Ok, let me back up for just a minute. You don’t really want to forget about SEO and keywords altogether. I’d be foolish if I acted like they have no place in your content strategy. But that’s not where your strategy needs to start.
Why your content strategy is failing
Yes, keywords and SEO best practices will help your website rank higher, which will help your target audience find you easier. But if your main focus is on SEO, you’re failing your customers in more than one way.
You aren’t focused on customer service.
Creating content in order to check a bunch of keywords off a list is not going to win the confidence and trust of your target market. Yes, you might show up in the search rankings and you might even see the traffic to your website increase, but it’s going to be empty. There’s a big difference between content that’s created with the customer in mind verse content that’s created with keywords as the focus.
When you focus on customer service first, you don’t have to worry so much about keywords because it naturally happens. You’re focused on the needs of your clients above all else so you are going to use content to solve the problems they have and will use the words that they use.
When you focus on SEO first, you get stuck trying to find the words that match what you want to talk about. Content has to start with your target market.
Why I believe customer service is the most important thing in business
When I started what I would call my first “real job”, (not the ones you have during high-school when you just need money for gas and hanging out)I worked at a bank. It wasn’t a big nationwide financial institution. It was a small one and they placed a big emphasis on customer service.
Because of this, I was trained to treat the customer right. Things, like greeting people by name, not talking with other employees when waiting on a customer, and looking for ways to make the banking experience easier were not only expected but demanded. It was an important lesson that I carried with me when my husband and I started our own small business several years later. Our business grew year after year because we treated our customers right. We looked for ways to personalize their service. We gave them homemade cookies at Christmas. And, we made sure that they were always more than satisfied with our services.
Customer service works. It’s one of the reasons that I enjoy the Chik-Fil-A experience so much; the employees are super friendly and I never feel like I’m an inconvenience to them.
I believe that customer service needs to be embedded in every area of a business because it works. Here’s another example.
The time I passed out at Disney World
You’ve probably heard that Disney World Co. is known for its amazing customer service. When you go to a Disney park, you can feel the magic. That’s why people are willing to spend thousands of dollars on their vacations.
Disney focuses on their customers to the point that every little detail is carefully thought about and attended to. One year when my family was at Disney World, I got sick. I spent a day in my resort room doing my best to rest and feel better so I’d be ready to enjoy the following day, which was our last one at the parks.
The next day rolled around, my husband and I got our three young daughters ready, and we headed into the Magic Kingdom. I felt better but the temperature had dropped 30 degrees from the day before, it was cold, and I was a little weak. It was still morning and we were standing in line for the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh ride, which my daughters were pretty excited to ride and I started to feel dizzy.
Long story short…
I passed out. They had to clear everyone out of the line. And, the fire department came to help (talk about embarrassing). When they knew I was OK, I ended up being taken out of the park in a wheelchair, put on a bus, and sent back to my resort. Sounds like the necessary steps right? It also sounds like not such a magical experience.
But Disney made it magical. As a super friendly Disney castmember was pushing my wheelchair away from the ride, she stopped in the gift shop and allowed each of my girls to choose a stuffed animal for free. Then, because it was still early in the day and our last day in the park, they gave my family tickets for a day that didn’t have an expiration date. This allowed us to come back to the park for a day free on a return visit. We didn’t ask for any of this, they just did it.
What could have been a negative experience that left a bad taste in my mouth, was completely turned around by the incredible customer service of the Disney castmembers. And, it’s just one of the many examples of the great customer service and experiences that keep us going back to Disney year after year.
This is what you want your content to do.
The impact that bad customer service has on your content strategy
By not focusing on your customers, you really have no idea what type of content you should be writing. What you’re going to focus on is sharing the information that you think they should know. Your focus is going to be on yourself and the message that you want to communicate instead of the message that your customers are looking for.
Bad customer service in content marketing can feel a little like stepping onto a used car lot. You know that feeling when the swarm of salespeople heads in your direction to see who can get to you first. Then, the long process of trying to find the right car begins.
You might know exactly what you’re looking for and the salesperson knows they want to make a sale. That means they are going to do their best to make what they have to offer fit into what you want. Sometimes they get lucky and have exactly what you need. If not, they have the tough job of trying to sell you on something that’s not exactly what you were there for in the first place.
When you write content without thinking about your customers’ needs, you’re essentially doing the same thing. You’re trying to make your “solution” fit their problem even if it really doesn’t. Instead, when you focus on customer service based content, you’re going to know what your customer wants and needs and you’re going to market your solution in a way that makes sense for both of you.
Examples of businesses that are getting it right
Okay, so you have the strategy now, what does it look like when it’s put into action. I’m going to share a few real-life examples. I decided to use smaller businesses and professionals in this section instead of the Hubspots, Disneys, and Neil Patels of the world (we all know these businesses have their marketing down pat).
While there are some great examples on larger scales like this, I think those examples make it easy for the smaller businesses or entrepreneurs to feel like they just can’t duplicate the efforts of those big brands. I get that, so here are a few examples on a smaller scale.
Mike Veny is a mental health speaker that is focused on transforming the mental health stigma and helping diversity and inclusion efforts. I’ve worked with Mike on projects and love that he’s all about providing valuable information for people.
