For those interested in growing their business and converting to the proven practice of inbound marketing, you might want to take a look at one of the most useful tactics at pulling in prospects: B2C content marketing.
If you’re not positive what content marketing is, or how it is different than inbound marketing, let’s first hop on over to read the Content Marketing Institute’s (CMI) definition of content marketing:
“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience – and ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
That’s a direct quote from Joe Puluzzi, content marketing guru and founder of CMI, a UBM company and the industry’s #1 at content marketing education. Not only has Puluzzi been able to successfully demonstrate the effectiveness of a content marketing strategy, but he has generated a strong following, has grown this strategy through eBooks and tri-monthly (that’s three times a month) webinars, started the conference Content Marketing World, and now many of the world’s most prominent organizations use some of his strategies (Microsoft, John Deer, UBM and its affiliates, just to name a few).
So what’s the buzz?
B2C is all about creating content that stands out in the minds of your potential consumers. B2C marketing works best when it evokes emotions in consumers in a positive and relevant way.
It also differs from B2B (business to business) content marketing, which relies on trustworthiness and reliability (more stats than emotions). B2C (business to consumer) content marketing relies on consumer interest and ultimately should be used as a tool within your inbound marketing strategy.
As you may have learned in one of our previous pieces, it takes some time to adjust to supplementing your business with content marketing efforts.
Besides, what are you going to write about? A content marketing strategy demands that your content to be informative, but with B2C, you’ve got the added pressure of producing content that speaks to the consumer on a somewhat direct and personal level.
While this may sound like a tough ask, we’re here to help!
Let’s Begin with the Basics: Content Creation
Content creation is arguably the toughest part of B2C content marketing. You want to sound genuine but how much is too much? Most content marketing strategists encourage the impact of a story.
B2C is designed to tug on those emotional heartstrings and create a sort of impermeable attachment to whatever it is you are selling whether it’s an item, service, or product.
To have an emotional attachment to something, there needs to be a placeholder or something that acts in place of something else. In this sense, placeholders attach an emotional response to a visceral response.
Things like nostalgia, the smell of salt in the air, or the feeling of a warm cozy blanket can create strong visceral responses and therefore happy “I-want-this” feelings.
The bottom line is that your content should evoke emotions that inspire potential consumers to be attracted to what you’re selling.
The Fine Details: Be Vulnerable Sometimes
A little bit of vulnerability will go along way. In today’s market, it can be really tough to convey to potential consumers that you’re there and that you really care about your customer relationships.
There are clearly levels of vulnerability and strategic ways that you can be truthful without being too exposed. Hell, you wouldn’t want to dish out your poor numbers or the audit you’re going through if you think it might hurt your crowd base so it’s essential to choose what you share wisely.
Vulnerability needs to be uplifting. For example, if you are keeping up with your social media you may have noticed that Instagram has become a haven for this type of content marketing.
Influencers regularly utilize this B2C tactic to show their followers that they get it, but they still go out and enjoy a refreshing drink at [insert plug here]. And there it is. A casual product/service/item plug at the end of an emotionally relatable story.
Their vulnerability does a few things: it draws the reader into a great (and true) narrative, it’s relatable, and it provides hope. It doesn’t take too many words to do all of that and generate revenue.
With just a few more words, you can create blog content that evokes a similar response. A little authenticity, vulnerability, and humanity go a long way. It isn’t necessary that you pour your heart out in a post, but you do need to show your potential consumers that you understand their questions, struggles, and concerns around a particular issue.
Consumers want solutions. And if you can show you understand the problem, it is easy to position yourself as THE solution.
The Obvious Miss: Know Your Consumers
This cartoon from the Marketoonist shows this aspect of marketing best:
If you don’t know who you are selling to, and why they might visit your website, then developing a brand narrative that is actively bringing in emotionally invested consumers will be difficult.
Remember, consumers are typically trying to seek a solution to a known problem. One easy way to discover and assess these consumer problems is by conducting simple keyword searches. Another great way is to ask consumers directly! Surveys, polls, and questionnaires all work.
One of the most common mistakes that we see in B2C content marketing is the inability to align the content with the buyer. Tailored messaging towards the buyer’s journey and persona will create a more effective solution.
This means that your marketing strategy isn’t ego-driven – the millennial buyer does not want to know about your fancy-pants business. Instead, you want to let your buyers know that it’s hard to make a choice when purchasing a product, and you appreciate their willingness to choose you.
Your Consumer Appreciates Being Informed
Education is at the heart of B2C content marketing because you’re providing consumers with legitimate, worthwhile content that is supporting their choice in where to spend their money.
Many companies have adopted the educational aspect as their brand identity (see Apple, Whole Foods, and Mint). With the amount of information readily available on the internet, you need to approach educating potential consumers tentatively. Give them some credit and they will begin to respect your company. Aim to provide content that satisfies multiple levels of knowledge and understanding of a particular topic: from newbie to pro.
Now, What: Exposing your Content
Content exposure needs to be considered during the development of the content strategy for it to work. The content can’t work if no one ever sees it.
If you already have some of the staple exposure methods set up, that’s great. But, make sure that the content you want to push, be it blogs or buyer narratives, fits with the medium.
Is the content-heavy on visuals like photos and video or does it require long-form text? The answer to this question will determine how and where you present the content. A blog or webpage with video and text can do well on social media platforms like Twitter or Instagram. Simply share the video and link to the page.
It is also important to consider trending topics. If you are writing a post around a topic currently in the news or on-trend, consider tailoring it to a Twitter audience by posting the link and using relevant hashtags.
With the right metrics and consumer feedback, you can figure out what works best for your company. It’s important to find a unique voice for your brand, one that a consumer can identify with and one that the consumer will want to follow on a journey. Honing in on this voice is difficult, but worthwhile in the long run.