Why great content is not enough

Important guest post by the super-knowledgeable Ian Brodie – delighted to welcome him back. Enjoy this!

Great content attracts great clients

It’s pretty much accepted wisdom these days that for a professional firm or sole practitioner wanting to establish credibility and win clients, great content needs to be the cornerstone of their strategy.

The reasons are obvious. A great article or whitepaper or video with useful information on the sorts of issues your clients struggle with will mark you out as an expert able to help them. You don’t just claim you’re an expert as so many do, you prove it.

And great content attracts great clients. The sort of people who will want to read your article or watch your video that shares insight on important client issues are the sort of people likely to have those issues and to want them solved. Chances are they could be a good potential client.

And sharing great content harnesses that powerful influence factor reciprocation too. You do something good for them in terms of giving them valuable content, and they’ll want to do something good for you. It may not stretch to immediately hiring you, but it’ll certainly stretch to meeting up with you or taking a call for a more in depth discussion.

So why isn’t all this enough?

Let’s look at a parallel in the world of dating. Producing great content is the equivalent of doing nice things for the person you’d like to hook up with. Sending them flowers or chocolates, taking them out to the cinema or for a nice meal.

All great stuff. And definitely something that will make them have nice warm feelings towards you.

But at some point they need to do something too.

It’s not really a relationship if all that happens is you give, give, give and they take, take, take. If it’s ever going to lead anywhere then they need to do nice things for you too.

Good relationships are always two-way streets.

And, of course, if you want someone to hire you, you don’t just need to build credibility. You need to build a relationship too.

Great content triggers action

So that’s why great content isn’t enough. It has to be engaging content too. It has to be content that will trigger action. Content that opens the door and invites your audience to do something nice for you. Content that leads to interaction and the beginnings of a two-way relationship.

Those actions don’t have to be big. As numerous psychological experiments have shown, if someone takes a small initial action, they’re much more likely to take a larger action consistent with the original one later.

So engaging content will pose questions and ask your audience to comment. Or perhaps take a survey. Or email you with a question or feedback. Or simply tweet about the article or share it.

A wise content marketer will then follow up on those actions their fledgling fans have taken (after all, if your date brings you chocolates you ought to encourage them by at least saying thank you).

Start a conversation

So don’t just leave the comments unanswered, begin a discussion. If you’re posting a guest articles on someone else’s blog, make sure you respond to any comments people make over there.

If people complete your survey, send them an unexpected thank you gift (perhaps some related content you don’t normally share). If they email you, pick up the conversation, reply and ask them a further question.

Monitor for mentions on social media – and when someone responds to your request to share your content thank them and ask what they thought of it.

Don’t just share, engage

In other words, don’t just share your great content, engage with your audience directly and begin to build the  kind of relationship that will turn your readers into fans and fans into clients.

Ian Brodie

Ian Brodie is a consultant, blogger, and author of “5 Simple Marketing Tweaks That Will Get You More Clients” – the no-BS guide to attracting and winning more clients.

What do you think?

True to his advice, Ian will be watching the comments here to answer any questions and to help out with any further advice on going beyond great content.

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10 Comments

  1. Thanks so much Ian. I love this post and very well said.

    You are so right, content marketing has to be a two-way street: valuable to your clients but also valuable to you and your business. The aim is to engage some kind of response from those you want to do business with. Too much content neglects this important element simply by forgetting to ask – I think you have to tell people clearly what you’d like them to do.

    Great to have you back on the site. Hope this triggers a good discussion!

    Sonja

    Reply
  2. Me too Sonja!

    I’m going to be checking in on the comments here regularly. If anyone has a question, wants to share their own experience, disagree or just say “hi!” that would be great.

    Look forward to hearing from everyone.

    Cheers

    – Ian

    Reply
  3. Hi Ian,
    Really great post, thank you.

    Engagement is at the forefront of our minds at the moment, and something we’re committed to doing better.

