Cracking content marketing

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Why am I writing about this?

I am not an expert in on-line marketing, but some discussions I had with a group of people recently emphasised to me that so many people have absolutely no idea how to market their business. They have a business name and they then wait for their network or their network friends to bring them work.

Why should people trust them to do the work? Do they have a track record to point to? Many people seem to think it is sufficient to put up a sign, real or virtual, and then wait for clients, customers, punters or whatever they call them.

It’s no good being anonymous

Many small traders and especially consultants do not appreciate that they need to have a website. Some of course have great expertise in their field but are not web-aware. We know that these days when thinking of taking on a new supplier, so many businesses type the name into Google or even Yahoo (you can get different and interesting results) to find out a bit more. If the business they are searching for is hard to find, or the website if it exists is lacking on information beyond some past career as an employee, no potential purchaser is going to latch on and think about hiring the business or the consultant as a supplier.

Demonstrate your expertise

One of the distinctly web-aware guys in that group I was talking to said that one site he ran for consultants had 8,000 hits a month, which is of course great. However, my immediate thought was, how many of these hits actually led to an enquiry from a prospect to one of the consultants? My guess was hardly any, because what the website does for the consultants is list past experience and services offered. The current format has no room for demonstrating current experience and the consultant’s knowledge of their industry issues right now. That is not to say that the site is no use, but it needs to offer a click-through to a place which is really informative.

Prospects don’t want to know what you have done. They want to know what you can do for them.

Confession

I have a confession. One of my websites has not nearly enough hits as I would like. I need to work on driving more traffic. However, my articles on the site offer very specific information on current tax topics dear to the hearts of many people today, such as lettings and property investment issues as well as (sadly) redundancy and taxation of leaving payments.

The articles contain relevant key words for popular searches, not deliberately but because they inevitably will. I believe they do demonstrate that I know what I am talking about, and the enquiries I get from prospects as a result their arriving on my website are likely to lead to business because the prospects have already qualified themselves with their interest.

Technically in SEO-speak I believe I am utilising almost incidentally the “long tail” in attracting the clients I want. More traffic always helps, but the traffic I get is really good quality for me.

Am I giving away my knowledge for free?

I don’t think that sharing my knowledge with readers will really encourage them to rely and act on the bare essentials because they must know that I cannot cover all the kinks which they would need to know to avoid trouble. I tell them enough to make them sure that they need me and it would be dangerous to act on their own.

There is a school of thought that my “competitors” might steal some of my expertise. I don’t believe this. Most of them have the knowledge. Some will know that they need my help, so that will mean more business for me, and they will become colleagues. What the “competitors” mostly don’t have is the energy to market in the same way or to borrow my turf.

Go for content

I am not a marketing expert. If you are still worried about someone stealing your stuff find out more about why it doesn’t matter.

What you have to do is write though. If you would like someone to tidy up your article copy before you post it, ask me.  Oh yes, that is another of my businesses, and I enjoy writing and have colleagues who do too. In fact I enjoy all my business activities.

Content marketing is great because it is writing about what you know. Start writing now!

I hope you find this piece useful. Please tell me if you do.

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Why arrogance has no place in business

I have been reflecting recently about the danger of arrogance in our business lives. I think it can come to some people through complacency. They feel that they know what they are doing, they have been doing it a fair time, and they know best. An attitude like that may lead to bullying too.

An arrogant person may indeed know his or her subject very well, and be very good at teasing out the finer points in their analysis of problems they seek to solve, but an arrogant person is also someone who does not communicate properly with the people who most need their help. An arrogant person ultimately is someone facing the risk of failure, because without being able to talk to or persuade people, any solution proposed will not be heeded.

Some of you may be familiar with the TV series “House” starring Hugh Laurie as a brilliant doctor and diagnostician. The premise of this very good programme originating from Fox in the US is that Dr House hardly ever sees patients because he in not interested in them, only in the diagnosis of their illness. He is very self-centred and very rude to almost everyone, but he is protected by his team of doctors who deal with and talk to the patients as well as carrying out any necessary tests. Dr House is also a bully, though he always thinks that his bullying is for the victim’s own good. Of course this is entertainment, and one needs to see a few episodes to enjoy the in-jokes and characters, and like many beers the series is an acquired taste.

In fact the premise of the progamme is not so absurd. I understand many doctors do become very arrogant, though perhaps not usually quite to the degree of the Dr. House character.

I am sure most of us have known arrogant but clever people in our working lives, including some who were bullies too. Imagine if we small business owners and employees adopted this attitude with our clients and customers. We cannot rely on our team to protect us. Imagine we believed we knew everything there is to know, and our clients were wrong and did not know what was good for them. Suppose we did not listen to them. We might understand their problem and make a diagnosis, and we may know how to fix it and provide a solution, but if we just told them – barked it out – they would feel intimidated and shy away. We would lose business that we should have gained and our clients would not get their solution unless they found someone more amenable who was as capable as we of delivering it.

Arrogance can be the price of experience and of knowledge but a little humility can go a long way in engaging our clients both in the formal way and in helping to solve their problems.

© Jon Stow 2009

“House”