Using Content Marketing to Drive Sales

Content Marketing Is Driving Brand ConversationsSocial media offers brands a set of inexpensive tools that can quickly get marketing messages out through interactive discussion and rapid word of mouth and, properly managed, can deliver measurable results.

You can use content marketing to create conversations around topics and social channels related to the need for your products.

Use a two-pronged approach to creating awareness and driving interest and sales

To do this successfully, you need to take advantage of both a top down and a bottom up approach to social media.

  • Your top down strategy is to create broad awareness and credibility among experts and consumers
  • Your bottom up goal is to drive consumer awareness and engagement through grassroots and in-market activities

How to spark and drive sustainable conversation and recommendation

Social media platforms for your content marketingHere’s how to spark and drive sustainable conversation and recommendation through social media:

  • LISTEN:  Track and identify key trends, stories, posts and influencers
  • DEVELOP:  Build content that makes it easier for consumers to share and recommend your brand
  • ENGAGE:  Work together with consumer influencers to drive discussion, posts, reviews, give feedback, conduct contests and share recommendations with others
  • OPTIMIZE:  Ensure both new and existing content is tagged to make brand discussions easily searchable and sharable
  • PROTECT:  Establish a protocol for responding to negative word-of-mouth and mitigating damage from competitors and brand detractors
  • MEASURE:  Build-in metric that demonstrate the impact of engagement at each point in the Conversation Engine

The most important step in building your social media foundation is creating a “sharable story”

Sharable story is like an elevator pitchA shareable story is basically an elevator pitch story with messaging that connects your key points together in everyday, natural language.

The sharable story shapes all engagement to ensure the story you want to tell is infused into all of your conversations.

Become the leading expert, resource, authority and trusted partner in your space

Next, you need to engage leading industry eminents across all relevant vertical channels. Find and engage those individuals who can influence people to consider your category and become interested in your brand.

Screen influencers using rigorous criteria to ensure identifying only the leaders:

  1. Reputation
  2. Reach
  3. Visibility
  4. Accessibility

Remember, these influencers are going to give you credibility so focus on engaging the right online influencers.

Track & identify key trends, stories, posts and influencers

Track & identify key trends, stories, posts and influencersThrough either subscription-based tools or through publicly available free tools, develop a daily monitoring routine to identify opportunities, influencers, and key trends.

Create conversations around topics and social channels related to the need for your products

Social media platforms for your content marketing

Now you are ready to activate your online social media channels. You want to create conversations around topics and social channels related to the need for your products.

Consider doing this in stages so you don’t overwhelm your team or confuse consumers by creating online content but not having the time or energy to keep it fresh and current. A possible phased approach is to launch on Facebook and Twitter initially.

Once you have Facebook and Twitter up and running smoothly, and the team is comfortable managing and posting content, it’s time to expand to additional channels like Pinterest, YouTube, Flickr, Instagram, Google+, etc.

These channels allow you to broaden your content and create additional content that your created and control to help further enrich the consumer education process and provide opportunities to link into your customer websites with rich content.

Your goal is to drive fans and followers with these two sites. Remember, these sites require you to engage regularly. That means you need to manage and moderate daily, especially since you will quickly find consumers using these sites to post customer service, quality or warranty issues.

Don’t worry if there are negative comments. Ultimately your goal is to bury these comments under an avalanche of helpful tips and advice on where and how to buy your brand. It’s this kind of news that will ultimately shape your brand conversations.

Focus on building assets that make the benefits of owning your brand shareable and portable

This will allow you to leverage the full capabilities of online multimedia sharing sites to maximize visibility and reach.

  • Action Words Bullhorn Megaphone Motivation MissionCreate checklists for occasions or life events that should include your brand
  • Build video demonstrations and distribute to YouTube and beyond through services such as TubeMogul
  • Build photo libraries that illustrate specific benefits of safe ownership and distribute to publicly indexed networks like Pinterest, Flickr and Instagram
  • Encourage consumer-generated testimonials (stories, videos, photos) – leveraging the capabilities of Facebook and Pinterest for running sweepstakes and contests

A good way to draw consumers to your social media sites is to host contests. It’s a straight forward way to build followers of your brand and ultimately to have them “opt-in” to being open to receiving email offers from you for new products, services or promotions.

Create and share content regularly that engages consumers and encourages them to share, recommend and, ultimately, buy

The final step is to measuring the impact of your online social media efforts.  A great way to do that is with a measure call an Earned Digital Engagement or EDE.   Earned Digital Engagements are the metric you can use to measure the direct impact of your online social media efforts, independent of natural conversation.

Using an EDE methodology, you’re able to provide a comparable measure of the number of people reached online, but this form of measurement also accounts for their action.  The EDE measures the number of people reached through a brand’s social media efforts across channels – from blogs to Facebook to Twitter and YouTube and Flickr.

An earned engagement consists of the number of people influenced by an interaction with your brand that results in a:

  • Post
  • Tweet
  • Photo
  • Video
  • Or public Facebook engagement

Forrester Research said it best: “…interactive marketers must move beyond experimentation by making social applications a permanent part of marketing, measuring and demonstrating their value, and integrating them into marketing efforts.”

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10 Marketing Thought Leaders You Need to Follow

10 marketing thought leaders you need to followLook no further than these 10 marketing thought leaders for inspiration and insight.  Each one has a unique perspective that is worth your attention.   My top 10 list, in no particular order, includes:

  1. Steve Farnsworth
  2. Mark Mitchell
  3. Heidi Cohen
  4. Graham Robertson
  5. Michael Gass
  6. Timothy Carter
  7. Kim Garst
  8. Peg Fitzpatrick
  9. Mike Brown
  10. Jeff Bullas 

Below is a brief profile of each, with a link to their site, along with a screenshot and a few words usually edited right from their own About section.  I’ve also included their Twitter address.

