Welcome back! Piggy-backing on my last two posts on How to Write a Blog for the Chamber of Commerce and How to Use Video to Drive Local Business and Lead Generation, we’re going to explore a challenge that practically every business (local or international, consumer product or professional service-based) will run into in their lifetime: entering new markets.
Regardless of your current situation, I can practically guarantee you will hit a point where you’re interested in expanding beyond your current market. Perhaps you have a new product or service that isn’t of value to your current market, but would thrive elsewhere. Perhaps you’ve tapped out your current geography and are looking to increase your business’ footprint in an area that is underserved. Maybe you’ve focused on a few industries and realize that your solution could be applied to others. Whatever your reason, you’ll want to develop a new market strategy to minimize risk and maximize your time to profitability.
A Market at the End of Its Life
Let me share a recent conversation I had with a client of mine. He’s in charge of acquisitions at a technology consulting firm that services clients around the country. Up until about a year ago, they were growing substantially by servicing one very specific industry. Growth has been great over 10 years, but they’re faced with two problems: The first is a good one, they’ve achieved significant market penetration. They service a highly significant percentage of the market. The second is not so good: the market is mature, solutions are growing more competitive, and the market doesn’t really need what they do anymore.
They’ll be facing market attrition very quickly (in fact, they’re already starting to feel it).
In this case, they’ve identified that other, less mature markets exist for their solution and they want to move into those markets aggressively before competitors come to the same conclusion, AND before their existing customers and market reach their end of life.
They’ve never done work in this market, and so don’t have the experience servicing this new type of client. And that’s where Content Marketing comes in.
What is Content Marketing?
In developing a new market entry strategy, Content Marketing can play an important roll in attracting new clients, educating and nurturing them along, demonstrating your expertise, and supporting them after they’ve signed up.
Being in the industry, it can be hard for me to remember that not everyone knows what content marketing is. And with a lot of marketing “experts” and “gurus” running around playing at it, everyone has a slightly different definition of what content marketing truly is.
My favorite—and go-to—definition of content marketing comes from the Content Marketing Institute:
“Content marketing is 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.”
Ahhhhh. There’s so much to love about this definition:
- It’s Strategic: content marketing is long-term and carefully planned. It identifies the WHO and the WHY of what you’re doing.
- It’s Valuable: to both your audience and your business. If your content marketing isn’t valuable to your audience, they won’t consume it and it won’t work to convert them to paying customers which won’t add value to your business.
- It’s Relevant: content marketing needs to relate directly (and sometimes indirectly) to the business, product or solution that you’re selling. Blogging about wallpaper typically won’t help you grow an IT consulting business.
- It’s Consistent: both for Google (SEO) purposes, and for people. Content marketing done well—like any good habit—has a reliable rhythm and is maintained on a regular basis.
- It’s for a Clearly Defined Audience: if you haven’t defined your audience, you won’t necessarily know who you’re creating content for, you won’t know what their challenges are, what format they prefer to consume content in, when to promote/share it, and most importantly, it won’t be specific enough to speak to their unique challenges. When you create a piece of content for everyone—you create content for no one.
- It Drives Profitable Action: if you’ve ever been involved in content marketing before, there’s a really good chance you’ve seen content created that accomplished nothing. If your content marketing isn’t in some way driving sales, customer retention or engagement—what’s the point?
Frankly, most content marketing programs don’t meet many of these requirements by half, and so aren’t effective. That being said, when conducted properly, a sound content marketing strategy can ease your entry into new markets—and more.
How Content Marketing Supports a New Market Strategy
When you’re entering a new market, you will probably face a number of challenges:
- Customer definition. Depending on the type of new market (geographic, new solution, new industry), your customer definition will probably change. And with that—their particular challenges may also change.
- Brand. When you’re successful in your current market, customers, prospects, competitors and partners probably know who you are. In a new market—they have no idea.
- Experience. In new markets—culture, challenges, needs, industry trends, requirements, people, technological sophistication, expectations—you name it—it’s different. Whether the differences are small or great, they exist. If you’re unprepared to address them you can lose the confidence of your buyer.
Content Marketing can help support your efforts in a number of ways, particularly when paired with different marketing tactics. Let’s focus for a moment and look at a few ways that companies like yours can leverage content when paired with Account-Based Marketing.
Content Marketing for Account-Based Marketing.
If your Marketing and Sales teams are working together to define target best-fit accounts to pursue, you’re engaging in Account-Based Marketing. Because ABM is highly targeted and specific, it’s a great way to identify key customers in new markets, and ramp up sales activity relatively quickly. To support this, the team can leverage 3 types of content:
- Solution-focused Case Studies. Often when entering new markets, you may not have the direct industry expertise you think you need to be successful. But if you focus on the challenge (vs your product or service) that you solve for, you can identify commonalities among markets that you’ve served—and markets you’re entering. Rather than focusing on how you haven’t served an existing market, focus on the problem that you’ve solved—which will speak more directly to the prospect experiencing it.
- Assessments. Sometimes a prospect doesn’t have the experience to be able to articulate their problem—or the solution. But they can answer questions that can help qualify their need, helping you educate—and sell to them. Creating online assessments can help build awareness of a need or deficiency—and your ability to solve for it.
- New Market-focused Microsite. People can become distracted by content that isn’t specifically directed at solving their problem. Sometimes a website that showcases everything you’ve done can actually be a deterrent—customers want to know that you’re an expert at solving their unique challenge—not someone who’s just okay at doing a lot of different things. In creating a microsite that’s focused on serving a very specific niche, you create the opportunity to position your solution as an expert in a particular area, rather than an average jack of all trades.
Content Marketing can be used to help answer questions that you might not be able to with your other marketing channels. For example, your product or services page might elaborate on the benefits of what you’re selling, but it might not accurately capture the softer benefits of how your company created a custom solution, supported the customer through the life of the project (and beyond), or how you helped a client create something they’ve never seen before. Blogs, videos, case studies, testimonials, ebooks and infographics are the perfect vehicles to do this.
In addition to Account-based Marketing, Content Marketing is also a key component of Inbound, Paid, and Referral-based Marketing programs. Just be sure to have a content marketing and new market strategy in place to help avoid missteps, pitfalls and damaging your brand.
To learn more about how you can enter new markets—or expand existing markets—with Content Marketing, contact me to start a conversation today!
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