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Content Marketing: The Link to Being a Good Neighbor

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By Jon Wuebben

(eM+C)—I saw something online recently that said “content is marketing.” I found that interesting because I’ve never quite seen it put that way. The message is simplistic, but I think it really resonates. Why? Because in today’s business environment, whether B2C or B2B, local or global, it’s all about how you’re perceived as a company.

Put a lot of traditional “look at us, we’re a great company” content in front of consumers and you’ve done a poor job of marketing. Give them things like case studies, reports, free information, best practice videos and so on and you’re doing a good job of marketing. What else would be appropriate? Asking their opinion, getting them to fill out a survey, offering them discounts or something free—that’s all good.

I recently consulted a company that markets insurance products. The company sent its first email message in a new marketing campaign to 15,000 people. It was the first time anyone on the list had ever received anything from the company. The call to action in the email? “Get a Quote.” The marketer asked me why no one responded.

I was blown away. Not so much because of what the insurance marketer was trying to do, but because it had absolutely no idea what it was doing wrong. Sending an email blast with a blurb about your company and its products, then providing a “free quote” button won’t work. Marketers must address prospect and customer needs. That often means going out of their way to build the relationship.

Here’s a simple way to think about it: let’s say someone new moves in next door to you. Over the first couple weeks you may notice what they drive, if they have kids, maybe a couple things about their interests based on what you observe, etc. How would you connect with them? Would you hurry over, knock on their door, go into a big spiel about who you are (not asking questions about them) and then ask them to help you with yard work next weekend?

No, you wouldn’t. Over multiple visits and encounters you’d slowly build rapport, trust and perhaps offer them a gift at some point.

In the six or seven different places I’ve lived over the past 20 years, three neighbors have come to my door and given me a Christmas gift, a welcome-to-the-neighborhood gift or brought freshly baked chocolate chip cookies over for no reason at all. And you know what? I’ll never forget it. I’d do anything for those neighbors. Without any prompting, they came to me and offered me something nice, something of value in hopes that we’d become friends. That’s pretty powerful stuff. And it works!

That’s content marketing in action.

Jon Wuebben is the CEO of Content Launch and author of “Content Rich: Writing Your Way to Wealth on the Web.”

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