Steve Farnsworth…The @Steveology Blog – The Forum For Marketing Geeks@Steveology

Steve Farnsworth is the Chief Digital Strategist at Jolt Digital Marketing where he consults mid to large organizations on communication strategies to create product preference and build customer communities that foster brand loyalty. With over 13 years as a senior executive, Steve writes, blogs, and speaks about how smart companies can effectively integrate social media, PR 2.0, and content marketing into their marketing mix.

Find him on Twitter at @Steveology.

Mark Mitchell…Whizard Strategy

Whizard StrategyMark Mitchell is an expert in helping building product manufacturers be more successful with builders, architects, contractors, dealers, distributors and big boxes. He develops simple solutions to big problems using strategy.

The distinct value of Mark is that he always attaches a unique vantage point or insight to what others settle to “know” or accept as reality, this is “wizardly smart.” The most crucial way this benefits your business is in having a visionary on your side that helps you realize how much you (and your competitors) are not seeing. Perhaps what’s most impressive, is how quickly Mark catches up to speed, begins thinking alongside of you and then shakes the foundation of what you view as possible.

Find him on Twitter at @Whizardly.

Heidi Cohen…Heidi Cohen – Actionable Marketing Expert

Heidi Cohen.comHeidi Cohen’s blog provides marketing related insights grounded in digital and direct marketing. Served with a creative twist, Heidi includes practical tips based on her extensive experience that readers can apply to their marketing.

Heidi Cohen simplifies the complex concepts behind today’s evolving digital marketing challenges into an easy-to-understand format that facilitates readers’ grasp of new topics. Heidi’s articles provide valuable insights and tactics that readers can readily apply to their current marketing plans to better engage prospects, customers and the public.

Find her on Twitter at @heidicohen.

Graham Robertson…Beloved Brands blog

Beloved BrandsThe reason why Graham Robertson started Beloved Brands Inc. was to help brands realize their full potential value by generating more love for the brand. He only does two things: 1) Make Brands Better or 2) Make Brand Leaders Better.

He has a reputation as someone who can find growth where others can’t, whether that’s on a turnaround, re-positioning, new launch or a sustaining high growth. And he loves to make Brand Leaders better by sharing his knowledge. He’s a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands.

Find him on Twitter at @GrayRobertson1.

Michael Gass…FUEL LINES Fueling Ad Agency New Business Through Social Media

Fuel LinesMichael Gass is an international new business consultant to advertising, digital, media and PR agencies. Since 2007, he has led in the use of social media and content marketing strategies to make agency new business EASIER.  He is the founder of Fuel Lines, which has been rated among the top 100 marketing blogs in the world, according to Ad Age’s Power 150.

Find him on Twitter at @michaelgass.

Timothy Carter…Timothy Carter – Thoughts on Search Marketing, SEO, Social Media and Brand Building for Business

Timothy Carter siteTimothy Carter is a social media marketing consultant, speaker and trainer of individuals and companies to optimize their online personal and company presence and brand.

This blog is an outlet for him to write about all things to do with Social Media and Online Marketing which includes Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, Facebook, Youtube or whatever he thinks about or what catches his interest in the digital marketing world, from search engine optimization, to social media marketing ideas.

Find him on Twitter at @TimothyCarter.

Kim Garst Boom! Social boomsocial.net Better Solutions, BIGGER Results!

Boom SocialKim Garst is the CEO of Boom! Social. She is the author of The Quick and Easy Guide to Branding Your Business and Creating Massive Sales with Pinterest and she speaks and trains business owners worldwide.

Times have changed and marketing online has hit a revolution era. Marketing is no longer about one-sided conversation where you push your sales message at your target market. Rather, successful marketing is dependent upon your ability to build relationships and have conversations with your consumers using social media.

She helps companies identify and build their personal brand online; incorporating the social media aspects and obtaining REAL results for your business in a social world.

Find her on Twitter at @kimgarst.

Peg Fitzpatrick…Positively Peggy  Social media sparkle, marketing pro and positive vibe producer

Positively PeggyRockin’ a positive attitude • passionate about social media • writer • and so much more!

Peg loves sharing her inspirational thoughts and helping others learn social media through her blog. Covering all the major social media platforms, she frequently hears “you’re everywhere!” She’s passionate about life, social media, and inspiring others to be their best.

Find her on Twitter at @PegFitzpatrick.

Mike Brown…Brainzooming Catalyzing innovative business success

BrainzoomingMike Brown is the founder of the The Brainzooming™ Group.  He has been at the forefront of leading Fortune 500 culture change, contributing new approaches in research, developing simplified tools for innovation, strategy planning, and aligning sales, marketing, and communications strategies for maximum business results.

Mike Brown is the author of the e-book, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation,” a guide to breaking through personal challenges to living a more creative and innovation-oriented life. Additionally, he authors the daily Brainzooming blog on strategy, creativity, and innovation.

Find him on Twitter at @Brainzooming.

Jeff Bullas…jeffbullas.com

JeffBullas.comJeff Bullas is a consultant, coach, mentor and speaker and work with companies and executives to optimize their online personal and company presence and brand with digital marketing and social media through the use of social media channels and other web and mobile technologies.

This blog is about all things to do with Social Media and Online Marketing, including Twitter, Blogging, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and inbound and content marketing.

This blog is also about using the internet to help business and individuals to market themselves efficiently not in an intrusive way through interruption marketing but engaging other people and companies in conversations that build trust and relationships.

Find him on Twitter at @jeffbullas.

Be sure to  also read the Channel Instincts blog  “10 Product Marketing Blogs You Need to Read” for more top marketing bloggers.