Ok, I’m a big fan of advertising. When used correctly advertising is a good way to promote your brand, service, or product. But advertising can’t do it all.
This is the age of always-connected, ever-searching, information at your fingertips. Companies (and yes, nonprofits too) need to do more than just throw messages out there. You need to engage your prospects, clients, and influential audiences in active conversation. Content marketing is what you need.
Your customers are ready to interact with you. Are you ready to interact?
It’s doing social, and more. Sure, social media is a great way to interact with people. You can post, collect comments, reply, and follow. Use your social media accounts to share information about your company, and to listen to what others are saying. Go where your people already are. Your followers are willing to comment and post. Use this to research why people buy from you, what sets you apart — and more.
When asked a question, respond. When someone post something critical, address the problem or concern without being judgmental or defensive. Remember, not everyone will be a good fit for your company.
Provide content, not just advertising
Today, part of good communication with your audiences is providing quality content. Advertising is a short interruption to promote your message. But once that awareness is established, it is important to provide useful information on an ongoing basis. You can publish content in many places and many ways. Blogging is the most common, but there is also video, website, white papers, ebooks, how-to guides, checklists, dozens of other ways to provide useful and valuable information for your audiences.
Give a little to get a little
Ask for information from your audience in exchange for premium content. Then use that contact information along with interaction history to provide personalized communications. This basic trade is the foundation of content marketing. If someone signs up for event reminders, you want to be sure to send them event reminders. But, you can also offer information about other similar activities that may interest them. The same logic applies to any interaction. Keep moving the conversation ahead.
Don’t give up on all advertising
Just as advertising alone is only half the answer, so too is content alone. If you dedicate the time and talent to consistently produce quality content, you want to be sure people know about it. Choose advertising channels and audiences that match your customer personas. I said I liked advertising done well. Doing it well means using advertising like social posts promotions, Google AdWords, and other channels to promote your content. Advertising and conversation work better together than either do alone.