Content marketing is important for any online business and your service-based business is not left out. Attracting new leads and getting more customers as a service provider is largely dependent on your ability to churn out and market high-quality content.
And because the goal is to solve problems with your services; by creating valuable and relevant content for your target audience, you are grabbing their attention to you and your brand.
And here is the thing: The more free and helpful content you create, the better relationship you build with your target audience, which then translates to more leads and sales!
For example, as someone offering fashion design services, creating helpful content about selecting the right kind of fabric and a style guide can help attract more clients to you.
At the end of the day, they will be more willing to come to you when they are ready to solve and pay for the solutions your services provide. Makes sense?
Now, when you hear content marketing, you might be tempted to think this is limited to creating blog posts and articles for your website but it transcends beyond that.
Content marketing for your service-based business (or any online business for that matter) involves a series of strategic techniques targeted at creating and marketing content in different formats to attract new leads, build a deeper relationship with your target audience, increase engagement and brand awareness.
This format can be anything from a regular email newsletter to long-form guides and ebooks.
But before you can go any further to creating content, it’s key to have a content marketing plan in place.
What is your content marketing plan?
Understanding the purpose of your content marketing plan is the first step.
With a well-defined plan in place, you are well able to set and understand your marketing goals, define your target audience and understand the impact of your content marketing campaigns.
An effective content marketing plan consists of:
- A description of your target audience and their persona
- Short and long term marketing goals
- One or more high-level marketing strategies and tactics
1. Your target audience
Identifying your target audience will allow you to create more targeted and informed content marketing strategies. This will also allow you to create content that speaks directly to that one person.
Imagine reading a blog post or watching a YouTube video that exactly states a core problem you are struggling with using a language that is familiar to you.
This is how your audience will feel if you are able to identify their problems and meet them at the point of their needs with content that provides actionable solutions.
For instance, a business owner struggling with their social media pages will find it really helpful when they come to your page as a social media coach and discover free content that helps them manage those challenges.
To know what kind of content to create and what form it should take, you want to first build a buyer persona that is a representation of your ideal target audience.
This should contain details such as: how old they are, what is their income, what are their interests, what do they value… and so on.
Source: Algorithmic Global
With a buyer persona, you know what your target audience looks like and are better able to create content that appeals to them.
For example, if your target audience is young people between the ages of 18-28. When creating content in any format, you know to use the language and platform they frequent.
Now that we have that in place, let’s move on to establishing our content marketing goals.
2. What are your content marketing goals?
Your content marketing goals outline what you are hoping to achieve with your marketing plan. It’s the WHY of any piece of content you create.
With your goals, you want to be SPECIFIC with actual numbers.
For example, if you are hoping to increase website traffic, your goal will be something along the lines of ‘my goal is to increase website traffic by 30% within the next 3 months’.
As you can see, this is a measurable and specific goal with a timeline that allows you to gauge your results.
As a service provider, your goals might vary from other businesses but are largely centred around getting customers, generating leads, building brand awareness, etc.
Your content goals are determined by your overall business goals and here are some of the most common ones for any online business offering services to its audience:
a. Increase email newsletter subscribers
As a service provider, one of the most effective ways of reaching out directly to your audience is via email.
According to a study done by Mckinsey and company, email marketing is 40 times more effective than social media and the buying process happens 3 times faster than in social media.
When used properly, email marketing can help in leveraging sales, generating new customers and help in their retention.
Now, your content marketing goal as a service provider might be to increase your email list subscribers or even build your own targeted email list of interested buyers.
b. Positioning your brand as a thought leader
Another goal of your content marketing strategies as a service provider might be to establish yourself as a thought leader in your niche.
Before patronising you, your customers want to be sure that you know exactly what they are going through and if you are in the best position to solve their problems. Customers trust experts so it only makes sense that you aim to create content that builds trust.
And what better way to show that than by creating quality long-form content that solves a problem for them [for free].
This can be anything from guides, ebooks and blog posts that are 2000+ words long.
For example, as a web designer, you could create a detailed guide on choosing the right brand colors for different industries. For those interested in your services, this is a topic they will find helpful.
Your content should also be super valuable and contain actionable advice that they can’t easily get from anywhere else.
With your relevant content, you are displaying expertise and building relationships with your prospects.
