Let’s look at Tactic #2: Develop a content strategy to add value to the customer experience. Why would you need a content strategy, and what could it do for your sales?
Here’s an example of a small company that’s done a great job with their content strategy: Roundpeg. Founded by Lorraine Ball, Roundpeg is a small marketing agency in Indianapolis that specifically serves small business clients. Marketing is a cluttered field with lots of competition at every level of size and complexity. So how is a small (7-10 employees) regionally-focused firm going to get and keep the attention of prospective new customers? For Roundpeg, the answer is to give away valuable ideas, information, and tools to their website visitors. Lorraine believes that if she gives good stuff away, people will remember Roundpeg when they are ready to buy marketing services.
Visit her site and you’ll find all of these things:
- a blog, updated daily with practical marketing advice for small companies
- a free “customer value” worksheet to download
- a link to “free stuff” like a business plan outline and a marketing calendar
- links to two upcoming podcasts about business planning
You are likely to stick around on the site for a few minutes, take advantage of some free ideas and tools, and think well of Roundpeg and its team.
Here’s another example. Kyle Lacy is an active blogger whose blog isn’t integrated with his company website. People find Kyle on Twitter (@kyleplacy). He has almost 20,000 followers with the tally growing daily. Two books on social media marketing are making him very well known in his overcrowded field.
Two companies–same town, same business, similar sphere of influence–with very different content strategies for building their reputation and their client base.
But wait–you say. These are marketing companies. Social media is their business! Me, I build things. I make stuff. What does this have to do with my company?
Take a look at EV Studio, a small architecture, engineering and planning firm with three western US locations. Although they do some residential projects, most of their work appears to be commercial in the B2B space. Here’s a small company in an industry that has been pummeled during the recession. So how do they differentiate?
Their blog is presented as an online magazine. It’s really a collection of blogs on various topics, including architecture, commercial, engineering, LEED, and more. To illustrate their progress and persistence, I can report that in May 2008 they produced 6 articles, but last month–March 2011– they produced 48 articles!
Most of the material comes out of our daily experiences in the office, what we are designing, the questions people are asking and what our clients are working with us on. As a result the subjects are wide ranging and always changing. In addition, our team is fairly involved with the community and we try to publicize those events.”
Then they invite comments and questions.
Their social media presence (Facebook, Flikr) invites people to the blog, which is integrated with the company’s website. People who find them also find an amazing array of up-to-date industry knowledge produced by their talent pool of employees.
So let’s contrast this approach with that of what I’m assuming could be a competitor of EV Studio, a small company (6-7 emoloyees) called McGlamery Structural in Denver. McGlamery has a high quality, professional website that represents them well. Their site is particularly impressive in its gallery of completed projects. But from a social media standpoint, there is nothing on that website to start a conversation or build a relationship. When you need the kind of services these companies provide, who will you remember? Who will you call?
Your content strategy is no longer optional. Small companies have terrific opportunities to level the playing field against larger competitors through social media. No matter what your business, your prospective B2B customers expect you to provide information, knowledge, guidance,insights, tools, materials etc. that will help them accomplish their own goals and also help them make informed choices about the products and services that you produce. It’s a smart sales investment.