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Communication Coach: How to make content marketing a business practice for your landscape firm

September 12, 2018 -  By
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Content and traffic relationship | Photo: iStock.com/marrio31

Photo: iStock.com/marrio31

If you are not familiar with content marketing, you should be.

Maybe you have an inkling that it’s somehow connected with social media. That’s a good start.

Content marketing is a practice, just as accounting is a practice. It’s a practice that helps businesses get results with social media.

It’s also bigger than social media. Content marketing includes everything a business uses to move buyers to action.

Accounting happens to be a regulated business practice, and that gets most businesses doing it right. This is not true with content marketing.

You are completely free to use it as you wish, but if you expect to get results you’ll want to make it a practice.

No. 1 — Always start with the audience

Why do some people invest more time in planning their weekend than planning the marketing that determines their business future?

When it comes to content marketing, I believe it is because they do not know how it should work or if it works at all.

Here’s how the content marketing Institute frames this discipline:

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience—and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.

If there is a phrase in that definition that should jump out at you it is this: “attract and retain a clearly defined audience.”

You have to understand your audience members and be capable of helping themguiding them along a journey to a better place.

If your content can accomplish that, you have an excellent chance of driving profitable customer actions.

No. 2 — Your content must be the best

ESPN doesn’t compete with the big networks. That would be a dumb, me-too strategy. What made ESPN a media juggernaut is broadcasting content that isn’t otherwise readily available to its raving fans.

Whether the programming is horse racing, golf or cricket, ESPN has the best sports content for a target audience because in most circumstances you can’t get it anywhere else.

You can do this, too, by segmenting your audience by interests.

Most landscaping companies would be smart to employ a strategy like ESPN, creating content that speaks directly to a niche audience.

For example, if your website content says “commercial and residential landscaping,” it’s not the best for either one of those audiences. Their needs are different.

The content that says “this is for you” to a defined audience will stand above the rest. It cannot be ignored.

After you earn their attention and trust, you can sell your audience services, rent their attention to sponsors or do practically anything else that is appropriate.

This is the magic of content marketing. The possibilities are limitless.

No. 3 — Make people’s lives better

When asked where he gets the inspiration for his entrepreneurial ventures, now numbering over 200 businesses worldwide, Richard Branson said this: “A business is an idea that makes people’s lives better.”

Content is usually free, but it can command a price if it’s really good or helpful enough to make a difference in people’s lives. If buyers are confused, and they often are, the content that can remove those fears will win their trust.

This is why you should think of content as a tangible thing that adds value to the experience of acquiring, using and ultimately upgrading the products and services your company offers.

Just be careful not to limit your thinking to digital content.

Content is any media that can be consumed by a human being, including familiar media such as postcards or truck and trailer wrappers.

If it makes your audience members’ lives better, it’s doing its job. Better yet is if it all works together to communicate a unified message.

Here’s how to make this a practice.

First, develop an integrated audience-first marketing strategy.

  • Who are you trying to help?
  • What problems do they have?
  • What products and services can solve these problems?
  • What are the obstacles to acquiring those solutions?
  • Why should buyers choose your business over another?
  • What makes your business the only logical choice?

The answers to these questions will shape your content marketing strategy.

You will not only have greater clarity for the content that keeps customers informed and engaged but also for profitable products and services that serve them well.

Next, execute that strategy with a plan that makes people’s lives better.

This is your reality check.

If your plan is not written down, you do not have a plan. More than half of all green industry companies do not have a written content marketing plan because they have not made it a disciplined business practice.

Now that you are on your way to making that happen you may be wondering, “How can I create content without losing my day-to-day focus on revenue-producing activities?”

Start by identifying and listing the marketing platforms that are working for you now to attract, engage and close customers. Consider only the ones you’ve used in the last six months.

Now make them better by getting to the heart of your customer relationships. Talk to you customers. Ask them how you can make their lives better.

You can make one piece of content every month that illustrates how your business enhances their lives.

  • We save you time by…
  • We anticipate problems that help you…
  • We keep your family safe because…

You should now be realizing that customers are your greatest source of content. Take good care of them and document what you can, and you’ll never be short of content.

Make it a practice to capture the valuable nuggets of conversations with photos, videos, notes and drawings.

Don’t try to make them perfect. Just make it a practice, one conversation at a time.

That’s how content marketing works. It’s a long game that builds incremental value if you become invested in it.

About the Author:

Jeff Korhan is the author of Built-In Social and founder of Landscape Digital Institute. He helps green industry owners, marketers and sales teams craft and communicate branded customer experiences that sell. Learn more at www.landscapedigitalinstitute.com

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