    For example, we made some changes to our newsletter this week, breaking from a more formal designed newsletter to an email like I might write to you. The results were really interesting – writing one-to-one and asking for feedback in an email resulted in much more engagement.

    From a design point of view, I’m sure you’d say the old style newsletter was better, but in terms of getting people involved, it’s the stripped back no frills approach that works better.

    Thanks again for the post,

    Sharon

    Reply
  4. Hi Sharon – I’ve found that to be absolutely true. They say you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, but we do.

    So if we get an email that’s full of fancy graphics that looks like it’s come from Amazon, we assume it’s going to try to see us something.

    If we get an email that looks like it’s from one of our friends or business colleagues where we’re used to reading and responding then we’re more likely to do so.

    Great example – thanks for sharing.

    Ian

    Reply
  5. Metaphorically, multiple content rafts must float along in a reader’s thought stream and not sink (or be sunk!) without trace.

    Your crafts have also to stand out from the flotsam and junk many busy people wade though when looking to hook those few nuggets of interest.

    Reply
  6. True Mark, true. And in a way you want them to get motivated enough jump on your raft and have a chat with you while they’re there.

    Reply
  7. Hi there! Thank you for posting this. I, too, find that it is extremely important to provide clients with content of value. Much of the work I do revolves around creating customer facing materials that enable our clients to use our products most effectively. Not only do I train and support our direct customers, but I must ensure that the correspondence they receive from me provides value to their lives. Its not just about creating “stuff”…. It’s creating stuff that matters!

    I would like to see more interaction from our client base on our social media sites, and although I often direct clients there and encourage them to “like” us on Facebook or check out tips and content we post. But what I’d really like most is to see our customers interacting with each other regarding the content we post there and about the services we provide. Any advice on how to get them to do this?

    Thank you!

    Reply
  8. Hi guys,
    I absolutely agree with the value of personal responses when your customer base (or any other tribe with which you interact) is small.

    The challenge is surely how to maintain this (or what to change it to) when you’ve tipped over into large numbers? I can see the job of responding to comments being more than a full time job. Then where do you find time to create the next piece of valuable content?

    PS – David Tovey was very good in Bath BBMN this week – plenty of useful takeaways

    Reply
  9. Hi guys,

    I completely agree with this article, generating an online conversation is a great way of engaging with your clients.

    With online though do you need an extremely high traffic flow to ensure people engage and don’t just read the article. Is there a % statistic of how many visitors you need to be able to generate a decent online conversation? Or is it more to do with the quality of your traffic rather than the amount.

    Great stuff as always from the VC team.

    Reply
  10. Hi all – wow! Thanks for all the questions and great points…

    @Piers I don’t have a specific stats on visitors to conversation ratios. You’re right that on average, you need quite a bit of traffic to get a certain % to comment or interact.

    You can increase the odds by writing more highly content of course. Hitting topics people feel passionate about or even disagree with. Or doing “monster” in depth posts (Peep at http://www.conversionxl.com is a master of this) where a lot of the commentary is marvelling at the value delivered.

    Keeping focused on one specific topic and asking a question related to that topic helps get interaction too.

    The medium can affect things too. I find my email subscribers are much more likely to reply to me on email than people are to comment a blog for example. Less risky I guess and easier just to hit reply.

    To get wider engagement you can encourage contribution. Email specific people who you would like to comment or contribute and ask them to head over and add a specific comment or share their perspective. When you get the ball rolling other comments follow (like this post!)

    There’s a great free report by Rich Millington on bootstrapping communities and getting involvement that touches on this. You can get a copy here: http://www.feverbee.com/2011/09/theprovenpath.html

    This can take lots of personal time as @Paul says. Some people outsource community management when they get bigger. Personally, it’s manageable for me – though I have to be careful not to mail a simple question to my entire list with a promise to reply to everyone. I did that 6 months ago and had to spend nearly a day replying!

    Hope this helps

    Ian

    Reply

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