Do you want to build loyalty to your brand? Of course, everyone does, that is obvious. But what is not obvious is how to do it. At AlphaGraphics in Minneapolis, we think brand loyalty starts with two things: trust and value.
Building trust is common sense. Deliver a high-quality product, on time, for a fair price, all the time. If you consistently provide what customers expect from you, you will build and maintain trust. Mistakes need to be rare and if you make one, own up to it, make it right, eliminate the cause of the mistake, and get back on track as quickly as possible. Trust is putting in hard work, every day, to meet and exceed customer expectations.
Delivering value, above and beyond the actual product you sell, is less obvious than building trust. One way to deliver value in this limited personal interaction Covid world is through content marketing. What is content marketing? It is delivering valuable, relevant content to your customers on a regular basis, through blogs, newsletters, e-books, mailings, webinars, or whatever form you can imagine. The key is, your customer needs to find it valuable enough to invest the time to engage.
Generally, for a customer to find content worthwhile, it must educate, entertain (with humor or storytelling), provide expertise, or cause the customer to think in new ways.
Sound easy? It’s not. You have to invest time to learn and think about what content will add value for your customers. Content marketing is not advertising. It is not pushing the features, advantages and benefits of your products and services. It is not transactional. Rather, it is delivering something interesting or inspirational to your audience.
So how do you do it? Some suggestions:
- Be authentic—don’t force it. Your brand has a personality (and if you are a small business, that personality may reflect YOUR personality). So let your brand personality speak in your content….be who you are and don’t try to convince people you are something you’re not. Authenticity will result in more effective content.
- Tell stories, give examples from your own experiences. Tell others about how you have done whatever you are talking about, or how you have seen it done effectively. Everyone likes stories and examples. Here is my example: I am a road biker. Bicycling Magazine ( @BicylingMag ) regularly posts in my Twitter feed short, efficient, high impact core workouts geared for bicyclers. Granted, not for everyone! But it is content I find extremely valuable and I use it! My opinion of Bicycling Magazine is higher because of it. They “know” me and understand what I find valuable.
- Try to inspire new ways of thinking. Pumping out content for the sake of it will come across as bland, boring and uninspiring. Think about your daily life and all the options you have for spending your time on some type of content from someone. How much of it do you engage in? Why do you choose to engage in the things you do choose? Probably because it makes you think, entertains, or inspires. Your content needs to do the same.
So, why do it? If content marketing is time consuming and hard, why bother? Well, here are some reasons it may be worth it:
- If your brand offers content that customers appreciate more than your competitors do, you will stand out. Hopefully it may get some people to try your brand that otherwise may not have.
- You might enjoy it. Especially for creative types who like to write or communicate, it can be fun. And, if you’ve ever felt like you want to add more value to people’s lives beyond “just” the products you sell—this is an opportunity to express yourself and add extra value!
- In the spirit of authenticity……it might help you sell more. Some people will tell you content marketing should not be used to sell, AT ALL. While I generally agree that the primary objective of content marketing is education and inspiration, not to advertise, I think mentioning your products and services is ok as long as it is part of the value you are delivering in the content. For example, if I write a blog that helps you learn more about communicating with customers during a pandemic, and if I have products to help you do that, wouldn’t you want to know how my products can help? The key is, the connection must be real…….for the content to be authentic, if you choose to mention your product or service, it must TRULY be part of the value added by the content. And don’t over-do it. Anything beyond a matter of fact mention starts to become an ad.
Finally, if you choose not to mention your products or services in the content, I strongly suggest you provide people a way to learn more about your company at the very end of your content, when it’s clear it is not part of your content. If you educated, entertained or inspired, you earned the right! See below, for example.
At AlphaGraphics Minneapolis, we provide a full range of printing services and signs, including postcards, direct mail, posters, banners, stickers, large prints, window decals and wall decals. We have graphic design experts who can help you develop marketing materials. We also have resources to help you with content marketing. To learn more go on our website at https://www.alphagraphics.com/centers/minneapolis-minnesota-us401.html or call us at 612-340-1111.