The trick is to introduce content marketing at the right time during the buyer’s journey to keep your lead’s attention and move them along the funnel.

I’ve met a handful of printers lately who have some misapprehensions about content marketing. The common assumptions seem to be that content marketing is:

Allow me to bust those myths. In our ultra-connected world, content marketing is one of the most effective (and cost-effective) ways to earn your audience’s attention.

Yes, I said earn. This method uses valuable, relevant content to create brand awareness, then follows it up with more high-value content across channels to convert leads to customers. Rather than interrupting what people want to consume, the content marketing philosophy is to be what they want to consume.

Why content marketing for printers
Thanks to the internet, consumer behavior has shifted significantly—and so has marketing. People can now search online to find answers to their questions or products they may be interested in; they pull the information rather than waiting for companies to push it. They usher themselves through the sales process, often making a purchasing decision without ever speaking to a real person.

This is true of B2C consumers, but it also applies to B2B audiences. We all use the same online search tools we’ve honed outside of work to find products and solutions on the job, as well.

In some respects, the internet is a great marketing equalizer. Content marketing allows small companies and lesser-known brands to compete with larger, more established voices, and truly valuable content will be ranked higher by search engines and has the potential to go viral.

More to the point, though, is that more and more sales are made online, and those who resist this reality are missing out on interested searchers who are literally Googling to find solutions.

Where to start
The great news is that content marketing doesn’t have to be complicated, and you likely already have plenty of content that can be repurposed and published online as blog posts, white papers, case studies, videos, or e-books.

In the world of content marketing, we call this type of free information an “offer,” but unlike a promo code, these offers don’t decrease the price of your product or service. Rather, they increase the likelihood that a customer will convert at full price due to the perceived value of the content they’ve already received during the buyer’s journey.

To get started, think about your buyer personas—fictional representations of different segments of your target audience—and ask yourself these questions:

  1. What would they find helpful at the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey, when they’re just starting to search for information?
  2. What content can help differentiate you once your lead is considering their options?
  3. What content would incentivize them to convert when they’re ready?

Lean on your resources
No need to reinvent the wheel when creating this content. If you’ve got salespeople or have been doing sales yourself, you’ve got all the content you need.

What do you wish new leads understood about your industry? What information would help them make better-informed decisions when evaluating their options? Develop a guide aimed at potential buyers and publish it on your website. It doesn’t need to be fancy as long as the content is high quality.

What are the frequently asked questions that come up during the sales process? You could probably recite the answers in your sleep. Instead, write them down and publish them as a blog post or video. Not only will you attract more organic Googlers, but you’ll also wind up with deeper, more nuanced questions during the sales process.

Most importantly, think about your content niche. Where can you offer the most educational value? What are your areas of expertise, topics about which you can speak or write that will set you apart from the competition? This is the content you should focus on first.

It does take time to publish blog posts and content offers, so consider who in your organization can help you with it. You might be the “idea” person while someone else handles execution. Consider what skills are required to take on that responsibility. My best advice is to develop a shared editorial calendar and start at a manageable pace of two offers per month, with supporting social media posts to help generate awareness.

The role of print in your content strategy
Yes, the majority of content marketing activities are digital, because the whole point is to increase organic traffic to your website in order to capture leads who are already interested in what you do. But you’re in the print industry, which means content marketing can and should involve print at some stage.

The trick is to introduce content marketing at the right time during the buyer’s journey to keep your lead’s attention and move them along the funnel.

My advice is to stay digital during the awareness and consideration stage. Once you’ve captured leads who are interested in learning more, which can be done through a simple contact form on your website, nurture them through follow-up offers and email marketing and monitor their interaction with your communications.

Then offer your physical print samples to the most engaged segment of your audience. Your valuable application samples will be spent on the leads most likely to convert—and your audience will get the benefit of a more personalized customer experience.