Over the past 10 years or so, there’s been a very significant shift in the way effective companies market themselves to consumers. And it’s more of a shift on the consumer side, and corporate america, small businesses, and companies all around adapting to it. That is, as a consumer – because we have so much information at our finger tips, and we are so connected within our networks of friends, family, business associates and colleagues – we have such an opportunity to get peer recommendations, and find information on our own, that we’ve developed such a sense to ignore advertising in the traditional sense. Not all the time, because a lot of companies have become innovative at their outbound marketing, to make it very engaging and entertaining to reach people. But more often than not, what’s going to cause me to make a buying decision – and this is a trend for consumers all around – is to really feel that I’m being offered value. And 9 times out of 10 that’s going to come from a referral from a friend.
But what companies really are focussing so much more of their marketing budgets on now is inbound marketing – which really speaks to providing value driven content that tells the story of their product or service, and really gives information that their end customer wants to know and sees value in. And that’s not always a sales pitch. More often than not it needs to be that unbiased information that’s going to have value to them and engage them. Of course eventually you’ll want to work them through to making a purchase, to becoming a customer, to buying your service or product, but the more savvy marketers today are focussing on how they can offer value for their customers.
A great way to do that is to have a content strategy for your website. Have your website be a tool and a hub for that content, where you’re regularly publishing [information] – whether that’s videos, whether that’s photos, whether you’re using a blog, you may be publishing white papers. Having some sort of content strategy, where you’ve identified what your customer base is interested in, what they want to hear from you about, and working into that a fairly frequent content publishing schedule, where you’re putting that information out – that is going to attract customers to you, through this concept of inbound marketing, versus having to go directly after them. It’s more “pull” than “push” marketing, and it’s a huge trend, and the smart, savvy marketers are really taking advantage of this.
It’s extremely important in franchising, especially for service-based franchises, to have that presence. Not only does it provide the source of content for your social media efforts – so you put a new blog post, or video up, and it lives on your website, but then you can put it out on Twitter, on your Facebook Page, you can comment about it in blogs – you can extend it out, to then pull traffic back to your site, which acts as the conversion point.
So it helps in social media dramatically, and also every time you’re publishing new content, that’s the biggest way that you’re going to come up higher in the search results. When people are searching for whatever is of interest to them, which is relevant to your product or service or company – it’s probably not going to be your company name…if you’re a carpet cleaning service or a plumbing service, they’re going to search for a plumber in whatever city they’re in – if you’re publishing content frequently, especially if it’s of value, you’re going to come up higher in those search results, people are going to find you. And that’s why it’s “inbound”, it’s pulling people in, but it’s a shift in mindset where instead of all of your advertising and marketing efforts always saying “Here’s our latest special!”, “Here’s our products, here are the features!”, get in the mindset of the consumer, and see what’s of interest to them.
Of course it needs to be relevant to your product or service and company, but really take a close look at what types of content you put out there to really tell the story, and give a personal feel for your company, to really engage with customers. That’s why value driven content is the core part that companies really need to adopt and embrace if they’re going to remain competitive moving forward.