Content marketing: A new way to foster relationships, engage your customer in a conversation

By Ben Keeton

You are an expert, now you need to let your clients know it. In the world of new media, the challenge is how to catch somebody’s attention in a crowded and noisy arena. The key to success is in developing a solid content marketing plan that will help you build your brand while getting the attention of your desired audience.

Let’s establish one simple truth of today’s media environment: there is more information available to us every day than we can digest in a lifetime. Breaking through the noise and establishing credibility with the right audience is your key to success. If you try to be an expert for everybody on everything, you will fail. However, if you build your credibility with a specific audience, you will be able to build your brand, demonstrate your expertise and win new clients.

The question remains, how do you credibly build your brand in an increasingly noisy environment? We believe there are three key elements to building a content marketing plan:

Amplify Your Message
MN_twitter_icon_2First, you have to want to amplify your message. Each of us is an expert in our field. We have spent years training, practicing and perfecting the work we do each and every day. Often, we have unique access to information that we take for granted. The first step in developing a content marketing plan is to take that information out of your brain and find a way to tell your story.

There are many ways to share this information in a noisy environment, from Twitter and LinkedIn to blogs and industry newspapers, the opportunities are endless. The important task is to remember to do it and do it often. While this can be done on your own, working with a professional will ensure that you actually do it (discipline) and that you do it well.

Use a Switchboard
IGE web_3BThe next element is understanding your audience. We call this the switchboard. While you may be an expert in your field, your client is not (that is why they are hiring you, right?). You need to understand how to talk about your expertise in a language your client understands. We call this the switchboard because you need to get plugged in to the right community so that you can have an open line of communication.

Build a Community
The switchboard leads to the final and most important element: building a community. As the old saying goes, “if a tree falls in the woods and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a noise?” Similarly, if you have a solution to a challenge facing healthcare providers, but there is nobody listening to you, can you make a difference?

newsstand_image_smCommunities come in many shapes and sizes. Often a community exists and you can jump right in and share your expertise. These come in the form of trade associations, organized networking groups or established social media groups. However, if a group doesn’t exist yet, just build one! If there is a subject that you are interested in, there are likely other people that want to be a part of that conversation. The critical components are engagement and informat ion exchange. You should always offer members of your community more than they offer you.

Complement, Not Replace
Content marketing should not take the place of traditional marketing, rather it should supplement and help round out your brand building plan. Traditional advertising and sponsorships are necessary to establish brand recognition in a community and content marketing allows you to foster new relationships while engaging your customer in a conversation. It is a unique way to differentiate yourself (and your expertise) to your target audience.


Over to you: Do you have any other tips related to fostering relationships and building customers? Let’s discuss it further using the comment form below.


Ben Keeton is with IGE Media in Louisville, Ky. IGE Media helps connect business leaders to new customers through advertising, content management and custom publications.