And the result of that? A perfect opportunity to pitch your paid services when they have become familiar with your brand.
c. Driving Traffic
Your content marketing goal can also be to drive more traffic to your website. And the best way to do that is via content.
With this in mind, you know to focus on all your channels of communications like your social media, newsletters, blogs and then create content that will attract more customers and generate more leads to your business.
It is simple: Create valuable and keyword-targeted content and you will get more people to your website.
d. Converting leads and/ or upselling
So, you are already making sales but not as much as you hoped? Your content marketing goal can be focused on how you can increase and convert more leads or upsell your existing audience.
This means you’ll be creating content focused on your existing customer base and leads.
A great strategy will be to focus on email newsletters and social media where you already have an audience positioned to consume your content.
You can then send them regular updates and valuable information that puts your brand in their line of sight.
Also, this can be a great way to send out personalized offers that convert them from one-time buyers to loyal customers.
With a content marketing goal in place, you can focus your content on achieving that specific goal.
This way, your brand and all your content marketing efforts will be focused on realising those goals and measuring the ROI from the content you produce.
3. High-level content marketing strategies and techniques
So, you have your client persona in place, you are focused on one or two marketing goals. The next thing to set up is your marketing strategies and techniques. This covers everything from identifying and following a unified customer journey to creating your content brand.
Let’s start with the customer journey
What is a Customer Journey?
The customer journey is the process by which a customer interacts with your business to achieve a goal. This covers their journey as first-time customers till when they become paying clients.
A customer journey is very specific to the physical experiences of each customer and you must be able to understand the process a customer takes to become loyal to your brand.
For example in your business, a customer’s journey can be from them first becoming aware of your services and downloading a free guide.
From here, they then join your email list and finally patronize your services after receiving a series of emails.
What this does is that it guides the kind and timing of each content you put out. Here is a guide you can follow to help understand and map out your customer journey.
Content defines your brand and so, as a service-based business, you want to have a content brand and style that guides every piece of content you put out across all your communication platforms.
Because you will be putting out both visual and written content, it has to be unified across all platforms and must be unique to your brand.
Here is the thing: Your audience, while common to other brands offering the same services, is unique to you and you want to be able to create content that speaks to them in their language.
This boils down to finding your brand voice and style and being able to communicate in a language that resonates with your audience.
To help you discover this, here are two main areas to consider:
Before a customer will partronise your services, they will need to have established some sort of relationship with you. How do they want to relate with you? What kind of relationship do they expect from someone they trust with their money?
Answering these questions will help you know the right way to communicate with them.
This is key as it reflects across all content you put out on any platform. Before creating content, you first want to identify the best language to use.
This means you must understand how your clients will describe their problems, what language they need to hear when describing the benefits of your services.
You can send out surveys using a tool like Survey Monkey to help get feedback from your existing audience via email, mobile chat, social media, etc.
Another way to discover what language your target audience uses is by visiting community-based forums like Quora, Reddit, etc to understand how your audience is talking about problems and what language they use in describing benefits offered by your services.
With this in place, you will be able to communicate in your content.
Now, that we have our customer persona, marketing goals and marketing strategy in place, let’s check out the different types of content you can start creating:
Examples of quality content to create for a service-based business:
As a service provider looking to get your business in front of more people, content marketing is key in doing that and that has been established at the beginning of this post.
Remember, the goal is to be useful as there is no point in investing in any content marketing strategies that your audience will not find relevant.
There are different types of content you could be focusing on depending on your content marketing goal.
Let’s explore some of them and see how we can maximize them in our content marketing efforts.
1. Blog Content Marketing
Blogging is an important part of any content marketing strategy and accounts for the largest amount of content marketing, with 86% of content marketers using it in their marketing strategy.
As a service provider, blogging is when you as an expert in your niche write about relevant topics to your audience regularly.
If you have a website then you automatically have a built-in blog feature that you can enable and can create written content on.
With blogs, you can create simple how-to and tutorials where you communicate value to your readers.
For example, as someone offering advertising services to your audience, you can create simple and easily understandable blog posts on a topic like ‘how to discover your ideal target audience’.
Now, when your audience reads through this content, they are learning something for free and will be more likely to trust you with their money when they need your paid services.
Also, creating blog posts helps make your website easily discoverable due to SEO.
