitor likes your content, they can voluntarily offer their contact information for immediate access to future content. Imagine having organic qualified leads come to you!
Building a library - Grow your content and expert persona by expanding on similar topics over several different posts that backlink to each other. This will also make your content easier to find.
Map content for the entire buyer’s journey
When you think content marketing, you likely think of blog posts. While a consistent and quality blog presence will always be a cornerstone of any successful content marketing plan, there are other players involved.
Not everyone likes the same content. Not everyone consumes it the same way, or on the same device. That’s why it’s important to vary your content for every stage of your buyer’s journey.
Early stages: Blog posts, podcasts, e-books, and videos
Middle stages: White papers, webinars, long-form articles, and interactive content
Late stages: Case studies, in-person events
In the early stages, focus your efforts on growing awareness and interest in your business with text, audio, and visual content. In the middle stages, help potential customers make an educated decision by producing long-form articles that dive deeper into their pain points. In the later stages of your content marketing strategy, you’ll have a ton of content to study and can draw conclusions that are interesting to your audience. This is also the time to push for that purchase.
How long does content marketing take to work?
Not long ago, content marketing was an afterthought. Today, content marketing is the main focus of over 50% of marketers. The fact that it’s currently so popular shows it’s marketing effectiveness. People are finding, sharing, and discussing content more often and more easily than ever before.
While content marketing is proven to be effective, it doesn’t happen overnight. For small or medium businesses, a successful content marketing strategy generally requires between six to nine months to deliver substantial results. Think of content marketing like dating. Potential suitors will want to test the waters (your content) before diving headfirst into a full-fledged relationship (engaging in business). The number of dates can vary from person to person, but one is seldom enough.
Like dating, the content marketing journey can be daunting. You might spend a lot of time on your first blogs only to receive a handful of marketing qualified leads. Quality and commitment are key. If you or someone you hire can post, stay consistent, produce heaps of content over time, and develop engagement, you could strike marketing gold!
Think about it - six months of dedicated content production could turn into a careers-worth of eager customers!
If your well of engaging content ideas runs dry, check out this list from Hubspot of different formats.
In general, content marketing pushes trust not sales and works to build an expert reputation in your field. It’s a business-long practice designed to drive sustainable results. While content marketing doesn’t work for every business, successful content marketers are seeing eight times more traffic to their websites than those who either quit or commit to another marketing method. By being patient and focusing on producing consistent quality content that organically grows a community, you’re setting yourself up for more marketing wins than ever before.
All in all, content marketing can be one of the most satisfying marketing strategies for MSPs. Although the light at the end of the tunnel can be very dim at the beginning, if you do things right, in the end, you could have a line of potential customers that already trust you and are ready to do business.
Are you using content marketing to grow your business? If so, how does it compare to traditional marketing efforts you’ve tried?