Your Startup's Most Important Investment Is Customer Education
Turn your customers into cheerleaders with these strategies to boost the power of your educational content.
You may get a lot of impressions through digital platforms such as Google, Facebook and the like, but research now proves what we already knew: Consumers simply don't trust advertising. Trinity Mirror and Ipsos recently conducted a study that showed 69 percent of consumers distrust advertising. And that number is going up -- the same study showed that 43 percent of consumers trust advertising even less than they used to.
Not all hope is lost, though. The research found that nearly 60 percent of consumers will trust a brand if you can prove you're worth your salt. And that all comes down to educating your customers.
We live in the age of information, and your consumers crave it. That's why it's wise to feed the hunger with valuable content -- valuable being the operative word. Your product may create satisfied customers, but educational content creates the kind of cheerleaders who will outsell your sales team by a 10-1 ratio.
Creating addictive content in a noisy world
At JVZoo, we put a lot of focus on creating our own valuable brand of "edu-tainment." We know that not everyone absorbs information in the same way, and we don't want to miss out on creating those awesome brand ambassadors.
We've found that a strong content strategy is both deep and wide. For example, we do all the blogging, social media and knowledge base work you might expect from a digital brand. That's the wide. But we also go deep with JVZoo Academy, a membership site structured like an online college course.
This is the mix we've found success with. But the key is to find your secret sauce -- what will work for your unique brand. Here are some lessons we've learned in creating educational content. They can be applied to any strategy and will greatly increase the power of your content.
1. Pay attention to the man behind the curtain.
Lift the curtain, and let your audience see the real life of your brand and company culture. This looks like goofy social media posts of a fun company outing, but it can also be a powerful educational tool -- namely when you leverage video.
Download some screen capture software, and the next time you do an online task, just hit record. Someone out there is struggling with the exact thing you're doing so effortlessly. Create a video to teach people how. Record, share, attract.
According to HighQ, 75 percent of business executives watch online videos every week, and the number is higher for regular consumers. At JVZoo, we've found our YouTube channel to be one of the most valuable assets we have, educating users while driving organic traffic to our site. Facebook Live has also proven to be a powerful way to connect with our audience past the typical Facebook posts.
2. Create content that multitasks.
There are -- quite literally -- millions of blog posts pushed out every day. You can't expect to keep up with fresh, creative content every single minute of the day, though. That's why you need content that can multitask.
For example, if you are teaching a new employee about a certain piece of software, record the lesson and add it to your training website. If you prepare a project for a client, live-stream the process and teach others as you go.
Then, get those videos transcribed. That transcription will up your SEO juice as well as provide written content for blogs, social media posts and talking points. Now, you've taken a task you were already doing -- training or prepping -- and used it to create dozens of content touchpoints. This is dual-purposed content at its finest!
3. Keep them coming back for more.
Companies such as Glossier and Whole Foods have built large followings because they're dedicated to pushing out interesting, educational content that their target audiences are actually interested in. Create a blog or a fan page for your audience members to gather and communicate with you and each other. Poll them, study them and step up to your podium to educate them on the specific topics they’ve told you they want to know more about. Oh, and tell them to invite their friends to the party, too.
Don’t just do this once in awhile. Plan it, put it in the calendar and make a habit out of it. That's how you actually develop a tribe -- a real following of people who come to rely on your educational posts and videos.
Staying consistent can sound easy enough in theory, but in reality, you need a solid plan and the bandwidth to make it happen. According to Curata, most companies (69 percent, to be exact) use an editorial calendar for content marketing. This means your team formalizes the process so everyone knows how and when to create great content. You start with your big rocks -- what initiatives are happening that you want people to know about -- and then work backward in your calendar from there.
In a world that disdains advertising, the only way to win is to grow your tribe and build trust. Great content, created regularly, will develop that tribe. And its members will, in turn, become your biggest and loudest fans.
Laura Casselman is the CEO of JVZoo.com, an online software solution that allows sellers to create an instant affiliate program for their products on blogs, websites and online forums. Laura has 16 years of hands-on experience in successfully growing sales and revenue, improving customer service and aggressively controlling expenses in competitive market environments.