When you think about content marketing, your first instinct may be to focus primarily on the services you offer. However, this approach will do little to cultivate trust and longstanding appeal to your audience.
If your content is entirely focused on what your business offers, then you have lost the purpose of content marketing. The focus of effective content marketing is to serve your audience. Content marketing simply does not work when your sole focus is to serve yourself.
In this article, we discuss a content marketing strategy that we use as part of our content mix. We use it to write content designed to speak to the greater ecosystem of our target clients’ problems and aspirations, while tying in the services we offer to make it relevant to our business.
We call it, the “Tie-In” Content Marketing Strategy. Simple as that.
What Is the Tie-In Content Marketing Strategy?
The Tie-In Strategy is fairly simple. You create content about a broader problem, interest, or aspiration of your target market, then tie-in your company’s offering as one or two of the ways your readers can solve that challenge.
Example #1: I recently wrote an article about how to get more referrals to your service-based business without asking for them. Instead of focusing exclusively on digital marketing strategies, which is what I offer, I spoke about non-service-related strategies that my target audience (owners of B2B service-based companies) could do themselves to generate more referrals.
This makes my article feel less self-serving and creates an environment of trust surrounding my content.
If you’re always writing content with your own best interest at heart, you have failed the first unwritten rule of effective content marketing.
All forms of marketing are about trust and credibility. If you write content solely focused on how your own products or services will help your prospects, you’ll do two things:
- You will teach people that every piece of content you create is a sales pitch in disguise, losing their interest and trust.
- You will alienate your existing clients who are already benefitting from your services, and therefore don’t need “the pitch” any more.
Sometimes, even your existing clients need to be reminded of the benefits of your services. And in order to make your content credible and give it context, it can help to tie-in how your company contributes to XYZ benefit or end result.
But in the mix of articles you write or content you produce, there should be a lower skew of articles based solely on how your services benefit the customer.
This goes back to knowing your current clients and prospects’ true problems and aspirations; things outside of what your business does. Then, equipped with that insight, aiming to help solve that problem, regardless of whether your company can benefit directly from that solution or not.
What Are the Benefits of This Strategy?
The Strategy allows you to be somewhat altruistic, while still promoting some of the benefits of your services. However, being altruistic doesn’t mean you’re running a charity. Instead, it means you’re investing in your current clients and prospects, which is an entirely different thing. The key is to garner good will, which is the first step toward creating reciprocity.
The Tie-In Strategy not only makes your content more trustworthy to your audience, but it also makes it more clickable and shareable on social media — all characteristics of good quality content.
When done right, your content won’t feel like a sales pitch, and your selflessness will produce the right seed of good will to promote trust with your clients and prospects alike. After all, trust is one of the hardest things to create in an online setting, so we need to be that much more generous with our content in order to build trust and attention over time.
Example #2: Another example of the Tie-In Strategy is the article, Remote Control: A Practical Guide to Running Your Business From Afar, published by Bench, a virtual bookkeeping service.
The article is intended to help people like me (owners of remote or distributed companies) to solve the problem of maintaining control over a virtual business. The problem is unique to businesses like mine; where the employees are not all sitting in a physical office, but instead are distributed around the world in independent locations.
Rather than writing articles exclusively on accounting and bookkeeping, they branched out to bigger issues that I experience. They reached me with content that interests me, they tied-in their service as only one of the ways to bring control to my remote business, but they didn’t make it all about them.
You would barely notice their subtle self-promotion. Instead, I benefited from their value-added content, was wooed by their site design and “hip” factor, and who knows, maybe one day, long into the future I will use their services. For now, they’re in the running for my attention and they have built trust through articles like these. They have also built a backlink.
The Tie-In Strategy allows you to help solve bigger challenges that your clients and prospects are facing. These are problems that may extend outside of the scope of what you do, but nonetheless, you can contribute to solving those challenges with your expertise. Doing this allows your company to add value, while building trust with content, since it is not simply self-serving in nature.
An additional benefit is that you get to write more interesting content! People will inevitably get tired of whatever industry your company belongs to, unless your clients are also in the same industry — which is less common. When you write solely about you, your company, your services, what you do, and who you do it for, you neglect the real hero in the story: your customers.
So, be sure to branch out to the broader spectrum of your target audience’s ecosystem to create sustainable, readable and shareable content. With this approach, everybody wins, and you will start to see that return on your investment.
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