When creating every single piece of content—written or video—Mike thinks through what transformation he wants readers to walk away with. He isn’t just pumping content out there to keep his social media accounts and blog active. Instead, he’s working hard to make sure that the content he creates can help make a positive difference in the lives of those that are reading it or watching it.
To be honest, I don’t even remember how I stumbled upon Betty Rocker, but I’m glad I did. Bree Argetsinger, AKA The Betty Rocker, is an incredibly skilled, educated and experienced fitness coach. And, she has a ton of valuable content that she provides for free. She’s a great example of marketing by providing high value.
My first experience interacting with her content was when I signed up for a free challenge. Her emails are packed with great information, free workouts, recipes and her fun, positive personality really shows through. She’s providing so much value that she gives you a great peek at what you can get from her membership. So, even though she’s creating all kinds of free content, it’s just building the excitement around her paid products and because you get such a great experience it makes you want to join.
How do I create a customer-service focused content strategy?
Focusing your content strategy around customer service is not as hard as you might think. Here are things to think about as you create your content:
What pain points does my ideal customer have?
When my family had to leave Disney early and didn’t get to go on the ride, the Disney staff knew our pain points. My girls wanted that magical experience. My husband and I wanted our hard-earned money to be well spent on our trip. They addressed both of these issues the best that they could.
It’s estimated that there are 5.8 billion Google searches each day. Let that sink in for a minute.
Your customers are out there looking for answers and information. If you know what they’re looking for, you can create the content they want to find. But in order to know what they’re looking for, you need to know their pain points.
Here’s the tricky part, without working with you and doing the research, I can’t tell you what they are. It’s going to take a little work on your part to determine that. Hopefully, this is information that you already have in your marketing plan, but if not, that’s OK.
Start by thinking about who your ideal customer is. As you become more familiar with them, you’ll start to see what their struggles are that you can solve. Don’t be afraid to ask your existing audience for their input. Create a short survey and ask your target market to help you out. You could offer something like a drawing for a free product or percentage off your service to entice them to complete the survey.
Who better to ask for advice about your prospects than themselves?
Learn everything you can about your customers so you can connect with them better. Once you know what their needs are, you need to understand how to fill them. This allows you to create content that addresses the pain points. Which in turn, allows you to build trust and credibility with your ideal customer. It also makes it easier for them to find you because you’re speaking directly to what they’re searching for online.
What free information should I include in my content?
Think back to my Disney experience. My daughters were given free stuffed animals, which has around a million-dollar value to a 5-year-old girl. And, we were given free Disney tickets to replace the day we didn’t get to enjoy the park. If you know Disney prices, then you know that has significant value as well.
Too many businesses and professionals are afraid to share valuable information with their target market for free. That’s a huge mistake!
The internet is loaded with free information. If you’re unwilling to share anything of value that your audience is looking for then they’ll find it somewhere else. And, that means when they’re ready to make a purchase, it’s not going to be with your business.
I used to ghostwrite blog posts for a high-end infant photographer. I would suggest that we create blog posts sharing tips that would allow parents to capture better photos of their baby at home. This would allow them to capture all of those sweet firsts that a baby experiences in their first year of life.
She refused to share any tips. She believed that she would share too much and then people wouldn’t want to book sessions with her. That might make sense to some of you, but here’s the thing—her packages cost thousands of dollars. She had expensive equipment and years of training. Parents that are willing to spend thousands of dollars on pictures of their baby are not going to decide not to book a session and go the DIY route instead.
She missed a valuable opportunity to draw her target market because she was afraid to give away value to her audience. Don’t make this same mistake. If you aren’t going to help your audience out with free tips and tricks then someone else is going to.
How can you go above and beyond?
Good customer service is all about delivering more than what your customer expects. This should be a part of your content strategy. You don’t accidentally go above and beyond for a customer. It’s something that you plan for and purposefully do.
Do you think the Disney worker just decided spur of the moment to give my kids a stuffed animal or tell us that we are getting free tickets? I highly doubt that each worker at Disney has that kind of authority to make that split-second decision. No, it’s something that they plan for. They teach their workers what to do to make situations right.
When you are creating your content, don’t focus on doing the bare minimum. You aren’t trying to write a 500-word blog post to call it a day and check it off your list. That doesn’t work. Whether you want to admit it or not, your readers are going to know that’s what you’re doing.
Instead, before you start writing that blog post or social media post or video script, think about your customer. What message can you share right now that will make a positive difference in their life? How can you support them? What can you provide for them?
Your reader is going to notice a difference between a well thought out piece of content that was crafted with them in mind verse one that was written solely based on the SEO keyword you want to rank for. It’s all in the planning.
Still struggling with creating a content strategy?
There are a lot of pieces to creating great content for your audience. It’s not just one more task on your to-do list. It’s an incredibly valuable task that can be the difference between helping you grow your business or starting to grow stagnant.
If you don’t have the time to develop a content strategy and the pieces of content to go along with it, don’t just cross it off your list. Schedule a consultation call with me. Let’s see how we can work together to help you spread your message and create new opportunities for you to serve your audience in a greater way.