There are many ways you can engage with your clients. Sitting down on a large rock with them is just one. For most of us however, as much as we’d like to, there’s simply not enough time to meet every potential client personally, and besides, rocks tend to get a bit uncomfortable after a while.
Luckily there are easier ways to reach out to your ideal clients.
Back to basics
Traditional marketing communication is usually a simple one-way broadcast. You advertise, for example in a newspaper ad, to tell people about your products or services. You then sit back and watch your sales figures to see if it worked.
But today’s consumer is wise to the old school marketing tricks. They know they have a choice who they work with, who they buy from; they’ve got the internet in their pocket and they’re not afraid to use it. These days you need to work a little harder to win over your customers.
Let’s get digital
Digital marketing, through online channels such as social media and websites, offers us the opportunity to interact with our customers, to invite them to engage with our company. They learn more about us, and critically we have the opportunity to learn more about them.
The more you know about your customers, the better equipped you are to meet their needs. The more your customer knows about you, the better equipped they are to decide whether you’re someone they want to do business with.
If people like you, they’ll listen to you. If they trust you they’ll do business with you. – Zig Ziglar, Business Coach
Moving on up
Content marketing takes digital marketing one step further. Content marketing is about serving not selling. It’s about understanding your customers’ issues and positioning yourself as a trusted guide, and therefore the right person to help them when the time is right.
Your content is what you write on your website, what you put in your blogs and your newsletters. It’s the video you post on YouTube, the links you share on Facebook, the photos you share on Instagram. Useful, regular, insightful content is about sharing values and expertise, rather than just showcasing products or services. Content marketing provides value to your client, whether through facts, opinion or simply inspiration; without necessarily demanding anything in return.
You know a lot more about your field than your clients do. That’s why they need you to help them by providing your product or service. There are plenty of people out there that they could buy from or work with, maybe for a lot less money than you charge. In creating your own original content you raise your credibility and assert your expertise in your field, and in doing so inspire your ideal clients to choose you. You also start to reveal your authentic self, allowing your customers to get to know you and align with your brand (whether that’s personal or corporate, or ideally in a small business, both).
When I publish a cost cutting tip, like the post on saving money on your business photography, it’s because I know that keeping costs down is a priority for most small business owners, and I know how to help you with that. It could be argued that I’m giving away something that I could charge for, but that’s OK, I’m confident enough to share my knowledge willingly and openly with you. Ultimately, of course, I’m hoping that when the time is right you’ll be ready to engage me and pay for the good stuff!
Equally, as a photographer, I could just share my portfolio and let you make up your own mind whether I can help you. But if I tell you what inspired me to take a shot (see below) you get a little insight into me as a person, maybe you can relate to that, maybe you’re intrigued to find out more or maybe you just file it away in your subconscious.
Good content marketing signals to your ideal client ‘I get you. I understand your situation. Trust me. I’m here to help when you’re ready.’
Traditional marketing talks at people. Content marketing talks with them. – Doug Kessler, CEO, Velocity B2B Marketing Agency
The story behind the shot
This was possibly one of my earliest corporate photography projects. In 2007 I had the opportunity to trek through the foothills of the Himalayas, visiting villages and projects supported by The Nepal Trust, who I was working for at the time.
Here, UK Chairman Mike Love, is meeting with villagers from Gothi, in North West Nepal, to discuss the progress of a microhydro power generation project that the Trust were bringing to the area. The Nepal Trust succeeds in this remote region, where many others with good intentions have failed, due to their commitment to engaging with the local communities and encouraging them to participate and take ownership of the projects at every stage of the process.
Find out more about the work of the Nepal Trust at http://www.nepaltrust.org/