Whether you realize it or not, every company, especially B2B manufacturers are now publishers. It does not really matter what products your company manufactures or distributes or the services you offer. In order to grow and prosper, you now must also be a publisher, tactfully promoting the features and benefits of your product or service.
Does this mean your online presence should constitute one advertisement after another for your organization? Far from it. Does it mean your website should be a beautifully presented product brochure? Certainly it should be pleasing to look at, but beautiful brochure-style websites don’t provide the magic they once did. Your goal should not be to win design awards with your website, or for your home page to photocopied and hung in a museum. Simply put, the goal is to sell.
And how do you achieve that goal? With quality content.
Words lead to sales, but there are some rules that must be followed:
Be a helper. Your blog postings and content need to be as helpful as possible. You know the unique benefits of the products you sell or the services you offer, and you should know the challenges your customers face (see next point). Put the two together to show how you can help.
Know your customer. It is very important to know your customers and their needs. Years ago, when I was in the contract cleaning business, my company specialized in cleaning architectural and design firms, clients that invariably have very special needs unlike other facilities (such as schools, for instance). However, once I was aware of these special needs, it made it a lot easier to work with businesses in those industries.
Focus on one issue at a time. You know your products and services, and you should know your customers challenges. The next step is to focus on one key issue at a time. Say your company manufacturers a product that can be used for a variety of purposes. Unless they are very closely interrelated, it is better to focus on just one of those purposes at a time. You can address the other problem-solving capabilities in other posts or content.
Avoid obvious promotion. While it may seem counterintuitive, promotion should not be your goal. In fact, any content marketer caught obviously promoting their own product or service in their content is immediately demoted. Why? Remember what we said above: You need to make helping your clients your primary concern. As soon as visitors realize your content is a sales tool made to look like help—in other words, a self-serving gimmick—they will feel that they’ve been taken in, and they will be gone. Instead, try including a “call to action” at the end of your content that invites your readers to contact you or your company for more help and information, and provide contact info as well as hyperlinks.
Use hyperlinks sparingly. This is always a touchy issue. Many blog postings and content seem to be written simply so that hyperlinks can be added whenever a company’s products or services are referenced. This makes the content secondary, which is not the goal. Prepare your content with the goals described above in mind, and include hyperlinks to your product or service only when they can be referenced tactfully. A good rule of thumb is no more than one hyperlink per 100 words.