Missing something? Your marketing plan did everything right by covering all the digital bases: social media, email, blogs, SEO, etc. The company’s name is out there, all right, so the orders should be rolling in. Except they are not. What dropped between recognition and closed sales?
How about credibility? Name recognition isn’t enough. Your customers must trust your integrity and expertise to provide a solution to their problem. In response, some companies are turning to Targeted Content Marketing ─ a developing discipline within the field of public relations ─ in order to close the gap between recognition and closed sales.
“Immediately after an article appeared about our attention to detail and the customization that we do, a potential customer called from the opposite coast and asked for a quote,” said Tim Brando, the owner of an electrical device manufacturing business that sells six-figure products. “They bought two products, and then two years later bought two more. This brought an immediate ROI and more than paid for the program.”
Filling in the trust gap
According to a January 26, 2017 story in Forbes, the U.S. digital marketing spend will near $120 billion by 2021 and is on pace to consume 46% of all advertising by 2023. But all that expense doesn’t necessarily translate into sales.
Here is where targeted content marketing steps in to make that transition, and it does so by making the dramatic jump across the threshold of known, to trusted.
Targeted content marketing is a form of PR that capitalizes on the adage that “content is king” by providing useful information in the form of articles to convey a company’s message to its desired audience, without directly pushing them to buy a product or service. Stories that help potential customers do their job better, cheaper, faster or smarter get read and increase the odds of transforming prospects into customers.
Corey Wainwright summed up the payoff in her story, Content Marketing Strategy: A Comprehensive Guide for Modern Marketers, when she wrote, “Targeted content is used to: expand customer base; generate or increase sales; engage a community of users; and, most importantly, increase brand credibility.”
While content marketing can be presented in a variety of formats ─ including trade magazines, websites, newsletters and even white papers ─ an emphasis on the word “targeted” means that the content is only offered to the precise media outlets that speak directly to your potential customers. As a result, marketing dollars are not wasted with a shotgun approach.
“We had done SEO, pay-per-click and inside telemarketing without much result,” recalls Brando. “Once we started using Rankin PR ─ a public relations company that utilizes targeted content marketing (rankinpr.com) ─ things quickly turned around. The stories they wrote, primarily case histories, got straight to the point by demonstrating that our service solves customer problems. Soon, the calls for more information came rolling in.
The actual content can take the form of how-to guides, articles addressing FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions), condensed white papers, new technology briefs, useful tips or case studies; the last item typically representing the best way to fully describe how your company can solve customer problems. Once created the information takes center stage to build trust.
“Targeted, informative content establishes you or your company as a resource, an expert in your industry,” explains Laura Godfrey, a former Director of Marketing at a large, publicly traded communications company, who recently decided to launch L.B. Godfrey Marketing Consultants, which is focused on website design and Search Engine Optimization and Marketing (SEO/SEM).
“It is a far more effective use of money because not only does it give a short term benefit in terms of informing your customers, but that impression of you being an expert doesn’t just go away the next day,” adds Godfrey. “Credibility is not something that erodes quickly.”
Why targeted content marketing works so well
Often overlooked in today’s instant electronic news world, informative story telling or how-to articles in print publications and their online equivalent could be viewed as old school by some, especially younger marketers who favor SEO and social media to attract customers. Big mistake.
Published articles actually drive SEO results by creating back-links to your website within the content of the story. Algorithms used by all popular search engines, such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc., are designed to track traffic between legitimate, respected websites and the links they use within their content. The more articles that get published about your product or service, the more links are established, and the higher your ranking within any search engine.
“Unless you have a Coca-Cola budget it can be very difficult to get the number of impressions that you need to be able to really have an effect on the average consumer, or even on the more knowledgeable industry-based customer,” Godfrey points out. “But the marriage of PR and SEO are changing that now, making it more economical to get your company name to the forefront.”
Ironically, the success of legitimate targeted content marketing breathes new life into traditional PR publicity ─ and that includes print media and even television and radio ─ through its symbiotic relationship with today’s internet based sales channel.
“Being a small company, we are not a household name like GE so we can’t support huge marketing budgets,” adds Brando. “But with targeted PR content you get the right people to see those articles online and in print, and it leverages your SEO and pay-per- click spends. It all just flows together.”
So why isn’t everyone doing it?
Large or small, most every company has some kind of marketing department. But not all are equipped to handle targeted content marketing.
As pointed out by Rebecca Lieb in her book, Content Marketing: Think Like a Publisher – How to Use Content to Market Online and in Social Media, “For content marketing, continuous delivery of large amounts of content is required, preferably within a content marketing strategy.”
“Great content can be expensive and time-consuming to create concurs Godfrey. “But I worked with Rankin PR to create targeted content marketing campaigns for the publicly traded company I worked at and now my own digital marketing company, and for me it is a two-for-one scenario because not only do we get the content, but we get cost-effective placements in trade publications and websites which are incredibly important.”
Godfrey touches on the most difficult and time-consuming issue: writing good content. Respected media outlets only accept content that benefits their readers. Even then, it takes extensive resources, connections, and relationships built over years just to get a story considered for publication.
Targeted content marketing expected to grow
For all its effort, targeted content marketing is proving effective in building trust and generating sales, even by those who use it to find products and services they need.
“I read other people’s marketed content, and I’m more likely to do business with someone I read about in a trade journal,” says Godfrey. “Especially since I know how marketing works from the back end. As a bonus, we recycle one content marketing article six or seven different ways. We might use snippets or quotes in a blog post or for testimonials in an ad. We can use them on “social,” or videos. So we get a lot more mileage out of one story than we would just creating a brochure.”
In effect, targeted content marketing supplies the necessary ingredient of “trust” to fill in any well rounded marketing plan.
“We expect to continue with this kind of marketing well into the future,” adds Brando. “We’re seeing increased sales, so we want to keep the momentum up.”
For more information on targeted content marketing contact: Rankin PR at
By: Dr. David Rizzo is a freelance writer and author of several published books. He is from Phoenix, AZ and has over 30 years of experience in marketing, public relations and business development.