FREDERICK COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
I’ve been with the Frederick Chamber for years now. When we started our company 16 years ago, joining the Chamber was one of the first things we did. I thought I was joining for the networking. Turns out I was only half right.
It’s the people who offer the real value to me and my company: the members, the community leaders the Chamber brings together, and the Chamber staff themselves. These are all sources of great information that I can use to grow my business.
There’s just one small problem… many of these people don’t know they’re experts. It’s like the dead people in The Sixth Sense, they don’t know they’re dead (sorry for the spoiler but it’s been years people!)
You’re Good Enough, Smart Enough…
I want you to look into a mirror right now and repeat after me… “I can help people.”
You know things that others do not. You’re an expert! Don’t believe me? How many questions did you answer about your business or services today? Whether it’s a client or a coworker, you have knowledge they want.
This is where content marketing comes in. Imagine if you could extend that knowledge out to a larger pool of people? What if you could solve their problems simply by sharing what you know? What happens when you give someone a gift and expect nothing in return?
Trust & Loyalty
One of my favorite marketing books is called They Ask, You Answer by Marcus Sheridan. Simple concept, revolutionary idea.
In the past, we were told not to give away the secret sauce. Marcus flips the script on this one. Sure, there will always be closely guarded secrets, but we live in the information age. It’s impossible to keep a tight lid on everything. And here’s the real secret, the sauce is you!
Marcus offers a simple solution to your content problems: when they ask, you answer, and you do it publicly and honestly.
Marcus was running River Pools and Spas in Virginia. He was facing some dire times and the very real possibility of losing his business. When up against a wall, we will try anything, right? Here’s what he did…
He wrote down every question he was ever asked on a sales or support call. Then, he wrote a post with the answer, honest and forthright.
These were honest answers about the cost of his pools compared to his competition, the quality of his pools compared to his competition, and more.
Not only did this content boost traffic on his website, his prospects could see that his company was one they could trust. Even when his solution was more expensive, he still won the business because they trusted him.
Long story short, he did so much business that he eventually retired from the pool business and is now a sales and marketing consultant. And he has honesty to thank for it.
It’s simple really, be an honest and useful resource and you will earn trust. People buy from people they trust. And once they buy, with continued support, you gain loyalty. A loyal customer is worth scores of potential customers.
Not everyone who is an expert will go on a speaking tour, or be a talking head on cable news, or write a bestselling book.
Many of the experts we get the most value from are right in our backyard. It could be your landscaper, financial planner, real estate agent, mechanic, any one of the many people you do business with.
When you’re looking for a service, product, consultation, whatever, where do you usually start? Yes, you’ll likely do a Google search or ask your phone like a crazy person. But, when it comes down to deciding who gets your business, what drives that decision?
Making decisions is hard because we constantly second guess ourselves. Many of us will research something beyond the point of reasonable just to ask a friend, colleague, family member, or neighbor for their opinion.
And who do these people recommend? They recommend someone they know and trust. Do you hear the drum I’m beating here?
Be that resource! You are an everyday expert and people want to know what you know.
This is not a new concept. I’ve written about Utility Content quite a few times. Utility content is your expert advice and tips. It’s the content people need.
Utility content can come in many shapes and sizes:
One possible hurdle for you will be the dreaded assumption. Never assume (you know, something about a donkey and you and me)! Not everyone knows what you know!
Sure, some of your customers or prospects will know some of what you know. But, it will be a small minority. And, these people will be looking for content that validates your expertise. Utility content is that content. Nothing is off the table!
The Content Marketing Experts
There are many posts and books on how to create content. If you get nothing else from this post, I hope you take this little piece of advice, read these books!
In his book 10X Marketing (more of a graduate level read for content marketers), Garrett Moon talks about 10% content. This is the final 10% of effort that can hold a piece of great content hostage. He argues that people will forgive the small mistakes if they’re getting value from the content.
Don’t let obsessiveness hold your content hostage. Find an editor you trust. When you’re at the 90% finished state, give the content to them. Accept their edits and post that bad boy!
The Iowa Syndrome
You’ve seen the movie. Kevin Costner builds a baseball diamond in his corn field and Ray Liotta shows up.
Trust me, if you write it, they will not come. Why would they? They have no idea it’s there. You need what Mark Schaeffer calls the “content boost.”
Read his book (listed above) to get all his boosting tips. For the purposes of this post, I will give you a simple list to follow for each post…
When it comes to boosting your content, nothing is off the table. As long as you make sure you are linking back to the original, you’re usually in good shape. Just make sure to do you research on these channels and make sure they’re right for you.
If you see someone you trust using one of these, ask them about their experience and if they can recommend any other channels you should use.
See what I did there?
Now, go be the expert I know you are!!!
Jon-Mikel Bailey worked in sales, marketing, and business development for technology and marketing firms before co-founding the award-winning web design and development firm, Wood Street, in 2002. He speaks nationally at digital marketing conferences and events for trade organizations. Jon has been involved with the Chamber since 1999 and is currently serving as chair of the Board of Directors.