by: Kelly Doody, Founder & CEO of Social School
Without a doubt, the question we are most frequently asked is how to get one’s “can’t-miss” content seen by the people it’s meant for. It’s a doubly challenging query among service-based businesses, and a frustrating reality for the marketing practitioners within them.
Because let’s face it – not all of us have a sexy fitness studio, tattoo shop, food truck or fashion line providing us and our tribe with endless things to post, shoot and ‘gram about.
For the business-to-business companies among us, and the “less glam” product-based businesses too, our standout value is often rooted in our unique industry expertise, our over-delivery of service, satisfaction and support, or our above and beyond level of competitive differentiation and transformative results.
The problem, of course, lies in an inability to showcase it via stunning visuals, graphics, animations, video and beyond. Because after all, how can an accounting firm create a killer series of social posts showing how they aced tax season? How might a physiotherapist’s unparalleled patient success be relevant on Instagram? What type of must-open e-newsletters can a supply company create to support their arguably dull product line?
For years I’ve rattled on about our need to swap the B2C (business to consumer) and B2B (business to business) designations for an overarching H2H (human to human) mentality, because as businesses, we are much more than a simplified sum of the category we sell to. We are humans connecting, communicating and transacting with fellow humans – no matter how seemingly mundane our offering, and that is where we need to position ourselves.
Which brings us to the concept of sticky content and even stickier customers. It’s an A+ marketing tactic for service-based businesses and B2B enterprises facing a tougher content challenge than their retailing counterparts.
First, we must ask ourselves: “what’s the one thing I provide my customers that is absolutely unforgettable? The piece that somehow changes their life, takes weight off their shoulders and nails their pain point? The hallelujah moment, tool or solution that lights them up and leaves them proudly and profoundly satisfied?” Let’s call this our ‘sticky content.’
“But Kelly,” you ask, “What is Social School’s sticky content?”
- Tool sheets.
- One-page blog topic generators.
- Two-tab online planning calendars.
- Four-step photo editing guides.
The things that, time and again, we’re told are the game-changing help buttons for our students and clientele, whether they’ve sat through a 40-minute workshop or a 5-week certificate program. Sometimes they are the one and only thing a person remembers a year later, or gleefully and legitimately implements in their business after learning the gamut.
If we attempt to reason why, it comes in a word: overwhelm. None of us needs a scientist to confirm the growing mass of people making their way in the modern world with an increasingly crushing cognitive load. Too much noise, too much content, too many messages, ads, to-do’s, devices and passwords, all of them clouding our brains, weighing on our shoulders and pinging us in the face all dang day. We are, quite simply, living in an unprecedented era of constant connectivity and stimulus onslaught, and ever-shrinking attention spans, mental clarity and peace of mind as a result.
The wistful, wishful respite for our customers and probably yours? Action, clarity, simplicity. A fairy guide-mother to swoop in, lift the load and action their intentions, whether they be life or work-related, or an unrelenting combo of both.
And therein lies the problem when it comes to marketing our business.
In our increasingly desperate need to be seen and heard, combat algorithms, resonate with prospects and move the needle on our revenue goals, we only contribute to the noise. We get louder, add more channels and increase our spending. We push content, pull levers and pivot messaging, wholly convinced that a few more episodes, ebooks and ad spends will fix the problem and form new wins.
But this, we must know, is increasingly proving to be the opposite of what people want. Rather than providing them with the solution to their search query via their newsfeed, inbox, promoted posts, pop-ups and pings, we’re turning them off. And in turn, they’re doing the same. Unfollowing, unsubscribing, tuning out and turning away, unable to differentiate one voice from another, and exhausted at the thought of adding one more white paper to their ‘Must read or I am a failure’ folder in the cloud.
Which brings us back to the sticky content of our business and the reason it matters more than ever. It is, plain and simple, the path back to ‘being the solution’ we set out to be. More importantly, sticky content brings sticky customers that become our business’ BF for life. The ones who stay with us longer than we dreamed possible, and whose lifetime value is measured in years, not months, thanks to repeat purchases, raving advocacy and premium product loyalty.
Just how do we get our sticky content to convert into epic stick-around customers? We don’t just throw them something sticky, we show them how to action it.
Go beyond giving them the tool sheet for download, and fill it out with them. Deliver the how-to video, and meet them the next day to live action it – or, as Seth Godin would say, ‘ship it’ – together. Because if hand-holding accountability is what your people need to see you as their finish line guru, do it. Get them there via webinar, live call, meet-up, coaching session, group facilitation or otherwise. Be the kind of hero they didn’t know they need, but desperately desire.
As in, create a weekly one-page download and paste it to your accounting firm’s home page. Things like, ‘Top 10 small business tax tips,’ ‘World’s easiest mileage tracking template,’ ‘Three must-have apps for managing your startup’s cashflow,’ a dynamic table that determines their corporate tax rate. Then, go beyond ‘helpful’ and into the territory of ‘game-changer’ and action it alongside them as fast as you can.
Because if great communicators are great simplifiers, standout service-based businesses are finish line facilitators.
If there is one thing our content marketing could do a universally better job of, it’s getting people from overwhelm to completion. Make me feel like a winner in my day to day chaos, and I’m loyal to you for life. Sticky like syrup, and waiting for more of every full-circle solution you’ve got – paid or not.