Here is how: When you create relevant content that matches a searcher’s intent with key phrases/keywords, Google is more likely to rank your website higher on search results, meaning your audience will be able to locate you and your services easily.
In simple terms, with blogging, you can establish yourself as a leading industry expert leading to more trust with your audience and invariably more people willing to invest in your services.
2. Video Content Marketing
Video content is in high demand among consumers and can provide you with a better way to create content that your audience wants to see.
According to Biteable, video content marketing is used by 30% of businesses with 74% of marketers stating a better ROI when they use videos as compared to static imagery.
While a part of your audience might prefer the written format in your blog posts, some prefer videos and are willing to watch a well-produced video that teaches them how to do something.
For example, as someone offering social media management services, you could focus on creating YouTube videos or posting regular videos on your social media platforms that teach your audience topics like how to use an Instagram feature, etc.
If your goal is to increase engagement on your digital and social platform, while marketing your services at the same time, you might want to include videos in your content marketing.
3. Image Content Marketing: Infographics
Here is another category of content that is capable of increasing your reach and social shares. Images are essential in creating compelling messages that drive engagement and increase audience reach.
While images can be anything from a simple Instagram photo to a meme posted on Twitter, Infographics are quite a powerful tool that should be included in your content marketing strategy.
Infographics are a clear and effective way of presenting complex information to your audience without losing their attention.
While it can be somewhat difficult for your audience to digest data, statistics and complex studies in excel sheets, etc, using Infographics can help break things down and present information in a simpler format.
And because they are shareable, they are great in increasing your reach and traffic.
There are some great resources out there for creating infographics on your own.
For example, you can use a tool like Venngage to craft your own original Infographic. With 100s of templates to select from, you can easily build an infographic that your audience will find relevant and useful.
4. Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing includes activities such as posting images, videos and other content on social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Tiktok etc to increase engagement and brand awareness.
As a service-based business, social media marketing is a powerful way to reach your audience and build deeper relationships targeted at increasing leads and sales.
Before you start creating content for social media, you want to take stock of your content marketing goals and see how it fits into your strategy. This will also help you know what kind of content to create and what platform to focus on.
For example, as a realtor, you will need to drive value using visuals and so, it makes sense to focus on a platform like Instagram or Pinterest.
With social media, you can increase your brand awareness and website traffic, improve communication with your audience and increase conversions.
You can even take it a step further by running targeted Facebook and Instagram ads to reach more people and generate real leads.
5. Email Marketing
Email marketing is one of the most powerful ways to market your business. With emails, you can communicate with your audience loosely and deliver the right content at the right time.
When it comes to using emails in your content marketing, your messages depend greatly on your goals.
For example, you could focus on sending out newsletters that contain informational content or a roundup of content or services that your audience can scroll through.
You can also opt for other kinds of emails such as welcome emails, promotional emails or nurture emails.
If you don’t already have an email list then you want to start by building an email list of qualified and interested audiences.
This is a list made up of your target audience and those who are more likely to patronize your services over time.
How do you do that?
You need to give them a WHY to sign up to your list. The most common method is providing a lead magnet that you give away for free in exchange for their contact information.
Most lead magnets are digital materials such as ebooks, cheat sheets, whitepapers, quizzes etc, that you can create yourself or at a minimal cost.
For your lead magnet to be effective, it has to be:
- Easily consumed
- Valuable and
- Relevant to Your target audience.
Once you have a lead magnet, you can then add an opt-in form using a form builder, such as OptinMonster, to your website so your website visitors can fill in their details in exchange for the lead magnet.
With your list, you can begin to send out regular nurturing emails that provide value or market your services to your audience. There are many email marketing services you can use for this. They include Constant Contact, MailChimp, Drip, Aweber etc.
For example, MailChimp has a free plan for up to 2000 subscribers and also offers a segment feature to help group your list and send automated messages.
With Email marketing, you have a cost-effective way to interact with your audience and generate more sales for your service-based business.
Last phase of Content Marketing: How To Promote Your Created Content
Even if you have the best content created, it still needs to be seen by the right people and serve its purpose. The only way to do that is to get aggressive with your content promotion tactics and here are 6 ways you can promote your content right now:
#1 Send out an Email broadcast
If you already have an active email list, then this can be a great way to promote content you create on your blog or social media.
