Batter up! The traditional approach to small business marketing is often similar to the strategy a pitcher uses when facing opposing batters in baseball: throw them tricky pitches, and do whatever is necessary to get them to swing and (hopefully) strike out. Adopting this style, companies use a variety of tough tactics when trying to acquire new customers, doing or saying whatever they need to in order to make the sale. But content marketing takes a wholly different approach, and in fact turns the typical pitcher/batter dynamic on its head. Here’s how you can use content marketing to change the game and score big:
- Keep it in the strike zone. No one likes a pitch they can't hit. Trying to sell your audience something they don't need is akin to throwing pitches in the dirt and hoping someone will take a swing. Taking a one-size-fits-all approach to content may be cost-efficient, but ultimately it won't be very effective. The key to gaining acceptance in the marketplace and attracting followers and customers is to develop a more meaningful understanding of your audience. Get to know who they are and what their sweet spot is, and you'll be positioned to throw them on-target content that is tailored to their specific needs and interests.
- Cut down on the curveballs. The best business relationships are grounded in trust. A pitch that starts out looking just right but then curves three feet at the last second is frustrating and misleading. Don't throw your prospects a curve by selling them on one thing that unexpectedly turns into something else. Be clear in your content and communications about exactly where your expertise lies, and build the trust factor by establishing your position as an authority in your industry. And proper follow-through is critical: when you promise something, make sure you deliver, or else your reputation will suffer.
- Stay away from high-and-tight pitches. These vaguely threatening pitches are too close for anyone’s comfort. They include overly aggressive sales pitches and other tactics that attempt to intimidate your prospects into engaging your services, or imply that they'd be crazy to consider your competitors instead. In the long run, it's much more useful to get on their team by understanding their business, objectives and challenges, and then determining if and how you can genuinely help them.
Instead of focusing on the traditional adversarial relationship, a content marketing approach celebrates the partnership between pitcher and batter, recognizing that what's good for the batter or customer will ultimately benefit you as the pitcher. If you can help your customers hit a home run – by pitching them content, advice and insight that's professionally delivered and relevant to their business – you're much more likely to provide a valuable service and develop loyal customers.
So ditch the nasty curveballs and other stuff that's way out of the strike zone. Give 'em something they can hit, and you'll score big too. Sometimes there's just no substitute for a nice juicy fastball down the middle.