Make Content Marketing Work For You
“Content marketing” is a widely used term in the sales and marketing world, but for small business owners or the not-so-savvy marketer, it can imply something elusive and foreign. Wherever your roofing business fits in the marketing sophistication spectrum, content marketing can be a powerful tool to understand.
In this article, we’ll explore the basics of content marketing and how to apply them to grow and maintain a more successful roofing company.
What is content marketing?
At its most basic definition, content marketing is simply storytelling. It’s the act of telling your potential customers the story of who you are and what that means to them. More specifically, the Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Though the term wasn’t coined until the turn of the 21st century, brands have been creating and using content to tell their stories for over a century, with the first content marketing attributed to John Deere in 1895 with the launch of their branded magazine, The Furrow. Fast forward to the last decade, and, by 2011, 88% of brands were utilizing content marketing in their marketing strategies and designating 25% of their marketing budgets to do so.
While that seems like a lot to spend on one marketing tactic, it makes sense. Content is much like the shingle of marketing: You need a lot of other things to put together a correctly installed roof, but everything is tied together by the shingle that your homeowner chooses. You can’t build a roof without a shingle (okay, we know that’s not completely true, but stay with us for the sake of the analogy), and, likewise, you can’t build marketing without great content.
What can content marketing do for me?
If marketing isn’t something you do every day for your business, it may seem daunting to jump into a more advanced technique. However, whether you’ve deemed it “content marketing” or not, you’re likely already doing it. And with the right awareness and strategy, you can make it work hard for your bottom line.
Here’s an example: Have you ever offered a free estimate or consultation in exchange for a homeowner’s contact info? That’s content marketing. Do you post regularly on a Facebook page to try and get new customers? Content marketing. Are you utilizing your ROOFPRO-branded swag to tell the world you’re a pro? Content marketing. Content can come in many shapes and sizes, and any time you use content to tell your story with the goal of getting a new customer, that’s content marketing.
It’s not just for the big guys. In fact, one could argue that the bigger your business, the less support you need filling your pipeline. If you are a small business owner, an owner/installer or a business of any size looking for more leads, this is a strategy for you. Why? Because while content marketing does certainly put more leads in your pipeline, it actually supports the entire lifetime value of your customer. Let’s take a look:
- Attract new customers. What makes your company unique from the roofer down the street? If you have something to say that makes you stand out in the crowd, then be sure you are telling that story. This differentiated story is one you should be blasting on every marketing channel you use: social media, email, a blog, public relations. Plus, regularly updating content on your website will deliver higher search engine results when homeowners search for roofers in your area. Better yet, if you can provide expertise to potential homeowners and position yourself as a “thought leader,” they will remember this when it comes time to choose a roofing company. All other things being equal, they will remember the company that seemed the most knowledgeable.
- Educate and qualify leads. When you anticipate and proactively address the needs of your potential customers by educating them in advance of them asking the question, you gain the ability to control the narrative. Are your prices higher than the competitor? Build an explanation into your story in a way that shows the value of a better roof. Need a homeowner to replace their roof instead of repair it? Educate them on the risks of water damage and the newest technologies available to protect their home. Not only will these techniques help you drive the conversation with your prospect forward, but they will also qualify who is ready for a sale and who isn’t.
- Enable sales and close jobs. With enough content and time to draw conclusions, more advanced content marketers can start to identify themes and trends upon which to build their strategies. For example, a seasoned roofing company may utilize messaging and storytelling about a variety of topics. If they learn, for example, that the best-performing content is about how a new roof can increase resale value, this becomes a valuable insight and can become a key component of sales conversations at the kitchen table.
- Build loyalty and referrals. Once the roof is on, the relationship shouldn’t end there. Content marketing provides an outlet to stay in touch with past customers, create loyalty and stay top of mind when a friend or neighbor asks them to recommend a roofer.
How do I start a content marketing strategy?
Content marketing starts with knowing who you are as a company and what stories you want to tell. From there, it’s coming up with angles in which to tell that story — or at least open the door for a conversation to tell the story — in ways that are relevant and meaningful to your potential buyer. In other words: Make sure they care about what you have to say. A rule of thumb is to ask yourself, “What’s in it for me (them)?” Meaning, what will the consumer of your content get out of this? Is it a valuable use of their time and energy?
Secondly, use the channels you already have in place. Remember, content marketing is about the story — not about using fancy and expensive places to tell it. (If you have the budget, go big! But if not, use what you have: from your Facebook page to your receptionist’s phone script, your written proposals, your emails and even your text messages.)
Lastly, make sure you have a system in place for capturing and tracking your pipeline. For example, use the Lead Form Generator and the My Pipeline sections of the ROOFPRO portal to capture and manage new leads who interact with your content and offers.
For more on content marketing and other marketing tips for roofers, take a look at the Sales & Marketing electives courses available on IKO University.