And this is an effective method because your email list is made up of people already interested in your services and that means they are more likely to view and share your content.
Once you have a new content out, send out a message with a short teaser that encourages them to click on your lnk to view more.
Here is a sample email that I send out to my subscribers when I have a new blog post that I believe they will find relevant. You can also do a round up of all your blog posts and send in an email to your subscribers weekly, depending on your schedule.
You should also add a call to action asking them to share it with others. If you don’t have an email list, then you can easily build one following the tactics listed in this post.
#2 Answer questions on online community forums and groups
Another effective way to promote your content, whether your blog posts or social media accounts, is by providing relevant answers to questions asked on online community forums and groups.
For example, Quora and Reddit are Q & A platforms where you can engage with people and offer your content as a resource. Create a Quora account or join a reddit community and search for conversations people are having in your field and then provide relevant answers to them.
You could also join niche-focused groups on Facebook and LinkedIn where you can connect with people already interested in your services.
Pinterest boards are also a great place to contribute and promote your content. You can search for boards in your niche and then begin to add relevant pins that others will find useful.
#3 Engage on Social Media
You might be posting amazing content on all your social media platforms but are the right people even seeing it? Do your potential customers engage with your content enough to lead to a sale?
Promoting your content is key and is what drives results from all your content marketing efforts. With social media, you want to understand the platform you are using and how best to drive engagement with your content.
For example, on Instagram, a great way to promote your content is by adding relevant hashtags that are trending and relevant in your field. You can search for trending hashtags and include up to 30 that are relevant to your post.
Another tip is to tag business and influencers that are relevant to your post to draw their attention to it. Also, when posting on social media, incorporate call to actions to encourage our audience to like, share and comment on your posts.
What are your go-to strategies when promoting your content across your social media platforms? I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.
#4 Use Direct outreach (link out and reach out)
A great way to get more eyes on your content is by reaching out to bloggers and influencers in your niche.
Here is how it works. If you have a blog post where you included certain external links or mentioned any influencer, you can reach out to the owners of those posts and let them know you mentioned them in your post. You can then ask if they will be willing to share your post with their audience.
Because you find their post relevant and was willing to link to them, they will also be willing to share your own post.
You could also do a review of some tools and then shoot the brands that were mentioned in an outreach email. Here is a sample email from Buffer and the response they received:
Also, reaching out directly to influencers and asking for their contribution to a post can be an effective content promotion tactic. You can just send them an email asking if they would like to contribute to your post.
You can also pull an article or interview they have written and tag them as the source. At the end of the day, they will most likely share your piece with their audience.
#5 Paid ads
Targeted paid ads are an effective way to expand the reach of your content.
For example, you can promote your blog post using Facebook ads or promote an Instagram post using paid IG ads.
Check out my Facebook Ads Accelerator Course for strategies you can follow to run paid ads to your content.
However, you want to target people who are most likely to be interested and engage with your content. This takes us back to knowing your target audience well and targeting them using the characteristics that best apply to your niche.
#6 Guest Blogging/Posting
Guest blogging is simply the art of writing content for another website. Usually, it offers mutual benefits to both the guest blogger and the website hosting the content.
With guest blogging, you can attract traffic back to your own website, boost your domain authority with external links to authoritative sites and increase your brand awareness and credibility.
In other words, when you share your knowledge on other websites, you are exposing yourself and brand to a fresh set of audience while also establishing yourself as an authority in your niche.
So, how do you get started?
You want to research industry blogs by non-competitive companies that you can write for. You want to make sure these blogs are well respected and that their content aligns with your business and brand voice. It should also be a high authority blog with active blog readers and social media audience.
To help discover websites you can write for, you can use Google and type in relevant industry keywords + “write for us” or “guest post”.
For example, if I wanted to write about content marketing strategies, I can type in keywords such as “Content marketing strategies guest post” or “content marketing guide write for us” etc
This way, I will be able to find blogs looking to accept guest posts on this topic and then proceed by shooting them an email stating my interest.
And there you have it
What are your thoughts on this blog post?
How effective do you think Content Marketing is to your service-based business?
Have you tried out any of the content categories? Do you prefer sending out regular emails or creating content on your social media platforms?
Which ones have you discovered to be most effective?
Share your thoughts in the comment section so others can learn too.