Nov. 12 2018 06:00 AM

Wise marketers understand that content marketing is about educating your prospects and helping them make wiser choices.

Why should you fertilize in the fall? According to one fertilizer distributor’s website, fall fertilizer helps turf “store carbohydrates in colons, crowns and rhinezones (sic).” Say, what?

When it comes to content marketing, quality varies. Some content is garbled garbage assembled from copied-and-pasted bits. It hopes to impress prospects with “knowledge” that will hopefully result in a quick sale. But to a better-informed prospect it looks, well … stupid.

Wise marketers understand that content marketing is about educating your prospects and helping them make wiser choices. They know their company can become a valued “go-to resource” by answering the powerful questions their prospects ask — both the easy ones and the tough ones. The right information draws clients, educates them on the right criteria in making decisions and reassures them that you’re the company to hire.

Good content writers don’t just copy-and-paste information; they dig deep into the heart of the topic. Why is it important? Which fertilizer works best?

When should I apply it? What happens if I don’t? What does it cost? Is there an easier way? Recapping turf anatomy is probably not required.

If you’re the kind of company who excels at what you do and consistently wins customers because of your expertise, content marketing can educate potential buyers as to why you’re the best choice.

Over the last 10 years, content marketing has become the fastest-growing marketing discipline. The shift to delivering knowledge through digital tools like websites, e-newsletters and social media has made creating and distributing content essential.

You need credible, factual and hard-hitting information to capture the attention of your audience.

Web search has made content more accessible, but unfortunately, the most correct data doesn’t always rise to the top of the results. Once buyers find good sources, they keep going back to them for more.

Your marketing content is bad if:

1. You’re repeating the same things everyone else is saying. You may have felt too rushed to find a new angle. Step back and find one anyway. If you don’t have enough knowledge, do some reading.

2. The information you’re providing is stale because it’s recycled from something else that already exists. Update it with fresh information, especially if you’re talking about technology.

3. It’s all about your company and your product. Don’t simply recap your brochure; provide real advice and help to the reader.

Tips for better marketing content:

1. Address specific problems. Customers are looking for solutions to those problems. Their searches start out phrased as questions like, “How do I avoid black spots on my roses?” Make a list of common problems that are relevant to your market and use them as a basis for informative expert content.

2. Observe your audience. If you’re a distributor or manufacturer, spend a day riding along with a contractor’s service technician. You’ll learn a lot about your products and your customers. If you’re a landscape contractor, observe your clients as they use their landscapes.

3. Make comparisons. Buyers naturally compare one provider to another. Help them with that analysis — it’s a great way to point out why you are better.

4. Address “elephant-in-the-room” concerns. Customers naturally have questions like: “What do these cost?” “How long will they last?” “Will this be hard to maintain?” and “What are my alternatives?” Stop thinking these answers are taboo. If you share as much as you can upfront, potential clients see you as more credible and trustworthy.

Jeff Carowitz advises landscape industry firms on marketing and business strategy. He can be reached at jeff@strategicforcemarketing.com.