We live in a world full of big data, conflicting sets of analytics, and ever-changing technology.
Sometimes, it’s enough to make your head spin. Sometimes, it means we lose sight of important home truths about how we connect with people.
Getting on the front page with your keyword search in Google is great.
Business, however, is about more than fishing for passing trout in a fast-flowing river.
It’s about building a dam, and creating your own pond.
To do that, we have to never forget what it’s all about – relationships and trust.
Our customers won’t forget it. Their decisions aren’t often made using big data. Their purchases don’t usually come down to using analytics.
They buy from the people they know and trust, whether they are people on their local High Street, or those they’ve met on social media or through other business contacts.
JK Rowling’s Mr Weasley put it quite succinctly in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: “Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can’t see where it keeps its brain.”
The best way to build that relationship and create that trust is by content marketing.
Let your would-be customers know where you keep your brain, and what makes your business tick.
Blogging regularly allows you to create content – or outsource its creation – and share it with your ideal customers. The fish you want to come and live in your pond.
A great blog which speaks to their needs is the starting point for your content marketing journey, tickling those fish through the stages of awareness of your business, contemplation of what you could do for them, and into the funnel of your website and your call to action.
Words matter. They cement your relationships with your customers.
That doesn’t mean, however, that visuals are unimportant. Impactful pictures, strong graphics, and engaging videos can all be embedded into your blog posts to give them a multi-platform appeal. Podcasts are also an excellent way of building that trust.
Build in some interactivity – create a quiz your customers can share, for example. Get them to post their results on Facebook or Twitter.
Get your blogs shared by the right people, influencers in your area or industry, groups of people whose social media posts have a powerful reach.
You’ll soon discover some of the fish will swim the way you want them to right away.
Others, however, need more love and attention, more persuasion.
As Lemony Snicket said in The Penultimate Peril: “Deciding whether or not to trust a person is like deciding whether or not to climb a tree because you might get a wonderful view from the highest branch or you might simply get covered in sap, and for this reason many people choose to spend their time alone and indoors where it is harder to get a splinter.”
Those cautious fish are worth the effort, though. There’s nothing more loyal than a cautious customer who finally bites, and gets a great product or service.
These are the customers whose recommendations will carry the most weight with their peers. If old Cautious Fish likes it, it must be good.
There’s something else which is important in building that trust: reciprocity. Offer your customers something useful to them free, asking for their email addresses so that you can build your database.
When we accept something free, we feel that duty to reciprocate. That builds your bond even further. It enhances your chance of a future sale even further.
It also gives you the chance to send out more links to your blogs in the future in direct emails, and make your pond a little larger.
Maria Williams is a copywriter, blogger, and PR for small businesses at Words You Can Use Limited. Visit www.wordsyoucanuse.co.uk