Modern marketing has undergone a radical shift that produced the inbound marketing phenomenon. It’s based on the concept of inviting customers in rather than demanding their attention. Where traditional marketing was intrusive and would interrupt consumers, inbound marketing presents solutions to problems they are actively seeking to solve. It’s a huge opportunity to enter into the sales chain early and establish your value before they are ready to select a vendor.
That advantage can distinguish you in ways that were once nearly impossible.
I was watching the movie Cinderella Man the other day and a very minor scene struck me as a powerful metaphor for one of the most compelling aspects of content marketing. If you’re not familiar with the flick, it’s a depression era story about a boxer who is struggling to provide for his family. The desperation is illustrated vividly as desperate men seek to find work. They line up every day in the hopes of being selected to fill one of the few available positions. Each day a foreman selects a handful of fortunate souls who will be able to earn a day’s wages. But standing shoulder to shoulder in a crowd there really isn’t a good way for anyone to stand out. In fact, the only discernible factor is cursory and simply comes down to; do they look like they are up for the job?
That passing scene is a great way to begin to see the initial value of content marketing in today’s economy. Old school outbound marketing that interrupted consumers by buying their attention with ads was designed to work at the point in the sales chain where consumers were selecting a vendor. It positions businesses in a lineup with their competitors trying to look like they are up for the task. Standing shoulder to shoulder in a crowd, hoping to be selected.
The real power of content marketing allows businesses to enter into the buyers journey long before they are ready to select a vendor. In fact it puts you in their path when they are still wrestling with the problem that will eventually lead them to a vendor. This means if you can help them solve that problem you don’t have to fight for attention in a crowd of competitors, instead you are all alone with them providing value before they are a customer.
Here’s a real world example.
Dentists typically compete in search for terms like dentists, cosmetic dentists, or family dentists with a geographic location attached the end (ex. dentists in Reston, Va). This puts them in the cattle call with all the dentists in the area fighting to standout in the crowd of shoulder to shoulder search results. With content marketing, a dentist can create valuable information that will capture prospective consumers before they need to search for a dentist. A great example we have used for this business segment is an article titled My Crown Came Off – What Should I Do?. It’s a perfect place to meet potential dental clients searching for an immediate answer to a problem. They have an emergency, they are unsure what to do, they type in a search query like, “What to do if my crown comes off” and thanks to localization of results, your dental practice can rank high for the term and provide a valuable answer to their anxiety filled concern. And, since you have provided this free information and they are in need of a dentist, it puts you in a prime position to avoid having to compete in a general search. You are there alone with a potential client.
There are many other advantages that inbound marketing through content provide such as actual rank improvement for core keyword phrases and a general increase in web traffic but the initial positioning in the sales chain is one of the most interesting aspects for businesses.
Who wants to be judged in a crowd where you can’t distinguish yourself? Isn’t it better to be a hero?