Now, as you
can probably see from your LinkedIn feed, there’s a lot of folks trying content marketing right now. But do you know the secret ingredient? My name is Michael Boezi, and I want to talk about unlocking the power of content marketing.

Content Marketing Is About Relationships

Now, effective content marketing derives its power from one simple principal: provide value to your audience without expecting anything in return. I might have lost some of you right there. You say wait a second I’m trying to sell something here, I want to get to a transaction – you really have to trade in that transactional mindset for a generous one. Content marketing at base is all about building that relationship with your customers or prospective customers. If you go back to traditional marketing, traditional marketing is really all about awareness. And you used to be able to do that in a fairly easy way. I say easy in that at least the channels were scarce. But it was very very costly and it still is. You can pay for an ad on television, you can run an ad in the newspaper, you can pay for radio spot, and you’ll get awareness.

Trust Builds an Audience

But look, hope is not a marketing plan. If someone is going to actually purchase something, they’ve got to trust you to solve their problem for them. Trust comes in what you do, not what you say. Take your LinkedIn profile. That’s you talking about you. Now while I expect you to be honest about it and all that that, it’s not that believable right? Because it’s all self-reported. The thing that really sort of unlocks content marketing is not the you talking about you, but someone else talking about you. If you go into this sort of growth engine of content marketing with that the idea that you’re going to provide value upfront, again without expecting that transaction, you’re just there trying to help people solve the problem, and now in today’s world with the web and publishing blog social media etc. you can now do that for fairly low cost. The cost of propagation is nearly 0. Of course there’s a time cost to producing good content, but if you do that, and you do it consistently, trust will start to build. And with trust comes authority. And once you have authority, now people want you to solve their problem for them.

Provide Value to Your Audience

So what are the ways to provide value to someone, to your audience, what are the things that they might find valuable? I tend to put this into three categories. You either should inspire, inform, or entertain. I teach a course at Emerson College, and I asked this same question of my students, and they actually added a fourth to it. They said enlighten. Which is nice I kind of like that, it’s a little different than inspire. Whether you think of this as three things or four, you’ve got to do something where your audience gets something out of it. So what are the things that are going to inspire, inform, entertain, or enlighten? Like anything in content marketing or content strategy, it’s up to your audience. It’s your job to go and figure out what that is. And the only way to do that really is to start interacting. Remember you have a set of goals, you built a strategy around that, but I would say test it anyway. You may find that even though you know this customer base really really well, you really want to find out the language that they use, find out what the need is, the thing that they might come to you to solve for them.

Earn Trust First, Then Make a Sale

If you can start providing that to them where they’re looking for you for a particular thing, that’s where you can start connecting. Of course that makes sense, right, if they have an issue or they have a need for something, whatever it is, and you’re the one who’s delivering that consistently, with really good content that’s given to them generously, you can get to the point where they say I need that person, I need you, I don’t need just anyone I need you to solve this problem for me. And that’s where you can sort of graduate, if you will, from sort of providing value for free to a paid relationship. But you have to sort of take your time to get there. So get out there and do the work, and provide value to your audience. And then time you’ll earn enough trust, enough authority to actually ask permission for the sale.