Content Marketing: What It Is and How to Master It in 2013

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automotive content marketing social media“If you’re not content marketing, you’re not marketing.” ~Joe Pulizzi, speaker, author and founder of Content Marketing Institute

I just had a meeting with a potential dealer client who’s been struggling with how to execute their marketing plan. Because they don’t spend time on the Internet with much regularity, it’s a foreign land to them. They’re not convinced Facebook is worth the effort, Twitter is an alien language and they simply don’t have time to blog. Perhaps you find yourself in a similar mindset.

I will ask you now to set aside your beliefs for a minute in order to entertain the idea that generating leads has very little to do with your personal habits. Creating lasting sales relationships starts with meeting the customer where they are and delivering worthwhile information to them. Social Media platforms are simply another way to communicate with your customer. You may not watch TV, listen to radio, use the phone or email that much in your private life but you certainly wouldn’t discount the value of those forms of communication, would you?

When it comes to Social Media marketing, content creation seems to be the biggest challenge for most businesses. It takes time, effort, skill and planning to pull it off successfully. Customers have simply shut off the traditional world of marketing. They skip TV advertising with their DVR, often ignore magazine advertising, and now they’ve become so adept at online “surfing” that they can take in online information without even a glance at banners or buttons (making them irrelevant). Smart marketers understand that traditional marketing is becoming less and less effective by the minute.

Joe Pulizzi defines content marketing as “the technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

If you remove the “relevant” and “valuable” from that statement, you’ll notice the difference between content marketing and the other informational rubbish you get from companies trying to sell you “stuff.” Companies send us information all the time – it’s just that most of the time it’s not very relevant or valuable. That’s what makes content marketing so intriguing in today’s environment of thousands of marketing messages per person per day. Good content marketing makes a person stop… read… think… behave… differently.

Once you make the decision to move forward with content marketing, you’ll need a helping hand. Here are 4 starting components to help you formulate and execute your plan:

1. Talk to Your Customers

Identify the most frequently-asked questions your customers have about your products and services. Create content that answers those questions. Your Social Media manager can do this on a dealership level. Your salespeople and service advisors can do it on a personal branding level. Highly relevant content that your customers want to know about increases your visibility and influence. You attract new prospects my publishing information they’re most likely looking for in search engines.

2. Get Several Team Members to Contribute

People buy from people. Old school mass advertising tried to convince us that this was a myth. Today, customers are looking for companies that connect with them on a personal level; they’re looking for alignment of values. Your front line personnel talk to your customers everyday. Get them involved in your content creation. Multiple view points and writing styles works really well here. Each person will have different points of view and interact with clients differently, which allows for a wider array of content topics.

3. Optimize with Search Keywords

Spend time identifying keywords you’d like to get found for. Pay attention to both those that you’re already ranking for and those that your site doesn’t currently rank well for. Create content around those keywords. Google has changed its ways and has made it more tricky to optimize your site. Many dealerships use blogs to create additional content to help rank for more keywords.

4. Use Social Media to Promote Your Content, Not Your Company

Reach out to your network (online and real life) and invite them to participate. Happy, loyal, repeat customers (otherwise known as “Raving Fans”) are ideal at expressing to others what it’s like doing business with you. I just had a client who shared a picture of their Xmas tree in the showroom and asked others to share a picture of theirs. They got a great response and that conversation prompted someone to say, “I never thought a car dealership would ever care enough about me to ask my opinion, thank you!” Priceless.

If you’re an employee of a dealership or other business and need to sell content marketing to management, start with research and planning. Identify your objectives and show how you’ll meet them. Create a content calendar to help facilitate things. Most importantly, don’t get overwhelmed by the thought of undertaking content marketing; start small and grow from there. The more you participate, the better you get. If you need help, I’m here.

Kathi Kruse
Kathi Kruse is an Automotive Social Media Marketing Expert, Blogger, Speaker, Coach, Author and Founder of Kruse Control Inc. Born in the heart of Los Angeles to a family of “car people”, Kathi’s passion for the car business spans a 30-year career managing successful dealerships in Southern California. Kathi is the author of “Automotive Social Business – How to Captivate Your Customers, Sell More Cars & Be Generally Remarkable on Social Media”. Her Kruse Control Blog is the leading Automotive Social Media blog in the US.
Kathi Kruse

@kathikruse

Social Media Marketing, Online Reputation. Consultant, Trainer, Blogger, Speaker, Author. Founder/CEO Kruse Control Inc. Yoga, horses, animal advocate.
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Kathi Kruse
Kathi Kruse
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  • Rocky Rawstern

    Great article, as usual!

    • krusecontrol

      Thank you so much Rocky! Happy 2013 :-)

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  • http://twitter.com/SandyAppleyard Sandy Appleyard

    I love this article, but I confess, the picture of the magnet attracting the people cutouts made me smile :) Very original.

    • krusecontrol

      Thanks for stopping by my blog, Sandy!

  • Joe Crous

    All goes back to the old saying that Content is King, and is going to be for a long time. Good Article!

    • krusecontrol

      Thanks Joe!

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  • Chris White

    While the statement “Spend time identifying keywords you’d like to get found for. Pay
    attention to both those that you’re already ranking for and those that
    your site doesn’t currently rank well for. Create content around those
    keyword” is relevant, I think anyone working in the content industry should focus on getting the content right with the concept of optimising the article in their minds. Otherwise we’re selling our souls as content writers. The links and anchor text are important, don’t get me wrong, we wouldn’t be in jobs without them, but give me good quality content with anchor text links over anchor text links topped up with content every day

    • krusecontrol

      Agreed, Chris! Those like us who’ve been in content marketing for a while know nothing beats great content. I think business owners are perplexed by this “new” term and need help with the basics. Thanks for sharing your insight :-)