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Do Your Customers Really Want Your Content?

Marjorie Clayman is VP of Client Services at her family’s full service marketing firm, Clayman Marketing Communications.

Last week, Sam Fiorella of Sensei Marketing posted an interesting article called, “The Problem with Content Marketing”. Among other great points Sam makes is this:

“I’ll argue that there is so much content being produced every day by businesses, media, and the public that whatever effect content marketing might have on a business’ brand is nullified.  Everyone – and everything – is a news-maker and a content producer today through websites, whitepapers, long- and short-form blog posts, micro-blogging, social updates, and videos. The list goes on and on.”

This statement resonated with me not just in terms of the global, 21st century business landscape but also in terms of the one-on-one relationship between companies and their customers. The statement resonated with me because upon receiving on of our agency’s white papers, a client expressed appreciation but then said, “I just don’t have the time to read and absorb this.

Content Marketing: For your customers or for you?

I don’t think our client’s response was an isolated incident.

You probably are aware of how busy your contacts are. Ever since the “Great Recession,” people who were able to keep their jobs are now busier than ever. Responsibilities, travel obligations, personnel to manage – all of it has been on the rise. These same people are reading blog posts about how they should be generating their own content so that their companies can become memorable.

Which takes precedent, do you think? Servicing their customers efficiently and effectively or reading your daily blog post, your weekly e-newsletter, your quarterly webinar report, and more? It’s not hard to make a guess. No mater how good your content may be, your customers may simply not have the time to absorb it all.

If your customers do not have time to read your content or even visit your blog, as a company you have to ask yourselves, “Why are we participating in this “content marketing” buzz?

If your content is not helping your customers, does it matter if you are writing more than your competitor? Granted, blog posts and other content can most certainly boost your SEO – I would never say to stop the content hose altogether. But if you are thinking your customers are hanging on every word you compose, you are probably fooling yourself.

Ask the question

How can you avoid these complexities? The answer is simple. Ask your customers (and any prospects you have good relationships with) what kind of information they most want and how they want that information delivered.  There are several ways you can approach this:

1. Ask in person. As you meet with customers, ask casually what kinds of things they’re reading lately (or take a look at what magazines are set out in the waiting area).

How is your customer accessing information during your meeting? You can get a lot of clues merely from how a person’s office looks. If it’s littered with magazines that can tell you one thing. If it’s filled with iPads and smart phones, that can tell you something else.

2. Ask via email. If you regularly send out an e-newsletter, include a short survey question at the end asking your readers how they prefer to receive information or what kinds of information they would like to see from you (a lack of responses may indicate your e-newsletter is not one of their top choices).

3. Mind your analytics. Barring getting direct answers from your customers, your blog, e-newsletter, and social media analytics can tell you a story about how your content is performing.

If not many people are visiting your blog, you know that content is probably not attracting attention for some reason. If you have a close relationship with a customer, you might be able to report poor analytics and ask, “What could I do to make YOU more interested in what I’m saying?

It’s possible your customers may want some “How to” content from your company, but maybe they want Vlog posts instead of something to read. Maybe you will find that podcasts are beneficial because your busy customers can listen to these while traveling.

By delivering the kinds of content your customers want in the format they want, you will be better able to realize the benefits so many speak of in regards to content marketing. Your customers will be more willing to visit your posts or study your information because they know it will be useful and worth their valuable time.

As a company, it is essential to decide, as it is with any marketing tactic, what your objectives are and how you will measure your success. If you are producing content to increase your site’s SEO, that requires one kind of approach. However, if you are hoping your customers will latch on to your content and appreciate your expertise, you first must make sure the information is of interest and accessible.

Have you thought about why you are producing content? Have you asked your customers if they are finding your content interesting? We’d love to hear from you!

For more marketing advice from Margie, click here.

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