Carolyn McMaster | November 4, 2014
Content marketing can be a powerful tool for business development executives as well as the marketing team. Think of it as networking, which aims to turn acquaintances into friends and business associates. Content marketing similarly builds relationships, turning prospects into clients and partners as you move them through your sales funnel.
With a bow of gratitude to Judy Robinett, author of How to Be a Power Connector, here are key networking tactics that apply to content marketing for SMEs.
Just say hello.
The first step in networking is, naturally, to introduce yourself. Your initial email should provide value and position you as a potential ally. Don’t open with a sales pitch: link to a blog post or attach a report you think they would find useful.
Find common ground.
Delivering content that speaks to the needs of your audience is critical to keeping them interested in you. Consider their job, industry and company in determining what content to send them. You can also learn about someone’s interests if you check out their LinkedIn profile or company bio.
Assume the other person is shy.
You can’t assume people will reach out when they need your help. Give them a reason to stay in touch that requires minimal effort, such as downloading a new piece of content or signing up for your newsletter. Taking that step should be easy and logical. When they know you well (see below), they’ll feel comfortable about developing a business relationship and be open to a sales pitch.
Provide value early and often.
Building a trusting relationship requires delivering value—be helpful and generous at every contact point. People tend to associate and do business with givers, thinking, “If they are this good now, I bet they’re amazing to their paying clients.”
Be present and listen.
This can be a challenge in any situation and with content marketing in particular, which tends to be a one-way communication. It doesn’t have to be. Pay attention to conversations wherever they’re happening—on Twitter, in blog comments, in social media groups—and respond. Pay attention to your own content as well, noting what’s popular and what’s not, and adjust your offerings accordingly.
Content marketing is a long-term strategy that focuses on building relationships. If you think of it as networking and focus on being as helpful as possible, you’ll position yourself as a trusted advisor who’s top of mind when people need your services.
For more content marketing strategies, check out our Strategy>Shift guide, Content Marketing: Myth vs. Reality.